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Take Content Beyond the Buyer’s Journey by Playing Nice [11 Expert Tips]

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Take Content Beyond the Buyer's Journey by Playing Nice [11 Expert Tips]


A content marketing strategy based on the buyer’s journey isn’t enough.

Why? First, prospects often encounter content from your brand that the content marketing team didn’t create. Second, the journey shouldn’t end when they become customers.

Buyer engagement today requires a circular approach to content as your journey with the audience isn’t linear and shouldn’t end with the purchase. And that holistic view requires companies to better organize their content operations.

Buyer engagement today requires a circular approach to #content. Your journey with the audience isn’t linear and shouldn’t end with the purchase, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

The marketing department often owns content operations within a company. But success requires close collaboration with other internal teams (such as sales and customer service) and a willingness to extend content beyond the marketing and sales cycle.

It takes work –and teamwork.

But how do you get everyone (content, marketing, sales, customer support, and more) working together to give audience members, prospects, buyers, and customers the content they need? We asked experts presenting at the upcoming ContentTECH Summit for advice. Here’s what they suggest.

1. Reflect and collaborate

Listen to the other teams’ needs and concerns. Get familiar with the content and its purpose. Recognize that other teams come from a different tradition and way of thinking about content. Then look for the commonalities. Everyone wants accurate, quality, useful content. They want users to find, understand, and use the content. Work toward this shared goal. – Regina Lynn Preciado, senior content strategist, Content Rules

Other teams come from a different way of thinking about #Content, but they want buyers to find, understand, and use it, too, says @contentrulesinc via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

2. Stay humble

Respect is earned, not given. If you want sales and customer service to follow marketing’s lead, recommendations, ideas, etc., listen before speaking. Approach every discussion from a mental place of, “Hey, I might be wrong.” Stay humble – humble people hear more than proud people. And often, what they hear is the difference between the other party wanting to follow them or fighting them each step of the way. – Tom Martin, president, Converse Digital

If you want your sales team to follow your lead on #Content, stay humble. Humble people hear more, making others want to follow – not fight, says @TomMartin via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

3. Stop trying to win

Don’t go in looking for a turf battle. Instead, aim to align around the big picture: If content marketing is successful, buyers should be more qualified, and customer service should be less pressed by basic questions. Ask: What are the factors that would make their jobs easier? What questions can content address and explain to improve their work? – Zontee Hou, director of strategy, Convince & Convert

Align around the goal: Successful #ContentMarketing means more qualified buyers and fewer basic questions for customer service, says @ZonteeHou via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

4. Work transparently

Seek feedback from others before making any grand pronouncements. At least appear as a collaborator before deciding what other teams must or should do. Add transparency to any decisions that affect others, so they understand the whys without begrudging the hows. – Gavin Austin, principal technical writer, Salesforce

Be transparent about #Content decisions that affect other teams, so they understand the why without begrudging the how, says @GavinAustinSays via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

5. Understand multiple roles, but don’t take on everything yourself

To be a great marketer, you must understand what it takes to be a great salesperson or a great designer. You don’t need to take on these roles yourself, but it’s important to respect the process of these roles, understand the roadblocks folks in these roles might face, and respect the time it can take to deliver success in these positions. Mutual respect goes a very long way in earning the trust of your colleagues, but it will also help you set stakeholder expectations and inspire your teammates to deliver success. – Amy Balliett, senior fellow of visual strategy, Material

Great marketers understand what it takes to be a great salesperson or a great designer. You don’t have to do the work yourself – just respect your colleagues, says @AmyBalliett via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet


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6. Create a shared vision

If marketing is to lead content operations, they need to create a shared context for other internal teams like sales and customer service. Each has its targets, but you can translate them into a common vision. – Tim Hanse, principal consultant, Crossphase

To lead #ContentOps, create a shared vision with sales and customer service teams, says #TimHanse via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

7. Ask, then produce for the entire journey

[Create]  a simple but scalable way to get feedback. We should be creating content that works across the entire customer journey, from awareness to expansion and advocacy. Nothing frustrates a customer service rep more than seeing just top-of-funnel content being produced. We need to know the most crucial steps in the customer journey to plan and map our content strategy properly. – Randy Frisch, president and co-founder, Uberflip

Create #Content that works across the entire customer journey. Nothing frustrates customer service teams more than seeing only top-of-funnel content, says @randyfrisch via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

8. Unite on the goals

The best way to collaborate with other internal teams is to identify common goals everyone can work toward. Of course, there may be some specific goals unique to each department. But having that shared vision is crucial to enabling cooperation. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder and chief strategy officer, MarketMuse

A shared vision is crucial to enabling cooperation, says @jeffrey_coyle via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

9. Develop familiarity and knowledge

There are several things you can do to gain respect – the most important is regular and collaborative communication. Socialize your success around the business. Use your content expertise to develop personas for each of your internal stakeholder groups and address their pain points in your content strategy.

Show them the questions your audience is searching for, where your company’s answers are falling short, how you can fix it, and the specific benefits of doing that. Run an analysis of your content inventory’s performance highlighting where competitors are pulling ahead (a little bit of rivalry can go a long way). Set up content attribution modeling showing the single customer view, where your eventual purchaser has interacted with your content on the path to purchase. Keep internal teams in the loop with monthly reporting on content performance specific to their pain points. Give tangible examples of how content is supporting their goals. – Karen Hesse, founder and CEO, 256

Keep internal teams in the loop with monthly reporting on #Content performance. Give examples of how content supports their goals, says @256media via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

10. Invite other teams into your content

You can partner with internal teams. For example, in the case of podcasting, bring in members of the other teams as regular guests, so they feel a partial ownership of the podcast. Look at the eBay for Business Podcast, for which we are a partner, as a good example of this. – Rob Walch, vice president of Libsyn enterprise and platform partnerships, Libsyn

Bring members of other teams into your #Content, so they feel ownership, says @podcast411 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

11. Keep an eye on customer happiness

Marketing is about keeping customers happy during the entire cycle of the customer journey – from the moment a lead approaches the company, to making a purchase decision, to resolving issues and conflicts after the deal is closed. This requires tight interaction and integration between all teams, including marketing, sales, development, customer service, and so on. To make sure that the customer has a unified experience at each stage of the customer journey, all the teams need to exchange and share knowledge about the customer’s needs.

If the customer is provided with a fantastically convenient way to make a purchase, but the delivery team messes things up by shipping the product to the wrong address and customer service demonstrates indifference to the problem, the overall customer experience can hardly be called successful. By providing insights into customers’ goals and behavior at all stages of the customer’s journey, suggesting ways to tailor the company’s offerings to customer’s context, and gathering analytics, marketing teams can become the secret ingredient that bridges all other teams, from development to after-sale support. – Alex Masycheff, CEO, Intuillion

#Marketing can become the secret ingredient that brings other teams together to create an optimal customer experience, says @DITAToo1 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

Be the secret ingredient

Will your content team seize the opportunity to unite the company’s content and create happy customers all along the lifecycle?

Extending content’s impact beyond the sales funnel demands leaders who can make all the cogs in the wheels fit together so the prospect-turned-buyer-turned-customer moves along smoothly.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit this March in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

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Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

According to Statista, the number of software developers around the globe is expected to increase to 28.7 million by 2024.

Freelance software developers benefit companies because of the ease and speed with which they can be onboarded and used as project-specific resources. This blog will answer the most asked concerns about using contract services.

Benefits of Hiring Freelance Software Developers

When hiring a freelancer, your first expectation is impeccable skills and expertise, followed closely by cost savings, or vice versa. Here are the most popular reasons why companies choose to hire freelance talent.

Cost-efficiency

Full-time employees cost an organisation a salary, as well as added investments in training, equipment, perks, overheads of utilities and rented space, and benefits such as healthcare and social security.

Freelancers work remotely using personal resources; businesses reduce investments without losing quality.

Reduced Risk

Businesses reduce financial risk by working with freelancers on an hourly, monthly, or project basis. Setting a clearly worded contract that the freelance software developer agrees to and signs, mitigates financial risk and clearly stipulates ownership of intellectual property.

Expertise

Freelancers with niche expertise such as software development company in London, provide companies with the best talents for their projects. Hiring freelancers for different projects allows businesses to match the varying demands of each project, streamlines workflows and ensures productivity.

Global Talent

Businesses choose professional freelancers expecting them to complete any given task with minimum input from the organization. You can access talent from across the globe on platforms such as UpWork, People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Toptal, amongst others. Client reviews on such portals help in assessing proficiency and expertise.

Work Quality

A freelancer is as good as her or his portfolio. Successful freelancers achieve credibility by building long-term relationships and providing consistent quality. Freelancer work depends on referrals and good reviews, hence a potential contract employee’s work portfolio, and reviews showcase their abilities.

Skills of A High-Quality Freelance Software Developer

The first criterion for hiring a developer for your project is knowing what skill sets are needed. List your project specifications to customise your search and determine the expertise required for the project. Freelance developers may work on web development (front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers) or mobile application development.

Front-end freelance developers

Front-end software developers design websites and web applications and manage the graphical interface of websites. They use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and technologies like Foundation, AngularJS, Bootstrap, Backbone, DOM, and EmberJS to create layouts and graphics.

Back-end freelance developers

Back-end developers handle server-side processes such as website security, speed, databases, servers, application logic, and APIs. Back-end developers are typically skilled in Java, Python, and PHP, as well as SQL, Git, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Full-stack freelance developers

Full-stack freelance developers handle both the front and back ends of the website. They are responsible for everything from project planning to website coding. Front-end frameworks include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and backends employ NodeJS, ExpressJS, Django, Flask, and C++. Full stack programmers manage database systems (such as SQL SERVER, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Oracle Database), version control, and web hosting.

Mobile app developers

Mobile app developers develop, create, and test mobile applications for iOS and Android operating systems. Mobile app developers have programming language skills such as NodeJS, PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails. They must also be proficient in back-end frameworks, database management and security, and hardware interaction. They need expertise in UI/UX design, security, and the Internet of things (IoT) for mobile devices.

How to Locate the Best Freelancers  Online

Talent portals such as Upwork, People Per Hour, and Fiverr showcase many talented freelance software developers. Here are steps on how to hire talent from an online opportunity marketplace.

Set a Hiring Budget

Look for similar job postings to learn what are the current hourly rates for the work you require. Define a reasonable budget. Beware that a freelance software developer may have higher hourly rates than regular employees.  

Clearly Define Project Requirements

Freelancers can be effective resources when you provide clear details about your project requirements. Be sure to mention the following

  • Allocated Budget
  • Payment terms
  • Project start and end dates
  • Clear job descriptions
  • Project expectations

Shortlist and Assess Freelance Software Developers

Top software developers typically work harder and achieve results because client reviews are essential to their ongoing success. The details you post make it easier for them to determine if they fit your requirements. Once you begin receiving qualified responses, choose according to their ratings and reviews, your interview process, and any sample project to build software and check their skills.

Six Factors to Consider when Hiring Freelance Sofware Developers

Hiring a freelancer revolves around their technical skills, certifications and education, attitude towards work, and ability to deliver results. Here are some crucial pointers to help you find the most appropriate fit for your project.

Technical Expertise

Freelancers must be able to handle the technical requirements of the project. They should be well-versed in software stacks, coding, development and task management software, version control tools, and deployment processes. Freelance software developers may charge more for specific technical abilities such as mobile app development, web development, or project rescues.

Experience

Freelancers who have worked on similar projects will have come across pain points and solutions. Any relevant experience enhances their expertise for your project and boosts their ability to strategise toward productive outcomes. Note that a freelancer’s experience typically increases their pay rate.

Cost

Experience and expertise increase a freelancer’s worth, but their services must provide value for your money. Knowing current hourly or project rates ensures that you are connecting with the right candidates. Freelancers that accept less payment may be new to the market and want to create a client base. Or, are choosing to supplement their income with multiple projects, which may reduce their work quality.

Professionalism

Education and certifications improve a freelancer’s pay scale, but they do not signal a freelancer’s abilities. The easiest way to gauge work ethic is from social proof such as client endorsements and their portfolio. A professional freelance software developer will openly share these details, with their client’s approval, of course.

Reliability

A reliable freelancer will have a long-standing client base, developed by consistent efforts and proven results. The more repeat customers a freelancer has, the better the chances of them being dependable. The following actions demonstrate the integrity of any freelance work and can be testified by customer reviews.

  • Following instructions
  • Regular updates
  • Quickly responding to queries
  • Willingly accepting critique
  • Meeting deadlines consistently

Location

One of the best features of acquiring freelance talent is access to global resources. Ensure that your communication skills match. Also, check that the culture and holidays in the freelancer’s location do not conflict with project development. Location can also affect fees, where freelancers in the USA charge the highest as compared to their Asian counterparts.

Conclusion

Finding and hiring the right freelance software developers is easy when you have the necessary checklists in place. Software development work is complex, make sure you are vetting your candidates carefully to get the best fit for your project. Good luck!

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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