Content marketing and business improvement

Consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online “surfing” that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons (making them irrelevant).

Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.

Enter content marketing.

But what exactly is content marketing?

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

And they do. Content marketing is being used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and John Deere. It’s also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.

Content is the present – and future – of marketing

Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop…read… think… behave… differently.

Thought leaders and marketing experts from around the world, including the likes of Seth Godin and hundreds of the leading thinkers in marketing have concluded that content marketing isn’t just the future, it’s the present (see the video below on the history of content marketing).

Marketing is impossible without great content

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing:

Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
PPC: For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.
Content strategy: Content strategy is part of most content marketing strategies.

According to the Roper Public Affairs, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. Think of this – what if your customers looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if when they received it, via print, email, website, they spent 15, 30, 45 minutes with it? (See all the latest content marketing research here.)

Intrigued? Do you buy in? If so, take the next step by reviewing the full resources of the Content Marketing Institute, which will answer just about every question you have about how content marketing can change your business, and your customers, for the better. Here are some ideas on how to dig in:

New to content marketing? Check out our getting started guide, where you’ll learn the definition of content marketing, as well as basic steps for putting a content marketing plan in place.
Need a content strategy? Read the CMI Content Marketing Framework, which outlines the seven essential building blocks for a successful content marketing program.
Looking for some content marketing examples? Download our Ultimate eBook: 100 Content Marketing Examples.
Are you in marketing leadership? Subscribe to our free magazine, Chief Content Officer, to stay on top of the latest industry trends.
Really want to learn a lot (while having fun)? Join us at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the largest gathering of content marketing professionals in the world (and 99 percent of past attendees say they would attend again).
Need advice specific to your organization? Contact our consulting group, led by strategist Robert Rose, to find out how they can help you meet your content marketing challenges.


Facebook Votes helped at 2010 Election

On the day of the 2010 Congressional elections, Facebook ran an experiment on behalf of a research team based at the University of California San Diego. At the top of 61 million users’ news feeds, it placed a banner ad that said “Today is Election Day,” linked to information about polling places, and showed pictures of the user’s Facebook friends who had already clicked an “I Voted” widget on the site. For another 600,000 users, it placed the same informational message, but without the information about the user’s friends who had voted. And a control group of 600,000 users got no message at all.

Several past studies have failed to show a significant correlation between social media activity and real-world behavior. But this one, published in Nature on Wednesday, showed a clear, if modest, trend. Those shown the social message were not only 2 percent more likely to report that they had voted on Facebook than those shown the informational message buy facebook votes. They were also 0.4 percent more likely to actually vote, according to public voter rolls that the researchers pored through after the election.

That may not sound like much. But the thing about online messages is that they can reach huge numbers of people. So look at it this way instead: A single banner message on Facebook directly get online votes spurred 60,000 more people to vote in the 2010 election than would have voted otherwise. And research on social contagion effects suggests that another 280,000 people were indirectly influenced to vote by the message.* In other words, more than one fourth of the 0.6 percent jump in total voter turnout between 2008 and 2010 could be attributable to one message.

Consider that the message ran only on election day, when many people had already voted early. Many others probably didn’t see it until it was too late to vote. The takeaway is that while a social media campaign probably doesn’t have a great effect on any given user’s decision to vote, it could theoretically swing an election if shown to enough people. (The researchers note in their introduction that the 2000 presidential election turned on 537 votes in Florida.)
*Correction: This post originally understated the size of the indirect “social contagion” effects in the study. The researchers estimated that the banner ad influenced an additional 280,000 people to vote, not 220,000. (The estimate was based on research showing that the close friends of those shown the original message were significantly more likely to vote than the close friends of those in the control group.)

Great to know about YouTube mode

It was a few days ago the folks from Google’s YouTube team announced a new feature coming soon to mobile that would give users the ability to watch videos when no internet connection was available. Similar to “pre-loading”, this is different int that users will be able to select specific videos for complete offline viewing (not just your “Watch Later” playlist) but only for a “short time”.

Of course, details on this upcoming feature were scarce and we were curious to see how Google would handle the delicate issue with movie studios and music labels. Thankfully, the folks at All Things D spilled the beans, and here’s what you can expect from your YouTube app when it’s updated in the near future:

YouTube videos will still have ads
Users can select “add to device” to make videos available offline
Users have 48 hours to check-in in order to continue watching “offline” videos
Does not apply to movie/tv shows for sale or rent
Content creators will need to opt-out if they don’t want this new feature for their videos
No mention of music videos
YouTube says the feature will go live sometime in November (a month after the rumored Nexus 5 release), where they’ll update their blog with additional details. Seems like a nifty feature for tablet users who may not always have an active internet connection, especially when traveling. We’re hoping that buy YouTube views will have a special section specifically for these offline videos inside their app, or maybe even offline videos that appear in the Android 4.4 KitKat’s (rumored) new Gallery app.

A little earlier this week, we got some news from Google about a forthcoming feature for its YouTube mobile apps, where they’d be gaining the ability to cache videos for offline play. Considering all the stink Google has been making about Microsoft’s efforts to side-step YouTube rules – and specifically some of those concerning downloading clips – this was quite the surprising development. However, the announcement was seriously light on specifics, and while it was clear this feature was coming, we still didn’t know how long the “short period” we’d be able to save videos for would last, nor if this would work equally well for all clips. While the full picture isn’t yet clear, we’ve heard a lot of new details that help expand on what we know about this change.

For starters, it’s emerged that videos will be able to be cached to phones for 48 hours following download. Beyond that, users will have to get back online and check-in with YouTube in order to continue watching. And don’t think that going offline will save you from advertising – in-stream ads will be cached, as well.

By default, all YouTube videos will support this mode, though Google’s giving content creators the opportunity to manually withdraw support, whether for individual videos or their entire libraries.

However, some stuff just won’t work: any shows or movies your purchased through YouTube (or Google Play, for that matter) can’t be cached via this feature. There’s also the concern that some high-value content for buy youtube likes, like music videos tied to major labels, might be off the table right from the moment this ability rolls out.

Still, it generally sounds pretty promising, and 48 hours should be plenty enough to keep your phone full of entertaining content for a weekend away in the wilderness.

YouTube videos will soon be viewable even without an Internet connection thanks to an upcoming feature that will deliver offline YouTube support for the video-sharing website’s mobile apps. The YouTube Creator blog has revealed that Google will soon enable a cache feature that can store certain videos onto a device so users can view them later. Downloads will be available for a “short period,” so there will be a cap on how long the files will be available to store offline before users must watch the videos.
While it’s a given that the YouTube Android app will support this feature, it’s appears likely that the iOS app will also be able to cache video given the description of “mobile apps” rather simply specifying Android. BlackBerry and Windows Phone users probably will not be as lucky because their platforms have web apps rather than true mobile apps. In a cruel twist of fate, Google forced Microsoft to remove its self-developed YouTube app for Windows Phone because, among other things, it allowed users to download videos. Downloading videos on any platform or device is a violation of YouTube’s terms of service. Google will introduce temporary downloads to Android and iOS in November .


New Editing hub : Google Plus becomes

Google Plus has not come close to rivaling Facebook for social networking. But it is trying to carve out its own niche, as the place to go for photo storage, editing and sharing.

At a news conference showcasing photographers’ work on Tuesday at a San Francisco gallery, Google Plus executives barely mentioned sharing and social networking. Instead, they focused on new photo and video services.

“The cloud is not just about storing your photos,” said Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president in charge of social networking. “Google aims to revolutionize photography.”

As cellphones have helped the field of photography explode, photography and video have become one of the hottest areas of competition for Web and software companies, including Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Yahoo and many start-ups for buy google plus ones.

Google’s pitch is that it can fit the needs of a variety of users, including casual cellphone photographers who want to share what they are doing, amateur photographers who want an easy way to organize family photos, and hobbyists who want high-tech editing solutions.

“No other company has dared to take on the entire spectrum of photography,” said Bradley Horowitz, a Google Plus vice president for product.

Google has some advantages, like massive amounts of computing power for storing, sorting and automatically editing photos and the money to buy photo start-ups like Nik Software, maker of Snapseed.

But it lacks a few important things. Google said on Tuesday that its social network had 300 million monthly active users posting in the stream, a fraction of Facebook’s 1.2 billion. And many consumers have already invested time and effort in other services buy plus ones, like Apple’s iPhoto and iMovie.

Still, Google is trying to compete, even if it is still early in the process, Mr. Horowitz said.

The press conference was streamed live on Google Plus, and active Google Plus users in the Bay Area were invited to attend in person. Some offerings, like automatic photo editing and album organizing, had been announced earlier at Google’s I/O conference.

Many of the new features are also done automatically, replacing manual labor, and will be part of a new Google Plus photo app to appear in the next few days.

Google offers automatic back-up and free, unlimited storage for lower-resolution photos taken on Android and Apple phones. People can store higher-resolution photos as well, but in that event Google charges for storage after a certain point.

With a feature it calls Auto Awesome, it automatically turns a series of related photos or videos into animated GIFs, or short movies. Google has also created computer vision algorithms to let people search their photos using thousands of words, like manicure, bridesmaid, concert, kiss or waterfall.