Many marketing professionals operate under the assumption that their business-to-business (B2B) content marketing practices are up to snuff. But a closer look reveals that these pros often suffer from tunnel vision in that their practices are too narrowly focused on early-stage buyer acquisition and fail to create content that engages buyers over the long term.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Aug 13, 2014
Despite the fact that the Author Earnings Reports, published by writer Hugh Howey and his anonymous partner Data Guy, has added fodder to the traditional vs. self-publishing debate, for many independent writers the reports are not at all surprising. The stated primary purpose of the site is "to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions." Independent writers, however, are finding that the reports mostly confirm what they already knew, and their decision-making processes have changed very little, if at all.
By Dava Stewart
Posted Aug 06, 2014
A recent survey by HubShout, an online marketing firm based in Virginia, suggests that content marketers have some great opportunities to leverage links to boost awareness and drive traffic to their sites. In fact, 33.6% of those responding indicated that the type of native advertising most likely to generate response is links incorporated at the end of articles. These links outrank any other type of native advertising.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Jul 30, 2014
Since the 1950s, advertorials and product placements emerged, and, as the internet and online commerce took hold, Amazon blazed trails by serving up book recommendations to users based on their previous purchases and online behaviors. Today, these sorts of activities-designed to deliver advertising content, online or via mobile devices, to consumers who have demonstrated their potential interest in the product or service-are known as native advertising. The practice lives on a continuum between "annoying" and "useful," depending on the perspective of the consumer. The goal for marketers is to land somewhere closer to the useful end of the spectrum.
Brainstorming about the future of digital consumption can leave you overwhelmed by the possibilities, but data released from YouGov--a global research and consulting organization--sheds some light on the emerging expectations of today's youth. The study found that nearly one in two children, aged 8-15, feel that access to online content and downloads should be free.
By Stephanie Weber
Posted Jul 23, 2014
According to the "Online Personal Experience" study by Janrain, more than half (57%) of people are just fine with providing personal information to a website and as long as they benefit and the information is used responsibly. Janrain also found that 77% would be more trusting of companies collecting private data if the businesses were transparent about how the information would be used. But that's where the trouble lies. Many content providers are still struggling to use the information they collect in a way that truly improves the customer experience.
Few companies have the potential to dramatically alter the electronic content landscape like Google, which continues to regularly roll out new apps, tools and technologies that make digital publishers sit up and take notice. It's a big reason why Google's annual I/O conference is so closely watched by players in the industry. I/O 2014, held in late June, didn't fail to excite those eager to read the tech tea leaves and develop forward-thinking strategies for success. Here are five of the top takeaways from the conference of importance to content providers.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jul 16, 2014
Most of us are familiar with using social media to post status updates about our vacation, photos of our family, funny videos we find on YouTube, or tweeting about our favorite sports team. However, when it comes to using social media for business purposes, it is important to understand that the rules are different. Anything you post can be considered a form of consumer advertising; as such, you need to be careful not to post misleading or false information. This is especially true if you work in a regulated industry such as financial services, banking, healthcare, law, or pharmaceutical.
There's really no escaping it. No matter how innovative your use of the latest tools and technologies in digital marketing may be, no matter how closely you follow industry trends and implement solutions that reflect the cutting edge in digital marketing practices, it will always come down to the bottom line-at least, as far as your C-level executives are concerned. Being able to demonstrate the dollar-for-dollar benefit that your marketing efforts provide to your organization is the elusive brass ring that marketers are perpetually striving to grasp.
Have you ever watched teenagers play "Call of Duty" for hours on end and wondered what kind of magic keeps these users so deeply engaged? More importantly, have you ever wondered how you might be able to use this magic to engage your customers? It's not magic. It's gamification. Companies have been employing this technique for years--decades, even--but over the past few years, digital marketers have started to realize that gamification can take their campaigns to new levels.
Social media management and compliance tools are promising approaches that allow companies to stay within the law but still communicate with customers. Experts say tools alone are not enough to prevent a social media faux pas-a solid social media management strategy is paramount. The evidence suggests that businesses are in the early stages of social media risk management. Social media for business may not be the Wild West any longer, but it takes prudence to stay on the right side of the law.
By Robert Springer
Posted Jun 30, 2014
Business intelligence focuses on internal data. It's the information that companies have stored in data warehouses including financial, pricing and customer information. Market intelligence (also known as competitive intelligence), is more about looking externally at market conditions, trends, opportunities and threats; as well as at the competition, market shares, penetration strategies and go-to market models. While both are needed in order to run a business, traditionally, organizations have looked at BI and MI separately. However, given the big data movement happening today, it's becoming more important to combine both sets of data in order to get the complete picture of what's happening both internally and externally with an organization.
By Tamara Franklin
Posted Jun 25, 2014
One of the more recent movements in the technology sector--which has emerged as a bona fide standard practice in numerous industries--is cloud-based computing. Without even thinking about it, in fact, many of the most routine activities that businesses have come to rely on-think Gmail or Salesforce.com-are built on cloud-based principles, where information, storage, and processing are housed and managed in off-site data centers as opposed to a company's own local servers or hard drives. For publishers contemplating moving aspects of their business practice to the cloud, there is plenty of experience and expertise to rely on during the course of the decision-making process; indeed, they may already be deeper into the cloud than they realize.
The government is sitting up and taking notice of what it calls a growing threat to online safety and security: malware attacks. And if the industry isn't more careful, it may be forced to abide by stricter rules and oversight governing online advertisements that could come down the pike.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jun 20, 2014
Being an omnivore can have its advantages-as evidenced by the evolutionary dominance humans have enjoyed over other animals that only eat meat or plants. Likewise, being an omnichannel marketer may give you a leg up on your competition in the survival-of-the-fittest game of appealing to contemporary consumers, say the experts.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jun 18, 2014
Just in time for the World Cup, Sporting News Media released its fourth annual survey on U.S. sports media consumption, and reveals the demand for utilizing a second (and even third) screen to enjoy sports has heightened and more people are actually turning to the web to watch live sporting events than ever before.
By Keith Loria
Posted Jun 13, 2014
Twitter has been around since March 16, 2006 and, Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres aren't the only ones to have leveraged this tool to gain massive exposure. In the digital content world there are a number of authorities that were early adopters and have built significant networks on Twitter - and other platforms. Earlier this year, Twitter unveiled a tool that would allow audiences to find the first tweets of, well, anyone. But a lot has been learned since those first tweets, and we decided to ask some industry influencers what they've learned.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Jun 11, 2014
Imagine you are walking out of a store where you just bought some jeans. As your feet hit the pavement, you get a text. The text reads, "Spend just $10 more and you will qualify for a $100 gift certificate!" Is this great? Is this creepy? Is this effective? No matter your stance, this is the very, very new reality of real-time marketing.
If you are involved with any type of enterprise software, you've probably considered some sort of cloud-based deployment model. Publishing is no different, and in Real Story Group's numerous advisory engagements with customers, discussions about the cloud are becoming increasingly common.
By Apoorv Durga
- June 2014 Issue
Posted Jun 04, 2014
Digital has taken the world by storm, upending the world of traditional advertising and requiring 21st-century marketers to become savvy about a broad range of digital advertising options that can include anything from SEO to social media to mobile. There's much to understand, much to keep track of, and much to stay on top of. That's the bad news. The good news is that digital advertising, unlike traditional advertising, is far more trackable, allowing marketers to determine what is working for them and driving the results they desire and what may not be as effective.
By Lin Pophal
- June 2014 Issue
Posted Jun 02, 2014
How many tools does the average marketer use in a typical workweek? According to a recent report, 53% of mid-sized companies use five or more marketing technology solutions, while 15% use 10 or more.If that sounds like an exaggeration to you, take a minute to think about it. If you enlist the help of a social media marketing platform, a content management suite, analytics to track web traffic, a CRM system, and email marketing solution the tools adds up. However, it doesn't always end there.
By Tamara Franklin
Posted May 30, 2014
If you're looking to create online videos, there's no better time to do so than now. According to a study from Pew Research Center, internet users doubled their sharing and viewing of video in 2013. And the video industry is only slated to grow with the increasing adoption of HTML5.
By Bree Brouwer
- May 2014 Issue
Posted May 28, 2014
Content personalization on the web is quickly becoming the standard. Amazon and Netflix have mastered it, presenting product or content suggestions so enticing it's as if the companies can perform black magic by reading consumers' minds. Research shows that personalized content done well can make websites more sticky and dramatically increase sales. But experts say that good content personalization is much harder than it looks. And yet, most customers seem to crave personalized content, and retailers see gold in the tactic, which means that its usage will only increase.
The Alliance for Audited Media recently released its look at U.S. and Canadian newspaper circulation figures for the first half of 2014 and its annual newspaper snapshot had some positive takeaways for those in the digital news industry. Neal Lulofs, AAM's executive vice president, marketing and strategy, says the report shows a continuing transition to a media cross channel environment in terms of how newspapers are publishing content and engaging with readers.
By Keith Loria
Posted May 23, 2014
It is one thing to talk about trends affecting the digital content industry, but it's something completely different to be one of the people whose job it is to bring those trends to life. From Big Data to content marketing, EContent talked with three people who exemplify what it means to be working in digital content today. Today we profile a social media star: Greg Bedard, Senior Writer, theMMQB.com.
What child hasn't become immersed in a picture book, fervently wishing the characters could come to life? In the past, a child sitting on the floor with a book, talking to the characters and imagining that they had come to life might have been considered fanciful, but the connection with imaginary characters is a rite of childhood. It's a fantasy that has been conveyed through movies such as 1994's The Pagemaster, starring Macaulay Culkin. Today, thanks to HTML5, these fantasies have become reality, literally making it possible for the characters and scenes in books-ranging from children's stories to business tomes and textbooks-to emerge from the "page" and spring to life in full color, image, movement, and sound.
By Lin Pophal
- May 2014 Issue
Posted May 19, 2014
It is one thing to talk about trends affecting the digital content industry, but it's something completely different to be one of the people whose job it is to bring those trends to life. From Big Data to content marketing, EContent talked with three people who exemplify what it means to be working in digital content today. Today we profile a brand journalist: Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director, Online Publishers Association.
There is no denying that social media has profoundly changed the way people communicate with family and friends and the way businesses interact with customers--as well as prospective clients. What you may not have noticed is the way that the increasing popularity of social networks as a gateway to the wider web has changed online video and the way we consume it.
By Chris Seymour
- May 2014 Issue
Posted May 12, 2014
Tablets may currently be all the rage among consumers worldwide (comScore reports that 72 million Americans own one), but college students may be cooling to these devices, based on the latest data. Approximately 29% of students indicate owning a tablet in 2014, but that's a slight dip since last year (28%), according to a recent report from Ball State University. By contrast, smartphone ownership among college students is currently over 88%, up from about 72% in 2013, per the same report.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted May 09, 2014
It is one thing to talk about trends affecting the digital content industry, but it's something completely different to be one of the people whose job it is to bring those trends to life. From Big Data to content marketing, EContent talked with three people who exemplify what it means to be working in digital content today. Today we profile a Big Data expert: Vikram Somaya, General Manager, WeatherFX.
If you work in the digital content industry, you probably rely on dozens of tools to get your job done. As the list of available tools of the trade grows, it becomes more important to differentiate between the products that get the job done and the products that are identifying the trends impacting the industry and making sure that—to paraphrase hockey player Wayne Gretzky—they skate not to where the puck is, but to where it is going. Here at EContent, we turned to our inboxes, to our coverage, and to our contributors to find out what those trendsetting products are in 2014. We looked across the spectrum, but we were especially heartened to see the number of tools aiming to help publishers deal with data, manage the total web experience, and find new ways to monetize content. We hope that you find these tools as interesting and as potentially helpful as we do! —Theresa Cramer, Editor
May 2014 Issue
Posted May 05, 2014
Long Island-based technology company Aereo provides a service that many entertainment consumers want: the ability to stream their favorite TV shows live or record them to view later. The company accomplishes this by leasing its customers a remote antenna that can pick up 28 different channels, including the major broadcast ones, and offering DVR recording space using their cloud service. Its customers can use the service on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, as well as via iOS devices or a Roku box. Aereo currently serves eleven main cities across the United States, and plans to cover 19 more in the near future.
By Bree Brouwer
Posted Apr 30, 2014
With concerns about privacy raging after media coverage of high-profile events-such as Edward Snowden and National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax profiling uproar, and Target's massive loss of personal data to hackers over the holiday season-consumer concern about how their personal information is being used is at an all-time high, and it's likely to go higher. This is at a time when the promise and opportunity of Big Data for content providers is also at an all-time high.
By Lin Pophal
- April 2014 Issue
Posted Apr 28, 2014
Content creators have their plates full. As soon as they think they've got their web strategies figured out, something else pops up. Whether it's a new device or an emerging revenue stream, challenges to content strategy are numerous in this increasingly global market-"global" being the key word. Not only do you have to keep translation in mind when you're creating your content, you also have to think about making it discoverable to far-flung audiences that are increasingly important to your bottom line.
The web is worldwide. If you're responsible for managing a site, sooner or later you'll be involved in managing sites across borders, time zones, cultures, and languages. The truth is, nobody outside of Google really knows how to make your pages rank high in search engine results. They have many complex algorithms that are always changing. The number of requests Google receives grows year after year and is now thought to be 500 million queries a day from across the globe.
Making sense of large amounts of disorganized information that is spread across wide swaths of an organization has always been the defining challenge of knowledge management. In recent years, the ability for organizations to capture information about themselves, their customers, and every facet of their business has increased exponentially; the phenomenon, of course, is known as "big data." As troves of data grow, so too does the potential to leverage it, and one key to keeping up with that potential is through the implementation of systems and solutions that streamline your organization's ability to analyze it, access it, and act on it. In short, big data is spurring the symbolic "long tail" of institutional knowledge to grow ever longer, and organizations must be prepared to adjust their knowledge management strategy to compensate.
By Michael LoPresti
Posted Apr 11, 2014
Content marketing is a hot topic among publishers, marketers, and content providers in general. Despite the buzz, confusion still abounds. From how to define content marketing to how to execute a strategy-and reach your goals-many companies are still struggling with the details of content marketing. But a big influx of cash--and man power--looks as if it is in the future.
With Newsweek's December 2013 announcement that it is reintroducing a print publication and many continuing to stand behind print as a viable option, even in the internet era, content providers are beginning to reconsider their distribution strategies. While the race has been on to "go digital" over the past few years, many are realizing that print is still relevant-particularly in certain niche markets and with certain target audiences.
By Lin Pophal
- March 2014 Issue
Posted Mar 31, 2014
Big Data is all about a relatively simple idea--an idea with profound impacts for publishers: "Big Data is the ability to customize and personalize a user experience based on what you know about that user," says Gordon McLeod, president of Krux, producers of a data management platform that can help businesses collect, analyze, and make Big Data actionable. "So there are many other ways to use it beyond the core advertising technology. It's all the same data. It's what you know about your users and about people like them and taking action against it in real time."
The overarching trajectory in the evolution of web content management (WCM) that emerged in 2013 largely reflected the trends that have been defining nearly every other corner of the technology sector in the last several years. The equalizing principle of ease of use for nonexpert users, a drive toward mobile functionality, a preference for a solution that integrates well with other systems, and a strong inclination toward user-driven or social content creation-these tenets are now the new normal for the creation, management, and distribution of enterprise content, particularly web-based content, and they drive expectations of technological functionality for both internal and external stakeholders in any enterprise.
Remember print books, those antiquated relics of a bygone age that pundits and prognosticators had forsaken and buried a long time ago? Apparently, they're back in vogue and not going away anytime soon, which should make digital publishers and authors sit up and take notice.
With mobile devices outselling traditional computers, mobility has clearly become an enterprise concern. Whether customer-facing or employee-facing, converting key services and information to mobile-friendly experiences is no longer optional. The marketplace offers a wide variety of tools that can help you go mobile. These range from simpler tools that help you quickly "mobilize" existing sites to more sophisticated tools that allow you to create complex mobile apps, including specialized native apps for specific mobile devices.
Some folks wear their hearts on their sleeves. But before long, it's more likely they'll wear their hard drives. Welcome to the age of wearable tech, where everyday attire from wristbands and eyeglasses to shirts and shoes are transformed into cutting-edge computers designed to receive, transmit, and display information in ways never before imagined.
Webster's Dictionary says the word "analytics" dates from 1590, and it defines the term as "the method of logical analysis." These days, though, it's tough to think of the word in anything but a computer-related context-particularly when it comes to content and marketing analytics. The latter, as digital media expert Julie Blakley describes it, is "data that can help inform decisions about the marketing decisions you make moving forward"-or, as she more succinctly puts it, "to be able to see what's working, what's not, and then what's the best way to move forward."
All day long, every person with access to the web is generating a trail of data that has been a boon to businesses and marketers. According to Robert Boeri-an independent consultant in the Washington, D.C., metro area-pinpointing an exact definition for this Big Data can be tricky. "The definition is somewhat subjective, and it can vary by sector depending on what kinds of software tools are available," explains Boeri.
It's hard to imagine a more eventful year for the ebook industry than 2013. From a guilty verdict in the Apple antitrust suit to a reported slowdown in the growth of the ebook market, there's been no shortage of news. Amazon and Apple both floated the idea of selling used digital books, and the self-publishing movement continued to gain steam thanks to ebooks. And this was all before the holiday sales rush that inevitably puts more e-readers into the hands of more consumers. "The great power of the ebook in today's world is that it really does open up the printing press to anybody," says John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. But as hot as the market is, traditional publishers continue to have a troubled relationship with the format. There may be signs, though, that change is on the horizon as some publishers continue to experiment with new distribution methods, marketing strategies, and more.
What does it mean to be online today? Increasingly, it means being part of the "now" and interactively tapping into the communal and cultural zeitgeist. And that, of course, means being connected to some form of social media. From aNobii to Zooppa, social networking sites are dominating cyberspace and becoming impossible for digital publishers and electronic content providers to ignore, and for good reason. People everywhere want to be part of an electronic conversation that is happening at this very moment via popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, and Yelp. They want to chime in with opinions; share ideas, photos, and videos with family, friends, and followers; stay updated with favorite movers, shakers, and brands; and remain engaged in a dynamic digital dialogue, whether at home, at work, or on-the-go.
The DVR just made it so easy. Push advertising was already losing its dominance by the time the DVR came around. Once consumers were given a simple tool with which to skip past traditional advertising, marketers had to start thinking about how to create strategies for motivating customers to want to interact with brands, by offering information to make customers' lives better. And thus was the seed for content marketing planted.
Of all the routine activities that have become ingrained in our daily rituals-from getting dressed in the morning to eating dinner at night-one is climbing the ranks faster than nearly any other: pressing "play" online. Indeed, watching internet video has arguably become the nation's favorite new pastime, as indicated by the latest data. In September alone, nearly 189 million Americans-87% of U.S. internet users-viewed 46 billion online videos, the average length of which was 5.1 minutes, comScore reports. One hundred hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube. And consumer internet video traffic globally will comprise 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017, up from 57% tallied in 2012, according to Cisco.
The issues that have dogged digital advertising in the past have been a lack of trust and weaker customer engagement than in traditional media. Digital ads-more than print, radio, or TV-were mere ephemera in the busy lives of their intended audience, and they were easily filtered or ignored. Yet, over the past year, digital advertising started to get better results. In 2013, new forms of digital advertising got much, much better results and sprung a new source of revenue in the guise of native advertising.