Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

By joepulizzi published May 1, 2009

15 Steps to Small Business Online Marketing Success

We’ve been working a lot lately on a list of necessary steps to take with your online content. As we compiled the list, it became clear that this would make a very helpful checklist for small- or medium-sized businesses. As you’ll see, not a lot of detail, but a great list to check against.

If you see any additional ones to add to the list or other helpful links, please comment below.

  1. Fresh Web Content. A minimum two times a week, update your site with fresh, relevant content for your customers. An easy-to-use content management system like WordPress will help.
  2. Hire a Journalist. If you don’t have the resources to consistently develop content, hire a journalist or outsource your content to an expert content team.
  3. Install Google Analytics. Many small businesses have a website but aren’t paying attention to who’s coming to the site and how they are getting there. Use analytics information to find out more about your customers and how you can solve their pain points.
  4. Set Up RSS Feeds for Your Content. Google’s Feedburner or Feedblitz will work just fine.
  5. Start a Blog. Starting a blog may be the key to your program. Post at least twice a week and talk about what is going on in your industry. A blog should not be promotional at all. When done right, you will position yourself and your company as a thought leader.
  6. Comment on Blogs. Find the 15 to 20 best blogs that you feel attract your typical customer and post at least once a week.
  7. Site News Section. Develop a news section within your site. Keep it updated each month. For a more robust option, check out HP’s newsroom.
  8. Regular Online News Releases. Plan for at least one “online news release” per month. This could promote the eBook, fresh content, events, new promotions, etc.  As long as it’s valuable, you can promote it. Here is an example.
  9. Develop an Enewsletter. Developing an outbound communications tool is critical to maintain and grow relationships with customers, and will faciliate spreading your content. Be sure your newsletter is “opt-in” (they gave you permission).
  10. The Free Content Giveaway. Create an eBook as a packaged content download for your customers and prospects. If you need your customer information (leads), you may opt to ask for basic information before download. If you want your content to spread and be shared, set it free. Here is a great discussion about “gated” content. Some excellent eBook examples are David Meerman Scott’s “New Rules” and our “Trust” eBook.
  11. Twitter Tips. Instead of creating a Twitter account that is all about you, think of your Twitter account as a channel. Determine what your ideal customer pain points are, and then deliver content through your Twitter channel that they would benefit from. Use Twitterfeed to automate your RSS feeds from your blog or web articles. Use Tweetdeck to manage your Twitter conversation. Here’s a Twitter primer to get you started.
  12. A Facebook movement. Instead of creating a Facebook fan page for your company, create a movement or cause. I thought Shama Hyder did a great job of this with her ACT Blueprint.
  13. Set Up Your Company in LinkedIn and Maximize Your Profile. PR 20/20 has an excellent post that will get your LinkedIn profile into shape.
  14. Pay Attention to Your Google Profile. Here’s a step-by-step to setting up your Google profile.
  15. Listen and Learn. Set up your Google Alerts account to track what customers are saying about you, your brands and the keywords that drive your business. Here’s a quick how-to on Google Alerts.

Just a reminder…these are all tactics to use as part of your content strategy.  Determine your content strategy first, then use these steps to execute that strategy.

Related Articles:

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By joepulizzi published April 29, 2009

Callaway Goes Digital with Online Magazine Launch

I had a nice email conversation with my friend Nick Green from MacDUFF about their recent launch of the Callaway Online Magazine.  Here are some of the outtakes.

Joe –  Why did Callaway decide to produce this?

Nick – MacDUFF approached Callaway Golf about a year ago with the idea. With print and US Postal Service charges on the rise and marketing budgets under stress we felt the time was right to go online. Callaway is a technological leader in golf and believe the iMAG can reiterate their stance.

(Note from Joe – MacDUFF refers to a digital/online magazine as an iMAG. MacDUFF built the Callaway iMAG using flash technology.)Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published April 23, 2009

Not Web Content, Quality Web Content

Interesting research from the Aberdeen Group on how web content management technology is transforming digital marketing.  This is a gated report, so you’ll have to sign up to get it…but there is some quality information in here about the evolution of web content.

Portions of the report discuss the corporate goal of improving web content.  Getting content is usually not the problem for businesses.  Almost all organizations have truckloads of content.  The challenge is taking information inside and around a company and creating valuable, relevant compelling content from that information.

On that note, the top three web content strategies for improving web content as discussed in this report are:

  1. Improve quality of web content.
  2. Use segmentation.
  3. Integrate web content management strategies with other technologies.

Number one (improving the quality of web content) wins this battle in a landslide.  And rightfully so.

The disconnect in most businesses is this: the average company still generates the majority of their web content/information focused on the company, brand products or services. That’s great for the few customers that know exactly what they want.

The rest of your customers and prospects are saying “I don’t care about your products and services. I care about myself and my personal and business needs.

Are you among the 81% of businesses looking at improving the quality of your web content? Then create content that addresses what your customers care about. Solve their challenges.  Solve their pain points. Be relevant. Become their trusted adviser.

That’s how you improve your web content – and is the start of a content marketing strategy.

Special thanks to David Drickhamer for sending on the report.

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By joepulizzi published April 21, 2009

The Collected Stories of Social Media

I picked this up from SlideShare by Seth Goldstein, CEO of SocialMedia.com. This is one of those presentations that just don't come around very often.  If you have an executive that just doesn't get social media, show them this.

Favorite quote: "Social media is about enabling lots of little stories to be created by lots of different people at the same time."

Thanks Seth!

By joepulizzi published April 20, 2009

Five Content Marketing Ideas that Will Pay Dividends

Really cool eBook by Amplifier Content Marketing (full disclosure: Amplifier is a client of mine) called "Five Music Marketing Ideas that Could Pay Dividends Now".

Truthfully, the five ideas in this eBook could be applied to any industry, not just music.  Also includes some amazing examples and case studies.

The five ideas to seriously consider now for your brand (according to the eBook) include:

  1. The Content Filter – Be the "editor" in a market and present people the best content in that market or that topic. Be the enabler of the information they are looking for.
  2. The Microsite – Become the trusted expert on a particular niche topic (on a different URL than your company URL, i.e., Mercedes Benz Online Magazine).
  3. The Magalog – Combine that outdated catalog with the compelling content of a magazine and give your customers something to really engage in.
  4. The Digital Magazine – Go no further than checking out what KLM is doing with their digital magazine, iFly.
  5. The Tweeter – Same concept as the "content filter" or "microsite" model…just distribute the content through Twitter.

Download the full PDF of the eBook here. Thanks to Glenn Sabin from Amplifier for putting this together.

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By joepulizzi published April 16, 2009

Digital Magazine Examples – KLM Leads the Way with iFly

I had an interesting email conversation with Sak van den Boom at CustomerMedia.nl about digital magazines recently.

We can’t seem to find a company doing more with the digital magazine format than KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and their digital magazine iFly.  If you haven’t seen it before, it’s one of the very few digital magazine examples that fully integrates flash and video into a customer experience, and tracks customer usage. It’s worth checking out.

But is it working? Definitely. After each issue is released, an email is sent to KLM customers, who then click through to the magazine issue. That way, KLM can track the behavior of each of their customers from the email. KLM can then track this information back to repeat ticket sales (the ultimate goal for the magazine is to sell additional tickets to their customers).

Here are some of the findings.

  • After their third issue, KLM has found that iFly is the best marketing tool they have EVER used to sell repeat tickets.
  • The average reader spends 20 minutes with the magazine.
  • Half read more than five pages.
  • 20% read the entire magazine.
  • Frequent flyers are heavy users of the magazine.
  • The click-through rate of iFly is higher than any other online campaign from KLM.

(thanks to Sak and Arjen Bonsing for putting together these incredible stats)

Digital Magazines in the States

To find out why more of these types of digital mags aren’t produced by US corporations, I went to experts Marcus Grimm from Nxtbook and Cimarron Buser from Texterity.

From what I can gather, most digital magazines start as print, not as stand-alone digital magazines. Since that is the case, most publishers take the PDF-version of the magazine and optimize it for the web (integrating flash, video or RSS after the original print version is created). It also seems that many US companies opt for using microsites or independent websites instead of digital magazines, such as P&G have with homemadesimple.com or beinggirl.com.

Also, the investment in custom flash technology does cost quite a bit more for custom programming, which is another reason why people simply tweak the PDF versions.

Regardless, Marcus and Cim were able to share some great digital magazine examples, including:

The Future of Digital Magazines
There is no doubt that digital magazines have always been a great option at giving publishers a proven digital replica option for their magazine, which can increase international subscriptions, and allow publishers to be more choosy in who they send their printed version to.

For marketers like KLM, it’s a excellent option if you want to track exactly what your customers are doing. Stats like the ones that KLM have received are much more challenging to get on a website version (as it pertains to one-to-one customer information). Also, if I already have a print magazine version, a digital replica is a no-brainer.

That said, if I were to start an online magazine, I’m not sure I would use a digital magazine format.  Seems like it may be better to open it up via a website and make it more possible for customers and prospects to actively share the information.

(Added after conversation with Marcus – interesting take “website is better to attract customers, digital magazine may be a better option for retention efforts…hmmm).

What say you?

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By joepulizzi published April 14, 2009

Three Things Now! – Content Marketing, Listening and Social Media

I gave this presentation last week at the Esource Utility Marketing Conference in Phoenix, AZ.

Here are a couple key takeaways from the presentation above.

We Have Come Full Circle
Centuries ago, the information world as we knew it was shaped by many voices. Thousands of newspapers and pamphlets from across North America was how people become informed through media.

Then came big newspapers, big television, big radio.  We went from many voices to few voices.

Today, there are more voices than ever before (we have come full circle and are back to the beginning).

What that means as marketers is that we need to adjust where we place our attention and budget. 70% of marketing dollars still goes toward "bigger, placed media". Knowing how media has changed, does this still make sense? Probably not.

Marketing Today is Publishing

For our marketing to succeed, we, as marketers, need to understand what successful publishing is. The majority of our marketing spend needs to be dedicated to the creation of consistent valuable and relevant information to our customer segments.

But even that's not good enough? We need to develop this information in ways that can easily be spread.

I've never had anyone send me a print ad, or forward me an online display advertisement. But I've had many forward an interesting article, video, or piece of branded software.

If your content is something that your customers are willing to share, you've unlocked the secret of engagement.

Be the Trusted Expert in "Something
"
Being a provider of some product or service is not good enough today. You need to be the trusted expert of something. Figuring out what that "something" is for your customers will ensure that you actually have long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Social Media Should Be about Listening FIRST

If you aren't using social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook to listen, forget about distribution. Never has there been greater opportunity to talk one-on-one with your customers. Don't screw that up by shoving content down their throats before you really understand what their pain points are.

My Four Rules to Twitter

  1. Never answer the question "What are you Doing?" Who cares? No one.  Focus on what your customers' informational needs are. Answer that.
  2. Assign Ownership. Make someone responsible. This should be someone's job.
  3. Be Democratic. Don't be so presumptuous to think that only your organization creates and distributes great content. Nothing will make you the trusted expert faster than to distribute the best content from anywhere you can find it…even from your competitor.
  4. Be Human. People do business with people today, not companies. With Twitter, there is no other option.

Content and Social Media – Follow These Steps!

  1. Understand who your customer is and where the pain points are.
  2. Develop consistent, relevant content in multiple channels.
  3. Let go of all control. Let your idea spread.
  4. People share your ideas, link to your content.
  5. Content is found through social media and search engines.
  6. Customers start relying on you for your expertise (relationship!)
  7. You are the trusted solutions provider in your industry.

Thanks to the great folks at Esource for putting together an unforgettable event.

<p>Slide 51</p>

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By joepulizzi published April 9, 2009

Moving from Journalist to Content Strategist

I’ve had a number of journalists email me recently about making the transition to become a content strategist.

So, I’ve been sending out notes to a few content marketing / content strategy experts to get some responses to that question. My good friend Simon Kelly from Story Worldwide was nice enough to offer his expertise in this area.  Here are some outtakes from our email discussions.

Joe – How would you define a content strategist?

Simon – I would define a content strategist as someone who marries the best practices of investigative journalism, magazine editorial planning, information architecture and marketing planning.

Joe – Sounds like a tough task.  How would this be executed?

Simon – The content strategist needs to pay closer attention to story-listening (the investigative peeling away of layers to unearth the brand truth and take a narrative, as opposed to data-driven, approach to consumer, brand and category insights) to define a brand’s story platform. This platform informs the brand’s authority to publish content and enables the content strategist to create a content plan that supports both the marketing objectives as well as the audience information needs.

Content strategists that are trained in journalism know that a content
plan needs to engage an audience over time and build trust through a
consistently authentic voice that delivers useful and entertaining
experiences each time (aka publishing), as opposed to most branded
web-site launches that may start off with a bang but soon fizzle over
time due to lack of a long-term content plan.

Joe – What do journalists need to do to make the transition to becoming a content strategist?

Simon – In order for journalists to successfully make the transition to becoming content strategists they have to add another dimension to their editorial mind/skill set – that of the brand: its story, its needs, its filter and voice, then go about it following familiar editorial steps.

*********

I truly believe that we are seeing an amazing opportunity for journalists, but not in the jobs and roles that made journalism famous. Brands are the ones that need the help of journalists now more than ever. Why? Because in order to survive as a business today, you have to learn how to tell a story that is relevant to your customers. Journalists can do that.

Simon’s advice is a great start for those who are looking for the next great opportunity.

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By joepulizzi published April 6, 2009

Keeping Score – Measuring the Effectiveness of Content


Thanks to Keith Wiegold for today’s guest post.  Great stuff!

Scene:  in swanky men’s locker room of Bushwood Country Club

Judge Smails: “What did you shoot today, Ty?”

Ty Webb: “Oh, you know I never keep score, Judge Smails.”

Judge: “Then how do you measure yourself against other golfers?”

Webb: “By height?”

— Caddyshack, 1980

Right now, maybe more than ever, your content marketing efforts deserve a little measurement.  Amidst budget cuts and strapped resources, elements of a marketing communication plan that lack at least some metrics linking back to effectiveness tend to be early casualties.  “Nice to have” is often “first to go.”

But more than simply protecting your endeavors (and their corresponding budgets), measurement should be a vital element in any content marketing strategy – bear or bull, boom or bust.  Content that fails to link back to marcomm objectives is surely “content” with a lower case “c.”

Even placing some very basic metrics in place takes the first few steps to ensuring your content is doing its job – to your client or yourself — and can lead to increasing effectiveness by applying learning from the measurement’s results.

Here is a quick list to get your content marketing strategy in the swing of measurement:

I object

Simply put, set objectives. Define what ‘success’ means for your program and get it down/approved in writing.

Make certain your objectives are not only measurable (including specific growth number and timelines), but can be achieved directly through the use of content marketing.  Think of it this way:  Content marketing should not be tasked with ‘cutting operating costs by 15%” but can be challenged to “reduce customer churn by 15%.”

Remember that the flow begins with a Business Objective, then a Marketing Objective, next a Marcomm Objective, and finally a Content Strategy.  Your strategy should be solving the Marcomm objective.

Budget, not fudge-it

Prior to writing word one, creating app one, or snapping photo one, put in place a budget for measurement.  More times than I care to recall, marketers would eschew this as ‘cost savings’ up front, preferring to “get on with” the creative.  Inevitably, someone (CFO, COO, etc.) somewhere else in the organization raises questions (usually just after the initiative begins, or worse – as budgets need slashing) about effectiveness, ROI, accountability.  The base investment budgeted before ‘the work’ begins anticipates this, and puts in place a means for continuous improvement to the content marketing efforts.

Bench ‘em

This goes hand-in-hand with both setting objectives and budgeting.  Again, before the initiatives are introduced to the marketplace, take a benchmark reading of your planned metrics.  Comparing post-effort results with pre-effort marks is valuable for new initiatives to existing efforts and brand-new initiatives alike.  Remember, tracking studies compare similar metrics over time, and they have to start sometime.  No time like the present.

Old Softie

Legacy efforts, as well as off-line efforts, often look to ‘soft measures’ to determine effectiveness.  Mostly determined by four- through ten-point scales, these softer metrics seek to measure customer self-reported awareness, attitudes, and intention.  Traditional thought suggests there is a large enough disconnect between reported intent and actual behavior to render these softer self-reported metrics ineffective; however, the most recent views on the subject find ‘reported intention’ as a better predictor of brand loyalty when compared to actual behavior – which can suffer from tactical promotions more readily than deep felt intention.

Oh, Behave!

Our digital age provides the opportunity to link actual behavior directly to content marketing efforts.  Metrics such as time spent on site, page views per session, repeat visits, and even click-throughs can indicate activity from the result of content marketing.  Marketers with ecommerce capabilities can measure the ultimate behavior, transaction, and the role content plays on cross-sell, up-sell, and retention, amongst other metrics.

A Little Experiment

Our forefathers in direct marketing have passed along to us in modern day integrated marketing the building blocks of segmentation, test/control, A/B testing, and other disciplines based in the creation of Experimental Design.

On the most basic of levels, a simple Experimental Design will hypothesize what your Content Marketing Strategy aims to achieve on behalf of the Marcomm objective, then puts in place a test to measure it.  Choose a target segment that you believe will be most influenced by your content efforts and test that against a secondary segment.  Or take a key segment and randomly separate out a test portion (those who receive the content) and a control portion (those who do not) and measure the effect over time.  You’ll need the assistance of a data analyst, but will be pleased with the quality of measurement your data will unleash.

It’s in the Hole!

While this is a simple primer of a checklist for involving measurement in your content marketing strategies, remember these two key points:

  1. Measurement is about planning.  And if we fail to plan…..
  2. More than simply protecting your investment, measurement is about learning – and applying these learnings toward enhanced engagement and increased results.

Now….how ‘bout a Fresca?

Keith Wiegold is Chief Content Evangelist at Nutlug Content Marketing, and creator of C.A.R.E ™, a proprietary strategic framework for Customer Acquisition and Retention through Engagement.  He can be reached at keith[at]marketingcontentstrategy.com.

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By joepulizzi published March 31, 2009

Eight Tips for the Twitter Beginner

I’ve been traveling non-stop recently – from California to New York to Florida to Europe and back.  Everywhere I go, I ask people about their Twitter usage. Not surprisingly, I see about 10% or less usage across the board (not including the online marketing audiences, which have generally been north of 50%+ usage).

I’ve read a lot of really good Twitter posts recently, including the Ultimate Guide to Everything Twitter to How Huge Brands Are Using Twitter to 101 Ways to Be Rocked by Twitter.  All good and useful. Yet, I still get questioned from most marketing executives who truly believe Twitter is a waste of time. About a year ago, I agreed with them.  Now, Twitter is one of the most important business tools I use and drives more than 10% of our total website traffic.

So, here are just some baby steps that you usually don’t learn until you are well into your Twitter career (struggling to figure out how to use it).  Hopefully these will be helpful.

  1. Don’t ever answer the question “What are you doing?” No one cares that you are drinking coffee and just finished dinner.  Answer the question with something that is always informative or helpful. This could be a link to a great article or a video that caught your attention.  If you want to tell people that you love a particular song, link to the song (now that’s helpful). Better yet, continually link to helpful content that your customers need for their careers.From a business standpoint, if you focus on a particular subject, you’ll gain a core following quickly.  For example, 90% of my tweets focus on some aspect of content, marketing or publishing.  If those interest you, you can follow me @juntajoe.
  2. If you are using Twitter on the Twitter website you probably don’t get all the hype. What you need is a Twitter management system like Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. That way, you can not only “listen” when people are talking about you, but you can also search on keyword phrases or follow hash tags (#contentstrategy) that are important to you. I prefer Tweetdeck.
  3. If you have a blog or article RSS feed, use Twitterfeed to automatically “tweet” your post or article. I’ve talked to dozens of people who were using tinyurl.com and manually doing this process until they found Twitterfeed. Once that’s done, use the Twitter Facebook app to automatically update your Facebook status through Twitter.
  4. Be democratic. Don’t just push out your own content all day long. Push
    out interesting and relevant stories that aren’t yours (possibly even
    your competition). You’ll be viewed as a much more credible source if
    you are seen as a market servant, instead of just a traffic hog.
  5. Complete your profile. I’m so surprised at the number of people that don’t even complete their name in their Twitter profile.  You’ll get less followers without a name.
  6. Don’t use Auto Direct Message. Only use direct messaging for personal notes.  Auto DM’s are way too impersonal and salesy for any social media, including Twitter. Don’t believe me? Read this post by Robert Scoble.
  7. Lethal generosityRead this blog post by Shel Israel on the concept of lethal generosity in social media. Give until it hurts and you will gain followers quickly.  Just like our content marketing…relevant, valuable information creates fans out of customers and prospects.  It works on Twitter as well.
  8. Shhh…listen! Remember, Twitter’s most important function is as a listening device (also called “listening post”).  Whether it’s you, or your social media staffer, someone in your organization should be listening to what’s being said about you, your brand, and your industry.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to take this tool seriously.

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