Posted on March 1, 2015 by sgoldner

5 Examples of Content Marketing Excellence and Why

By Steve Goldner


In the past 20 or so articles, I have given you information and rationalizations to help you become a better content marketer. (For starters look at the content marketing playbook – Content Marketing 101 through Content Marketing 112). Now I want to give you five examples of companies that have done an excellent job with content marketing. Each company is very different … I want to demonstrate that it really does not matter what business you are in. You can deliver great value to your target audience via great content.

Farmers Insurance Group

Farmers Insurance 1


Farmers Insurance 2


Farmers focus is to deliver education on home safety and driving. Makes sense. They sell homeowners and auto insurance. Their content is completely aligned with the value their product delivers. They used a little known actor (J. K. Simmons) as their professor of safety. That is, J. K. was little known when they contracted him. Now that he swept many awards as a leading actor (including an Oscar), everyone knows him. Pretty forward thinking on the behalf of Farmers. If you go to Farmers’ site you will see a Farmers Inner Circle, which includes an extensive library of helpful tips around home maintenance and repairs, budgeting, auto care and insurance, and more. As a result, the site captures approximately 1.5 million unique visitors per month. Not bad for an insurance company. Consider all these visitors leads or loyal customers.


Birchbox 1


Birchbox 2


I always say that brands should think like a publisher. And Birchbox does exactly that by producing “The Magazine.” The Magazine provides valuable tips on grooming, hair, and the latest trends. The content they deliver is true to their brand as it focuses on personal style. They produce many pictures so The Magazine feels more like a “look book” then content pushing their products. This helps Birchbox stand out in an extremely crowded online retailer space. This results in almost 8 million unique visitors to their site per month and almost 8 Million views of their videos on YouTube.

American Express

American Express


Through American Express’ OPEN Forum, AMEX helps small business owners succeed. They provide advice for small businesses on leadership, marketing, finances, and many other business issues. They provide both original content and user-generated content (UGC). I really like OPEN Forum for two particular reasons. First, it demonstrates how easy and successful content marketing is for a B2B company by providing answers to solutions rather than pushing product. This is really important in making a target audience comfortable and winning them over. Second, is the use of UGC. Tap into your audience and let them help other users. The OPEN Forum delivers great results – over 16 million unique visitors per month and one-quarter of a million link back referrals.

Red Bull

RedBull 1

RedBull 2


Red Bull is one of the leading content marketing companies. But they do not talk about their product. They reinforce the lifestyle of a Red Bull drinker – a highly active extreme sport enthusiast. Many are familiar with their sponsorship and live coverage of the Stratos Jump. 8 million have viewed it. But go to their site on any given day and you will find other content on BASE Jumps, workouts, motor biking and a whole array of extreme sport activities. Red Bull has won almost 1 billion YouTube views and over 400 thousand referral links (awesome advocacy) to their content.





IBM is a technology company looking to deliver products that make “A Smarter Planet.” IBM provides an exhaustive library of case studies, technical resources, analyst papers, and executive briefs that it shares with everyone on their site. They also cover topics on technological innovation and advancements on their “Building a Smarter Planet Blog.” IBM is a great B2B example of a company sharing their solutions to strengthen their brand position and perception as a technology leader. They have won over 20 million views of their videos on YouTube, drive over 1.5 million unique visitors to their site and have almost three-quarter of a million referral links backs to their content.

These are five pinnacle examples of companies doing an awesome job with content marketing. You may not drive results to the magnitude of success as these companies have, but certainly you can reach relative great results with your content marketing when done right.

Make It Happen!


Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.



Posted on February 26, 2015 by sgoldner

The Practice of Digital Ad Blocking Magnifies the Importance of Content Marketing

By Steve Goldner

Ad blocking technology removes ads from the Internet via a browser extension. Two of the most popular extensions are Adblock and Adblock Plus. These extensions are available for every browser. According to ClarityRay, a recent acquisition of Yahoo, about 9% of ads were blocked from a sample set of 100 million impressions.

ad block

While some big companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are paying ad block software providers to unblock ads on their websites, ad blocking should be a growing concern by digital advertising brands. Whether you agree with ad blocking or as a digital marketer you feel like someone has just unplugged your conduit to your target audience, user behavior cannot be ignored.

It is estimated that 144 million Internet users worldwide currently have active ad-blocking software. This is about 5 percent of all Internet users. In the US, that figure is projected to be in double digits. (Figures are found in a recent report from Adobe and PageFair.)

BI ad block chart

The growing trend of usage of ad blocking must speak loudly to marketers. Marketers must understand their audience. The spiked increase of ad blocking usage means that the audience has spoken and their voice is getting louder. The audience is saying that they do not want to be interrupted by ads on digital channels they frequent. They do not want brands to infringe on their digital experience.

This creates a huge challenge for marketers. Marketers want to go to the channels where their audience goes and influence them there. But at the same time, the audience is saying, “I don’t want you to show up there.”

I think the real issue is the manner in which marketers show up. It is like they show up at a busy party and try to say, “Stop what you are doing and listen to me.” Try that the next time you go to a gathering. People will definitely take a WTF attitude and be turned off.

The answer to this problem is for marketers to show up where their audience congregates, but do it on the terms of the audience they wish to win over. What does your audience want? They do not want blatant ads thrown in their face. They want help. They want to be entertained.

What if you thought about giving your audience exactly what they wanted? Don’t you think you would have a better chance of winning them over as opposed to being abrupt and pushy? Develop content that they will value. Deliver content that answers problems in their lives. Content they will want to share with others. Be a helpful reliable resource.

I am not suggesting that content marketing is a powerful alternative to display ads because I am blogging on a company blog that helps marketers with a data driven content marketing strategy and plan. My recommendations are driven by empathy for users. The audience has demonstrated a growing and trending behavior of using ad blockers. Rather than simply taking my suggestion, examine your audience. Understand what motivates them and disenchants them.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 22, 2015 by sgoldner

Why Content Marketing is an Imperative Part of Digital Marketing

By Steve Goldner

Content Marketing within Marketing

Wikipedia states “Marketing is communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service.” But if we want to win over a target audience, pushing advertorial communication in their face certainly is not the answer. Today, we call that interruption marketing. It just does not work (by itself).

If we take a further look at audience behavior we learn that less and less are getting product information from the places they did so twenty and thirty years ago. That was from media channels such as TV, print, and radio. People learn to tune out TV commercials and fast-forward through them. Print, as an information source, is replaced by digital. Many people view “TV content” via digital devices. When we look at audience behavior, it is no surprise that digital marketing is growing and will continue to grow.

US Digital Marketing Spend

Digital marketing leverages the ubiquitous use of electronic devices such as PCs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. Digital marketing is delivered via websites, e-mail, apps and social platforms or networks.

Digital is more than a marketer’s tool. Digital is also the way our society and culture communicate. And this communication spreads wide and fast. The user habits of the millennial demographics have greatly influenced all other age demographics across age, gender, income-levels, geography, you name it. Even in countries and regions that never had telecommunications infrastructures, wireless digital communication is widely used. People have access to and use of websites, email, SMS, apps, and social networks. They communicate and share information and advice via digital devices and platforms.

If we take into consideration the way people use digital today and we look to have brand awareness, evaluation, consideration, sharing, and advocacy across the digital spectrum of websites, email, apps, and social networks, we see that content is the ONLY marketing deliverable that crosses the entire digital range. Content pieces or references to content can be present in all these digital delivery mechanisms. Content can be shared among individuals (friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, or within communities) across all parts of the digital communication spectrum. Just take a look at the uses for content marketing (as provided in a whitepaper by IBM):

IBM Content Marketing

Content marketing is the most valuable segment of digital marketing because it is threaded across all aspects of can be present in all digital platforms. Content marketing also allows integration across other digital marketing elements such as SEO, email, display, and social. It is no wonder that 77% of marketers will increase content production in the next 12 months.

Newscred produced a very interesting post where they sighted “56 Reasons Why Content Marketing Works.”

They summarized their detail by stating:
1. Content marketing is necessary to efficiently build your business
2. Customer acquisition requires many simultaneous tactics
3. Blogging, email marketing, and social media are the main drivers of brand engagement

This is spot on. The simultaneous tactics required for customer acquisition (and retention, loyalty, and advocacy) are solidified by a cohesive content market strategy, plan, and execution across the main drivers of brand engagement. If you want true synergy in your overall digital marketing, you must have a strong content marketing presence. It is not hype that dictates this, but rather audience behavior.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 19, 2015 by sgoldner

The Dirty Little Secret of Content Marketing

By Steve Goldner

dirty little secret

The dirty little secret of content marketing is that the title or headline of your content is more important than the content that follows. Case in point … If I had titled this article “The Title of Your Content is More Important than the Content that Follows,” there is less likelihood that you would have clicked through to a posting of the article. The simple fact is that a provocative heading increases interest and attention to what you have to say. You have 1.5 seconds to get the attention of and attract your targeted audience.

But the implications of a heading for content go way beyond the need to be provocative. Lets first examine how people really use or consume content. We need to understand the motivations for people to read, click thru, and share content. The motivations are not the same for all of these.

To begin, there is one segment of the target audience that consumes content to learn and is seeking help within their professional or personal life. These people value insights, guidance and tips. They are likely to read or view your content if you help to solve challenges they face. That is their motivation for consuming content, but their motivation for sharing the content is completely different. They will share content if it reinforces the persona that they want to be viewed as. They are likely not to share the content if they believe it makes them look uninformed or inferior to their peers. It is like a bumper sticker on a car. People use them to tell the world, this is what really matters to me. This is what I stand for.

Now I just made a key point about why people might share. This brings us to the second segment of the target audience your content resonates with. Some people never consume your content but simply share it based on your title. Their share is much like the bumper sticker the might have on their car. It demonstrates to their audience how they want to be seen. Think about the development of headings and titles for getting your content shared, independent of whether the content is actually going to be read by the sharer. For example numbers in headings often get shared, like, “6 Trends that Define the Future of Digital Marketing.” People share content to reinforce their persona for two general motivational factors. 1) They want to help someone else with something they believe very strongly in, or 2) it further helps to define their personal brand.

Even when people consume your content, they often do not finish it and get to the end. (Are you still reading this – ☺.) Chartbeat assessed user behavior across 2 billion visits and found that most people who click don’t read. 55% of users spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. (Source) So this means a) that you need to get your important information up front, and b) you need to provide concise content that keeps your audience engaged through the end. It also means that your content title or heading drives initial awareness for your brand. That may be enough for your brand objectives. If you want to build affinity for your brand content, you will need to produce stellar content through and through.

But title is equally as important as the entire remaining part of your content. Think about it.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 15, 2015 by sgoldner

5 Reasons Why Your Content Marketing is NOT Working

By Steve Goldner

content marketing not working

Content marketing creates awareness and advocacy for your brand if performed correctly. But far too many marketers find that their efforts are not delivering successful empirical results. If you are concerned about the results that you are not achieving via your content marketing efforts, consider the following five reasons why many are not reaping desired results from content marketing endeavors.

1) A lack of understanding what your audience wants and values – about four years ago, I penned an article “The Most Important Word for Marketing.” It highlights the importance of empathy – “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.“ Whether it is content marketing or any other discipline in marketing, empathy for your audience is the most important factor of success. Understand your audience. Play to their concerns and interests.

2) You talk about you, not what your audience wants – Remember, if you are trying to attract a target audience, it is about their needs and interests. Not your agenda. As discussed in “Content 103: Leveraging Your Brand Position to Produce Compelling Content,” winning content is the intersection of what the brand stands for and what the audience values. Yes, you want to tell your brand story and display your brand expertise, but content must be developed to deliver value to your audience.

3) You do not have a distribution and proliferation plan – producing great content is only the beginning. Great content is worthless if it does not get seen. You need to have a plan to get the content exposed, shared, and proliferated. Successful content proliferation comes from a strong social and influencer marketing strategy and plan.

4) You are not implementing the right tactics to allow your content to be easily shared – are you making it easy for your content to be shared? Do you have share buttons on your content? Are you reaching out to the people that you know that value your content and have a significant network? Do you know the media channels and influencers that carry the topics you cover? Cover the details that will help your content to travel.

5) You do not know what success looks like – what are the realistic outcomes of content marketing. In the article “Content 108: Content Marketing Metrics,” I talked about measuring the stages of the sales-marketing funnel. The funnel stages are awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy. You should not expect sales to be a direct outcome content marketing. But certainly awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy are realistic and compelling outcomes of content marketing. These stages tee up sales. See the Content Marketing Metrics article for the details.

Some say, “don’t sweat the details.” But actually you need to work the important details to make your content marketing drive results. And if you work the details as suggested above, I guarantee you it will be no sweat getting a successful content marketing plan implemented.

Make It Happen

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 12, 2015 by sgoldner

Content 112: How to Determine Which Content is Driving Success for Your Brand

By Steve Goldner

In the last installment of the Content Marketing Series (Content 111: What Does It Mean to Produce Data Driven Content?) I touched upon the need to look at the traffic statistics and source of driven traffic. In another article in the content marketing series, Content 108: Content Marketing Metrics, I defined the parameters that you should measure. And in yet another post, I shared, “How You Know Your Content will Pay Dividends.” If you look at the intersection of all the parameters and measurements outlined, you can determine which specific content is driving success for your brand. Let’s break it down …

First, let me list the different ways people engage with content. A number of years ago, analysts at Forrester Research developed a model for social participation stages called the Social Technodemograpics.

Content 112-1

The stages show the way people engage with social content. The group actually put percentages of participation for these stages based upon a brand category. The point I want to make to you is that individual behavior differs across a target audience. You need to recognize this and look at metrics of the different stages as success for getting content consumed (with the exception of inactive, of course). Maybe the simplest way of measuring content success is to collect data on four parameters – the number of views, shares, comments, and references. But remember. Individual behavior may be the reason why the numbers for the four parameters vary. The relevant consolidated total is often telling.

Now notice that I stated, “Individual behavior may be the reason why the numbers for the four parameters vary.” Having blogged for over six years now, I have learned something else that is very important. Your content stylization type and title often dictate whether people will share, comment, or reference the content they have viewed. For example, something entertaining often gets a relatively higher number of shares. Something very insightful gets a high number of shares and references. Friendly banter and telegraphed questions often yield many comments.

You really need to understand the psyche of individuals to be able to motivate certain actions on your content. I’ll give you an example. If I am trying to talk to CMOs, I give them information that is helpful to running their marketing organization successfully. They will definitely read the material if I reach them on their channels of participation, but they are not likely to share, comment, or reference the content. Many CMOs do not want to say to other people ”I am enlightened by this information.” As a leader in a subject matter domain, they do not want to be seen as not being in the know. And that is okay. I am looking to enlighten my readers, especially CMOs, but I should not expect much sharing from the top of the marketing pyramid. If they want to have a private connection and conversation with me, I am all for that. It need not be in the public domain.

So as you assess whether your content is driving success for your business, understand people’s behaviors. Understand how the content you produce can influence certain behaviors (or not). Then as you collect empirical results be smart about what the numbers are telling you. Interpret the data you have collected and understand its meaning. Literally examine the type of content you have produced, where it has been distributed, and look at traffic, shares, comments, and references to get a data driven picture of your content success. Play around a bit and learn how different nuances in your content change empirical results. It takes time to build a strong following with content production. But once you have achieved this, you know you have accomplished loyalty and likely advocacy. And that is the ultimate success of marketing.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 8, 2015 by sgoldner

Content 111: What Does It Mean to Produce Data Driven Content?

By Steve Goldner

content 111-1

If you Google “marketing” look at the news tab and you will see more articles on “content marketing” than any other marketing discipline. No doubt, content marketing is the buzz, the trend, and the area of marketing that is getting the most focus and increased budget.

The question every marketing executive should ask is, “If everyone is doing it and there is an abundance of content out there, how can I ensure that our brand content is getting viewed and shared in the massive sea of content?”

Content marketing is powerful. It gains brands awareness and advocacy for marketers that do it successfully. But there is certainly no shortage of marketers just throwing crap on the wall with no set methodology.

As a guest blogger for Appinions, I have shared with you guidelines for content marketing to yield success in my past ten articles (Content 101 through Content 110). I elected to work with Appinions because I truly believe they have a platform that is most valuable to help marketers drive content marketing with winning empirical results. At the end of each of my articles I have signed off and noted “Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.” So what exactly does it mean to produce data driven content?

First off, it means that you have done theme, meme, and topic audits to determine the content in your brand category that is capturing the attention of your target audience and vertical influencers. You cannot just “wing it” when covering various subjects. You need to understand what type of content truly captures the attention you seek to secure. If you want to make sure your content gets consumed, you need to do the due diligence and capture data that directs your content subjects.

Next, you need to understand where your target market goes to get information. This investigation is a combination of understanding the media channels that get the most attention on a topical subject and understanding what social channels your audience engages on. It is one thing to produce stellar content. It is another thing to make sure it shows up in the right media and social channel sources to optimize its exposure.

Another way to get stronger publicity is to build relationships with vertical influencers so they produce content that mentions your brand. This was covered in the previous post – “Content 110: Earned Media – Finding Influencers to Distribute your Content.”

What I have suggested thus far is really performing due diligence to yield information and data to help optimize your content production and distribution activities. But there is one more very important aspect of collecting data to drive content marketing excellence. That is evaluation … you need to look at the traffic statistics and source of driven traffic. Understand which content pieces are getting the most click thrus. Understand the sources that are driving traffic to your content. Take this information and use it as a feedback loop to modify ongoing content generation and distribution.

Take the time to investigate, capture insights, and plan content marketing execution based on due diligence. This is what it means to produce data driven content. Doing so will guarantee that your content marketing efforts are yielding success in generating awareness and advocacy.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 5, 2015 by sgoldner

Content 110: Earned Media – Finding Influencers to Distribute your Content

By Steve Goldner

What is earned media?
A: Earned media is any publicity you haven’t paid for that’s owned and created by a third party.

Why is earned media important?
A: A Nielsen study in 2013 found that earned media is the most trusted source of information in all countries it surveyed worldwide. (Source)

content 110-1

While developing your own original content (typically called owned media) is an important function of content strategy, capturing earned media is probably even more powerful. The likely question that follows is, “Why invest in owned media if earned media is more powerful?” The answer is that you are not likely to win any earned media without producing stellar owned media. Most people learn about your brand via your owned media. Not advertorial content, but content that grabs the attention and respect of influencers.

So who are the influencers and how do you find them? I breakdown influencers into three groups.

1) Traditional influencers – these are the individuals that traditional PR agencies court. They are pinnacle media establishments (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post) and celebrity-like figures (Mario Batali, the late Roger Ebert, Tim Gunn) in a specific area of subject expertise.

2) Emerging (digital) influencers – bloggers that have established a large audience following and drive thought leadership in a specific space. The poster child of emerging digital influencers is Robert Scoble. Scoble is a tech blogger whose rise to vast influence started from strong participation and guidance in Microsoft’s NetMeeting support newsgroups, and for maintaining a NetMeeting information website.

Another example of an influential blogger’s emergence from nowhere is Tavi Gevinson who commanded quite a following for her fashion blog. At the prime age of 13, she was a special guest at New York Fashion week. (It still astounds me how she came up in conversations at ELLE Magazine when I worked with them.) Emerging digital influencers could also be blogs (PitchFork, Mashable, Gizmodo) rather than individuals by name.

3) Influencers by connection – here we have your everyday “Joe” and “Jane.” People who have hundreds of friends … no let me correct that … hundreds of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. These people make posts and tweets and their connected friends react. “Saw a great movie.” “New sports drink was killer.” Their posts create response and action. If you represent a brand, you want to court these people to produce brand action.

All three groups of influencers have an important role in promoting your brand. You need to identify these individuals and media sources. Once you have identified the influencers, you should actively follow them. Engage and interact with topical influencers to build strong relationships. 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 look to have their original work amplified by these highly connected people. Work to stimulate content from others. I often call this associated marketing … it associates your brand with independent credible sources. The sources are viewed as authentic (no brand subjectivity) and they are trusted.

I should add that the Appinions platform gives you comprehensive influencer lists, and lets you filter and sort them for your specific needs. Appinions also shows you exactly which channels are getting attention and which specific publications are delivering reactions for the specific topics you’re covering.

Whether you use the Appinions platform or not, you need to incorporate an earned media plan as part of your content strategy. Earned media drives awareness and consideration for brand.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on February 1, 2015 by sgoldner

Content 109: The Power of Orchestrated UGC – (User Generated Content)

By Steve Goldner

Marketing has changed. It is no longer simply a task aimed at lead generation and sales. We want customers emotionally bound to our brands. This translates to loyalty (repeat purchases) and advocacy (word of mouth marketing). If you look at the costs to win a new customer versus the cost of retaining and expanding purchases by existing customers, you will see the value and higher ROI for customer loyalty. But loyalty is not the end of customer relationship building. You want advocates for your brand because the voice of an existing customer/client sharing your product/service with their network is far more compelling than anything marketers can say on behalf of the brand.

content 109-1

As a marketer, you can orchestrate advocacy; you can orchestrate and motivate user-generated content (UGC). Think about some successful forms of UGC implementations that include:
• Actively asking your audience for content
• Posting it on your site or social channels
• Producing stories, testimonials, videos, pictures and other types of multi-media

Probably the most known UGC program and one delivering the greatest results was this past summers ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I cannot think of a UGC program that had more participants, more views generating awareness, and at the same time blew away financial objectives.

The food and beverage category is one particular industry that has seen many successful UGC programs. Yes, the most obvious implementation is the exchange of recipes. But there are other implementations that have had great success.

Take, for example, Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” campaign. Once again in 2015, Doritos is calling upon their audience to make their Superbowl commercial. Doritos has been successful by breaking a bunch of advertising and marketing rules. Their objective is to produce content the audience actively seeks out. They have invited fans to create their own Doritos commercials for the opportunity to have their commercial shown during the Superbowl (and a $1 million prize). In previous years, they produced more than 2,000 video submissions, 2M votes cast to determine the contest winner, and more than 1B impressions in all. Doritos had the financial ability to create their own commercial, but they given the reins to their consumers and left the promotion of their brand in the hands of their fans.

Another example is Coca-Cola’s “Happiness is …” tumblr page. Coca-Cola is notorious for putting brand content generation in the hands of their audience and this Tumblr page is another strong example worth checking out. Other strong examples of using UGC to generate strong awareness, loyalty, and advocacy come from Red Bull and Chobani. They have used Instagram and Pinterest to display and proliferate UGC for their brands.

UGC implementations by food and beverage brands represent strong examples for other verticals to learn from. There are two main positive outcomes of UGC driven initiatives:
• allows your audience to connect, build loyalty, and deepen relationships to your brand
• promotes greater sharing – people want to show their friends that their content is highlighted on specific sites

People like to hear from real people … we are in the day of reality TV, so why not produce your own “reality marketing” program. It is worth noting that millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than other media.

So when you think about your content strategy and plan, go beyond considerations of your own original content. Tap into your audience. They are likely to have a compelling creative twist on content production.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

Posted on January 28, 2015 by sgoldner

Content 108: Content Marketing Metrics

By Steve Goldner

Brand content marketing should be soft and subtle on a product mentions. The content a brand produces should be helpful and/or entertaining to the target audience, and be free of direct ‘selling’ and blatant calls to action. But content marketing should not be regarded as an endeavor in which you naively just hope for results. You should be able to produce empirical data that indicates you are yielding results.

So if you cannot expect sales to be the end result of content marketing, what can you expect? And what should you measure?

All marketing efforts require metrics, and there are no exceptions for content marketing. Content marketing serves the progression of behaviors target audience move through as we work to tee up transactions. Let’s look at it in terms of the sales/marketing funnel:

content 108-1

In the funnel, content marketing can demonstrate empirical results with regards to awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Measuring Awareness
You typically gain awareness off your site. If someone is on your site consuming content, they are probably already aware of your brand. Thus, awareness comes from mentions and discussions elsewhere; news and blog coverage, sites where you do digital PR and outreach to; and brand or URL mentions on social platforms or other media sources. The global metric here is the attention your brand is attracting within the active discussions of your marketplace.

Measuring Consideration
Once individuals become aware of your brand, they’ll want to check you out and learn more. Consideration can be as simple as viewing more of your content. Content lives on your site, and on the all the channels where you distribute and promote. Measure visits and views and shares and other indicators that your content is being consumed. Also look at the kinds of themes that are emerging within the discussion of your brand and products, watching for more conversation about issues where you focus or excel, or even capabilities that you’re highlighting in your content pieces.

Measuring Loyalty
You want to build a loyal set of customers and turn some of them into advocates. Loyal customers will remain engaged with your brand. They will write comments, interact with your content, and spend time consuming and sharing your materials. While raw numbers of subscribers to your site by itself is not particularly telling, looking at these trends AND looking at the volume and results of their engagement is a very positive indicator.

Measuring Advocacy
Engagement is very good to see, but having individuals that actually market your brand (word of mouth marketing) is the pinnacle of success. This can be measured by the micro-actions (retweets, shares, etc.) but more importantly by the emergence of new influencers – people or organizations who share opinions or amplify your content and get reactions to their efforts. Looking at overall sentiment indicators within total attention, or for key influencers is also interesting.

The funnel shows a linear sequence, even with its cyclic nature where advocacy re-feeds awareness. My experience examining customer behavior for the brands I work with reveals some slight variations. Yes, the funnel states are still there and individual consumers can traverse the funnel states in a linear fashion. But we see more and more variations away from a linear movement as shown in the diagram below.

content 108-2

As we examine the new construct of target audience relationships to change behavior and drive transactions, notice “conversion” is not part of the content sharing and social activities. Awareness, Consideration, and Loyalty states “tee up” a conversion. Content marketing is not a strong activity to promote a sale.

Awareness promotes consideration. Awareness can also drive a transaction. Consideration yields conversions and has a higher probability of invoking sales than simple awareness. After a purchase is made (conversion), valuable content can help to generate loyalty. Loyalty can result in repeat purchases as shown with a double arrow in the diagram above. Loyal customers can become advocates as well. You should think about post-sale follow up content and engagement to move your customers to a loyalty and advocacy state. And once you produce advocates you have a most powerful outcome. Advocates inspire awareness, consideration and loyalty. They work as the most trusted source of marketing for your brand.

So make sure you know your content marketing is delivering measureable success. Know what is realistic to measure. If you do not see positive results, modify your content strategy and plan.

Make It Happen!

Steve Goldner is the Content Advisor for Appinions. This article is part of the Content Marketing Series he is covering to help marketers get better ROI from their efforts. Appinions is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

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