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This Week in Content Marketing: Big Brands Favoring Content, But Will It Matter?


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode of This Old Marketing, Robert and I analyze a new study that says big companies are starting to get serious about content marketing as the effectiveness of online ads dwindles. While this data is encouraging, we agree that implementing it successfully is where the real challenge lies. Next, we’re not surprised that another new study shows millennials prefer email, which many brands have abandoned in favor of sexier social platforms they thought (erroneously) that Gen Y would prefer. Finally, the explosion of media channels has created a need for a new position: the platform relationship manager. Rants and raves include Lego’s prescient advice to parents of young children, Joe Coleman’s valuable insights into content marketing fundamentals, and the critical importance of customer retention. We wrap up the show with a This Old Marketing example from The Federalist Papers.

This week’s show

(Recorded live April 1, 2016; Length: 54:32)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Companies favoring content over ads (4:03): Click-through rates on banner ads have already hit rock bottom, 94% of online viewers skip pre-roll ads before five seconds have gone by, and an estimated 12% of display ads are never even seen by humans. That translates into $18.5 billion in ad spend waste in 2015, according to a new report by analyst Rebecca Lieb for ScribbleLive. That’s causing brands to rethink how they spend online, with ad money starting to shift toward content. I believe big brands are convinced they need to do so – but I doubt that many will actually do it, or they will do it poorly. Robert thinks this study will help them make the business case for content marketing. He also thinks brands are starting to recognize the importance of the data it provides.
94% of online viewers skip pre-roll ads before 5 sec; 12% of display ads aren't seen by humans via @lieblink Share on X
  • New study shows why retailers should ramp up their email game (20:31): Email appears to be making a comeback thanks to Gen Y. According to consumer research by Epsilon, 43% of millennials, compared with 32% of other shoppers, said they have been checking out retailers’ emails more often in the past six months. Millennials are also using higher than average percentages of printable coupons, daily deals, and price comparison sites. Robert and I agree that brands made assumptions about the ways in which Gen Y would want to engage with content. But data like this shows that this communications channel is still very effective, regardless of age or demographic group.
43% of millennials are checking out retailers’ #emails more often in the past 6 mo via @EpsilonMktg Share on X
  • The rise of the publishing platform specialist (27:40): As publishing companies grapple with emerging online platforms like Facebook’s Instant Articles and Snapchat’s Discover channel, a new job function is rapidly being created: the platform relationship specialist. The person appointed to this type of role will identify new strategic partners, determine how the business can best use them, and manage the relationships with them. Robert and I agree it’s a brilliant idea, but it will mainly appeal to large, complex brands that need to develop a more integrated strategy for communicating with their target audiences.

2. Sponsor (35:00)

  • GoToWebinar:  Webinars are consistently rated as the No. 1 marketing tactic for lead generation. Over 60% of all marketers utilize webinars. But many businesses still struggle with how to find their target audience and deliver the right message. Following a very simple five-step plan, the keys to using webinars for successful lead generation go from daunting to doable. From finding your audience and developing engaging content to authentic interaction and webinar promotion, you’ll discover the five steps to attract your target audience to your next webinar in this new report from GoToWebinar. You can download it here:


3. Rants and raves (36:43)

  • Joe’s raves: I absolutely love this photograph of a letter that Lego shipped with its building block toys in 1974. It encourages parents to let children create whatever they want and not necessarily be limited by gender stereotypes. That was very progressive thinking 42 years ago!Lego-letter-to-parentsI’m also a big fan of this interview with Contently CEO Joe Coleman from First Round. It’s an awesome reminder of why we do content marketing and gets to the heart of implementing it successfully. You should send it to people in your organization who could benefit from a clear explanation of why a content marketing strategy matters.
  • Robert’s rave: Robert adores this article by Douglas Karr, founder of the Marketing Tech Blog, about the cost of acquiring versus retaining a customer. The prevailing wisdom is that it costs four to eight times as much to acquire as retain a customer. Karr makes the case that this proportion is actually much higher, and presents formulas for calculating customer retention, attrition, lifetime value, acquisition cost, and other types of measurement. It’s like a master class in a blog post – highly recommended reading for content marketers!

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (46:34)

  • The Federalist Papers: The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 articles and essays written (under the pseudonym Publius) by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that aimed to influence the American public and members of Congress to ratify the U.S. Constitution. The Federalist Papers had a coherent vision, outline, and structure, led by Hamilton, who wrote the majority of the essays. The authors were quite prolific, publishing as many as four articles per week. Seventy-seven of these essays were published over a period of two years in several New York business publications. In addition, a compilation of these and eight others were also published in two printed volumes in 1788. Although there’s no proof that they influenced the decisions of the U.S. states to support their goal, it is clear that they had the biggest impact in New York (the temporary capital of the U.S. at that time), where the Constitution was ratified on July 26, 1788. It was a remarkable content-driven attempt to push for ratification of the U.S. Constitution and it’s an excellent example of This Old Marketing — and clearly one of
    the oldest we’ve featured in this podcast.

The Federalist Papers

Image source

For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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