Here’s your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content. (For more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. And, if you want to get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week, send me a mail.)
Content marketing’s shot heard round the world
Nothing affirms a new approach to marketing more than the big-ticket acquisition of a technology company enabling that approach. Thus Oracle’s acquisition of content marketing software platform Compendium lit up the content marketing world this month. What will come of this? For one, vendors in and around the content marketing space will try to add Compendium-like features (if they don’t already have them). And the “content is a business asset” argument will get a big boost.
Beauty: Not vanity, but business
You’re less likely to want to buy from a shoddy-looking shop; this applies just as much when you’re shopping online. For example, a recent article linked Google’s increased focus on design to issues around trust, and thus business results. Content’s role as an online trust-builder is on the rise. The creator of one of the Web’s best online style guides – MailChimp’s VoiceAndTone.com – described recently what goes in to a great style guide. Expect branding departments to up their focus here, as the value of writing with a consistent, human voice shows itself in loyalty and conversion metrics.
How customer focus translates to content
Two articles on Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, side by side, paint a revealing picture. First Branson himself describes the kernel at the heart of any customer-focused business:
What can we offer customers that others aren’t, or won’t, because they are so narrowly focused on profit?
Two days later, a study of Virgin.com’s content-rich site gives a partial answer. They analyzed piles of data on the kind of content they should be producing, and then show the world what works and what doesn’t. Every content strategist is groping towards the right editorial focus; using data’s the smart way to grope.
Packaging content for delivery
Creation and distribution get a lot of attention, but content’s packaging can provide a crucial link between them. Two pieces of recent news reflect that value. BitTorrent announced a unique product allowing a price tag to follow content around the Web natively (even if the price is a share). And one vendor makes a compelling argument to align shareable content creation around a format native to most social networks: the card. Content marketer: Package your stuff to move!
Let a million web video channels bloom
Few will argue that video remains the audience engagement medium par excellence. But equally few marketers have been able to create sustainable and ongoing web video channels. YouTube seems determined to do something about that. First, a partnership with ZenithOptimedia’s VideoLab that looks to give marketers YouTube-flavored consulting will undoubtedly be the first of many such partnerships. And, secondly, YouTube’s own content strategists are playing up its channel-building chops. This all sounds good, but…will it blend?
This Hummingbird is Not Provided For
Nothing gets the search end of content marketing more worked up than a Google update. This time – in Hummingbird – Google launched an entirely new algorithm. It’s largely good news for content marketers, as the most-cited change looks to be an uplift in educational content vis-à-vis product content. Almost simultaneously, Google announced that the scourge of “not provided” (masking the organic search queries – keywords – that bring visitors to sites) will grow . . . vastly. SEO god Rand Fishkin thunders that Google’s breaking its contract with marketers. From here on out, many marketers will be either optimizing blind or paying AdWords for data that used to be free.
Your Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks
Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their annual benchmarks study for B2B content marketers. There are few surprises here – everyone’s doing it and budgets are still increasing even though most marketers don’t feel very effective. However, this year’s study included a question about which companies had an explicit content strategy: only 44% on average (disproportionately those who feel they are effective, as well). One of the takeaways here? Many B2B marketers see content marketing as a must-do.
Agency life: Plus ça change . . .
Few people can skewer advertising with the same wit and zeal as MediaPost columnist Bob Garfield. In a recent post, he noticed how few of the big agencies are actually DOING anything about momentous change in their businesses.
It was an enlightening and cordial lunch. Also, he picked up the tab, so I didn’t feel right grabbing him by the lapels and shouting: “Don’t you see that the future of your business depends on getting out of the ad-campaign mentality?”
Content drives (e-)commerce
ASOS recently redesigned its website to give it a much stronger content focus. Both its men's and women's fashion sites give pride of place to a content proposition. With more and more media players (Thrillist, for example) taking a stronger role retailing direct to their readers, this could be seen as a defensive move. We’ll see more publishers push into retail, and retailers push to develop their own audiences.
Finally, remarkable content marketing of the fortnight: Kleenex goes viral
Sure, no one can predict which content will go viral (except BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti), so Kleenex just focuses on viruses. Full stop. Their gorgeous little interactive achoo! microsite turns that story about Google predicting flu season into a fully-fledged sickness mapping tool. Useful. Relevant. Fun (as only cold and flu can be). Valuable. That’s good content marketing.