Does Content Marketing Measure Up?

tape measure

Image courtesy of http://imnotjustagirl.com/

Many content marketers have bought into an incorrect view that brands should be their own publishers. Why exactly does this make sense? Brands don’t usually try to be their own ad platforms…that’s what TV stations and magazines and websites are for.

In the same sense that you don’t want to host the majority of your ads on your own site (usually), you don’t want to focus your content marketing efforts on your own site.

The truth is you can’t really replace outbound efforts (i.e. paid ads) with inbound-only campaigns such as social and email. Relying on inbound efforts only is like never leaving your circle of friends.  Yes, brands should be publishers….but not exclusively.

Instead, one of the most effective ways to get drive traffic to your website and create brand awareness is to have content published on other sites. Like paid ads, content published on top sites draws consumers not likely or at least not always be captured by inbound efforts.

In a Venture Beat story last week CMO’s confessed their uneasiness with the actual effectiveness of content marketing. That’s easy to understand – what exactly is the ROI of an effort to attract 10,000 Facebook fans?

What’s easier to measure is a strategic campaign that produces several million impressions from content created by brand advocates on their own sites. Measurable like advertising – more engaging because it is content created by bloggers and website owners who already love the brand.

More on this in a future post  – because simply reaching out to brand fans without a specific message and target objectives wastes precious resources and while measurable…might not measure up!

headshot new Maryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Marketing, a consulting firms focused on green and sustainable industries, fresh produce, food, Hispanic marketing and marketing to Moms. See her at ExpoEast Natural Foods Expo in Baltimore, speaking on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands, September 27, 2013 Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin

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Missing the Mark With Millennial Moms

Photo courtesy Business Insider

Photo courtesy Business Insider

Earlier this year, while executing plans for a major food client, an opportunity to pair with a lifestyle mobile app came up.  The client reaction could be described as, “huh?”  A nudge and a resounding success later, it had the unexpected effect of  starting  us thinking more about targeting that consumer of the future, the younger, Millennial Mom.

In one of those marketing illuminating moments, we realized that while most of our programs targeted moms 25-54, when we looked around and started asking our brand advocates and digital vendors about the average age of the moms we were reaching, it seemed heavy on the 35-54 and light on the other end. This didn’t seem to be a prescription for exponential growth.

As I wrote about this month, in MediaPost, we’re remarkably better informed on the psychographics of our online target market these days than their actual demographics. At the same time there are some significant differences between Baby Boomers/Gen X-ers and the Millennial generation that follows – the new cadre of moms we’ll be targeting for the next 10 years or so.

More culturally diverse, living a wider variety of “family” lifestyles and more often the family breadwinner than older generations, they also are more collaborative decision makers when it comes to buying the family groceries. This last, I suspect has to do has a lot to do with growing up online where eliciting the opinion of 20 different people can be accomplished in record time.

So, while it’s easy to connect with Millennial moms, it’s not so easy to engage without better insights into their needs, wants and lifestyle. And Millennial Moms do feel neglected by brands, as this study shows. So, take some time to learn more about the moms with whom your brand connects – it just might surprise you.

headshot new Maryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin

How to Make Content Go Viral – Land on the Mars

photo courtesy http://www.nasa.gov

photo courtesy http://www.nasa.gov

With all due respect to the author, this article on How To Make Content go Viral  answers the question with one example of a large company that does a good job using viral marketing in a fairly common way. Linkedin was able to raise awareness by sending out information to current users about their ranking on the network. In truth this is a “feel good tactic” that most social networks use from time to time.

The second example (couldn’t you think of anything else?) simply tells of a news worthy event (by definition information that should go viral) the landing of the Mars Rover and how Mars candy was caught off guard by the sudden interest in Mars candy. Umm…that happens all the time, when a news event brings to mind a brand, searches for the brand go up.

What most brands really want to know is how to create content that spontaneously goes viral with little to no investment on their part. Cheap Marketing. A Low Cost Publicity Stunt. Something For Nothing.

But…usually, sorry to say: You Get What You Pay For.

We all have heard stories of the surprise hits – from low budget movies that become blockbusters to bloggers who get book deals to Twitter accounts that end up on screen. Those are the outliers and as is usual, as little exploration of the backstory usually reveals lots of hard work, some seriously good connections and a little bit of luck.

The real story of how things go viral in the second decade of the 21st century is truly a story of calculated planning, good PR strategy and judicious use of budget. The spaghetti approach to churning out fun and whimsical content and waiting for someone to notice has its drawbacks –most importantly – the other 3.66 billion other web pages out there, each with multiple pieces of their own content! Kinda tough to get noticed.

The better approach for most brands is to create a mini wave in your own pond. It’s not free, but it’s more likely to get noticed by exactly the consumers you want to see it.  Creating good, solid and fun content is the first step, of course. But from there it’s all money and expertise. Reaching out to a limited number of brand advocates with strong social connections in an exciting and personal way and compensating them for their efforts can drive the exact traffic you want to your content and ultimately to your brand.

And that’s really what you want anyway, right?

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin