#ContentWritingChat – Internal Communications Tactics for World-Class Content Marketing

What do internal communications have to do with superb content marketing?  At first glance, not so much. But when you think about it, internal communications are a critical part of the content marketing process. That’s why Express Writers and I decided on a TweetChat topic to cover some important tactics for internal communications and content marketing. We had a great one-hour discussion with the community members. It was a lot of fun!

Here are some highlights, but make sure to check out the full recap on Express Writers website. You’ll find valuable tips and insights from the tweetchat participants.

After reading the full recap you’ll still have some questions; Check out my ebook How to Develop a World-Class Internal Communications Plan. You can also download the free first chapter of my book: Global Content Marketing 

You can also contact me via the contact form if you have any questions.

To connect with this great community, follow the official hashtag – #ContentWritingChat on twitter, and join the party every Tuesday 10am CST. See you there.

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5 Big Content Marketing Questions From Undergraduate Students

I was invited to speak at an undergraduate content marketing class.  Rather them giving a presentation, I asked the students submit questions. I created a customized deck to address as many questions as possible in one hour.

Here are some questions from the class:

  • Gina- Do you feel content marketing is for all businesses? What about small vs large enterprise?
  • Jake – What is your advice on the best ways to use content marketing within professional sports organizations?
  • Claudia- Do you have any advice for explaining the importance of implementing content marketing strategies to higher-ups in business?
  • Julia- What is your advice for professionals that are looking to expand their career in digital and content marketing?
  • Jamie- So you were a CPA before, what extra “benefits” has that brought to your career?

Q1: Do you feel content marketing is for all businesses? What about small vs large enterprise?

Gina, the answer is yes!  Let’s define content and content marketing first.

Content is

 

Content marketing is

 

Oh, BTW, here are 50 different definitions of content marketing in case you are curious.

Content marketing is about being helpful, educational, entertaining and challenging your customer. This should eventually also facilitating buying.  If you are sharing content to do any of that, you are in the content marketing business.

Let’s check out various websites from REI, Salesforce to a small ski school teaching baby boomers how to ski moguls.  Most of these sites peak the customers interests by providing something useful and beneficial. They are working from the angle of “learning” and “educational”.

 

Q2: What is your advice on the best ways to use content marketing within professional sports organizations?

Jake, content is super-critical for any sport. Since you have players and merchandise, you can generate a lot of content such as player practice, pre-game, and post game footage, as well as streaming of actual games and matches. You can have player community involvement information, press interviews etc. There is no shortage of content in sports marketing. The challenges are:

  • How to display and share content through a sport team’s vast communications channels.
  • How to balance the original (brands) content with user-generated content
  • How to integrate content to broader paid marketing campaigns and press efforts
  • How to be quick, timely and deliver personalized content

Content marketing can’t work alone, especially in sports marketing. It needs to be seamlessly integrated into all media efforts. Sports marketing is about engaging players and fans, especially during game time. It’s more about sharing content quick, fast, timely and fun. Images and videos usually work well in sports marketing.

5 Audience Engagement Tips from ESPN, Bloomberg and Purch

How to Reach Sports  Fans With Content Marketing

Q3: Do you have any advice for explaining the importance of implementing content marketing strategies to higher-ups in business?

Yes, Claudia. I even wrote a blog post about it.  Check out this blog post!

The reality is that it’s hard to measure the ROI of content. To get started, here are the key elements to consider:

  • Understand content promotional channels in your company
  • Create “From Content to Lead” or “From Content to Sales” mapping
  • Initiate a discussion with your marketing peers to help them understand the benefits of content
  • Offer to co-own their marketing metrics
  • Help them to do their jobs better with your expertise

The best way to quantify the effectiveness of content is in the context of marketing channels utilized. To unleash the value of content, you need to co-own outbound marketing metrics with your marketing peers. 

Q4: What is your advice for professionals that are looking to expand their career in digital and content marketing?

Understand how digital marketing front-end and back-end works.  It’s easy to understand how different marketing channels work together, from paid to earn media and hybrids. However, it’s important to comprehend the back-end of all marketing efforts: how all different platforms, tools and technologies work together and how they talk to each other. If you understand the back-end, you can see easily how the dots are connected. When you see how everything is related, you will have a holistic view of the company’s marketing efforts.

You will learn something from any marketing and non-marketing job. Learn as much as you can in any job you take, especially the jobs you don’t like.

In modern marketing, technology moves so fast that you need to learn, unlearn and relearn. It’s very exciting and overwhelming.

Q5: So you were a CPA before, what extra “benefits” has that brought to your career?

Jamie, this is a left-brain vs right-brain question.  The finance and accounting background prepared me to manage “Marketing” like a business. I was able to carry conversations with management, product teams and finance/accounting to provide updates from their perspectives.  Rather than talking about the opening rates of an e-mail campaign or likes and shares on social media, I made an effort to tie that to leads and sales.

Therefore, I am not naturally attuned to the creative side of marketing such as the creative concept development, story-telling, copywriting. I have to make an intentional effort to develop my right-brain thinking.

In summary…

I had a great time talking to all the students.  Some of them even reached out to me via LinkedIn. It’s wonderful to see content marketing being offered as part of the communications program. It’s never too early to discuss content’s role in marketing communications.

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#ContentChat – How to Build A global Content Marketing Team

What does a global content marketing team structure look like? I was asked this question frequently. Unfortunately, a team structure is unique and situational for each company. There is no standard answer! And there is no one-size-fits-all! However, I made an attempt to shed some light so that you can give some thoughts on how to put a team together.

At the same time, I would like to see what others have to say.  Therefore, I posed the question How to Build a Global Content Marketing Team? as part of Spin Sucks  weekly TweetChat with Erika Heald last week.

It was a lot of fun to exchange knowledge and experience with this great community. The best part was meeting awesome new people and having great conversation with them.

We covered basics of advantages and challenges of creating integrated content teams, and how to get started with globalizing content strategy.

Here are some highlights, but make sure to check out the full recap on Erika’s website. You’ll find valuable advice from the tweetchat participants, and what’s most important different perspectives on global content marketing teams, important elements and how to build one.

After reading the full recap you’ll still have some questions; you can download my ebook for free: How to Build a Global Content Marketing Team, or you can simply reach out to me via the contact form on my website.

To connect with this great community follow the official hashtag – #ContentChat on twitter, and join the party every Monday 12pmPST/3pmET. See you there.

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The Branding Journey: From Brand Audit to Brand Guide

I like this graph by Rusty Grim, Founder of Owen Jones, a branding and creative agency. This graph simplifies a complicated branding process: from conducting brand audits to completion of a brand guide.

Branding and rebranding can be overwhelming experiences, but companies have many options to shorten or skip some of the stages. Enterprises follow a process based on a number of factors ranging from timeline, company size, budget, and company’s maturity level.

Start with a Brand Audit:

I like Josh Miles definition: “The purpose behind a brand audit is plain and simple: to gain a fundamental understanding of where your brand stands in its current state.” There are a lot of ways to assess the current state of your brand. Josh provided a thorough category list for creating a framework for a brand audit.

Internal Branding

  • Positioning
  • Brand Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand promise, or brand essence
  • Voice
  • Culture
  • Product / Service positioning

External Branding

  • Corporate Identity – logos and other brand elements
  • Collateral-brochures, print materials, trade show displays, etc.
  • Advertising
  • Website
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships/civic-involvement/memberships
  • News/PR
  • Content Marketing and other assets – blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books, etc.
  • Testimonials
  • Videos

Systems and Infrastructure

  • Corporate identity/brand standards
  • HR policies/on-boarding process
  • Sales processes/touch points
  • Internal systems
  • Customer service systems

I’d add ‘talking to your customers’ and ‘assessing the competitive landscape’ as part of your brand audit . It’s important to get a solid sense of how your customers perceive your brand and any recommendations they have for improvements. Your customers are your BFFs. The competitive assessment includes the analysis of products and services to determine if there is a product segmentation gap. The helps in the development of branding personas, value propositions and even new product roadmaps and product logos.

A comprehensive audit requires a team to gather information from various internal and external sources.  It also requires time to conduct an extensive analysis and reach conclusive findings. The time spent can last from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 months.

Reality: Obviously, a complete brand audit is expensive. The extensiveness of a brand audit is heavily dependent on budget. You need to determine what criteria is critical to shed light on the current state of your brand.

Positioning, brand values, unique selling propositions, voice, product positioning and corporate culture is easy to obtain. It’s vital to talk to your customers directly to gain insights and review feedback and comments from your own websites and social media channels and customer services. Your brand audit report will drive the creation or tuning of brand persona and attributes.

For brand audits, I found the following resource helpful:

Josh DIY brand audit

The 7-Step Guide to Performing a Brand Audit

Know your brand in 4 easy steps

Craft Brand’s Attributes and Persona

You would use certain adjectives to describe a friend’s personality. Likewise, each brand has a personality and you should use specific adjectives or nouns to describe it. When thinking of Toyota, BMW or Chevrolet, you’d be unlikely to get these brands confused. That’s because marketers carefully select specific images, intended story approach and deliberate copywriting to reflect the essence of their brands. If brands do a good job over a long period of time, you will subconsciously associate them with specific words and attributes.

In addition to dictating creative development and copy writing of your marketing communications, brand personas will also reflect a company’s values and corporate culture.

Reality: When you work on your brand attributes, you need to visualize the associations you want customers to make in the long term. You also need to drill down to what makes you unique and how your brand differs from competitors’. Have a list of attributes and go through them one by one. It takes time and efforts to select 2-5 attributes that are unique to your company.

Some interesting read:

Brand personality

The Brand Persona

12 examples of Brand Personality

Pick a Name for your Products or Services (optional)

Choosing a name for a brand-new product or service can have a significant impact on its success.  Since a lot of names are already taken, it can be hard to pick a unique one. Sometimes an existing word can add value in association with your product. Other times you can create a new name that becomes inextricably associated with your brand.

Here are some examples:

  • HTC’s phone: Hero
  • Toyota’s truck: Tacoma
  • Intel’s server processor: Xeon
  • Dell’s computer, Inspiron

To avoid any potential trademark violation, some start-ups cleverly create funky names such as Tinder, Yik Yak, Flickr, Tumblr, Etsy, Twitter, Sumome, just to name a few.

Reality: It’s important to involve Legal to run a global search to make sure that the name doesn’t violate trademark infringement.

Check out naming rules from these three links.

Naming a Company, Service, Product

10 Essential Brand Name Legal Questions to Ask

How to Name a Product

Create a Branding Guide

After all the work above, it’s time to bring the branding to life with visuals and voice.  The goal is to deliver a consistent look-and-feel to help your audience associate your brands with specific attributes. It’s hard to tell designers how to design your print ads, but you can set up guidance on the color palette, typography and placement of logos.

That’s what the brand guide is about. It provides direction: where will the logo be placed on a print or banner ad?  What are the typograph fonts that we should use? What is the messaging framework for our products? What are the image selection criteria for social media? It can go as far as the aroma and music selection for a retail store.

The purpose of a branding guide is to provide direction so that there is no confusion about what your brand stands for.

Key components of a brand guide:

  • Company vision
  • Brand persona/ personality
  • Unique value propositions
  • Product messaging
  • Target audience
  • Logo guide
  • Color Palette
  • Typography
  • Photo selection guide
  • Digital and web guidance
  • Voice and tone

Check out these interesting links:

The Essential Components of a Brand Style Guide

How to Create a Brand Guide

Reality: You need to determine what topic to include in your brand guide. Ask your marketing team for input and prioritize and select the most relevant topics.

Now, it’s time to launch…

Launching or announcing a new brand, or rebranding, is a big deal which involves both internal communications to employees and external communications to the media (especially global brands) and customers.

There are a million details that need to be thought through when launching a brand, including business cards, building signage, product packages, websites, sales training templates down to new hire orientation booklet.  Basically, everything that your logo touches will need to be considered.

Reality: You will need to work with various departments to make a list of items that will need to be addressed. Then, create a timeline to update all the assets. It’s a lengthy effort which usually will take 2-24 month to complete depending on the size of a company.

You also need to have a branding training plan to make sure that everyone understands the essence of the brands and has a clear call-to-action to accelerate the branding transition.

Check out these two articles for post-launch.

What to Do After Rebranding

Brand Relaunch After Acquisition

The branding journey never stops…

With the rise of social media and ubiquitous mobile devices, everyone can make their voice heard and access information real-time. Branding is no longer a one-way street. Here are some challenges for modern branding:

  • Customers have a Voice with social media platform
  • Customers are ON all the time
  • Customers, if they choose to, can hijack your brands
In the 21st century, branding is the perception of your company in your customers’ eyes. It’s the sum of the overall intentional and unintentional experience you and others offer online and offline.

To nurture your brand, you need to continue to cultivate the online and offline experience. It goes beyond PR and marketing. Ultimately, branding is everyone’s job.

Note: A special thanks to Andrew Calzetti who inspired me to write this blog post.

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All You Need To Know To Create Internal Communications Plan

How can you create an internal communications plan for a newly formed or recently merged group?  The task may sound daunting, especially if you’re a B2B or a big enterprise.

Here is the secret: it’s more than manageable if you take the right approach.

A client asked me to create an internal communications plan for them to introduce their newly formed group.  They wanted to showcase what this new group can do for its internal stakeholders.  They also wanted to use the communications effort to crystalize their objective and strategy so that the management team could lead with clear strategic imperatives to provide the best services to internal stakeholders.

A piece of cake, right? In general, there are some similarities and differences between creating an external communications plan and an internal communications plan. The similarity: they follow the same methodology.  The difference: the deliverables are different.

Most of the communications plan tends to have the following elements:

And here are some milestone summaries for each stage:

 

The very first step is to identify a project lead. This person will oversee the communications plan from the inception to execution. This lead will also be responsible for reporting to the leadership team. Identify who that person is before the kick off.

When a group is formed, it’s usually out of necessity or to boost efficiency. Thus, the team needs a communications plan. Before this new group can craft a plan, it’s important to understand internal stakeholders’ expectations.

An internal communications plan is extremely important for the long-term success of a business. That’s why I’ve decided to write an eBook, 18 page guide: How To Develop a World-Class Internal Communications Plan, that will walk you through and explain each step from an internal communications perspective. 

 

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Working on Your Closing Presentation? 3 Elements to Make It Stand Out!

Recently, I was invited to speak at a client’s internal marketing conference. In addition to internal speakers, they also invited 5 external speakers during the 3-day. I was assigned as the last speaker, just after lunch on the final day. I was like “Yikes! Speaking to an audience that has been bombarded with presentation after presentation for the past 3 days…  And, they will be in a food coma, since it’s right after lunch.”

The other 4 external speakers were very good. They are pros! They know when to pause, when to crack a joke and when to dramatize their first-hand experience to get the audiences’ attention. Like other professional speakers, they have multiple standard templates and storylines that they use when they speak.  They make modifications, but the core of their presentations stay the same. Since they have been speaking at so many conferences, they’ve really got it nailed.  I enjoyed their talks!

After listening to their presentations, I was thinking about what I can do to be different and get my audience’s attention, especially when they will be in a food coma after lunch.

HERE ARE SEVERAL STEPS I TOOK TO MAKE MY PRESENTATION DIFFERENT:

Customized the deck and integrated other speakers’ key take-aways

Since this was a company event, I first wanted to know the duration of the event and when my time slot would be. Once I learned that I would be the last speaker on the 3rd day, I asked if I could attend the 1st and 2nd days.

Reason: I want to help my audience synthesize key presentations throughout the 3 days. They might be overwhelmed with information so the best way I can help is to incorporate key take-aways, tool announcements and best practices from VPs, external speakers and internal team members. It’s about making their job easy and helping the audience connect the dots as much as possible.

Ugly truth: Ok, that’s a lot of WORK! Not only did I have to be there for the whole event, but also I was customizing my deck real-time. I ended up ditching my standard talk and rebuilding the presentation because I came up with a better way to tell the story that would resonate with the audience better. It’s a little bit (really a LOT) of extra pressure!

If you want to go the extra mile for your audience, you will need to customize your deck and tie it back to what the audience heard.  Content marketing is about sharing relevant and useful information with your audience. I can understand my audiences’ needs much better by sitting there with them.  Therefore, I made changes based on what I learned to reflect their needs. It’s all about my audience.

Have a theme or a tagline

During the breaks, I made an effort to talk to some employees. I asked everyone the same question: “What is the biggest challenge of your job?” The responses ranged from “no resource and budget”, “Content marketing is hard. I don’t know where to start” to “I am overwhelmed with so many tools and processes”.  I internalized it and came up with a theme: “Strategic, but agile”.  The tagline is nothing new, but it helped me tie all the take-aways together with some of the points of view that I was planning to share in my original deck. Then, I gathered relevant information from the other speakers presentations to build around that theme.

Ugly truth: It takes time to crystalize your theme from all the conversations you had.  You need to think through what the audience is trying to say. The words they use usually have another layer of meaning. You need to think about the commonalities among all the challenges.

Use fun and expected memes and images to keep audience’s attention

This is the fun part. I love using funny memes, gif and images to engage the audiences’ ‘left brain’ so their right brain doesn’t get bored and stop listening.

Here some examples that got the audience to laugh.

 

Ugly truth: It does take time to find funny images and memes. And sometimes you have to pay for those images.

In summary…

At the end day, the most important thing is to keep the content relevant for the audience.  Even if I do all the three things above, if the content has no substance and is not relevant, I still won’t get their attention.

It was a very stressful 3-days! I literally rebuilt my presentations, asked my event organizer to supply me with some necessary slides from other speakers real-time and incorporated their key take-aways at the last minute.  I was so worried that I would not able to deliver well since it was not my normal flow.  However, I gave so much thought to how it should flow during the 3-day that I already knew the material well enough to deliver a useful presentation.

Several people came to me afterwards and told me that they were curious about what I would say as closing, since almost every topic about content marketing was already covered by both internal and external speakers. They love that I synthesized all the key points from the past 3 days and delivered it in a fun and humorous way.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to deliver an awesome presentation on the last day of an event after lunch?

 

Quick note: Here are a couple of thoughtful comments I received on Twitter. The stress? It’s all worth it in the end!

 

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How To Deal With Content Marketing Burnout?

I feel for content marketers out there. Depending on our roles, we not only need to plan content strategy, but also need to create and syndicate content as well. People come to us with various questions: What content do we have? Where should we place it? What content needs to be created or updated for product launches? Some even wonder about our value propositions and branding guides? Some of the requests really aren’t even the content marketer’s job, for Pete’s sake.

We are expected to wear multiple hats. And to do our jobs well, we somehow need to know a little of everyone’s job and understand their wishes, in addition to our own. As a content marketer in a big corporation, we likely are invited to all sorts of marketing meetings. Then, we are in meetings all day and end up not having time to do our real job until late at night.  With a constant need to be churning out content, a lot of us are on the edge of burnout.

Everyone deals with burnout differently. I discovered that burnout needs to be addressed professionally (at work) and personally (self-care).

Dealing with burnout at work

Have a content marketing plan

No matter what your role is, you should have a plan on what you want to accomplish.  This can be a team’s content marketing plan or your own deliverable list for a quarter or a month.  Make sure your management and internal stakeholders know what your deliverable are for next 2-3 months. Then make sure your tasks and activities support your plan. However, there are always last-minute surprises which need to get done. Leave a buffer and allot some time to ‘emergent’ tasks so they won’t impede you from completing the deliverables you committed to.

Deprioritize

Sometimes, there really aren’t enough hours in the day (week, month…) That brings us to the topic of Deprioritization. It’s important for you as a team player to chip in on last-minute requests if they are required for the team to be successful.  But time is a finite resource so, at some point, it’s important to discuss with your management and internal stakeholders if some deliverables can be pushed out or eliminated. I worked in the corporate world for a long time. My management and stakeholders expected me to get everything done yesterday. There is a time when you need to take a stand for yourself, especially after weeks or months of long working hours.

Delegate or Hire help

Another way to deal with burnout is to delegate or hire outside help. Can you delegate some tasks? If you have budget, can you hire contractors or agencies to do them?  Sometimes we are so wrapped around getting things done, we forget to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, it’s important to build a network of freelancers or agencies that you can tap into.

Say “No”

Saying ‘No’ is probably the hardest part for all content marketers. We don’t want to say “No” to our customers. We don’t want to let them down. When we are overwhelmed, it’s important to say “No.” But, there’s an art to saying ‘no’ without using the word ‘no. Typically, you can say something like ‘We could do that BUT it would mean not being able to do (some other high priority or committed task).’ Then, offer alternative suggestions to help them.  Recommend solutions such as other people or groups or proposing a different deadline. You don’t want to be thought of as a naysayer, so work on saying no to the immediate request while trying to work towards an overall acceptable solution.

Dealing with burnout at a personal level

Exercise

A 90-minute yoga or intensive workout does it for me.  Sweat is the best remedy to deal with stress and burnout. When I worked in the corporate world, I would go for a 30-min walk between meetings, just to get some fresh air and clear my mind.

Let it out

Another great way to deal with burnout is to vent. Talk to someone (you can trust) and just let it out. Curse like a drunken sailor if you need to. Get it out of your chest. Yes, it does feel better afterwards. But be careful not to say anything disparaging about specific people, that often comes back to haunt you.

Walk away and make time for yourself

Sometimes I will make a conscious decision to walk away from the intense work environment. Just go somewhere to take the mind off anything content related. This can be a hike, a relaxing in a coffee shop or even some splurge-retail therapy. Just a simple walk-away for several hours (of course, several days would be great, if you can manage it,) is a nice distraction. Clear your mind, count your blessings and remind yourself not to stress out; this is not a life and death situation. Don’t take it so seriously and personally. Take a deep breath and, when you’re ready, go back to the grind again.

I understand that it’s not easy to deal with burnout, especially we are connected all the time. I have come to realize that we need to deal with burnout proactively at both a professional and personal level. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. You need to try and find what works for you.

How do you deal with content marketing burnout? Share your tips in a comment section.

 

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Happy 2017! My 2016 WTF Moments (it’s not what you think)

Happy 2017! My favorite acronym in 2016 was WTF. I know what you are thinking. Wait, don’t be too quick to judge. WTF has two meanings for me: “Wow! That’s Fabulous” and “Why the Failure”. In every WtF (Why the Failure), there is a silver lining of WTF (Wow! That’s Fabulous).

So, here are my 3 WtF/WTF lessons in 2016:

WtF: Being rejected or not getting the business doesn’t mean failure. It just means that it’s not meant to be.

WTF: Internalize the lesson-learned. Have a drink (I had plenty of those), then move on!

WtF: Spent several thousand dollars and built a customized on-line course site that didn’t go anywhere.

WTF: Killed the site completely and recreated a la carte courses using cheaper 3rd party platform. Still working online course development.

WtF: Hired many programmers and coders for my own website and client projects with mix results.

WTF: By working with the good, the bad and the ugly programmers and coders, I learned a great deal on how the back-end works. Also, I am slowly building my own network of freelancers.

WTF: Acknowledge that my website is a never-finished masterpiece. I can optimize until the cows come home. I finally just set up a budget for what I am willing to spend on my website and am sticking to that (ok, for several months).

Working for myself for nearly 2.5 years, I have had a consistent fear that I was not going to make it. Only as recently as November of 2017 did I find the confidence to tell myself: “It’s going to be OK! I can do this.” Many friends and strangers-become-friends have helped me along the way. You know who you are.  Thank you!

Looking ahead, there will be plenty of WtF and WTF moments. Bring them on. I am ready.

Turn you WtF to your WTF.  Happy 2017!

 

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From Context to Leads: Metrics and ROI of Content Marketing

How to measure content marketing ROI? Here is one approach

The content marketing ROI question comes up frequently when I speak at conferences.  Here is my step-by-step answer:

Content is like a piece of furniture. It’s very hard to measure the overall value of furniture all by itself.

 

But, if you put the furniture in a partially decorated room…

 

Or better yet, put it in a fully decorated room… Voila! The piece of furniture suddenly has more value as part of the overall set!

 

Content is the same way. It’s hard to measure the content in the absence of context. See below, that’s just a blog in a Word file.  It doesn’t mean much, if your content is only in a Word file. Nobody is going to see it.

 

It needs to be on your website or part of an e-mail, etc.  It needs to be incorporated into your marketing channels.

To unleash the value of content, it has to be part of your outbound channels.

Ok, the next question: “what metrics should we use measure content marketing ROI?”  Well, I’d rephrase the question: “what metrics should we use to report out to senior management?” There are two approaches to track these metrics. You can track metrics from the sources, which are your syndication channels (number of views, number of likes, number of shares..).  Or you can track from the destinations to where your content leads. I call that the end-point.

Guess which metrics management cares about the most? The sources or the end points?  I’d say they are more concerned with the end-results.  Therefore, your content metrics should focus on the end-points.  Don’t take me wrong, the syndication channel metrics have their place. You should certainly review them when you work with your marketing peers to optimize your content copy and creative. These metrics are not something your senior management focuses on. At end of the day, they want to know if the dollar spent on content helps the company’s business.

Let’s take one blog post as an example.

All the outbound marketing channels drive traffic to this blog post.

And this specific blog post is part of the blog site.

So, what is the main goal of this blog site?  Well, it’s about sharing relevant and useful information with the target audience. At the same time, it is also intended to increase the number of subscribers.

 

Hopefully, compelling content will attract “NEW” subscribers who show interest in your products. If they show interest, you have opportunities to engage and convert them to qualified or paid leads. There, that’s the main goal of this blog site. That’s also the main goal of the content you create.

 

So a quick summary, here is why we track from content to lead.

 

Now, let’s work back to see how content links to the end-point.  In the following example, we can say that 10 blog posts per month help to get 100 leads per month. If you make that claim, your marketing peers will argue with you that it’s not true.  They also contribute to making that happen.

The best way is to work with your marketing peers to agree a ratio on how content contributes to leads or the business goals.

You can also do AB testing.  For 2-4 months, you do 15 blog posts per month.  For another 2-4 months, you do only 5 blog posts. Or you can try different content to see if one generates more leads than the others. You will see if the number of leads correlates with the number of posts.  I understand the findings are not absolute, given that the promotion channels may change and other factors may play into it. But you can get the gist of it. That should also give management a sense of the importance of content contribution.

The reality is that it’s hard to measure the ROI of content. To get started, here are the key elements to consider:

  • Understand content promotional channels in your company
  • Create “From Content to Lead” or “From Content to Sales” mapping
  • Initiate a discussion with your marketing peers to help them understand the benefits of content
  • Offer to co-own their marketing metrics
  • Help them to do their jobs better with your expertise

The best way to show content is in the context of marketing channels utilized.

To unleash the value of content, you need to co-own outbound marketing metrics with your marketing peers. Therefore, as a content marketer, it’s time to have a discussion with your marketing peers.  Make that your 2017 goal!

 

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What Can This Architectural Wonder Teach Us About Marketing

Visiting La Sagrada Familia, the Catholic Church with an unorthodox and ever-evolving architecture, has always been on my bucket list.  On my way to Lausanne and Milan for business meetings, I decided to stop in Barcelona to visit this historic landmark. In addition to soaking in the amazing sculptures and stunning architecture, I made an effort to connect the dots from what I saw to what I do.

Vision and strategy come first 

Antoni Gaudi, the master architect, designed the church, in his own words, to reflect “all the grandeur of the human spirit in its openness to God.” He wanted to create a sanctuary in which you can feel the presence of divine. To do that, you need a vision and strategy. He had a grand vision with a vivid imagination; he knew what he wanted to build in order to bring the divine glory to his sacred house. Unfortunately, his blueprint was completely destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, but his two fellow colleagues were able to recreate his blueprint from memory. It’s really hard to get where you’re going without a map, so this recreation of the blueprint enabled the continuation of the project according to the designs of Gaudi.

A blueprint is also needed for marketing: Your business model and strategy come first. When marketing is done right, it’s about delivering great user experiences reflecting the essence of your brand to support your business growth.

Vision and strategy require interpretation and execution

Here is the challenge for La Sagrada Familia: while colleagues were able to recreate the high-level blueprint, they did not recall or know enough details to take it to the next level to fully implement Gaudi’s vision. With Gaudi’s passing and the loss of details, those who worked on the project needed to interpret the high-level blueprint and deduce the details required to implement it.

The interpretation can’t be random or without constraints, it needs to be done with thought and intention. There are rules that need to be followed. For example: the new spires need to mesh with existing design elements. With similar aesthetics. Sculptures and statues need to be placed purposefully to reflect biblical references.

Similar thinking is also required in marketing; design guidance is the brand or style guide. The creative and look-and-feel elements of campaigns need to align with brand DNA, brand personas, typeface and other requirements in the brand guide. You can deviate from the essence of the brand, but you need to be able to articulate why and take into the account the impact on the overall experience. At the same time, messaging and copy on various channels need to be well-thought out. Ultimately, user experience is about attention to detail.

To do it right takes time

When Gaudi was criticized for taking too long to build the sacred house, he famously said, “My boss is not in a hurry.” He knew that it was going to take generations and many, many people to build his house of the divine.

Creating something memorable takes time and effort. I have come to realize that this is especially true for digital marketing. I have been fiddling with my own website for the past year. I wrote and rewrote the copy, added/deleted new pages, moved buttons around…Tested and retested what works and what doesn’t. The fact is that websites are like works of art, you can tweak until the cows come home but at some point you need to lock in the design and let go. The trick is to know when to stop and be OK with it.

In the real world, none of us have infinite time and resources to craft and recraft our marketing efforts. We have deadlines to meet, products to launch and bosses who are not as patient as Gaudi’s. The key is to start your marketing planning early, especially when campaigns require extensive collaboration with various teams. Even though Gaudi didn’t set a deadline, La Sagrada Familia Foundation aims to complete the construction in 2026. “The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.”

George Orwell said it was “one of the most hideous buildings in the world”, while Salvador Dali stated its terrifying and edible beauty should be kept under a glass dome. To start the construction of this alien-like and radical design in 1882, Gaudi was, no doubt, ahead of his time. I actually agree with both Orwell and Dali, it’s terrifyingly hideous and strikingly stunning at the same time. The mix of emotion reminded me of the Apple’s 1984 Macintosh Commercial. It’s terrifying and remarkable at the same time.

It’s hard to create a campaign with such grand artistic and provocative expressions. We may not have opportunity, resource or budget to work on a big campaign. That doesn’t mean you can’t take small steps and optimizations to improve your campaign or digital marketing efforts. Marketing results come from the sum of small efforts that you repeat day in and day out.

Here comes my bucket list no. 60: Back to see the brave new La Sagrada Familiar in 2026.

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