Stepping Stones of Content

stepping stones of content

There’s a river near my home that has a constant flow. The riffles there are not terribly deep. It is however wide enough that you can’t jump it and deep enough that you’ll be more wet than would be comfortable continuing the walk. There are no bridges. There are however lots of stones. In several areas, they form a series of stepping stones across the river. What series of stones will get you across depends on the amount of rain. But there are always more than one way across.

Content stepping stones are the paths that lead to conversions on the other side.

Define the Goal, Not the Path

Similarly, there is more than one content path to your ultimate conversion or sale. Not every piece of content, no matter how great, leads to the desired objective. Most often, it will be a series.

When you’re looking for metrics that matter on your website and through your content, look for these “stepping stones.” These are the paths that lead the customer to your ultimate goal and conversion. There could be multiple paths to the same goal. It’s likely more than one step. There could be multiple goals. But these are the real metrics. Not time on page, or even page depth.

Use your analytic software to view the entire path leading to the conversion. Don’t just look at the previous page. How they arrived at the previous page could be just as important (this is especially true in longer B2B sales cycles). Finally, record and note what happens after this conversion. Which paths lead to actual revenue? While one path might lead more visitors to your conversion, another more circuitous route might lead to more revenue. It might be less worn and less obvious at first glance. But getting more people to choose that path could lead to more insight and success.

When you identify these paths, determine when to get visitors to them at the right time and keep them on their journey. And yours.

This entry was posted in Business Marketing, Content Marketing, Marketing Automation, Modern Marketing, Uncategorized on May 12, 2013 by Devin Meister.

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10 Step Content Strategy

 

If you understand the concept of “content,” then the idea of a content strategy seems simple. Until you start to dig in. Then you understand quickly that it is simple and complicated at the same time. To start your content strategy out right follow this outline:*

  1. Define your marketing objectives and what you want to accomplish. Consider both inbound and outbound.
  2. Identify your buyer personas.
  3. Map out your buyers journey.
  4. Create a content inventory.
  5. Audit the content to determine what is most valuable to the buyers.
  6. Identify any content gaps in the buyers journey.
  7. Determine what content needs to be created to fill that gap. Create it.
  8. Pat yourself on the back. You’re inthe top ½ of marketers now.
  9. Check the results against your marketing objectives.
  10. Likely realize you still have a long ways to go. Get back to work.

*This 10 Step Content Strategy is to a real content strategy as a napkin drawing is a map to the top of the Matterhorn. It points you in the right direction, but the real work is up to you. Or somebody. But there’s work to do.

T and Pi shaped People – Aliens Among Us

Modern marketing requires a new set of skills – and they look alien to many experienced traditional marketers. It’s a combination of technical skills with creative ability and a curiosity to dig into analytics. From the pre-madmen Claude Hopkins era to hey days of Chiat/Day, marketing had strong black and white divisions between identities within the team.

  • Account and C-level executives = suits
  • Finance = bean-counters
  • Creative = crazies, weirdos, and worse
  • Media = well, I’m not sure anyone called them anything
  • Admins = not socially acceptable to repeat what they were called back then.

I suspect that the “suits” created and perpetuated these labels. Just a  hunch. But the lines were rarely if ever crossed. It used to be when you found one of the special weirdos that had some visual sense and understood that marketing should communicate with words as well (usually) you were lucky. You made them a creative director. Somebody that understood using words and images together was a crazy dual-kind of talent.

That has changed with modern marketing. Two tools aren’t going to get it done. According to this article by Econsultancy, ”the term ‘T-shaped’ was first used by McKinsey & Company to describe the type of person they were looking to hire.” In their case they were looking for people with deep vertical skill and expertise, the “|” part of the “T” along with a broad horizontal “─” understanding of all other disciplines required. That’s nice, but it’s not really that different. It’s still basically and expert with some limited understanding in other areas. Limited understanding has limited utility in business.

Later,  Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein coined the term “pi-shaped (Π)“. This introduced the idea of marketers that were adapt at using both the right and left sides of their brains. Previously the balance of analytical and creative skills in marketing were set by the structure of the different team members. Now, with dramatically leaner teams, modern marketing demands team members that possess both. This is a much bigger leap.

On one hand it’s simple numbers: headcounts are reduced. On the other hand, communication has changed. It’s much more personal, mobile, and trackable. It has always required stories. The addition of tracking and automation, of really knowing how people engage with and find stories and being able to deliver it is completely new. Just the idea of moving beyond specialties is new to marketing. You can call it alien, but it’s arrived. Everyone must be a Multi-tooled Marketer at some level.

For more about T-shapes,right vs. left brain, and a people oriented approach, check out this article.

 

 

This entry was posted in High Bar Marketing, Modern Marketing on March 23, 2013 by Devin Meister.

Careless Brands Ripe for Disruption

What’s Your Business, Really?

Brands need to ask and answer this question honestly: what business are we in, really? If they don’t, they should be prepared to be disrupted.

The mistake has been made over and over, and pointed out again and again by experts from Theodore Levitt to Gary Vanerchuk.

It’s not the railroad industry. It’s the transportation industry.

The customer doesn’t need a drill. They need to make a hole.

Understand your core business or get ready to be disrupted.

Read the complete post, first published at http://www.wilsonadv.com/2016/05/careless-brands-ripe-for-disruption/ on May 23, 2016.

Careless Brands Ripe For Disruption

What’s Your Business, Really?

Are Chrysler, Ford, Honda and others just automobile manufacturers? Or are they in the personal transportation business? How will a self-driving car impact what they manufacture today? One thing for sure is that the landscape is changing. Those that don’t keep pace will be left behind. That’s just one example of how companies really need to stop protecting the status quo and know and understand what they really have to offer.

Read more at Careless Brands Ripe for Disruption.

This entry was posted in Business Marketing, High Bar Marketing, Uncategorized on September 26, 2016 by Devin Meister.

Quick – Email The Fire Department!

Said no one ever.

Email is a great communication device. In fact, it might be my favorite. But it’s not for emergencies. That might be why I like it and why it is so successful in business. It’s non-interruptive – unless you want it to be. It will wait patiently until you are ready to address it. That’s also what makes it more successful in business applications than other devices, such as phone calls. But it’s not for emergencies precisely because it’s not interruptive.

That’s why if you have an emergency that requires me to stop what I’m doing immediately and address it, use the phone to text or call me. As a someone who spends significant portions of time writing I block off time when I don’t answer emails.

Here is my interpretation of the order of communication devices and how to reach me:

  1. Immediate: Knock on the door
  2. Urgent: Call or text
  3. Important, but not completely time sensitive: Email
  4. I’d like to tell you, but not annoy you: Twitter and LinkedIn.

In other words, if you have an emergency, don’t get mad that I didn’t read your email. If it’s important enough to interrupt everything, it’s important enough to call.

This entry was posted in Business Marketing, Rants and tagged business marketing, communicating with marketers on May 22, 2015 by Devin Meister.

Marketing with Fresh Breath

I once had a great coach who had chronic, I mean really bad, halitosis. While his insights during the game where outstanding and well received, half-time talks and individual conversations could be painful. On the field, his bad breath wasn’t an issue. In a huddle it was.

It’s the same with marketing communications. Marketing through many previous media, such as billboards and TV, had some distance between the piece and the actual recipient. If need be, the recipient could take the parts of the message they needed and move on. If it was uncomfortable, bordering on nauseating, they could ignore it entirely.

Now those messages are moving to our mobile and now wearable devices. Extremely close. As these communications move ever closer to their audiences personal space, marketers need to make sure that their breath is fresh – in addition to communicating the right message. Not doing so will create an uncomfortable and less than positive user experience.

Here are five things you can do to make sure your marketing has fresh breath every time.

  1. Have a point. And get to it quickly. When you’re interrupting someone (and you are) don’t waste their time.
  2. Don’t be boring. Seriously, you’re interrupting them, so this better be good. It’s your duty and you’re already on the back foot. Win them back by giving your point an interesting, thought provoking or humorous angle.
  3. Consider the time. “You should have turned there” is my instructional pet peeve because it’s too late to act. Thanks for nothing. Time your communications to a point where they can take the action you want and allow the time to take that action.
  4. Consider the place. Similar to above. You wouldn’t send a text message to someone who was driving. But I listen to a music service that I love on a mobile device – but it continuously has ads that ask me to click on a banner. Hello?! When I’m on a mobile device – I’m mobile, not looking at the device to click on anything. The message and moment are wasted and gone.
  5. Some things can wait. Better yet, they need to (see 3 and 4). Include a mechanism for your audience to revisit your message when they’re in a better position to respond. At the very least, provide a memorable offer or URL so that you audience can respond at an appropriate time.

Mobile and wearable marketing aren’t going to do anything but increase. All signs point to the messages getting even closer than the current consumer wearables we see now in May 2015. Let that sink in a bit. Marketing closer than a wristwatch … is likely literally right next to the face of your audiences. Be courteous. Make sure you have fresh breath.

 

This entry was posted in High Bar Marketing, Modern Marketing and tagged mobile marketing on May 21, 2015 by Devin Meister.

Include the Link

 

This is more than moderately irritating. When you ask people to look at something online – include the link please. Please. Email. Twitter. LinkedIn. Anywhere. Don’t make them search for it. While I’m sure they can find it, it’s a courtesy that takes maybe five seconds if you’re slow.

Secondly, and most importantly, it assures that everyone is looking at the same thing. For instance, I recently shared this stat: “72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email.” Bucking the trend here, but makes sense. http://lnkd.in/SkgUHq

If it’s worth sharing or talking about, it’s worth the extra step to make sure everyone is on the same page.

As an aside, why I think email is preferred, is I believe it’s the most assured method of delivery. It’s essentially a signed parcel of the digital delivery world. Posts and comments in social can get overlooked. Not email. It’s still business critical.

This entry was posted in High Bar Marketing, Rants on July 23, 2013 by Devin Meister.

4 Steps to Avoid the Crazy Cat Lady of Web Content

content hoarding

Attribution Some rights reserved by attercop311

A while ago I did a guest post for the Cincom Expert Access newsletter, comparing undisciplined website management to people who do the same with pets, most frequently cats it seems.

“Cats can be great pets, companions, and mousers where needed. 35 cats inside a house or apartment are another story. They are likely to be underfoot, in the way, and make living unpleasant at best and unsanitary at worst. It’s not a place you want to visit.

Likewise websites need content. They don’t need untargeted, out-of-date, useless content lingering around forever, getting in a visitors way, and creating an unpleasant user experience.”

To avoid becoming a content hoarder, put a critical eye on the content to see:

  1. if it’s actually delivering a current and correct message
  2. if it’s something the visitors are actually interested
  3. if visitors are finding it
  4. what its useful lifespan should be.

You can read the complete post here: http://expertaccess.cincom.com/2010/05/how-are-you-a-crazy-cat-lady-of-web-content/

This entry was posted in Content Marketing, High Bar Marketing on August 5, 2013 by Devin Meister.

Leaning into the Content Curve

I’ve been watching and thinking a lot about content creation and the strategy around it. It seemed to me that it was a lot like learning to ride a bike – you can only get so far without actually getting on and doing it. I did a guest blog post on the Business is Child’s Play blog that reveals my opinion of training wheels. Short answer, I’m not for them.  http://businessischildsplay.com/2013/04/ditch-the-training-wheels-lean-into-the-content-curve/