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.
While some stats suggest that Google+ usage rivals Facebook, skeptics point out that anyone with a Google Mail account is, by default, a Google+ user whether they actually "use" the tool or not. On top of that, Google recently created an online uproar through its requirement that users of its other property, YouTube, have a Google+ account in order to access the site. And, those who use Google+'s most popular feature-Hangouts-are also considered Google+ users, whether they actively use other features of not. Still, while the site's statistics may involve a lot of smoke and mirrors, most believe that it's an option that can't be ignored, primarily because of its impact on SEO.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Feb 10, 2014
From content as destination to content as sales support, the state of content commerce is shifting as content providers continue to look for ways to monetize their offerings. In a digital environment where content drives engagement, there are certainly opportunities for content providers to benefit, but the opportunities are vastly different than they have been in the past.
Thanks to cheaper prices, smartphones are now in the hands of more and more consumers around the world-particularly in emerging markets such as Africa, the Middle East and the Asia/Pacific rim-and that means big opportunities for western businesses and marketers. "The opportunities in the emerging markets are without a doubt tremendous," explains Peggy Anne Salz, a mobile industry analyst based in Germany who is the founder and chief analyst for Mobilegroove.com.
By Chris Seymour
Posted Feb 03, 2014
Sporting events are one of the television events that networks and advertisers can still count on Americans to watch live. According to a Burst Media survey 54.2% of men will watch the Super Bowl as will 42.3% of women. Most of those viewers (79.7%) will watch the game live. Just 7.4% overall will watch it recorded-however more than one-quarter (27.0%) of 18-34 year-old men will watch it recorded. But in 2014, the Super Bowl isn't the only sporting event. The Winter Olympics are approaching fast. These are two seemingly very different events with potentially huge audiences-and digital marketers may need to adjust their approaches accordingly.
By Theresa Cramer
Posted Jan 31, 2014
Content marketing is big business and predicted to get even bigger in the months and years ahead. While "content farms" drove content development for some time, consumers are becoming more discerning and more demanding about the information they consume. Readers have become attuned to and weary of content that amounts to "dreck," says Rachel Parker, founder and CEO of Resonance Content Marketing in Houston. "It's not that audiences are becoming more demanding," she says; "it's that they're on to the practice of buying dreck from content farms, slapping it into a blog post and expecting your audience to thank you for it."
By Lin Pophal
Posted Jan 29, 2014
It's hard to believe that just a few short years ago tablets didn't exist, and there was no such thing as a smartphone. But that was then. Mobile devices have emerged as perhaps the greatest disruptive technology in recent history. According to Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, about 31% of adults now own a tablet computer (about three times the number from 2011), and 45% of adults own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.
The amount of data produced each day is staggering. In fact, the Harvard Business Review points out that "more data cross the internet every second than were stored in the entire internet just 20 years ago." Because of this, internet users experience "information overload," where they become overwhelmed with the bevy of information available -- even pushed on them -- through multiple technologies.
By Bree Brouwer
Posted Jan 24, 2014
With both content and technology always evolving with the fast pace of culture, web content management (WCM) systems must keep up. This is no easy task, and it keeps the industry leaders on their toes. "WCM is about creating and managing content in a central repository with the purpose of delivering it-publishing it-to the web," says Irina Guseva, senior analyst for Real Story Group, "as well as to other channels such as mobile, social, print, and email." And that requires continual adaptation.
Mobile advertising has long been the toughest nut to crack for some of the country's most significant media companies. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all, in their own ways, wrestled with the challenge of effectively implementing -- let alone monetizing -- advertising on mobile devices, with mixed results at best. As media consumers have migrated increasingly toward the consumption of content via their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, every industry with a stake in online publishing has been striving to untangle the thorny issue of how to effectively generate advertising dollars when readers consume content on-the-go. Business-to-business publishers have been awaiting their piece of the mobile advertising pie as much as any industry, and the wait has often been frustrating. The tide, however, may very well be turning.
By Michael LoPresti
Posted Jan 15, 2014
Everyone has to have a mobile strategy, right? Any company worth its salt knows that to reach its customers it has to have a mobile presence, and as a result there is, in fact, an app for almost everything. Many of those apps will barely ever get taken off of the app store shelf, but the ingenuity, creativity, and downright boldness of some app creators is nothing to be scoffed at. And no matter what content you're selling, you can stand to learn a lesson or two from some of these apps.
By Theresa Cramer
Posted Jan 13, 2014
In 2013, one could hardly turn a corner on the internet without hearing about the "BYOD" phenomenon in enterprises. Everyone is bringing their own mobile devices to work, sending IT departments into a tizzy trying to support them all. However, according to Mobile Helix, enterprises aren't embracing mobile technology as whole-heartedly as all the talk about BYOD might suggest. The company conducted an independent survey of 300 decision makers in the US and UK, and found that though "78 percent of enterprises have a mobility strategy, 86 percent are failing to utilize mobility to transform their business or open new revenue streams."
Posted Jan 10, 2014
The Average Joe may have already forgotten the "Great Gmail Tabs Panic of 2013," but if you're a digital marketer the lingering effects are still impacting the way you get your job done-or don't get the job done, in this case. The introduction of the tabbed email inbox threw the marketing world into a tizzy, but Silverpop-an email and marketing automation company--decided to dig deeper. In its report, "Gmail Tabs: Impact on Email Marketing and Strategies to Respond" looks at how people are actually interacting with the tabs and how marketers can work around this new obstacle.
Posted Jan 08, 2014
So much conversation around the importance of social media for business has focused on its role in marketing. How to engage customers with a brand on Twitter in a way that translates to new sales? How to capture a large Facebook fan base and then transform it into brand champions and paying customers? But a new index from Sprout Social, which provides social media engagement, publishing, and analytic tools, shows that social media's most exciting opportunity-and challenge-may be the provision of customer service.
By Nancy Davis Kho
Posted Jan 06, 2014
Selling ebooks the old fashioned way-offering a fixed price for one digital tome that the reader owns for eternity-is the tried-and-true approach most publishers take. But just as some consumers prefer to lease a car, prepay for a set amount of mobile minutes, or sign up for movies streamed monthly, there is a niche audience that's interested in an unconventional approach to the conventional acquisition of electronic books-and an array of providers capable of catering to this demand.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jan 02, 2014
The EContent team suggests some sites, projects, and resources that, while outside the scope of the EContent 100 list, are well-worth a closer look.
December 2013 Issue
Posted Dec 06, 2013
The 2013-2014 EContent 100, a list of the 100 Companies that Matter Most in the Digital Content Industry.
December 2013 Issue
Posted Dec 02, 2013
Ashton Kutcher (aplusk) has more than 15 million Twitter followers. Harvard Biz Review (@HarvardBiz) has 1.2 million. Peggy Anne Salz, founder and chief analyst of MobileGroove has about 4000. EContent Magazine (@econtentmag) has 2600. What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing! Evaluating social media effectiveness based on "the numbers" is like evaluating whether or not the television ads run during the Super Bowl are "good" or "bad." Unless we're privy to the strategy behind them our opinions are pretty much irrelevant. And while many are still enamored with the numbers - of likes, pins, retweets and +1's - the truth is that in social media, as in any form of marketing communication, it's the real results that matter.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Nov 27, 2013
When you want to construct a home, you need a carefully planned blueprint in place before you purchase and assemble the lumber and other essential components. The same is true of an effective advertising campaign, which requires setting specific goals before creating the content and buying space. Yet, many advertisers today are doing the opposite-building their campaign in reverse without any end goal or vision of what their finished advertising "house" should look like, experts say.
Imagine glorious sunsets over sandy Gulf beaches, Venetian structures dotting the Italian landscape, or a Broadway musical in the bustle of NYC. Every destination has much to offer its patrons. And in an age of mobility - and a desire to constantly be connected to the rest of the world - consumers want streaming access to information about any vacation spot they can dream. That's why one of the most important resources for the travel industry is data, according to Richard Stevenson, CEO of YUDU. "The closer a marketing message is to a customer's actual interests, the better the engagement and relationship the customer will have with the company," he says. That's why he believes that personalization is important for the travel industry, as it is for any competitive B2C industry. And being competitive, these days, means providing information and resources accessible on mobile devices.
By Michelle L. Cramer
Posted Nov 20, 2013
Content managers used to have a relatively easy time of it-although, they likely didn't realize it then. Not that long ago, content was published on a website and accessed through page views. But a lot has changed over the past couple of years. Today, consumers of content have a wide range of devices to choose from when accessing that content-from desktops, to laptops, to iPads, iPhones, smartphones, and Kindles, etc. The experience has become far more complex-for content providers and, arguably, for consumers as well.
After years of explosive growth, ebook sales have leveled off according to a recent report by the Book Industry Study Group, a book trade association. Ebook industry observers are split on the meaning of the leveling off of sales and what it means for the future of ebooks, with some saying that a new Netflix-like rental model is needed while others claim that the decline in sales growth is a blip in the technology's adoption due to tablet usage trends and favorable demographics.
By Robert Springer
Posted Nov 15, 2013
Predicting exactly how waves will break upon the shore is nearly impossible. But forecasting waves that travel along social media streams is more than doable-it's already happening, according to a collection of studies recently published in Internet Research. Consider that virtually every move we make on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels is being recorded in some form as documentable data. That data, apparently, can be prescient when collected on a large scale and carefully examined by social and computer scientists who are skilled at examining online behavior. These experts now have the ability, based on identifiable trends, to foresee likely outcomes such as election results, book sales, and movie box office success.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Nov 13, 2013
Group SJR's "Unfiltered" report took an in-depth look at a variety of digital media platforms and how consumers respond. The SJR Insights team asked 903 individuals of all ages about their current digital behaviors and gleaned results from their responses. Probably the most relevant results in the report are regarding how Millennials respond to news media through social media channels.
Hometown newspapers may be on the decline, but we all have an inherent desire (and legitimate need) to know what's going on in our local communities-whether it is the latest goings on at town hall or to see if we recognize any of the names in the police log-and plenty of content providers have taken note. The recent focus on hyperlocal news-from companies large and small-has yet to produce a single highly successful blueprint for success (or business model). Some hyperlocal publications are surviving on funding from donors, sponsors, and grants. Others focus on advertising to make revenue and, as a result, have struggled (think AOL's Patch).
Traditionally, publishers were limited in pursuing two time-tested avenues to revenue: selling subscriptions and/or advertising. But lately, content commerce strategies like in-text advertising and sponsored content have come of age, providing the potential to change the digital content dynamic and excite publishers that are struggling to remain relevant to readers and users.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Oct 30, 2013
Creating a business video has never been easier. Vine and Instagram let business owners become mini-James Camerons by shooting 6-second and 15-second videos with a smartphone. And longer form videos (30 seconds to 60 seconds) need not break the bank, as video creation services such as Animoto.com enable content creators to make unlimited videos for less than the price of an iPad mini, a small fraction of the $5,000 that a professionally produced video would cost. Yet challenges remain for small and medium business owners who want reasonably priced, quality video on their websites. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are wary of video, afraid that it will cost too much and not turn out the way they expected it to.
Social media stops for no man, but what if resources are suddenly scarce due to an unforeseen crisis? Here are four things you can do to keep digital communities humming along even if the "front office" is temporarily closed.
By Jessica Payne
Posted Oct 23, 2013
In August of 1981, a fledgling cable TV channel launched that forever changed music, television, advertising, marketing, and pop culture. The format was pretty simple: play popular videos around the clock that are introduced and commented on by live hosts and fill around the edges with original programming. Now, 32 years after MTV's arrival, the focus is on social, not music videos, and another revolution is underway that may completely redefine how we think about, consume, and interact with live and prerecorded visual content-courtesy of HuffPost Live (HPL).
Content marketing is becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing strategy for companies across a wide variety of industries. Establishing yourself as a source of authoritative content is more important than ever on the web, but each industry has its own challenges, concerns, and potential benefits when it comes to content marketing. Jessica Davis of Godot Media has addressed these issues in an ongoing series of posts on econtentmag.com. In this article, we have highlighted some of Davis' best advice for four of the most prominent industries in content marketing, but no matter your industry, many of these tips will help make you a better marketer.
By Jessica Davis
Posted Oct 18, 2013
As the migration of consumers from desktop to mobile devices continues with little indication of abating, it remains as much of a concern as ever for companies to represent their products, services, and brands in a mobile environment. The Search Agency, a global online marketing firm founded in 2002 and based in Los Angeles, delivered a progress report on the country's biggest companies' mobile presence-in the interest of providing a rubric of best practices and mistakes to companies of all sizes-with its "Mobile Experience Scorecard: Fortune 100 Companies" report.
By Michael LoPresti
Posted Oct 18, 2013
With his recent acquisition of the Washington Post, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes he can persuade readers to pony up for a daily bundle of news on a tablet, similar to traditional print bundles. "People will buy a package. They will not pay for a story," Bezos said recently during a meeting with editors and reporters. If his plan works, it could serve as a viable business strategy for other digital publishers going forward-especially if paywalls aren't working and if those news bundles are personalized for readers, say the experts.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Oct 16, 2013
Remember the days when the white paper was the go-to (if not only) content marketing tool? Those days are such a distant memory that the term "content marketing" didn't even exist during the white paper's heyday in the 1990s. In its place have emerged a whole array of content channels-blogs, magazines, videos, social networking campaigns, and so on-and a new collective term for them, that delivers dynamic and engaging branded information, the ultimate intention of which is to drive sales.
Your company has a blog that publishes several posts a week? Excellent. You have hundreds of people signed up for RSS subscriptions and frequent comments? Superb. You've got this content marketing thing down? Well, not quite."A lot of times the blog is sort of synonymous with content marketing," says Brendan Cournoyer, content marketing manager for Brainshark. "This rings true with companies that don't have an understanding of it. Even the blog itself is just a tool. The concept behind content marketing is really answering questions and communicating with potential and current customers."
Consumers today seek information at their fingertips from a wide variety of sources including online search and social media. To tap into this thirst for information and connect with their customers and prospects in a meaningful way, modern marketers are going beyond traditional sales and advertising channels by stepping up their content marketing strategies.
By Joyce Wells
Posted Oct 02, 2013
They started graduating from college and entering the workforce around 2002, according to most sources, although the precise dates for when the millennial generation (aka GenY or Digital Natives) starts and ends vary quite a bit. Technology has always been part of their world. They have always had multiple sources for information and take the ability to be connected 24/7 for granted. According to the Beloit College's Mindset List, this year's entering college graduation class of 2016 was "born into cyberspace." But, despite the fact that these young adults are certainly comfortable with technology, there is growing evidence to suggest that many are eschewing technology and embracing a growing nostalgia for simpler times.
Mobile advertising is on the rise-who do you know who doesn't have a smart phone these days? In fact, according to the Pew Internet Project's research on mobile technology, 91% of American adults have a cell phone-56% have a smartphone. That level of penetration presents both opportunities and challenges to content providers hoping not only to connect with their audiences, but also to monetize those interactions in some way.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Sep 27, 2013