Tag Archives: Content

Content Analytics' VP Kenji Gjovig: Chum in the Water

Kenji Gjovig is VP of partnerships and business development at
Content Analytics.

In this exclusive interview, Gjovig offers his insights on managing the customer experience through effective content management.

kenji gjovig Content Analytics' VP Kenji Gjovig: Chum in the Water

Content Analytics
Kenji Gjovig

CRM Buyer: What is content management, and what is the key to doing it effectively?

Kenji Gjovig: Content management is all about making sure that [a product] item page has all of the information that a customer needs to buy an item or have a good experience with it afterwards.

What goes into content management varies between retailers. A content management system has the ability to set up new items, post images and video, and create a robust title and detailed item description.

Ratings and reviews are really important, and also elements like size charts and product comparison guides that will help [customers] learn how to use the item and feel good about it.

You have to have all of the information on the screen. These enhanced content elements promote the best customer experience.

CRM Buyer: What are some common mistakes you see in the way companies manage their content, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

Gjovig: The biggest mistake we see is when a brand sees content management as an exercise in just checking the box. They treat it as a spectrum of bad versus good content. There’s a huge spectrum of good and bad content, and the biggest mistake we see is when retailers don’t deliver a good customer experience.

CRM Buyer: What is the relationship between managing content effectively and delivering a good customer experience?

Gjovig: I think they’re directly tied together. If I don’t have good content in my item pages, it’s going to be a terrible customer experience. If there’s a great description but no reviews, that’s not good.

If I’m searching for further information, and there aren’t good images, I’m not likely to make a purchase. Let’s say it’s food or consumables. I see the food, but I don’t know the ingredients. There’s a high correlation between more content and good content.

CRM: What are your recommendations for creating a good customer experience?

Gjovig: Items have to have good attributes and good description, so the algorithms work well. If a customer types in “televisions” on a retailer site, the search algorithm has to be able to serve up the best item for them, so the best analytics tools identify a lot of search options.

If you think about brick-and-mortar stores, the way we might find a product is walking down the aisles. We’re physically and visually finding products. In e-commerce, it has to be all done virtually, and it has to be served up to us. If there’s not good content on the pages, the algorithm can’t serve up the right products, and that affects the customer experience.

CRM Buyer: What is “content health,” and how can it best be measured or evaluated?

Gjovig: Content health is an objective measurement of something that is fairly subjective. We have an algorithm that identifies good or bad content. We measure all of the parameters and assign scores to each of these, and we evaluate individual item pages at scale. We’re doing it across tens of millions of item pages across the Internet.

We then measure the quality of content based on objective measures. If I’m a particular brand, and I’m managing my content, I want to make sure that my brand is doing well compared to other brands on other websites. We look at things both in a vacuum and more strategically, relative to other brands and retailers.

CRM Buyer: How is the field of content management evolving and changing? What’s in the future for content management?

Gjovig: The way I would describe it is that there is chum in the water, and all of a sudden the sharks are coming. That’s what’s going on now. Every brand and every manufacturer is thinking about how they go to market in e-commerce, and retailers are thinking about e-commerce differently.

When Amazon bought Whole Foods, every grocery store in the country paid attention. E-commerce is the only growing channel, and it’s growing at double-digits. Everyone is trying to find a good content management system.

The best ones are those that give both the analytics and the ability to go fix problems. The demand for precise, real-time analytics is increasing, because e-commerce is growing. The need for data and assortment is only going to be more, which means the analytics will need to get better and better.

CRM Buyer: How is content changing and evolving?

Gjovig: The old form of user-generated content is that you submit a question, and the next day someone replies. The next generation is that you get the question answered immediately.

I would say that virtual reality is also on the horizon. You can imagine a future when everyone has a VR device, allowing you to interact with products. When I bought a playset, they had a video that had the camera going around the object 360 degrees.

With VR, you can do things at scale, so you can give the customer a more interactive experience, a virtual view, or a tour of products. We’re going to see technology that will provide more interactive experience, giving the customer a better experience in the moment of the shopping experience.
end enn Content Analytics' VP Kenji Gjovig: Chum in the Water

Vivian%20Wagner Content Analytics' VP Kenji Gjovig: Chum in the WaterVivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety
of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.
Email Vivian.

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5 Reasons to Re-share Your Content on Social Media

Every time Stone Temple tweeted about this post, they got more traffic.

We don’t have the y-axis from this graph, but if we just crudely measure the first tweet compared to the second, third, and fourth tweets, we see that Stone Temple got about 150% more traffic from those later tweets.

Would you not like 150% more traffic to your content?

If you’re managing your site correctly, that 150% more traffic should translate into more conversions, more leads, and more revenue. Maybe even 150% more revenue.

The second part of the research Mark did about this was nearly as interesting:

“I sampled the Twitter shares of 30 different people who were both regular bloggers and regular Twitter users. I took note when they shared one of their own blog posts for the first time on Twitter. Then I monitored their tweets for 30 days. I found that 80% of those people never shared their own content again after the first time.”

I believe that’s about the third stat we’ve mentioned that shows only about 20-30% of content marketers re-sharing their content. The different studies are surprisingly consistent.

2. Re-sharing your content costs next to nothing

If you’re using one of the re-sharing tools like Hiplay or MeetEdgar, it takes just 3-5 clicks to add a post to a content library that gets re-shared randomly and automatically. Many other social media management or marketing automation tools also offer re-sharing features, too.

Don’t say you can’t afford this, either. Hiplay costs $ 5 a month. Even shoestring budgets can handle that.

It’s not the only re-sharing tool around, though. Buffer (which costs $ 10 a month) lets you pick posts to re-share. Though you do have to pick what to re-share manually.

Still, it takes barely five minutes of work to review your social media feed from the last few days, pick about 10-20% of what you’ve posted, and just click a few times to re-queue those shares.

Not only is this getting more exposure for your content, but it’s also saving you time by keeping your social media feeds full.

Which brings us to #3:

3. Re-sharing your content means you have to spend less time filling up your social media queues

Let’s face it: Finding and preparing first-rate content to share with a social media audience takes time. Lots of time.

There are services like Quuu that can find and post some content for you automatically, but it’s really best to view those as a supplemental service ― not your entire social media queue.

And you can and should also re-share other people’s content. But re-sharing your own content, as mentioned above, takes away some of that work. It may end up saving you several hours a week.

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Forrester Report: Content Management Solutions Deliver 68% ROI Over 3 Years

When outspoken venture capitalist and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2011 that software is eating the world, he was only partly correct. In fact, business services based on software platforms are what’s eating the world.

Companies like Apple, which remade the mobile phone industry by offering app developers easy access to millions of iPhone owners through its iTunes App Store platform, are changing the economy. However, these world-eating companies are not just in the tech world. They are also emerging in industries that you might not expect: retailers, finance companies, transportation firms, and others outside of Silicon Valley are all at the forefront of the platform revolution.

These outsiders are taking platforms to the next level by building them around business services and data, not just apps. Companies are making business services such as logistics, 3D printing, and even roadside assistance for drivers available through a software connection that other companies can plug in to and consume or offer to their own customers.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image2 Forrester Report: Content Management Solutions Deliver 68% ROI Over 3 YearsThere are two kinds of players in this business platform revolution: providers and participants. Providers create the platform and create incentives for developers to write apps for it. Developers, meanwhile, are participants; they can extend the reach of their apps by offering them through the platform’s virtual shelves.

Business platforms let companies outside of the technology world become powerful tech players, unleashing a torrent of innovation that they could never produce on their own. Good business platforms create millions in extra revenue for companies by enlisting external developers to innovate for them. It’s as if strangers are handing you entirely new revenue streams and business models on the street.

Powering this movement are application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs), which enable developers to easily plug their apps into a platform without having to know much about the complex software code that drives it. Developers get more time to focus on what they do best: writing great apps. Platform providers benefit because they can offer many innovative business services to end customers without having to create them themselves.

Any company can leverage APIs and SDKs to create new business models and products that might not, in fact, be its primary method of monetization. However, these platforms give companies new opportunities and let them outflank smaller, more nimble competitors.

Indeed, the platform economy can generate unbelievable revenue streams for companies. According to Platform Revolution authors Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary, travel site Expedia makes approximately 90% of its revenue by making business services available to other travel companies through its API.

In TechCrunch in May 2016, Matt Murphy and Steve Sloane wrote that “the number of SaaS applications has exploded and there is a rising wave of software innovation in APIs that provide critical connective tissue and increasingly important functionality.” ProgrammableWeb.com, an API resource and directory, offers searchable access to more than 15,000 different APIs.

According to Accenture Technology Vision 2016, 82% of executives believe that platforms will be the “glue that brings organizations together in the digital economy.” The top 15 platforms (which include companies built entirely on this software architecture, such as eBay and Priceline.com) have a combined market capitalization of US$ 2.6 trillion.

It’s time for all companies to join the revolution. Whether working in alliance with partners or launching entirely in-house, companies need to think about platforms now, because they will have a disruptive impact on every major industry.

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To the Barricades

Several factors converged to make monetizing a company’s business services easier. Many of the factors come from the rise of smartphones, specifically the rise of Bluetooth and 3G (and then 4G and LTE) connections. These connections turned smartphones into consumption hubs that weren’t feasible when high-speed mobile access was spottier.

One good example of this is PayPal’s rise. In the early 2000s, it functioned primarily as a standalone web site, but as mobile purchasing became more widespread, third-party merchants clamored to integrate PayPal’s payment processing service into their own sites and apps.

In Platform Revolution, Parker, Van Alstyne, and Choudary claim that “platforms are eating pipelines,” with pipelines being the old, direct-to-consumer business methods of the past. The first stage of this takeover involved much more efficient digital pipelines (think of Amazon in the retail space and Grubhub for food delivery) challenging their offline counterparts.

What Makes Great Business Platforms Run?

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image8 Forrester Report: Content Management Solutions Deliver 68% ROI Over 3 Years

The quality of the ecosystem that powers your platform is as important as the quality of experience you offer to customers. Here’s how to do it right.

Although the platform economy depends on them, application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) aren’t magic buttons. They’re tools that organizations can leverage to attract users and developers.

To succeed, organizations must ensure that APIs include extensive documentation and are easy for developers to add into their own products. Another part of platform success is building a general digital enterprise platform that includes both APIs and SDKs.

A good platform balances ease of use, developer support, security, data architecture (that is, will it play nice with a company’s existing systems?), edge processing (whether analytics are processed locally or in the cloud), and infrastructure (whether a platform provider operates its own data centers and cloud infrastructure or uses public cloud services). The exact formula for which elements to embrace, however, will vary according to the use case, the industry, the organization, and its customers.

In all cases, the platform should offer a value proposition that’s a cut above its competitors. That means a platform should offer a compelling business service that is difficult to duplicate.

By creating open standards and easy-to-work-with tools, organizations can greatly improve the platforms they offer. APIs and SDKs may sound complicated, but they’re just tools for talented people to do their jobs with. Enable these talented people, and your platform will take off.

In the second stage, platforms replace pipelines. Platform Revolution’s authors write: “The Internet no longer acts merely as a distribution channel (a pipeline). It also acts as a creation infrastructure and a coordination mechanism. Platforms are leveraging this new capability to create entirely new business models.” Good examples of second-stage companies include Airbnb, DoubleClick, Spotify, and Uber.

Allstate Takes Advantage of Its Hidden Jewels

Many companies taking advantage of platforms were around long before APIs, or even the internet, existed. Allstate, one of the largest insurers in the United States, has traditionally focused on insurance services. But recently, the company expanded into new markets—including the platform economy.

Allstate companies Allstate Roadside Services (ARS) and Arity, a technology company founded by Allstate in late 2016, have provided their parent company with new sources of revenue, thanks to new offerings. ARS launched Good Hands Rescue APIs, which allow third parties to leverage Allstate’s roadside assistance network in their own apps. Meanwhile, Arity offers a portfolio of APIs that let third parties leverage Allstate’s aggregate data on driver behavior and intellectual property related to risk prediction for uses spanning mobility, consumer, and insurance solutions.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image4 Forrester Report: Content Management Solutions Deliver 68% ROI Over 3 YearsFor example, Verizon licenses an Allstate Good Hands Rescue API for its own roadside assistance app. And automakers GM and BMW also offer roadside assistance service through Allstate.

Potential customers for Arity’s API include insurance providers, shared mobility companies, automotive parts makers, telecoms, and others.

“Arity is an acknowledgement that we have to be digital first and think about the services we provide to customers and businesses,” says Chetan Phadnis, Arity’s head of product development. “Thinking about our intellectual property system and software products is a key part of our transformation. We think it will create new ways to make money in the vertical transportation ecosystem.”

One of Allstate’s major challenges is a change in auto ownership that threatens the traditional auto insurance model. No-car and one-car households are on the rise, ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft work on very different insurance models than passenger cars or traditional taxi companies, and autonomous vehicles could disrupt the traditional auto insurance model entirely.

This means that companies like Allstate are smart to look for revenue streams beyond traditional insurance offerings. The intangible assets that Allstate has accumulated over the years—a massive aggregate collection of driver data, an extensive set of risk models and predictive algorithms, and a network of garages and mechanics to help stranded motorists—can also serve as a new revenue stream for the future.

By offering two distinct API services for the platform economy, Allstate is also able to see what customers might want in the future. While the Good Hands Rescue APIs let third-party users integrate a specific service (such as roadside assistance) into their software tools, Arity instead lets third-party developers leverage huge data sets as a piece of other, less narrowly defined projects, such as auto maintenance. As Arity gains insights into how customers use and respond to those offerings, it gets a preview into potential future directions for its own products and services.

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Farmers Harvest Cash from a Platform

Another example of innovation fueling the platform economy doesn’t come from a boldfaced tech name. Instead, it comes from a relatively small startup that has nimbly built its business model around data with an interesting twist: it turns its customers into entrepreneurs.

Farmobile is a Kansas City–based agriculture tech company whose smart device, the Passive Uplink Connection (PUC), can be plugged into tractors, combines, sprayers, and other farm equipment.

Farmobile uses the PUC to enable farmers to monetize data from their fields, which is one of the savviest routes to success with platforms—making your platform so irresistible to end consumers that they foment the revolution for you.

Once installed, says CEO Jason Tatge, the PUC streams second-by-second data to farmers’ Farmobile accounts. This gives them finely detailed reports, called Electronic Field Records (EFRs), that they can use to improve their own business, share with trusted advisors, and sell to third parties.

The PUC gives farmers detailed records for tracking analytics on their crops, farms, and equipment and creates a marketplace where farmers can sell their data to third parties. Farmers benefit because they generate extra income; Farmobile benefits because it makes a commission on each purchase and builds a giant store of aggregated farming data.

This last bit is important if Farmobile is to successfully compete with traditional agricultural equipment manufacturers, which also gather data from farmers. Farmobile’s advantage (at least for now) is that the equipment makers limit their data gathering to their existing customer bases and sell it back to them in the form of services designed to improve crop yields and optimize equipment performance.

Farmobile, meanwhile, is trying to appeal to all farmers by sharing the wealth, which could help it leapfrog the giants that already have large customer bases. “The ability to bring data together easily is good for farmers, so we built API integrations to put data in one place,” says Tatge.

Farmers can resell their data on Farmobile’s Data Store to buyers such as reinsurance firm Guy Carpenter. To encourage farmers to opt in, says Tatge, “we told farmers that if they run our device over planting and harvest season, we can guarantee them $ 2 per acre for their EFRs.”

So far, Farmobile’s customers have sent the Data Store approximately 4,200 completed EFRs for both planting and harvest, which will serve as the backbone of the company’s data monetization efforts. Eventually, Farmobile hopes to expand the offerings on the Data Store to include records from at least 10 times as many different farm fields.

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Under Armour Binges on APIs

Another model for the emerging business platform world comes from Under Armour, the sports apparel giant. Alongside its very successful clothing and shoe lines, Under Armour has put its platform at the heart of its business model.

But rather than build a platform itself, Under Armour has used its growing revenues to create an industry-leading ecosystem. Over the past decade, it has purchased companies that already offer APIs, including MapMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal, and then linked them all together into a massive platform that serves 30 million consumers.

This strategy has made Under Armour an indispensable part of the sprawling mobile fitness economy. According to the company’s 2016 annual results, its business platform ecosystem, known as the Connected Fitness division, generated $ 80 million in revenue that year—a 51% increase over 2015.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image7 Forrester Report: Content Management Solutions Deliver 68% ROI Over 3 YearsBy combining existing APIs from its different apps with original tools built in-house, extensive developer support, and a robust SDK, third-party developers have everything they need to build their own fitness app or web site.

Depending on their needs, third-party developers can sign up for several different payment plans with varying access to Under Armour’s APIs and SDKs. Indeed, the company’s tiered developer pricing plan for Connected Fitness, which is separated into Starter, Pro, and Premium levels, makes Under Armour seem more like a tech company than a sports apparel firm.

As a result, Under Armour’s APIs and SDKs are the underpinnings of a vast platform cooperative. Under Armour’s apps seamlessly integrate with popular services like Fitbit and Garmin (even though Under Armour has a fitness tracker of its own) and are licensed by corporations ranging from Microsoft to Coca-Cola to Purina. They’re even used by fitness app competitors like AthletePath and Lose It.

A large part of Under Armour’s success is the sheer amount of data its fitness apps collect and then make available to developers. MyFitnessPal, for instance, is an industry-leading calorie and food tracker used for weight loss, and Endomondo is an extremely popular running and biking record keeper and route-sharing platform.

One way of looking at the Connected Fitness platform is as a combination of traditional consumer purchasing data with insights gleaned from Under Armour’s suite of apps, as well as from the third-party apps that Under Armour’s products use.

Indeed, Under Armour gets a bonus from the platform economy: it helps the company understand its customers better, creating a virtuous cycle. As end users use different apps fueled by Under Armour’s services and data-sharing capabilities, Under Armour can then use that data to fuel customer engagement and attract additional third-party app developers to add new services to the ecosystem.

What Successful Platforms Have in Common

The most successful business platforms have three things in common: They’re easy to work with, they fulfill a market need, and they offer data that’s useful to customers.

For instance, Farmobile’s marketplace fulfills a valuable need in the market: it lets farmers monetize data and develop a new revenue stream that otherwise would not exist. Similarly, Allstate’s Arity experiment turns large volumes of data collected by Allstate over the years into a revenue stream that drives down costs for Arity’s clients by giving them more accurate data to integrate into their apps and software tools.

Meanwhile, Under Armour’s Connected Fitness platform and API suite encourage users to sign up for more apps in the company’s ecosystem. If you track your meals in MyFitnessPal, you’ll want to track your runs in Endomondo or MapMyRun. Similarly, if you’re an app developer in the health and fitness space, Under Armour has a readily available collection of tools that will make it easy for users to switch over to your app and cheaper for you to develop your app.

As the platform economy grows, all three of these approaches—Allstate’s leveraging of its legacy business data, Farmobile’s marketplace for users to become data entrepreneurs, and Under Armour’s one-stop fitness app ecosystem—are extremely useful examples of what happens next.

In the coming months and years, the platform economy will see other big changes. In 2016 for example, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google all released APIs for their AI-powered voice assistant platforms, the most famous of which is Apple’s Siri.

The introduction of APIs confirms that the AI technology behind these bots has matured significantly and that a new wave of AI-based platform innovation is nigh. (In fact, Digitalistpredicted last year that the emergence of an API for these AIs would open them up beyond conventional uses.) New voice-operated technologies such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa offer exciting opportunities for developers to create full-featured, immersive applications on top of existing platforms.

We will also see AI- and machine learning–based APIs emerge that will allow developers to quickly leverage unstructured data (such as social media posts or texts) for new applications and services. For instance, sentiment analysis APIs can help explore and better understand customers’ interests, emotions, and preferences in social media.

As large providers offer APIs and associated services for smaller organizations to leverage AI and machine learning, these companies can in turn create their own platforms for clients to use unstructured data—everything from insights from uploaded photographs to recognizing a user’s emotion based on facial expression or tone of voice—in their own apps and products. Meanwhile, the ever-increasing power of cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure will give these computing-intensive app platforms the juice they need to become deeper and richer.

These business services will depend on easy ways to exchange and implement data for success. The good news is that finding easy ways to share data isn’t hard and the API and SDK offerings that fuel the platform economy will become increasingly robust. Thanks to the opportunities generated by these new platforms and the new opportunities offered to end users, developers, and platform businesses themselves, everyone stands to win—if they act soon. D!

About the Authors

Bernd Leukert is a member of the Executive Board, Products and Innovation, for SAP.

Björn Goerke is Chief Technology Officer and President, SAP Cloud Platform, for SAP.

Volker Hildebrand is Global Vice President for SAP Hybris solutions.

Sethu M is President, Mobile Services, for SAP.

Neal Ungerleider is a Los Angeles-based technology journalist and consultant.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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YouTube says machine learning is making progress against violent extremist content

 YouTube says machine learning is making progress against violent extremist content

Four months after launching a program to fight violent extremist content, YouTube says it has become far more efficient at identifying and removing such videos, thanks to its machine learning technology.

In June, YouTube detailed four steps it would take to fight the rising tide of such objectionable content on its platform. Its announcement came amid a general backlash against the tech industry for its role in enabling hate-fueled and terrorist-related messages.

YouTube pledged to deploy machine learning to tackle the issue. In addition, it created a program to enlist the help of third-party experts, toughen standards for controversial videos, and support voices that are “speaking out against hate and extremism.”

The company published an update on these efforts on its blog today. Most notably, it said the investment in machine learning seemed to be paying dividends.

The company wrote that it “always used a mix of human flagging and human review together with technology” to help it spot violent content. The program introduced in June added machine learning to flag violent extremist content, which would then be reviewed by humans.

YouTube said that over the last month, 83 percent of violent extremist videos it removed were spotted without a human flag, up 8 percent from August. The company said its human teams have reviewed more than a million videos since June, adding new context and information to continue improving the machine learning efforts.

It also acknowledged that “as we have increased the volume of videos for review by our teams, we have made some errors. We know we can get better and we are committed to making sure our teams are taking action on the right content.”

“Terrorist and violent extremist material should not be spread online,” the blog post reads. “We will continue to heavily invest to fight the spread of this content, provide updates to governments, and collaborate with other companies through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.”

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Content Marketing in the Age of Google RankBrain

blog title google rankbrain speechwave 351x200 Content Marketing in the Age of Google RankBrain

Key takeaway: Google RankBrain favors content that readers love, so topic selection is critical. Find out which topics are trending, review what content already exists, and create something your customers will enjoy.

Create specific content for a specific audience

One of the best strategies for creating a foolproof content marketing strategy for Google RankBrain is to get more specific with your content marketing. For example, several years ago you may have created content that was titled “7 Strategies to Create Amazing Marketing.” But you’ll find that with the changes to Google RankBrain, content like this is simply too general. Here are a couple tips for getting started.

When looking at the content that’s trending the highest in the past 24 hours for the keyword “content marketing,” one thing becomes clear: Content that performs best is specific. Take a look at some of the blog titles that went viral.

“5 Best Practices That Will Help You Rank on Page One of Google”

“How to Market Your Brand Using Interactive Native Content”

“How to Get Your Content to Rank for Seasonal Keywords”

Create content for a specific audience that answers problems people are struggling with, and you’ll be in better shape with RankBrain.

Key takeaway: Google RankBrain loves content that is specific rather than general because it better meets the long-tail, narrow phrases people are searching. Before moving forward with that next piece of content, ask yourself, “Is this specific and detailed enough to give my audience exactly what they need?” If the answer is maybe, or even no, then keep searching for a new topic.

Leverage the power of long-form content

You’ve heard it before: “Readers have an attention span that is shorter than that of a goldfish” or “People don’t have time to read long content online.” But the truth is not only will readers consume long content (as much as 3,000 words!), they love it. BuzzSumo’s analysis of 100 million articles revealed that in-depth articles get shared the most. In addition, Quick Sprout reports that blog posts longer than 1,500 words get 68 percent more tweets and 22 percent more likes than shorter ones do. However, the majority of blog posts published are 500 words or shorter, which provides a prime opportunity for your brand to stand out.

Plus, it’s important to know the number of long-tail searches performed increases daily. When typing in a phrase, the content the user is searching for is more specific than ever. If the readers find a match between your content and their needs, and the content is excellent, they’ll read everything that you write.

It’s also interesting to note that Steve Baldwin of Didit.com explained that RankBrain uses “co-occurrence” for delivering more relevant content to users. This means the more frequently specific terms or a related group of words appear within the material, the better they rank. Writing long-form content naturally enables relevant terms to appear more frequently and creates this co-occurrence without being redundant (note: this is not keyword stuffing!).

Key takeaway: Long-form content is good for Google RankBrain so long as the content is useful, relevant, and includes details your readers can “plug in and play” immediately.

Moving forward with greater impact

Benjamin Franklin said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” Marketers who remain fluid, changing with updates such as Google RankBrain, will not only achieve better search engine results, they’ll also delight customers with amazing content. But first you must change the way you think about SEO.

New strategies should move away from thinking of SEO as a game to master and instead think of it as a goal focused on “overdelivering” amazing value to the reader. Optimization is no longer a laundry list of to-do items ― it’s a new way to think about content.

Have you created successful content that does well with the RankBrain update? Is so, please share your best strategies and results.

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5 Powerful Ways to Use Social Proof in Content Marketing

blog title social proof 351x200 5 Powerful Ways to Use Social Proof in Content Marketing

4. Leverage User-Submitted Content

User-submitted content is a great resource for capturing social proof because it helps you to connect and engage with prospects. For example, Lay’s launched a “Do us a Flavor” campaign that invited customers to invent their own flavors; fans could vote on their favorites, and a large cash prize was awarded to the winning idea. The campaign received 3.8 million submissions.

This is a B2C example, but B2B marketers can use it to inspire their strategy and content marketing ideas. For example, using social media such as Twitter or LinkedIn, you could ask prospects to vote on their most pressing pain points around a topic that ties in to your product. During this process, the emails of those who voted could be collected so that final results can be shared.

The most frequently cited pain point can then be used in content marketing efforts. For example, a white paper could be developed around the number one pain point and sent to those who participated in the survey to generate leads and nurture those relationships. Survey participants could receive an email that says, “You spoke and we listened. Your number one pain point was XYZ, and we’ve created a white paper that solves that problem.”

Encourage people to comment on your blog or to contribute to your forum or on a LinkedIn group so you can listen to what they say but also use their exact words in content marketing efforts to drive engagement.

Key takeaway: User-generated content isn’t just great for leveraging social proof; it’s an engagement tool as well. Capturing and employing user-generated content helps prospects feel truly heard.

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Why Everything Your Customer Touches is Content Marketing

RethinkPodcast300x251 Why Everything Your Customer Touches is Content Marketing

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Michelle Huff: Thank you so much, Ann, for joining us today on the podcast. For those who might not know who you are, maybe you could just take a few minutes to tell us more about yourself and MarketingProfs?

Ann Handley: I’m the chief content officer of MarketingProfs. I’m a book author. I’ve written two books. One is called Content Rules, the other is called Everybody Writes.Everybody Writes is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

What Are Trending Topics for Modern Marketers?

Michelle: MarketingProfs is a resource for marketers. You’ve watched the trends in marketing over the years. What’s going on recently? What are some of the in-demand topics today? What are you seeing as being the most interest to marketers?

Ann: We think of our audience as what we call “aspirational CMOs.” And that may not be a literal CMO, but it’s definitely somebody who cares, who wants to do well in their industry. And maybe that’s to ultimately become a chief marketing officer or maybe it’s just to ultimately become the king or queen of their own domain, their own consultancy, and so on.

The topics we’ve seen over the years, the consistency we see, is that marketers always want to know about lead generation ‒ always. It should be no surprise to anybody listening to this that that’s always a perennial topic.

But I think the tools we now use to engage around generating leads, around demand gen, has definitely changed. It used to be all about the database, and how we get more names in a funnel. It still is that, but now the way we engage those people to sort of become part of our own ecosystems at our own companies, those things have changed.

And that we now have content certainly is a big piece of that. We have social tools, we have social selling, we have storytelling. So, all of those things are now part of the lead-generation process in ways that we really haven’t seen as heavily before. Yes, those elements have always existed. But I think obviously they’ve come much more to the forefront in 2017.

Michelle: When you take a step back and think about marketers today, what do you think are the most important skillsets for them to have? And does it differ from B2C or B2B?

Ann: We recently ran a piece in MarketingProfs that looked at the skills that B2B technology marketers say are most valued. So, B2B technology leaders, when they’re hiring marketers, what do they most want? And it’s interestingly a lot of those soft skills, like good communication, people management, interpersonal skills. Those are the most valued in the tech world. Which, I thought was really interesting. I can’t quote the number off my head. It was like over 80 percent of the people who responded to the survey.

But then, right below soft skills [are] writing, content marketing, data analysis, email marketing. Those are all the things that are valued in the B2B tech world. And I read that today and I was like, “Wow.” I mean, those are pretty consistent skills. Think about that for a second in a broader lens. So, what is that about? Ultimately, what does that mean? It means being able to communicate well, both to your audience and to your customers, as well as internally, is key for marketers. Always will be, always has been. Writing, both externally and internally. So, again, it’s that clarity of communication. Content marketing, certainly it’s sort of an extension of: How are you telling stories that engage, or are you telling stories that engage?

MarketingProfs/CMI Annual Survey

Michelle: Is it quality versus quantity? And what are the keys to producing great content? Is it having a lot of it? Or is it just having a few [pieces]? Or is it trying to find that balance? What’s your take?

Ann: The way I answer the quality-versus-quantity question is really with a “yes.” You can’t have the best, highest quality – you can’t hire Neil Gaiman to write a blog post for you, and pay him $ 100,000, and then run one blog post a year. I mean that’s just ridiculous.

Obviously, you need a certain quantity to be relevant, to be communicating with your audience at a cadence that makes sense. But I think you also really need to think about quality. And I think that’s true now more than ever. MarketingProfs every year does a survey with the Content Marketing Institute. And every year we ask marketers what their plans are aspirational for the following year. We started doing this eight years ago. And every year, consistently, the number of marketers who say they plan to increase the amount of content they’re producing is going up.

And anybody listening to this: You know this, I know this. We’re all out in the world, we’re on Facebook, we’re on Twitter, we’re on Instagram. We see all the content that’s being created. And it’s increasingly difficult to break through. And to me that means you really need to step back and ask: What are we doing to move the needle here?

Bigger, Bolder, Braver

We need to have a great story we’re telling. We need to align around that bigger story we’re telling. And we need to be a little bit bolder in the story we’re telling. We need to think about how we’re going to break through. We need to tell a story that hits on specific challenges that your audience has, but that nobody else is talking about in the right way for that certain audience. And I think we need to have that gutsier, braver tone of voice.

So those three things ‒ bigger, bolder and braver ‒ are all things I think can be a differentiator for a company from a quality point of view. The quantity piece, you sort of have to figure out on your own. I mean, it’s sort of like you need to be doing enough to engage the audience, but not too much to overwhelm them. And that answer is gonna be different for everybody out there. But in my mind, you need to focus on quality first and foremost, and then figure out cadence.

If you’re producing content your audience does not care about, then that’s why they’re not engaging with it. They’re not engaging with it, not because it’s too long or because it’s requiring too much of them, but because it’s not meeting their needs.

What is the Role of Content Marketing?

Michelle: At Act-On, we use a framework we call Brand, Demand, Expand and [talk about] how you market from the awareness stage through demand and the sale to when your prospects are now customers and how you keep and grow their business. How does content marketing fit in?

Ann: I think there’s a temptation to think about content marketing only as a top-of-funnel approach. But it’s not that. Somebody asked me a question not too long ago: “What do you think the future of content marketing is?” And I said, “I think that it’s not content marketing … it’s marketing.”

I think with the notion of Brand, Demand, Expand, content is inherent in all aspects of that because content is sort of integral to all aspects of starting a relationship with a customer, nurturing that relationship, and then furthering that relationship. So, content to me is not some sort of special thing that’s siloed over here in some corner of the office. Instead, it’s integrated throughout the entire ecosystem of marketing. It’s integrated throughout the entire business, really.

I don’t see content as: This is what we use on social media. Instead, it’s everything. If you’ve ever seen me speak, I sometimes will show a graphic of a scene from The Lion King where Mufasa is sitting there with little baby Simba, and looking out over their kingdom, and he says: “Everything the light touches is content, my son.” And sometimes I will sing that moment from The Lion King. I’ll just belt it out on stage.

But I think that’s absolutely true. Everything our customer touches is content. Everything that expresses any aspect of our business is content. Everything that extends our brand is content. It’s not just the thing we in the marketing space tend to only think of as content, like the things we own ‒ things like the brand or the FAQ page. It’s everything. It’s the product page, it’s your social channels, it’s the minute that anybody picks up a brochure anywhere. All of those things. It’s everything.

How Do You Use Content Marketing to Differentiate?

Michelle: How do you think you should use content to succinctly differentiate yourself from your competitors? Because you’re trying to drive these things, but you want to make sure. How do you be bolder? How do you have that voice? How are you thinking about using that content differently?

Ann: I really like the way you articulated brand, demand, and expand. Because you said in far fewer words just my philosophy about content ‒ it’s throughout the organization. So that’s fantastic, number one. But number two, to me, it starts with the brand. It starts with your story. Who are you? Why do you do what you do? Why are you in business? What is your founding story? Why do you exist?

And to me, when you ask: “How do you succinctly differentiate?”, you start with your story. Who are you? Why do you exist? And why should customers care about you? I think it’s important to really think about your story and not just talk about the products you sell. But really think about it a little bit more deeply than that.

What is the Difference Between Content Marketing and Advertising?

Michelle: Some people equate content marketing to advertising. What do you think the difference is?

Ann: There’s probably a million different ways you could answer this question. But to me, it really comes down to the fact that content is customer-centric, and advertising is brand-centered, in general. I think to me, content answers the questions that customers have, so it has real utility for customers. It’s helpful to them. It has a more creative approach to answering those questions. Sometimes not. Sometimes it does.

But it has a very customer-centric point of view. It’s really what marketing should be focusing on these days. We should be focusing on our customers 100 percent of the time. I’m absolutely not anti-advertising at all. But to me, that’s much more brand-centric. So, you’re just talking about yourself. You’re just sort of talking about your attributes as opposed to what you can do for customers. So that, to me, is the more interesting part of marketing ‒ really thinking about things from your customers’ point of view. I challenge myself with it all the time. That’s how I would differentiate. Content is customer-centric and advertising is brand-centric.

Michelle: I like the distinction.

What Advice Do You Have for Aspirational Marketers?

Michelle: One of my last questions is, as well-known as you are, we often overlook that you’ve been a leader for most of your career. Any advice for people who are listening that you have for being a leader in marketing or in business, or any advice you have for other women aspiring to leadership roles, or people who are thinking: “I just should jump out and start my own business and company, or maybe I should author a book”? Any words of advice?

Ann: Yes. Just do it. I see a lot of people ‒ and not just women, but younger people too ‒ holding back. Don’t hold back. Start creating content. Start exercising your voice. Start figuring out: How do we get those skills that we need? How do we be better communicators? How do we be sharper communicators? How do we be better writers? All of those things are so key. And so just start using your voice, number one.

And then number two, start building your audience. You want to write a book, say. Well, you don’t start with sitting down at your desk to write a book. You start with building a platform first because that’s the way that works.

And you asked me the question earlier: What did I learn from writing my two books? And part of what I learned is that you can’t market in a vacuum. I have this notion that, “Oh, I’m going to be a book author, how sort of high-minded will that be?” Well, you know what? It’s not. It’s about sales, right?

It’s like you think you’re a writer ‒ you’re not, you’re in sales. And the only reason why those books did as well as they did is because I had the audience in place first. I had the platform in place. So, if you have aspirations to write a book, to be a leader, start to improve those soft skills, start to tell your own story, poke your nose out, start telling that story in ways that have relevance for the people you are trying to reach.

And number four, build your audience. Start thinking about your bigger platform beyond your current job or your current role. What do you stand for? It’s not unlike what we were talking about as the heart of content marketing. Where do you start? You start with your story. And I think the same is true for individuals, too. What do you want to be known for? What do you stand for?

How Can We Learn More About MarketingProfs?

Michelle: I love it. How can people listening learn more about you and MarketingProfs?

Ann: You can go to MarketingProfs.com and sign up to get our daily newsletters that will keep you in the know about all things marketing. We also have our annual B2B Marketing Forum, which is a heck of a good time, in October, in Boston. Those are the two best places to connect with us.

I should mention, too, that after all this talk about soft skills, I feel like I need to mention, we also have our own training programs at MarketingProfs on writing, on storytelling, on content, and on lead generation, as well as a host of other resources for basically anything you want to know about marketing.

Michelle: Perfect. Well, I love it. I think no matter where we are in our careers, we can always do better in improving on those different skills. I think it’s just something you’ve got to focus on and take the time to just keep getting better. I love that you have it and I really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks so much for being on today.

Ann: Thank you, Michelle. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.

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Act-On Blog

Boost Customer Engagement by Building Trust in Your Content

blog title trusting man 351x200 Boost Customer Engagement by Building Trust in Your Content

Have you searched for a new product or service lately? If so, you probably did what most people do when starting a new search — pulled out your smartphone and dug in. Does the product work as expected? Good. Now what about the company? Do they offer great customer support, handle technical issues fast, and — most importantly — have good word-of-mouth recommendations from other customers?

What all these questions address can be boil down to one word: trust. In content marketing, it’s important to tell the brand story, but, at the end of the day, it’s about building and reinforcing this trust. Can customers rely on your products and brand? Sometimes the answer is “yes,” but when customers are indifferent, that’s when brands struggle and competitors get ahead.

You have have great customer engagement, and people may purchase your product or service, but would they recommend it to others? This key piece of information is a strong indicator of trust and is critical to success. In fact, the majority of customers, 83 percent, would recommend a company they trusted to others. So how can you become that trusted company? Here are a few powerful strategies to build more trust with your customers through content.

1. Get Personal to Solidify the Relationship

Marketers want to send communication that is welcomed by the recipients. Correspondence that isn’t personal, however, risks becoming a liability rather than an asset. In fact, marketing communications account for 70 percent of today’s spam complaints. What’s more, 49 percent of customers surveyed report they receive irrelevant email every single day.

People welcome content that is tailored and pertinent to their challenges, with 54 percent of B2B buyers saying they want vendors to offer personalized recommendations across all interactions. The solution is simple. If you want better customer engagement, create content that your customers actually want to engage with.

For example, the Expert Institute is a legal services platform that matches specialists and authorities to attorneys and investment firms that need support. The company decided to roll out a personalized email campaign and measure the customer engagement results. It started by sending an email from the VP of Client Relations to prospects, offering to help with their challenges and providing a link to a white paper titled “10 Warning Signs When Selecting an Expert Witness.”

The company personalized the emails even more by dividing subscribers into three categories based on one key indicator: engagement. Those who were less engaged received free eBooks and white papers with no marketing language. Those with average engagement received an email with links to blog posts and a soft call to action. And the most engaged group received emails that directly addressed their need for the company’s service.

The results were impressive: a 200 percent increase in conversions, a 60 percent open rate, and a 20 percent click-through rate.

Key takeaway. Segment existing customers based on where they are in the buying cycle and their engagement levels. Less customer engagement translates into less trust, so, for maximum results, marketing should be customized to meet each prospect where they are.

2. Illuminate Your Brand with Greater Authenticity

Customers want to feel truly known by brands through greater personalization, but they also want to work with brands that feel more human. Showing greater authenticity provides your brand with an advantage and builds a relationship that shows customers an unexpected side of your company.

Create “behind the scenes” video footage of your company by, for example, broadcasting via live video to show employees working to assemble products, highlighting all the time and care that goes into this process.

JetBlue is an example of a company following this humanizing strategy. To let consumers see a softer corporate side, the company recently launched a promotional campaign titled “Air on the Side of Humanity,” which focuses on the qualities that make them a company that cares about people.

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Act-On Blog

Why Live Video Might Be the Future of Content Marketing

Why Live Video Might Be the Future of Content Marketing 351x200 Why Live Video Might Be the Future of Content Marketing

The event positioned the brand as a leader in technology innovation by creating interesting and engaging live video for GE customers.

4. Feature Behind-the-Scenes Clips

One last way to use livestream video in B2B is to feature a “sneak peek” into the company’s inner workings. Why? Because when marketers are always trying to show the “polished” side of a company, it never feels human. When you pull back the curtain instead — and reveal that, not only is a brand run by humans, but those humans are interesting — it instantly makes the brand more likeable and engaging. For example, Ben and Jerry’s uses live video to provide a tour of their “Flavor Lab” and show the care that goes into each frozen bite.

Tips for Successfully Deploying Live Video Strategies

Are you ready to try live video but want to ensure that your efforts deliver the maximum results possible? If so, here are a few more strategies that will get you off to the right start.

Build your audience.

Nothing is worse than planning, preparing, and holding a live event that doesn’t reach enough people. Crickets is not the sound you want. So build up your audience to support that next live event. Where is your audience spending time? For the B2B audience, it may be on LinkedIn groups or Twitter. Once you figure this out, you can start engaging with that audience and building it, and when you put the word out about the upcoming event, you’ll see greater success.

Keep things casual.

Viewers have a different expectation for a live event. They don’t want it to be formal or scripted; instead, they prefer it to be engaging and real. So don’t be afraid to be imperfect, ask questions, and have viewers talk back in real time.

Build an engaging event.

Customers no longer tolerate one-sided communication; they want to be included in the conversation. So maximize results by leveraging social, chat, survey, and polling technology during your event. This will keep the audience hooked and engaged from start to finish.

Encourage comments and feedback.

With most platforms, you can see how many viewers you have at any given time. Continue to encourage comments and feedback, and address as many questions as possible during the live event to keep people engaged and make them feel involved and heard.

Experiment with timing.

As with other types of marketing activities, timing is critical — especially with live events. When is the best time for your target audience to attend? For a B2B audience, this may be during the middle of the week in the evening hours — or the morning might be better. The best way to find out is to hold the live event on a couple of different days and times, and then measure your results.

Remember to have fun.

Live events are supposed to be spontaneous, fun, and all about a new type of engagement. So throw out the stiffness and formality, and opt instead for a loose outline and the flexibility to improvise and adapt to customers’ real-time needs.

Evolving With the Future of Video

Customers have made their preference clear: They love video. But moving into the future won’t just be about regular video. Instead, it will be about dynamic video that happens in real time and makes customers feel like they’re part of the experience. Customers no longer want to feel “marketed to” or “sold to,” but rather as though they’re having a conversation.

They want to talk about their biggest pain points — what keeps them up at night — and how your B2B offering is the solution to those problems. When you strike this balance with real-time video, you will bring relationships and engagement to entirely new heights.

Has your company used live video in their B2B marketing efforts? If so, please share your strategies and results!

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Two days of Power BI Content at the User Group World Tour

Emerge a Power BI super star.

Powered by your local Power BI User Group (PUG), the Power BI World Tour will be unprecedented access to premium Power BI content designed by your local industry experts. This two-day event will cover technical content designed for the Power BI Analyst, Developer/IT Admin, and new professional. Grow your world of experience by attending our training, expand your network of connections, and get ready to become the Power BI super star you were meant to be.

Starting in August, the tour will visit seven cities throughout the World. Register by August 07, 2017 to take advantage of the early bird discount. Cities and dates include: 

  • London- August 23-24
  • Copenhagen- August 28-29
  • New York- September 19-20
  • Toronto – October 04-05
  • San Francisco – October 04-05
  • Chicago – October 11-12
  • Sydney – November 06-07

Interested in speaking? Call for proposals for New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago and Sydney will be accepted through July 28. See the details at: https://www.pbiusergroup.com/participate/pbi-world-tour

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