Productivity@Work Articles

Productivity@Work, July 2013

Basing Customer Contact on Credibility

Content marketing has become an increasingly popular term, yet its intent—building a message around value-remains unchanged. This edition of Productivity@Work centers on the growth of content marketing, targeting your audience with the right message, and the keys to building effective content marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, content marketing is about providing value and answering potential questions customers may have, and not about products and services. Are there subjects you'd like to see covered in future issues, or are there ways Productivity@Work could do more to address your needs? Email us at Editor_at_newsletter@cable.comcast.com to let us know how we can improve it.

Content Marketing Takes Off
Targeting Your Audience/Community and Finding the Right Venue(s)
Building Successful Content Campaigns
Improve Communication and Collaboration with Upware™
Maximize Your Email Marketing
Berry Built and Design: It's A Matter of Trust

Content Marketing Takes Off

Content marketing has its roots in custom publishing and loyalty-driven efforts, and for more than 100 years its primary goal has been customer retention, says Joe Pulizzi, founder and executive director of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). In recent years, however, content marketing’s objectives have broadened, and it is playing a much more important role in the overall marketing strategy at many companies, both B2B and B2C.

A new report by CMI and MarketingProfs on content marketing benchmarks, budgets, and trends in North America finds that B2B companies have earmarked an average of 33 percent of their marketing budgets for content marketing in 2013, up from 26 percent last year, and they intend to boost that expenditure to 54 percent in 2014. A similar report on the B2C segment finds that 28 percent of marketing budgets, on average, are allocated to content marketing, and 55 percent of consumer marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend. Currently, 91 percent of B2B companies and 86 percent of B2C firms use some form of content marketing.

Content marketing initially proved its worth as a customer retention tool by delivering consistently valuable content to current customers, a strategy that has proven effective in keeping customers longer and driving increased cross-sales and up-sales, Pulizzi reports. “Customer events and print customer magazines have scored high in effectiveness over the three years we’ve been measuring it,” he says. But its role is expanding dramatically in areas that include building brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, thought leadership, engagement, and more.

Customer acquisition is an increasingly important mandate for content marketing, singled out as an organizational goal by three-quarters of both B2C and B2B companies in surveys by CMI and MarketingProfs. Citing Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research, Pulizzi notes that the average buyer engages with more than 10 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. “If your content is not part of that mix, odds are you will be left out of that process,” he warns. All organizations need to position themselves as informational resources in their particular niche. “As far as top-of-the-funnel activity goes, content marketing may in fact be one of the best tools for customer acquisition.”

Content marketing’s effectiveness as a customer-acquisition strategy is maximized by including a call-to-action within the content that drives consumers to a landing page associated with the brand, suggests Marc Purtell, director, SEO at MediaWhiz, a performance marketing agency. “The more buzz-worthy the content, the more likely it is that customers will find your brand’s content,” he says. Content marketing also serves a more intrinsic long-term customer-acquisition value of increasing brand awareness and influence while supplementing search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, he adds.

Content marketing experts argue that the strategy offers a number of distinct advantages over other marketing and advertising techniques:

  • It can break through screens. “People everywhere have generally rejected ‘selling by yelling,’” says Brian Sheehan, associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and author of Loveworks. People have many ways of screening out conventional advertising messages, which are very “uni-dimensional,” while content marketing enables brands to be “incredibly personalized,” he explains. “Content marketing allows people to find your brand through content they may already be interested in, in a tone and manner that enables them to engage in their own time and on their own terms.”
  • It lasts a long time. Advertising can work wonders, but an organization is codependent on the advertiser, says Laurie Thomas Ross, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, Inc. “Unless ad dollars are being pumped into the ad vehicle, there will be no visibility. Content grows and has a compounding interest effect, where small investments of content compound into a large footprint online.”
  • It is organic and can boost Google rankings. Good, solid content is the key to getting and retaining high rankings on Google, says Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO of online book marketing and publicity agency Author Marketing Experts, Inc. “Ads won’t get you ranking,” she insists. “They may get you visibility, but you won’t keep consumers on your site, or coming back, if you don’t give them a solid reason to visit.”
  • It puts your business in control. An ad is a shot in the dark; you put it out there and hope someone finds you. With content marketing, you create content based on your customers, not your business, says Mike Wolfe, president of WAM Enterprises, an inbound marketing agency. “You can take questions you are often asked by your customers and turn those into content. Now you have solved a problem, saved your business time, and have something to share via social media,” he says. “Content gives you a voice; traditional advertising only allowed you to rent space.”

Learn more:

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Targeting Your Audience/Community and Finding the Right Venue(s)


There are more than two dozen types of content marketing tracked by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), with the five most popular being social media, articles on a company’s own website, e-newsletters, blogs, and case studies. But no matter what type of channel you choose--or how good your content might be--context is the most important issue that must be tackled in turning content into an effective marketing tool. It’s not just about creating and publishing content, you must build a community of readers who relate to your message and find your content relevant.

For starters, it is absolutely critical that you pinpoint your reasons for content marketing and tie them to well-defined and quantifiable business goals, says Lauren Fairbanks, chief content strategist at Stunt & Gimmick’s, a creative content agency. “The next step is figuring out what types of content are going to produce the results you want. If your goal is high-in-the-funnel activity like attracting attention and building brand awareness, focus on getting your message to a large target audience. If your goals are lower in the funnel--such as getting leads or driving purchases--focus on content that pushes conversion,” she advises.
Community building is an important aspect of content marketing because an energized community will spread and share your content in ways that a marketing department cannot, says Chris Pilbeam, managing editor at Vocus, a provider of cloud marketing software. Stacey Acevero, the social media community manager at Vocus, says there are four keys to successful community building:

 

  1. Know your audience. Research who they are online.
  2. Intently listen to your audience or target community before engaging. “Pay attention to the topics they chat about, especially their wants and needs,” she suggests.
  3. Engage in the communities where your audience is most present. “Go where your community is, and stay relevant and on point,” Acevero stresses.
  4. Be helpful, not promotional. “Communities can sniff out a fraud before you even set foot in the door,” she warns.

The choice of which channel or channels to use for your content marketing is highly dependent on your message objective. “If it is brand awareness, then social media and blogs become the preferred channels to stimulate discussions that will induce good word-of-mouth promotion,” says Darren Bosik, chief methodologist at QuestBack, a provider of enterprise feedback management solutions. If customer acquisition is the primary goal, more costly but effective content marketing approaches such as white papers, advertorials, and custom publications should be considered, he says.

No matter what your content marketing objectives or channels, some best practices always apply when targeting an audience or building a community, says Angela Courtin, chief content officer of Aegis Media Americas and president of The Story Lab, the agency’s recently launched content arm. “Be authentic, in the moment, relevant, useful, entertaining, and a good friend. And just be a good global citizen,” she counsels. Adds Pilbeam, “The dynamic of content marketing is that readers trade their time and attention for content that will help or entertain them. Your content should answer a question, solve a problem, or inspire readers. Then you earn the right to pitch them appropriately. Do not blast readers with brand messaging up front.”

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Building Successful Content Campaigns

Content marketing can be very effective for small and medium-sized businesses, but before you can begin to reap its benefits, you have to figure out what to write about. For many companies, that first step is incredibly challenging, says Jacqueline McDermott Lisk, head of digital product at Mediaplanet Inc., a multinational firm that creates sponsored custom content supplements that run in major-market newspapers. “Many marketers’ first instinct is to write just about their company, which makes sense since they know their business inside and out,” she says. “The problem with that is you risk producing sales material as opposed to a true content campaign. There’s a huge difference between a promotional brochure and a high-quality, well-written, and strategic article, for example.”

The way to approach content creation is to “think bigger,” Lisk advises. “Address industry issues in your content, not just your own product or service. Whether you’re outsourcing or working in-house, make sure you have your persona down pat. What does your brand sound like? It’s imperative that one person oversees all content initiatives. Someone needs to have the bird’s-eye view and ensure all company content aligns with your goals, strategy, and brand persona.”

Start by creating a mission statement and clear goals for your content strategy, and communicate them to everyone involved in the effort. “Consider asking your audience what they want to read about. Float a story idea to your Facebook or Twitter network via a quick, fun post,” Lisk suggests. “You’ll engage your audience and see if your editorial synopsis is on the right track.”

It’s a good idea to create an editorial calendar filled with the subjects that matter by month, week, and day, says Mira Emmerling, cofounder of R&C Media, a conversion-focused marketing agency that develops content strategies for SMBs. “Take into consideration your audience and your messaging to create topics that fulfill your needs, then fill the calendar with content ideas that are in line with each element,” she says. “Include tent-pole events that are relevant to your audience, and directly align your content ideas to capitalize on the power of search trends, editorial opportunities, and partnerships. With the editorial calendar in hand you will always know what to write about without giving up the flexibility to switch to a more relevant concept at the last minute.”

There are different metrics and benchmarks you can use to gauge the effectiveness of your content marketing program, and they should align with the program’s goals, says Lisa Gerber, president and founder of Big Leap Creative, an integrated communications agency. If your goal is to raise awareness of your brand, then measure Web traffic, social shares, and mentions. If you are most interested in lead generation, count landing page forms submitted. “Offer your audience something of value, like a free e-book or download, in exchange for an email address,” she suggests. If you are measuring ROI in terms of sales, CRM programs such as Salesforce.com and Highrise can track if your customers are coming from leads generated by your content campaign.

Perhaps the most important thing to measure is engagement, Lisk contends. “That’s our magic word. Engagement is an important step in relationship building, and it’s a two-way street,” she says. Average time on page and site are very important stats. Page views are also important, and if you’re linking to additional resources, exit CTR (click-through rate) should be monitored as well.

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Productivity@Work Tip:

Improve Communication and Collaboration with Upware™

If you’re looking for best-in-class cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions, without the need for extensive vetting, the Upware marketplace from Comcast Business can make your search easier. The Upware marketplace offers solutions from:

  • Soonr Workplace, the leading Secure Online File Sharing and Collaboration service that empowers business teams to be productive through secure access to any type of business content, anywhere, and on any device. Soonr Workplace balances the ease of use desired by end-users with the security and control required by IT.
  • Box, a secure, scalable content-sharing and collaboration platform that both users and IT love and adopt. It lets you store all of your content online, so you can access, manage, and share it from anywhere.
  • WebEx, Share any content - video, documents, web pages, applications - via web conference with clients, coworkers, partners or vendors.
  • YouSendIt, a simple, safe, and convenient content-sharing solution that works wherever you need to work. Collaborate effortlessly and securely with colleagues, clients, and contractors, and move your business forward.
  • Hosted Microsoft Exchange from Comcast Business, the most powerful set of cloud-based productivity tools that will unlock the potential of your business. Use Microsoft Outlook for business email, calendar, and contacts on your PC, phone, or browser. Use Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration, document sharing, and storage of large files. Increase user productivity, and keep your organization safe while maintaining the control you need.

In addition, Upware from Comcast Business provides:

  • Data Backup. Providers include MozyPro (desktop and server), Carbonite Business, and Digital Safe.
  • Data Security. You’ll find solutions from market leaders Norton and Websense.

In addition, the Marketplace features a wide range of Comcast Business options, including:

  • Business VoiceEdge (high-definition, Web-based phone service)
  • Norton Business Suite
  • Website Hosting, and more

The solutions also include our new Signature Support service, which offers 24/7 expert tech support to keep your computers, networks, servers, and other technology up and running.

Learn more about Upware from Comcast Business by visiting or call the Cloud Desk at 855-867-5010 855-867-5010 FREE   for a free Cloud Consult and learn how Upware can increase your company’s productivity. Cloud Desk agents are available Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm EDT.

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Productivity@Work Resource:

Maximize Your Email Marketing

Newsletter Broadcast, from Comcast Business, is a simple, easy-to-use email marketing tool that lets you create attractive, professional looking email newsletters and marketing campaigns that will help optimize customer communication and keep customers and prospects coming back.

Newsletter Broadcast is available free of charge as part of a Comcast Business Website Hosting package, which is included with Comcast Business Internet.

Newsletter Broadcast allows you to:

  • Send email campaigns to your client base to strengthen relationships
  • Drive new business, and increase awareness of your products and services
  • Quickly and easily create professional-looking marketing emails, even without knowing HTML
  • Track the metrics of your email campaign with the intuitive reporting tool
  • See what content your recipients are reviewing the most
  • Better target your customers with the right messaging and content to ultimately drive more business
  • Choose from more than 20 designed email templates, or upload your own custom templates
  • Reward loyal customers with targeted promotions and special discounts
  • Build and deploy emails in three easy steps: Design, Choose Recipients, Send

In addition to its ease of use, Newsletter Broadcast offers immediate response and action.It’s quick to send e-mails, and it’s just as quick to get a response. You’ll be able to see who has opened your emails and who has forwarded them to friends. Plus, you’ll see which links in your emails are getting the most clicks, allowing you to tailor your content to get the best response.

Learn more about Newsletter Broadcast from Comcast Business.

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Berry Built and Design: It's A Matter of Trust

Located in Spokane, Washington, Berry Built and Design, Inc. is a team of professional designers and skilled craftsmen with more than 20 years of experience and what company president Matt Berry calls “a divine focus on kitchens and baths.” Relationship building is central to the family-owned and -operated company’s business philosophy, and custom content created in-house plays an important part in executing that strategy. To make sure customers and prospects have reliable, high-quality access to that content, and to ensure fast, secure sharing of large design files and photos, Berry Built and Design relies on Comcast Business Internet.

“We listen carefully to our clients, we work very hard, and we build trusted relationships,” Berry says. “Our goal is to provide a most enjoyable experience for our clients, and we do that through top-quality craftsmanship and professional customer service. Our intimate approach to design and planning, our products and materials, and our highly skilled people set us apart.”

Berry Built and Design’s complex design-build format allows clients the opportunity to work with the same few professionals throughout all phases of their projects. The company operates from its own retail showroom, where it is able to display many of the high-quality materials it uses in its home renovation projects. Its competitive difference is having an in-house team of skilled professionals under one roof, helping to make what is often an overwhelming process for clients much more manageable and providing greater control over quality, budget, and timelines.

Showing off

A centerpiece of the company’s website (http://berrybd.com) is its “Our Work” page, which houses custom content highlighting some of Berry Built and Design’s most impressive projects. Matt Berry provides the copy for the project descriptions, and his wife and co-owner, Sara Berry, does all the photography.

Berry Built and Design also relies heavily on Comcast Business Internet to conduct research and to stay abreast of the latest innovations in its industry through continuing education and interaction with fellow members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. For everything it provides to their business, the Berrys consider the service “crucial” to their success. “The speed, reliability and excellent customer service we get with Comcast Business Internet are vital to our market research, product knowledge, and client communication efforts,” he says. “It plays an important role in much of what we do and are trying to achieve. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected to the rest of the world, and it’s an economical alternative to traveling to trade shows.”

Learn more about how Comcast Business can help you serve your client needs with greater speed and efficiency.

Disclaimer: Restrictions apply. Not available in all areas. Internet: Comparison based on Antivirus, Internet Security and Total Security Performance Benchmarking, Edition 4, by PassMark Software Pty. Ltd, (March 2009). Voice: Call clarity rating based on November 2008 independent Keynote study, Wave 6 study. Call for restrictions and complete details. Comcast © 2013. All rights reserved. Norton Security Suite is a U.S. trademark of the Symantec Corporation.


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