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Posted on November 20, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

New Whitepaper: Data-Driven Content Marketing

There’s a reason why content marketing is exploding. Within just a few years the world has become network-connected, mobile-first, and socially-focused, and each of those massive changes altered the way buyers discover, understand and choose products.

The days of walking into a store or scheduling an appointment to begin the purchase process are gone. In-fact, according to Forrester Analyst Lori Wizdo, “…today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to a vendor.”

Content marketing is the tool that B2B marketers are using to move buyers, even the ones they’ve never met, through their purchase funnels.

Get fast and smart answers to the following:

  • What does my audience really care about?
  • Who should I work with to develop and amplify my content?
  • Where should I publish and promote my work to produce maximum impact?

Read the free whitepaper now.

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Posted on November 18, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Planning Your Content With Appinions

As we explained earlier in Planning for Content Marketing: A Strategy for Success, the key to content marketing success is coming up with a great plan at the head of your process. As obvious as that may seem, only 35% of B2B marketers have a documented strategy, so following 7 simple steps can make your content much more effective.

To recap, those seven steps are:

  1. Forming an editorial board
  2. Setting your target market
  3. Determining goals and ownership structures
  4. Establishing your niche and voice
  5. Building an editorial calendar
  6. Setting up a workflow
  7. Measuring and making use of success

That said, while a good plan can help you formalize your process and give you meaningful benchmarks to strive for, each step’s value is only as good as your ability to answer the questions inherent to properly executing it. Unfortunately, many content marketers rely on minimal research or gut feelings to answer key questions in their content strategies. A better approach is to incorporate big data analysis to get the right answers to your content questions. Let’s see what some of those questions are, and how Appinions makes answering them easy.

Understanding Your Target Market

While you may have an overall target market decided for your company’s products, not all your buyer personas are best connected with every medium. Understanding which of your buyers are on what channels, and how to connect with them, will greatly hone the efficacy of your content marketing.

With Appinions, you can define a custom-built topic that perfectly incorporates your company, brand, or specific products. That then gives you perfect insight into what people who care about those things are talking about. Specifically, you get a list of every author and influencer in your market, and can then drill down to see what exactly they and their own audiences are passionate about.

On a broader level, you can also see the topics driving your market’s conversations, in the form of the top 80 concepts and entities being discussed across offline & online news, blogs, and social media.

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Picking Your Authors

Brand newsrooms large and small may tackle the authorship process a number of ways. You may have your own in-house writing staff, you could contract the writing out through a system like Contently or Newscred, or you might even just have one news junkie that writes just about everything for you. But no matter what your system is, there are always times when bringing in a new, outside writer is the right answer for certain stories.

There are two prominent reasons to bring in an outsider writer. First, if this is an area your existing writing staff doesn’t well understand, it may be more economical to bring in an outsider that’s already well versed in the field. Not only will you save time on having to research it yourself, but it better guarantees you get the story right, which is crucial to establishing trust with your audience and assuring they’ll keep coming back for more. Second, you may want to “piggy back” off of an author’s existing successes. If an author has established themselves as an authority on a story, having them further their writings on your own content sites can lend you some of their credibility, while also assuring the author promotes the new content to his or her built in audience of eager readers.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 1.41.39 PMAppinions gives you an instant drill-down into the top authors on any topic. Best of all, with powerful filtering options, you can easily search for an author that’s been blogging on the topic for years, or find a more recent upstart that’s surging in popularity. No matter what type of author your content requires, Appinions will make finding the perfect fit easier than ever before.

Filling Your Editorial Calendar

It’s easy enough to say “let’s write an industry trend piece next month” and then pencil that into your master editorial calendar. But now that it’s time to actually start writing that piece, what are you going to say? Any industry has millions of stories going on at any time, so it can be tricky to know exactly what matters to your audience at any given moment.

With Appinions, you get to see not only which topics matter, but their relative importance in the marketplace. So for your company’s trend piece on 3D printing, you can see that people really care about the new types of filaments coming into the market, for example. Or if there was just a big industry event, you can see whether or not enough people are talking about that to warrant doing your own write-up. Now every topic and idea goes from a “best-guess” to something you have real information to substantiate.

Even better, for days that you plan to aggregate content, Appinions makes finding stories worth syndicating super easy. With our “Most Influential Content” feature, you instantly get a prioritized list of the 100 most influential articles and posts on your topics from the past day, week, or month. Now you can retweet them right from your dashboard, roll them into your own larger article, or take inspiration from them when crafting your own content. There are three additional ways you can find great content with Appinions:

  • By Influencer: Like to see what the market leaders are saying? Appinions ranks the most influential people and organizations in your market space and generates a stream of content from or about each of them.
  • By Theme: Get yourself in on the hottest conversations. Simply browse the list of themes, hashtags, and mentions that have received the most influential reactions, and click to see the full stream of content driving any of them.
  • By Source: Find out exactly how key publications are talking about your market. View up to 80 active publishers who have delivered content from or about the top influencers and click through to summaries or full-text articles.

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Measuring Success

A smart content plan requires knowing what’s working and what’s not, so that you can not only gauge the efficacy of your entire content efforts, but quickly recycle your top performing pieces into additional forms of collateral. While traditional metrics like pageviews or newer numbers like time-on-page may tell you the relative success of any individual piece of content, they lack the ability to tell answer the big question: is your overall content marketing program working?

Appinions shows you the precise impact your content marketing efforts are having on your brand, your products, and the people who are being promoted as the authors of your content. This progress can be measured in terms of your overall marketplace, any individual segments or categories within that market, or in comparison to specific competitors.

There are two powerful tools in Appinions you can use to measure performance:

  • Influence Scores – Our proprietary influence scores give you a way to measure the impact your company, brand, and/or authors have for any topic or marketplace you track in Appinions. Scores reflect both the quantity and quality of reaction garnered by the content and opinions you’ve shared, and rank your importance or significance within a given market. Your score changes over time reflect the magnitude of the impact of your publishing, promoting, and engaging in market conversation. And you can directly compare your scores to those of other companies, brands, or executives.
  • Opportunity Analysis – By knowing how your brand performs as compared to your marketplace and key competitors, Appinions is able to provide direct comparative analysis in terms of who’s talking about you, the themes associated with your brand, the publications where you’re being discussed, and more. These reports identify specific opportunities: people to reach out to, themes to publish on, publications where you should advertise or do PR outreach. They can be further used to track progress over time to document improvements in how and where your content marketing programs are having an impact.

In a world where 73% of content marketers reported that measuring brand awareness was their goal, this finally answers that question. Now you’ll see how your content efforts are improving attention to your brand, how that compares to key competitors, and your share relative to the industry as a whole.

When paired with traditional metrics, you now have the complete insight to know not only which of your stories are working (so you can double down on them) but how that adds up to the total efficacy of your content efforts. This gives you a powerful and consistent way to track your marketing organization’s progress, and offers a meaningful metric of success to share with key stakeholders.

Want to see Appinions in action? Chat with our sales team today to schedule a demo and see how adding big data can transform your own content efforts.

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Posted on November 14, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Top CMOs Edition

For this week’s version of Weekend Reads, let’s take a look at some of the coverage about Appinions’ latest report – the 2014 CMO Influence Study. If you haven’t already read it, it offers fascinating insight into the world’s top marketers, what they said to drive that success, and comparisons of leaders across numerous verticals and industries. While the full report is freely available, a number of reporters came up with their own interesting analysis of the news.

The World’s Most Influential CMOs 2014 – Jennifer Rooney, Forbes

As we partnered with Forbes for this study, they naturally had the first article out on the report. Jennifer Rooney sharply breaks down the entire study, highlighting some key takeaways. The article was also published on a number of Forbes partner sites, such as Newscred.

‘Forbes’ picks GE’s Comstock as most influential B2B CMO – Tequia Burt, FierceCMO

We know a lot of our audience is B2B marketers, so FierceCMO’s take on the story may be especially interesting to them. They highlight the top CMOs of B2B-focused businesses, starting with GE’s Beth Comstock.

Here Are Forbes’ 50 Most Influential CMOs of 2014 – Kristina Monllos, Adweek

Always savvy marketers themselves, Adweek was quick to find an eye-grabbing angle on the story, running with the sub-headline “Study says males are 22% more influential than female peers.” While the report did show there was some difference between male and female CMOs in terms of influence, the statistically significant difference ended up being fairly small.

Forbes Ranks The Top 50 Most Influential CMOs Of 2014 – Amy Gesenhues, Marketing Land

While many publications noted Phil Schiller of Apple’s continued dominance of the list, Marketing Land highlighted Google’s large decline in the ranks. Their previous head marketer, Nikesh Arora, ranked 6th in our 2013 study.

Forbes dévoile sa liste des directeurs du marketing les plus influents – Editorial Team, Infopresse

Our top CMO list was an international affair, and news coverage of it was as well. Here, Montreal-based Infopresse gave an overview of the story for French speakers.

Best Western’s Dorothy Dowling Named one of the Most Influential CMOs in the World from Forbes and Appinions – Best Western, PRWeb

A lot of the top marketing executives recognized by our study, or the companies they work for, reacted positively to the news, sharing it on social media, in press releases, and on their websites. Here is hotelier Best Western trumpeting their well earned success.

Who is your favorite CMO on the list? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

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Posted on November 13, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Cooking Up Content with Chef Jamie Oliver

Kavi Guppta at Forbes has a fascinating story on how we can learn some great content marketing techniques from an unlikely source: chef Jamie Oliver. Yes, while the British cook may be more famous for his attempts to de-junk our schools’ lunch programs, he and his brand are also experts at not only producing killer content, but finding just the right ways to promote it, staying educational and relevant while not being too pushy or preachy.

Guppta says Oliver succeeds because his content hits three key points:

  1. Educate – good content should teach an audience something new.
  2. Entertain – content should be memorable and make an impact.
  3. Empower – great content gets your audience to do something.

Guppta continues:

These are simple elements to think about when developing videos, blog posts, or experiences. But it’s much harder than it looks. The problem is that “good content” can be a very subjective undertaking, and marketing people will try their hardest to turn the most mind numbing subject matter into “good content”. It’s unfortunate because this is why the art of making good experiences has become so terrible. Marketers think any experience in the form of a video, image, or article is content people will enjoy. What we have instead is thousands of hours of content that are really just long ads for their products.

Jamie isn’t educating his viewers on his products. He’s educating his audience on how to do tasks that are related to his products and his expertise. That’s a technique that some marketers fail to grasp: educate your users on how they can better perform certain tasks because of your product—don’t just educate them on your product. Quick tutorials on salad dressings, pasta dishes, and simple recipes teach viewers the basic techniques to cook like he does, and to enjoy the best ingredients. He’s not plugging his own olive oil brand throughout the segment. He’s not raving about how great his style of pan is in the kitchen. He’s busy teaching people how to enjoy good food. What good are kitchen products if his customers don’t know how to use them?

A Recipe for Success

A Recipe for Success

The key is showing your audience how to do something, and not merely telling them. Even more powerfully, you need to recognize that sometimes you’re not the best man or woman for the job. Is there an influencer that can demonstrate your tools or techniques even more effectively? Don’t be afraid of bringing them in. Jamie does this with aplomb, surfacing expert barbecuers and fish-fryers to fill in areas that he knows they’ll outclass him at. When it comes to giving your audience the best content possible, think about what will serve THEM best, and not simply what’s going to make you look like a know-it-all.

The full article contains many more great tidbits for any content marketer. So next time you’re cooking up a story for your brand, don’t forget to add some spice the way Chef Jamie would.

Read the full article on Forbes.

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Posted on November 7, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

New Forbes/Appinions Study Finds Phil Schiller the World’s Most Influential CMO

ForbesCMOAwardLogo-300x132Every marketer today faces the tremendous challenge of communicating in a very noisy world. They’re usually thought of in terms of how clearly and broadly they’re able to distribute their brand messages – but which CMOs do the best job of marketing themselves?

Answers can be found in the Third Annual Forbes/Appinions CMO Influence Study, released today, which reveals the most influential CMOs in the world based on analysis Appinions completed on the top marketing executive at leading firms from the Forbes 2000 Largest Companies list.

For the third year straight Apple’s Phil Schiller was recognized as the most influential CMO in the world. This time he earned the top spot by a wide margin, scoring 3X higher than his nearest peer, David Lauren, EVP Advertising, Marketing, and Communications at Ralph Lauren. The #3 spot was earned by Tim Mahoney, Global CMO-Chevy at General Motors.

Rounding out the Top 10: #4 Jim Farley – Ford, #5 John Frascotti – Hasbro, #6 Kristin Lemkau – JPMorgan Chase, #7 Trevor Edwards – Nike, #8 Beth Comstock – General Electric, #9 Seth Farbman – Gap, and #10 Alain Visser – Volvo. Along with Mr. Schiller, Mr. Farley, Ms. Comstock, and Mr. Visser also made the previous year’s list.

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Mr. Schiller’s huge win is a testament to both the broad media interest in Apple Computer but also what appears to be a clear media strategy of putting Mr. Schiller’s name and opinions in the press continuously. Mr. Schiller was one of only eight CMOs within the top 50 to register influential opinions and reactions more than twice each week during the period of the study. This included CMOs of one private company and other from four different ‘annual revenue’ tiers. In fact, there was no clear correlation between revenue and ranking. It appears to have more to do with the public role and marketing strategy of the CMO themselves. By contrast, the bottom half of the top 50 CMOs registered influential opinions only three times per month or less.

The study considers the most senior marketing person at each company. Influence is ranked by extracting opinions, quotes, and other reactions from hundreds of millions of articles from news, blog, and social media sources. Proprietary Appinions algorithms rank opinion holders based on the influence of the people who react to them, the attributes of the publication or source where the reaction occurs, and the overall quantity of reactions to a single opinion.

There were industry trends in the results, with Automotive Industry CMOs appearing most frequently (9 CMOs) followed by those from in Food and Beverage (7), Technology (6), Apparel (4) and Financial Services (4). In terms of gender, female CMOs earned 32% of the top 50 spots, but in terms of scores only garnered 21% of the total influence.

The complete 96 page Forbes/Appinions 2014 CMO Influence Study can be viewed and downloaded at http://dj.appinions.com/CMO-2014

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Posted on October 31, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 10/31

We hope you had another fantastic week. Let’s end this Friday on a high note by looking at the best marketing articles from the past few days. These are generated using the Appinions platform, looking at the most influential opinions and articles, in a variety of marketing topics, from the past 7 days.

Spooky and Successful Viral Content Marketing for Halloween – Dawn Papandrea, Business2Community

Are you ready for Halloween? This article shows you all the brands that are, and their clever content for the occasion.

The Marketing Trends of 2015 – Jackie Crossman, B&T

Just because it’s only October doesn’t mean we can’t start predicting marketing trends for 2015. Jackie Crossman weighs in with a few prognostications.

The Science Behind an Innovator’s Popular Decks – Lorraine K. Lee, SlideShare Blog

Does your company make use of SlideShare? Here are some clever tips and tricks to maximize your exposure, focusing on a company whose slides have passed 2.5 million views. Now that’s a scary amount of traffic!

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

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Posted on October 29, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Planning for Content Marketing: A Strategy for Success

While marketers have relied on content in some form to power their campaigns for decades, the past few years have seen content marketing rise from something only the savviest brands did to an absolute essential for any marketing organization. In a world where 90% of the buyer’s journey occurs before a customer even reaches out to you, producing high quality, engaging content is crucial to influencing the purchasing decision.

This represents an exciting opportunity for marketing organizations to step up and own more of the sales funnel. But like any opportunity, there are enormous challenges: knowing what content to produce, creating content at scale, unifying stakeholders behind a common voice, finding great authors, ensuring your content is read by the right people, and measuring the performance of your content. Fortunately, with a smart plan, all of these are achievable goals.

There are 7 key elements to a content marketing plan:

  1. Forming an editorial board
  2. Setting your target market
  3. Determining goals and ownership structures
  4. Establishing your niche and voice
  5. Building an editorial calendar
  6. Setting up a workflow
  7. Measuring and making use of success

Let’s dive into each of these elements to understand the best practices that build a successful content marketing organization.

Forming An Editorial Board

While content marketing is usually owned by the marketing department, it can often evolve into a cross-disciplinary operation, especially in large organizations. Parts of your MarCom team are already working on many projects that will be closely related to your content, be they from the web team, marketing intelligence, social media, lead gen, or even events. Naturally sales and account management will want a say on what you produce as well, while certain organizations may need sign offs from legal or compliance departments.

Aligning all these disparate teams into an Editorial (or Advisory) Board not only heads off conflicts before they can occur, but assures that all your best ideas come together in a unified manner. Your whole organization will understand what content is being produced and when, so that as soon as you have a great new story written it can be Tweeted, emailed, given to your sales team, and more.

With an Editorial Board, you’ll know your organization is making the most out of every bit of content produced. In a world where up to 70% of content produced by B2B companies isn’t getting used, this is of vital importance.

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Setting Your Target Market

Like any marketing campaign, your content needs to be unified around a set audience or target market. This is doubly important when it comes to brand storytelling, as you’re not just trying to sell your wares, you’re telling stories that your audience WANTS to hear. But without knowing who your audience is, you can’t begin to discern what information they’re looking for.

While your content initiatives’ target market may most likely be informed by that of your marketing as a whole, they’re not necessarily one and the same. Just as your company may use “TV commercials during sporting events” to target one subset of your market, you may find that content marketing speaks better to some of your buyers than others. Understanding the content your audience is looking for, and assessing your abilities to provide that, will inform you of not only WHO to target, but as you will soon see, WHAT to give them and WHERE to host it.

The more you already know about your buyers, the better. Additional insight can be gained not just through market research, but assessing the existing content landscape: what are your competitors doing that works, what independent news sources are popular on your topics, which authors are successful and why, and what are the overarching stories that resonate with those that are either looking to make a purchase or likely to influence others who may.

Determining Goals & Ownership Structures

Now that you know whom you’re writing for, it’s important to establish some goals for your content initiative. What exactly are you trying to achieve?

More specifically, how does content fit into your overall MarCom activities? Are you hoping to achieve thought leadership for your brand or executives? Do you wish to increase brand awareness? Or is lead generation your main concern?

The way your brand tells stories will be heavily influenced by this decision, so don’t take it lightly. In fact, this is an important first test for your newly formed Editorial Board. Once you’ve reached a decision, you can then establish ownership structures and hire or assign roles accordingly.

While smaller organizations may choose to assign content roles to existing marketing personnel, a company truly dedicated to brand journalism will look to hire either a Director of Content or Managing Editor to oversee their content efforts.

While both titles can in practice bear similar responsibilities, they represent different backgrounds for a potential hire. A Director of Content may come from a more traditional marketing background, and thus be intimately familiar with KPIs, acquisition costs, and budgeting processes. A Managing Editor, on the other hand, will most likely be a former journalist: well practiced in the art of crafting a story that connects with readers, editing other writers, and the art of writing an eye-grabbing headline.

Some organizations may even choose to hire both of these roles, with the Director of Content focusing more on the budgeting and technical implication of your content marketing, while the Managing Editor handles the day-to-day content production.

Now that you’ve decided who is in charge of content, and what your overarching goals are, you can set metrics to be achieved. Simple metrics like pageviews and social shares are easy to measure, but don’t necessarily reflect actual performance –after all a bunch of kids watching your YouTube videos doesn’t mean anyone is more likely to buy your products. More meaningful metrics like “share of voice” or “share of attention” get closer to understanding how much your content is improving your brand’s standing, but can be tricky to measure.

Oftentimes, a mix of metrics works best, with the head of your content reporting those on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to the VP of Marketing or CMO: however works best for your company’s marketing structure.

Establishing Your Niche & Voice

An Example from BBC's Guide

An Example from BBC’s Language Guide

Understanding your audience, as well as the goals of your content marketing campaign, goes a long way to helping you decide what sort of stories to cover.

The next step is to research exactly what sorts of stories are resonating with your audience. There are a number of ways to start this investigation: analyze the web traffic of different industry publications, track the social shares of your competitors’ content, do research with your existing buyers, or you could simply keep an eye on social media to see what people are talking about.

Now that you have a sense of what your audience wants, you need to assess your own ability to meet that need. Your company is going to have expertise in certain areas, less so in others. Are there writers internal to your organization that are natural fits for certain topics? Do you need to bring in contract writers for some stories, either on a one-off or ongoing basis?

Even more crucial is understanding what it is that is UNIQUE to your company that you can write about (and that your audience wants to hear) to differentiate yourself. Think about the problems your product solves and how your organization does that uniquely. Share learnings from your events and product launches that not only humanize your brand, but provide value to outsiders.

Once you’ve established the topics you’ll cover, it’s important you come up with a voice, tone, and style that will represent your brand. What are your company’s values? Are you a “serious business” or the playful underdog? Say you’re going to be writing mostly about technical specifications – are you better off keeping things dry and corporate, or would using more flowery language represent a way to differentiate your brand?

There’s no universally right answer; every company will find something else works best for them. But once you’ve decided on that, establish it firmly in a Style Guide, capturing not just the tone of your brand, but specifics like which words to use and which not to. This is something news organizations have been doing for decades, so use theirs as inspiration; here is a clever one from The Economist.

Building An Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is what separates smart content marketing from mere blogging. With a schedule of posts and their backed-out deadlines, you’ll be hitting the right topics at the right times, providing consistently interesting fodder that keeps your audience coming back for more.

Map the next quarter out, and then set to fill that three-month calendar in. How much content per week is your organization capable of creating at a sufficiently high quality level? Keep in mind that not only will some subjects take longer to address, but certain types of media – videos, infographics – will too.

If you’re struggling to understand when to schedule what, you can start with news events that have a known timeline. When is your next product release? Schedule a post around it. What events are you attending this quarter? Have some stories ready about those, followed up with videos from the event afterward.

Next, fill out your calendar with regularly scheduled long-form pieces that represent your thought leadership and expertise in the field. Suddenly your calendar is already looking pretty full; fill in the remaining space with trend pieces and reactions to industry happenings that will necessarily be more real-time. As your content organization continues to churn out stories and you get a better sense of what works, what doesn’t, and how long things take, you can adjust your schedules accordingly.

Setting Up A Workflow

workflowJust as your calendar says when which content will go live, your workflow is a calendar of all the sub-steps that go into making that piece of content come to life. After all, a fantastic whitepaper isn’t written, edited, and published in a single day (and if it is, we’d like a word with your author!)

The amount of time that goes into any one piece varies linearly with the length of the content, the complexity of the subject, and the diversity of the assets that need to accompany it.

A simple blog post can be written on day 1, edited on day 2, and go live by day 3. But even a blog post can grow into something more complex if you need to source an outside writer for it, verify facts, get graphics made for it, and then set up a content distribution plan for it once it’s gone live.

There are a number of great tools out there that not only ease this process, but keep everyone abreast of the status of any piece in production: Contently, Newscred, & Kapost to name a few. Different tools have different advantages, some let you source writers from their network, while others have pre-licensed content you can republish.

It’s important to keep in mind that a workflow doesn’t necessarily end once an asset has gone live. You need to distribute & promote it, monitor its success, and then repurpose successful content into additional formats.

Measuring And Making Use of Success

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 3.34.20 PMContent marketing doesn’t end once your story is out the door. You need to monitor the performance of your assets, learning from what works and what doesn’t, and making the most of your high-performance content.

Measuring success in content marketing is a topic open to constant debate, with the industry currently shifting from pageviews to time-on-page or time-on-site. At Appinions, we think “share of attention” is an even more important metric, as it captures the efficacy of your content programs as a whole. We’ll explore our thoughts behind this in a follow-up post; what’s important for now is that you have some benchmarks you’re using, so that you can confidently say Asset A outperformed Asset B.

Then, when you see that Asset A was a hit, you can prepare to make the most of it, improving your ROI and ensuring you don’t run out of content. For example, if this blog post does well, we will expand it into an eBook. The possibilities are endless – a single great story can be turned into a number of blog posts, a long-form eBook, a podcast or video, a behind the scenes or making of slideshare, and you can even present it live at an event. Then, each of those represents an opportunity for a landing page, a series of Tweets and updates, and some more fodder for your drip email campaigns. If you’re creative, the possibilities for content reuse are endless.

In fact, that speaks to the real power of content marketing: clever marketers will find that they are unbridled, and can express themselves and their brand in myriad smart ways that get people thinking about them. And when people are enjoying your content, and thinking about your brand, you’re taking back the buyer’s journey. Suddenly, you’re back in control; your marketing team looks smart; and it’s all thanks to content planning.

If you don’t already have a strategy for your content marketing initiatives, don’t fret. Sadly, only 35% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy; so let this be an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and codify what may have been your existing informal processes. While you’re working on that, check back shortly for a follow-up piece on some of the common pitfalls of content planning, and our thoughts on how Appinions for Content Marketing can improve even the best content plans.

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Posted on October 24, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 10/24

We hope you had another fantastic week. Let’s end this Friday on a high note by looking at the best marketing articles from the past few days. These are generated using the Appinions platform, looking at the most influential opinions and articles, in a variety of marketing topics, from the past 7 days.

Leo Burnett Partners With The Huffington Post for a New Approach to Content Marketing – Emily Alford, Clickz

While most smart content marketers have acknowledged that clicks and pageviews are no longer a meaningful way to measure content success, few have really started to do anything about it. This article explores how HuffPo and Leo Burnett are working on content geared towards audience engagement, and their strategy behind it.

How Panda 4.1 Should Change Your Content Strategy – Jim Yu, Search Engine Land

As always, Google’s latest algorithm update has search marketers looking for answers. If you’re using content marketing as part of your SEO strategy, this is an important overview of Google’s most recent changes and how they affect you.

Stuck in a Content Marketing Rut? Try This Trick – Justin Lambert, The Content Strategist

If writing new blog posts is feeling like a chore, maybe it’s time to diversify the types of stories you cover. This article provides some quick hits on how to get started so that you and your readers start loving your content again.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

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Posted on October 17, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Appinions: Adding Intelligence to Your Content Distribution

Distribution is the key to ensuring your content’s success. As we saw earlier this week, there are myriad options for pushing your content to readers, each with inherent strengths and weaknesses, and a range of pricing options that rise as you get more targeted.

Using highly targeted social media buy or placing native ads on a trade site explicitly geared towards your buyer personas runs into another problem: competition. Not only will your LinkedIn ad targeting “COOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees, in the healthcare sector” be incredibly expensive, it’ll most likely be appearing right next to your competitor’s similar content. Running a native ad in your industry’s trade site could be even more of an issue, as a competitor might not only be advertising there as well, they could even have an exclusivity agreement that’ll lock you out.

Fortunately, there’s a way to not only beat your competitors to the punch, but unlock sites you might not have known your target audience was visiting, and make use of that insight to secure favorable ad rates. With Appinions, you get an analytical look at the sites your target audience visits, and can match those publications to the perfect pieces of content.

Content Marketing for Juniper Networks

Let’s say for example that you’re Juniper Networks – a manufacturer of networking equipment. Your larger rival Cisco is widely known to be a content marketing leader, so you know you need to secure some smart placements for your own stories to catch up. Fortunately, this is easy to do with Appinions, as you can analyze the publishers discussing the “networking / industrial routers” space and see exactly where your audience’s eyeballs are.

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Right away you can see that social networks are not a huge driver for this sector, so you can consider scratching that Twitter ad buy. But sites like TMC Net and BusinessWeek do perform well, so you should investigate working with those two. Some quick research shows that both those publishers offer a variety of sponsored content options, so you can start ensuring your content and brand gain visibility with the right audience quickly.

Taking things one step further, if Juniper really wanted to stick it to Cisco, they could do an analysis of just their brand, see where Cisco is getting placement (and Juniper is not) and go directly after those publications so that they start getting equal attention and consideration.

Understanding Impact & Tailoring Your Content for It

Another powerful feature of Appinions Source Analysis is the ability to distinguish volume from impact. At first glance, one medium may have a lot of people discussing your industry; but is that media-type actually influencing the conversation?

Using Motorola’s new 360 smart-watch as another example, we can see that while it has a big presence on social media – that channel is actually having an undersized impact on overall influence.

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So if you’re Motorola, you now know that your content production & marketing efforts should be less focused on Twitter / Facebook and heavier on blogs and news.

You can even use this Sources feature to further hone your content production to match any given home for it. Clicking on any publisher brings you a list of the relevant articles they’ve published on your topic, so you can start writing related stories that will best resonate with that audience. You can also view that source’s influencer list, to see who else (site authors, competing brands, etc) is having an impact in your category. As part of the full Appinions suite, you can learn from those successes, monitor your competitors’ actions and respond as needed, reach out to influential journalists, and more. This will all further enhance your newly informed content distribution buys.

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Increase Your Native Advertising Intelligence 

With insights like these, you can remove the guesswork from your content distribution. Not only will you know the exact right homes for your content, you can better tailor your messages to resonate with those audiences. Whereas content distribution was once a world of gut-feelings and escalating CPMs, you now have clear insight into where your content will have a perfect audience, and you can secure that placement before your competitors even have a clue.

So stop throwing away your content ad dollars, and schedule a chat with Appinions today.

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Posted on October 16, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

A Focus on Content Marketing

Over the past nine months, we’ve been busy enhancing and expanding Appinions to make it more useful for marketers — particularly in ways that make it easier to plan, execute, and analyze content marketing programs. The result is a new version of the Appinions platform that remains a strategic tool for the CMO but also offers tactical (and practical) benefits for every content marketer.

The Data Inside

We’re not new to content marketing. Over the past few years we’ve worked with B2B focused Fortune 1000 CMOs on a range of marketing initiatives including helping them to launch, build, and measure some fairly large content marketing programs. The influence analysis at the core of our platform has provided content marketers an useful view into what leading voices were talking about, who could contribute or amplify media, and the impact that content efforts were having on the reputations of the brand and internal thought leaders.

But we came to realize that there was more value we could bring to the content marketing process by simply digging deeper into the data we have in Appinions’ back-end.

Our platform ingests and analyzes over 10 million documents every day, from news sources, blogs, and social media. Using natural language processing technology and other data science techniques we extract opinions, identify influencers, and score the impact each has on any client-defined topic. But beyond this there is a lot of amazing data and insights on the messages, authors, channels, trends, tactics, and results of corporate publishing and marketing that wasn’t being exposed via our interface.

So for the better part of this year we’ve been working on connecting and surfacing more of the rich data we process every day. The features are now available, and they’re enabling our content marketing clients to gain a deeper understanding of the most effective content in their markets, improve the way they plan and create new content, and perhaps most importantly track the broad impact that their publishing efforts are having on their brands. 

The Four Questions for Content Marketers

The data that Appinions now provides answers four important questions that content marketers often struggle with:

  1. What subjects and topics will attract the most active attention? There are hundreds of issues and dozens of angles you can take with every new blog post, white paper, or webinar. Choosing what to write about is a big investment of time and energy, and (in some cases) promotional dollars too.Appinions takes the guesswork out of content planning by providing multiple ways to get data-driven subject-matter recommendations every day. This allows you to consistently deliver content that the market is interested in and people will react to and re-share.
  2. Who should you partner with to maximize visibility and exposure? Building a reputation as a thought-leader, either as a brand or individual, takes both time and partnerships. The best brands use guest authors, do expert interviews, quote and comment on the thoughts of recognized influencers, and see to have their original work amplified by these highly connected people.Appinions gives you comprehensive influencer lists, lets you filter and sort them for your specific needs, and enables you to reach out directly to create mutually beneficial relationships.
  3. Where should you publish and promote for the greatest impact? Content publishers have impact across owned, earned, and paid channels and see both original materials and reactions occur on millions of different blogs, news publications, and social media accounts. Choosing distribution targets is difficult, as-is knowing where your promotional dollars will be most effective.Appinions shows you exactly which channels are getting attention and which specific publications are delivering reactions for the specific topics you’re covering. This makes it easy to ensure results from your distribution efforts and native advertising budget.
  4. How effective are your efforts in attracting meaningful attention? The biggest challenge most content marketers face is demonstrating the impact their work has on the organization.Appinions tracks the overall results from your content marketing efforts in a number of important ways. Your influence score within your market records the increasing awareness and quantity/quality of reactions received by all the different content you’re producing. And your ‘share of attention’ changes within your marketplace (or versus your competitors) and let you track that over time. Both are broad measures of results and for the first time provide a clear way to communicate the impact of your content marketing efforts.

A Unique Solution for Content Marketers

For most content publishers, having a reliable source of daily answers to these questions is a game changer. Each removes a lot of guesswork from the existing process, allowing informed decisions to be made quickly. Saving time, adding clarity, and measuring results is a powerful trio of benefits.

We’re able to do this because of the unique data platform on which Appinions is built. Based on over a decade of research at Cornell University, we’re not counting mentions or shares to determine what’s important or who’s influential. Rather, our patented technology and proprietary algorithms are measuring what you might call Active Attention – the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of people which are then weighted by who held them and where they were shared. And each client is able to define any number of custom topics for which they want to access this information.

We’re excited to bring our newly expanded range of features for content marketers to a broader audience of users. Based on our own use of the tool, and the success our clients have experienced, we’re confident that any serious content process will be dramatically improved through the use of Appinions for Content Marketing.

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