WriterAccess Webinar Archive
Automated Content Marketing: How to Get the Word Out & Leads In
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET
Let's face it, content consumption is limitless, competition for mind space is fierce. Your content must be fresh, relevant, engaging, and delivered seamlessly across multiple channels. So how does the modern marketer keep up?
Learn how in this recored webinar with guest Mathew Sweezey – author of Marketing Automation For Dummies, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce.com, and Content Marketing Conference speaker.
Watch this video and download the slides to:
- Master automated content marketing best practices
- Successfully launch new content in a limitless world
- Break through the digital noise
- Distribute content to the highest reach possible
WANT MORE SWEEZEY? Learn from Mathew and 30+ other marketing masters at Content Marketing Conference (CMC) May 2016. Check out CMC here.
The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.
Byron: Welcome everyone to our 63rd webinar here at WriterAccess. Glad everyone could be here today. If you’re not here, no worries. It’s being recorded and everyone will be receiving a link. It’s our 63rd webinar as mentioned. We’ve had some incredible guests and they’re all recorded and available on WriterAccess for you to take a look at if you want. But with great pleasure I’m here with Mathew Sweezy. Mathew, welcome.
Mathew: Thanks, man.
Byron: We really enjoy not only having you here but we enjoyed having you at the Content Marketing Conference. You were a super popular speaker; we did lots of reviews as you know, and everyone was really excited about this presentation and the variation that you presented at CMC, so we wanted to get this out to the masses as it was super popular and people were excited to hear from you.
Before we begin, a couple of things just to go over to people. The first being that I did mention that the webinar is recorded and it will be available for everyone. You’ll be getting an email with not only the recording but the slides. We’re going to leave, if possible, about 15 minutes for some questions and answers.
More importantly, I’ve decided to sort of have some breaks throughout this presentation where I chime in and ask a few questions. So feel free to post your questions throughout the presentation and I’ll take a look. But I assure you, based on doing about 300 podcasts that I do over at LifeTips, another company that I own, that I like asking questions. I’ve developed both an art and science around it, and I’ll be sure to challenge Mathew with some incredibly difficult questions, so get ready, brace yourself. We’ll try to really dig deeply into the topics that you’re talking about and ask some things off the cuff to have you talk. So, you’re welcome to make some fun posts.
A bit about me; you know who I am. I’m very excited to be chairing CMC, which we’re gearing up towards. Look for some announcements on that coming up. And we have a few things in the oven in addition to WriterAccess that’ll remain secret for a little while, but if you stay tuned to this webinar you’ll get some sneak peeks at that in the next few episodes. And I’ve just published my third book as well, which I’ll probably be giving away for everybody, which is called 103 Content Marketing Tools. So you’ll be getting a PDF version of that as well as part of the giveaway for everybody that has tuned in or even registered.
So I want to first introduce Mathew and start asking a couple of questions. Mathew, you’re at Salesforce right now, but I know you have a history at Pardot. Where did your thirst for marketing automation begin, and what inspired you to write Marketing Automation For Dummies?
Mathew: I’ve really always been interested in the idea of marketing. I’ve been writing on it in various different formats and publications for about 10 years or so now, covering anything from, back in the day we used to work a lot with direct mail. We used to call it lumpy mail. All the way through, and then I really came across marketing automation at a startup in the lead generation space. I was looking for my next thing and came across Pardot as a company. I didn’t really know a whole lot about marketing automation, and then was one of the early employees to help get that company up and off the ground, and that’s kind of what started it. I’ve continued to write and create best practices for the marketing automation industry, and then the Dummies corporation reached out an asked me to write Marketing Automation For Dummies for them. So that’s kind of the long and the short of it.
Byron: You’re in California now, as I recall, is that correct? But where are you from?
Mathew: No, I’m still in Atlanta, where I was always.
Byron: Got it. Okay, super, good for you. Born and raised there, or how did that work?
Mathew: Yeah, I was born and raised here actually. I’m one of the rare folks from the town they still live in.
Byron: That’s terrific. And did you attend college in that area, or literally stay at your home base?
Mathew: Yeah, I did. I attended the University of Georgia, so I kept it local.
Byron: Right on. As far as the science of marketing automation, do you think it’s changed radically in the last few years? And what has been the catalyst for that change?
Mathew: It definitely has changed, and the catalyst for that change is simply the technology itself. And it’s not the technology per se as a marketing automation system, it’s just in general the technology of what can be automated across essentially the three channels of paid, paid owned, and earned media. And in combination with what can be automated internally, it’s just in the structures and foundations. And we’ll get into this in the webinar in terms of the environmental aspects of businesses and consumers and the media. The whole system has completely changed, but it’s mostly due to the technology and its effects on the environment.
Byron: Final question, what is your favorite hobby or non-athletic sport?
Mathew: Non-athletic sport?
Byron: Drinking, for example, is a non-athletic sport.
Mathew: Alright, I own a brewery, so that’s probably my non-athletic sport. Me and my buddies do that.
Byron: That’s exciting; good stuff. Alright, without further ado, take it over, and I’ll be looking to fire some questions at you during the presentation and at the end.
Mathew: Awesome. Cool, man. Well once again, thank you everybody for joining this. We’re going to get rocking and rolling. If you do want to catch up on the conversation, like Byron said #WAW @writeraccess. And my Twitter handle is real easy, it’s @msweezey. And I thought it was great, because one of my friends misread it, and now I’m Ms. Weezey on Twitter. So that’s a good way to keep up with it.
So let’s kind of hop in. It’s really automating content marketing, and what I want you guys to understand is that we’re not necessarily going into automating all of the processes, but more or less automating the ideas and the systems. If you ever want to keep up with some of the other places I’ve written for, please catch me on Mashable, ClickZ, and different publications, books; all over the place.
Let’s kind of get into the meat of the conversation. And really what I want to start with is the idea of, you need to understand the environment and how it’s changed, and this idea of discovery. It’s a basic concept that we as humans want to discover things. The same connect and reason why, when you take an idea to your boss and you say, “Hey, this is a great idea.” And they say, “Not really.” Then two weeks later they come back and say, “Hey, I have this great idea.” And they think it was their idea and now they like it. We do the same thing when it comes to concept and media, and we like to discover things rather than to have things put in front of us; we like to find them. And the reason we like to do that, and the reason I talked about technology being the catalyst for this, is you need to understand what we can discover now and how fast ad how powerful our discovery mechanisms are. The internet is a discovery mechanism, and this is a great example of the power of the internet, and specifically Google search, but technically, the power that you wield when you do a single Google search is more power than was required to land a man on the moon. So, just think about that as a power.
And start to think about the environment and how it changes the environment, specifically the businesses, the consumers, and the media that connect those two. Now, we as individuals, we now spend 12 hours a day in front of a screen. That’s 12 hours a day in the UK. This was a study done by the National Institute of Health. In the United States it’s 12.8 hours a day. And really what this equates to is, for us as marketers, we kind of put this idea in front of the screen in terms of noise. We like to say, “Is that how long someone’s in front of a screen? How many advertisements are they then going to be seeing during that time? How much noise do I have to overcome to have a relevant engagement with that person?” That will be the traditional media theory.
Now, the idea of what noise is is completely different in our infinite environment than it was in the traditional media environment. So think about this: back in the day you had five media channels, and we’ll dive into this a little later. But now you have well over 200 media channels, and all of those media channels are bi-directional. Social media, you can post as well as receive comments and questions and have a bi-directional engagement. And, when we look at these things, what the idea of noise used to measure, the idea of noise was a measure of how much media could be produced by businesses. Now a majority of the media we produce is from consumers, no longer businesses. The best estimates currently, at the level of noise, are about 5,000 ads per day; that’s how many ads you essentially see on a daily basis, from those 12 hours as well as your walk around the daily world.
Back to that point, that’s not the whole story. That is not the actual level of digital noise that we, as businesses, have to overcome to drive a relevant engagement. I want you to think about the idea of media ubiquity. This is the first time in history this has ever happened. It’s happened without us realizing it’s happened. So before, go back to a traditional media model, to create media, you had to be able to produce media; there was a cost associated. You had to be able to media; there was a large cost associated. And then you had to be able to consume the media, which usually meant you then had to buy something else. Which was either, you had to buy a magazine, you had to subscribe to a television channel, and you had to do something to be able to consume that media. And that was also one direction. Now it’s bi-directional, and you think about how we now create media, and you understand that more people in the world have access to a cell phone than have access to clean drinking water or electricity, and you can understand that media, for this first time in history is frictionless, or ubiquitous. Meaning anyone can create it, because it has no barrier to entry. Anyone can distribute it from the palm of their hands. And anyone can consume it from the palm of their hands.
So the level of digital noise that we’re actually having to overcome, it’s much, much higher than 5,000 ads per day. On an average, someone in our demographic, being 18 to 34, is actually going to logon to Facebook 17 times a day. Each time they logon, there are 1,200 posts waiting for that person when they get on to Facebook. Now imagine, what are those posts? They are not advertisements, this is what we’re trying to combat. We’re trying to combat videos of babies, kids with bowties. This is a video that actually popped up in my newsfeed: it’s a little tiny pug that starts licking this ice cream cone, and then the lady switches to the dog, and the dog takes one big gulp and eats the entire ice cream cone. And it’s super cute and it has 10 million views. This is what we have to compete against; this is the level of noise that we are competing against with businesses. And we also have to remember that we’re also competing against noise that’s not human. So think about these things: you have notifications that pop up on your screen, you have alerts. These are also media events that are not human at all. There is no human creating these things. These are being digitally created, yet they are adding to that level of noise that we now have to combat to engage with somebody.
So, a good example of this is a notification of an event that’s pulling off your Google calendar and setting a notification 10 minutes before you have a meeting. So, what we’re competing against is all content, so when we make content, for us to be able to break through that level of noise that’s now existing in this infinite environment, we have to be really, really good at the content we create to drive relevant experiences. What I wanted to get in our heads is this new idea, this new concept of what we need to create in this limitless media world.
The first I want to do is, I want you to understand how media has changed the way you naturally engage with it, and if we can understand that, it then can give us clues to what we need to create and then get engaged with. Let’s do a quick sample. Do you do A or B, so I’m going to ask you a survey. If you go in the morning, and you open your email inbox, do you the following. A: Open your email inbox, see the first email, open it, start reading the email, determine if it’s relevant or not, decide to delete or continue reading it, go back to the email inbox, do the same thing with the second, open it to see if it’s relevant? Or B: Scan your email inbox, delete what you don’t like, and then work on the rest? I can hear everybody, and everybody said B. I’m a mind reader.
I’ve asked this question to thousands of people around the world and everyone does B. So what you need to understand is something called heuristics. You have taught yourself, naturally, how to do this. No one ever taught you how to manage your email inbox, but your natural behavior to now dealing with a max amount of media is to disqualify first and qualify second. So think about that. This is how we engage with content. We engage with it in very specific ways. Now let me continue to another question. Think about how you research. This is extremely important when we talk about content marketing for businesses. Understanding how people search and how people research topics is exactly the buying process, and if we can understand that we can make content that is extremely effective in the buying cycle.
Now, in order to understand this we need to do some research, and I actually sat down and did this research. So this consists of surveys with 400 B2B buyers. And what you’re looking at on the screen is the average content that we engage with on a daily basis. So follow along with this chart. The black dotted line is daily engagement with content. The dashed orange line is how we engage with researched content. Let me find a few different things for you so you can understand. The black dotted line is your daily consumption. Your average daily consumption is going to stay static, and it’s going to depend on how much media you normally consume. Some good examples of what this would be: my father, at the same time every morning, picks up the same newspaper and reads it for the same amount of time, does the same crossword puzzle and is done at the same time. He’s then probably going to watch television at the same time during the day for the same amount of time.
In the modern world, we will spend 17 times going on Facebook, spending an average of two to three hours per day on Facebook. Then you average that across all different mediums, and you will come up with an average amount of content that we engage with. Now that drastically changes at one specific point in the relationship with the consumer, and that is when they start to do research. Let me ask you another question. When you go to do research on a product, this is also the point of sale on a buying cycle, do you do A or B? Do you go online, find a whitepaper, download it, log offline and read it? Or do you do B: go online, find a lot of whitepapers, download them all, log offline and hope to read them? The answer is most likely B.
That’s once again heuristic behavior; it’s something that you learn to do because the internet allows that to happen. It allows you to find all of those things super-fast, and so you do. So what we should understand now, our natural model is to batch research. Now, compounding that question with my research, what I found was, if you ask people how many times they then do that batch research over the course of a B2B buying cycle, you’d find the answer is, on average, two to three times. If we then know that average is two to three times we end up with a graph like this, with a daily flat line. And then when they start researching there are three specific peaks. Once again, it’s going to go up very fast due to the batch research, and it’s going to decline very fast, due to the nature that they’re going to drop off and go back to their average consumption. So that’s what this graph means.
Now, what this then applies to with tactics for content marketing is the following thing. Let me help you with a story to see if you can understand. I go to a wedding, and I’m a single guy so they put me at the singles table, and I’m seated next to this girl. I think they’re trying to hook me up with this girl. So we’re sitting there and I’m asking the normal polite questions: “What do you do?” And she replies, “Oh, I do marketing.” And I say, “Well, this is great. I know a little about marketing; we can talk about this topic. Do you do email marketing” And she says, “Yeah.” And I say, “what tool do you use?” And just for a little backstory, this is when Pardot had just been acquired by Exact Target, so I was an Exact Target employee at this time. So she says, “Oh, I use Exact Target.” Before I could say anything, she said, “And I hate it.” And I replied, “Now this is awkward, because I work for Exact Target. How can I help you?” And she says, “Well, it doesn’t do good enough segmentation.”
A week before this conversation Microsoft had just launched Microsoft 365, which was their new cloud-based platform for their software. It was using Exact Target’s platform, and it also harnessed the world’s largest supercomputer to do real-time segmentation. So, I’m pretty sure that this person, who was a single marketer at a golf supply store, there was a disconnect in the terminology. So I ask, “What do you mean by segmentation.” And her response was, “When somebody opts out from an email communication, I want them to be removed from that email segment and added to another.” I said, “That’s not segmentation. That is actually called marketing automation.” And she says, “No, no, that’s segmentation.” If she was to go online and do a search, what she would be searching for is the concept of segmentation. I know at that point in time, she will end up buying marketing automation. If I was to put an ad in front of her, if I was to send her an email, if I was to have any engagement, and I said, “This is part of the best marketing automation platform,” would she have found that relevant at that time? The answer is, not at all.
Yes, she would need that in the journey, but at that time it is irrelevant. Hence, it wouldn’t get engaged with. So if I understand where somebody is in one of these three stages, I can then understand how to be relevant to them extremely well. Then this also changes the goal of a lot of my content programs from saying, the goal of the program is to generate a lead to saying, the goal of this program is to move somebody to the next stage. What we have to understand is that a person will be able to move themselves from stage to stage; they may start in any stage, and they can skip stages. They can do those things on their own. What we have to do is be able to identify where they are then help them move, and then give them the options to skip. You cannot force any of those things to happen, you have to enable them to happen and happen when they want them to happen.
Why we engage with content is also extremely important to this process. We need to understand why we engage, and there are some very key ideas on why we engage. The first is escape. So, think about this: 90% of the time when someone picks up the telephone, they’re doing so to escape the scenario. You say, that may be true for young adults, and it may be true for tweens and all of those. But no, this goes for executives. An executive study found that executives self-reported this; 55% of the time they pick up their telephone, they are doing so because they are bored. It may be different, but a significant portion of B2B buyers are picking up their phone just because they are bored.
If you look at society around us, it is no longer acceptable to take a smoke break. Most people don’t smoke, and we’re told not to smoke. So during the day, when we need a break from our work (we used to just go take a smoke break), now we need some other way to do that. So we’re going on social media to get that break or for escapism. So if we’re then going to try and engage with content when someone is going on one of those channels, understanding now what their purpose is for that engagement, we can now craft content for that purpose.
This is what Caterpillar did, given those scenarios. They said, we know someone wants to escape so let’s give them escapism. So they made a giant jenga set; each one of these blocks weighs 60,000 pounds. They then take all of their equipment and play a game of jenga. As you can see, now this is almost 3 million views, I checked on it yesterday. By the way, their subscriber count is up to 45,000 people. Let’s be clear, none of us is ever going to buy a piece of Caterpillar equipment. I desperately want one; being a southerner and having a farm, I want to play with this stuff all the time, but I’m not going to buy it for a business. But I definitely watched this video and found entertainment from it.
That gets into the idea of content marketing over a very long lifecycle. Understanding is going to take a lot of different types of engagement. The new terms of psychology call this a mediated relationship. It’s going to take a lot of different engagements that are static, meaning they’re not extremely deep, across a wide spectrum, and this is a great example of one.
Another type we’re going to do is we’re going to learn. Learning is simple; right now, what you are doing is you are learning. You are empowering yourself how to do your job better. In the B2B space this doesn’t mean how to, specifically in the context of your tool or service, but it means how to to the person’s job. Helping a person do their job better is what that person is really wanting to learn. Ardath Albee, a good friend of mine, always talk about making the person a hero. Kelly Sierra talks about user experience, and the whole point is about making the person a badass. If you can help a person accomplish this, then you can accomplish that goal of building a very deep relationship through that content. Here’s a way that Caterpillar did that as well.
The next is then research, and we talked about the concept of physically how we do this. And the most common way is through a search engine (it’s most likely to be Google although it could be others). And the final one, which you might not really understand is presence. And this idea of presence is something new, and I really want you to understand this at a very deep level. It’s the idea of why do we use social media? We use social media because of this concept of presence. We are now mediated beings, meaning that we have an average of 7.4 media channels that we subscribe to if we have a smartphone. And then we have a different self across each one of those channels. Those channels are also bi-directional; they allow us to push our presence out into the world, as well as for people to be present with us. It allows for presence both forward and backward. When someone acknowledges that presence, such as if you were to like someone’s photo, that fulfills my purpose for being on that social channel in the first place. We’ll get into what that means in content. Byron, I think you wanted to hop in here with a question.
Byron: Matt, if you wanted to go back to questions about the girl at the party. How did you make out with her, number one (no pun intended). More importantly, perhaps, the real question is, would you test content with that language problem. One of the goals of content marketing is to learn the wants and needs of your customers, in this case it’s the wants and needs and the language they’re using. In this case, would you consider testing a piece by Pardot on segmentation vs. automation, trying to educate and acclimate her on the difference between the two as an engagement device at that early stage in the funnel? Can you talk about content creation as it relates to that staged funnel approach?
Mathew: On a personal note it did not go anywhere. It was an engaging conversation and that’s about as far as that went. In terms of content, yes exactly. And what you’ll find is that people will then use different words at different stages. So there are two ways that you’ll know these stages. One is testing, but a much faster and more accurate and more direct way is asking. To steal a term form my friend Ardath again, these should be interviews not interrogations. Sit down and find people that are leads, prospects, or current customers and ask them, “What search terms did you look for? What search terms do you look for when you try to do better at your job? What search terms did you look for when trying to evaluate software.” Then figure out what those terms are, and then you can work on using and refining them through the content itself specifically. What that will also do is when somebody searches for that term, or engages with content that is hyper-targeted and relevant to that term, it will then clue you in exactly as to where they are in the buying cycle. Because they’re not going to engage with something that isn’t relevant to them given the other opportunities and options that they have. Does that help answer that?
Byron: It does indeed. Carry on.
Mathew: Let’s talk about one more thing. As you can tell, I’m getting deep into media theory and psychology, but it’s stuff that you really have to understand. The last thing we want to hit is this concept of a queue. This is the historical idea of being remembered. People say you need to be remembered, and there’s the concept of this queue, which is the actual place in the brain we would store this in. There was a study that came out in 1957 and it was titled, “The Magical Number 7.” This is the study that said we have seven working queues, meaning as a human being there are seven places you’re going to store stuff while you work. This may be how to do my job, things I have to do at night, seven different things we’re going to keep on our brain.
A new study came out that said since we’re multitasking, we’ve had that queue shortened to two to four, so three on average. This just goes to reinforce the purpose and need for being relevant and automating your content experiences, and we’ll get to this in a second. What you need to understand is, where are these other queues going? This is also going to be a concept we’re going to use in content marketing, which is to understand where we’re offloading this other memory bank, and it’s cellphones, right? This is where our other memory banks are. The cellphone is our third memory bank. There’s a study I just came across, saying there are more pictures than ever. Historically we used pictures as artifacts; we would take a picture to remember things. But now, Pew Charitable Research found that out of 900 people, 70% took pictures that were not stored on their phone or any device, they were sent for communication. So we’re storing things on these third memory banks and using them. Look at that phone; that phone is showing a notification. If we are using our phones as a memory bank, the way to trigger memories will be through notifications. We’ll get into that concept and how to automate notifications in a second.
New content for a limitless world, this is where I think you guys were imagining this talk to go, and we just needed that backstory to get here. First off, we have to have that basis of stage based content. Because if we can understand stage based content our goals of content marketing become, not just to generate leads but to determine the stage the person is in (that will give us relevance and increase our engagement rates). Then the next goal will be to move them to the next stage, and that is the basis of content marketing of the future.
For you to do that, you have to have a single customer view. You have to have some system of relevance that includes internal and external. Traditionally, marketing automation platforms with CRM will give you this. If you already have those pieces of technology, you already have a single customer view. But if you don’t, you have to have that to start.
I always like to throw in this quote. This comes from Kimberly Ruthenbeck, she’s Director of Customer Experience for Room and Board. This reiterates the point, we want to be relevant with our content, not invasive. And it’s only through understanding each individual then automating things on an individual level that we can be relevant.
So let’s talk about being relevant on owned media channels. Owned media channels being the channels that you own. Let’s really focus in on your website. I want to expand your mind for a second. How many pages do you have on your website? How many of those pages have content on them? How many pages on average does a person visit? If you want to know the statistic across the entire board it’s 1.7, the average on really optimized B2B websites is 4. As you just said in your head, you have hundreds of thousands of pages and the majority of them have content. So, the traditional way we would say, “How are you going to get people to your content,” would be to optimize the flow of your website. You would use a tool like Omniture or Google Analytics to find out where people were going and we would optimize call to actions, change colors.
Those things are going to give us changes in the single digit range, such as 5% engagement or 9% engagement. Those are great, but you’re optimizing for the wrong thing right now. What I want you to understand is the difference between static and dynamic. Dynamic is the actual answer to that question you’re trying to solve. Think about the difference between a website where someone flows to a zero-click website, where everything is brought to them and they never do anything but engage. That is where you want to go, and how you get there is dynamic content.
Here’s a great example. Let’s add a bunch of these different theories on one screen. This is a website that’s using stage based content and dynamic content. These here boxes I Have circled in red are dynamic content boxes that are being powered by a marketing automation platform. They have a base-level website, and they added these three things to the website in a simple integration. What is going on is the system is reading the individual, so when a person lands on this page they’re looking at that person’s cookies and seeing all the information they know about that person. They know what stage that person is in, so there’s trick number one. Now what we do is the first two become stage two and the next one becomes stage three, or the stage the person is in and then the next stage. We serve up content and say that, we know the stuff that is going to be relevant to you now is the stage you are in, but we also want to give you the ability to jump ahead. This technique is called choose your own adventure. I stole this from the books I used to read as a child, and those were the choose your own adventure books. When you got to the end of the chapter, if you want to slay the dragon you go to page 65, or if you want to save the princess go to page 75.
You can expand upon this idea with the idea of predictive or proactive. What we just showed was a reactive dynamic model. You could also get into a predictive dynamic model. And the idea of the predictive is that it’s proactive, it’s personal, and it’s being used by some of the biggest brands.
This is Diesel, a clothing manufacturer. When they implemented dynamic content across their own media channels, they increased revenues by 25%. That is a massive, massive win. If they were to increase engagement rates on a call to action page by fractions such as 10% or 5%, the trickle-down effect would not have been that massive of a gain in revenue. By looking at content, and by looking at the idea of a dynamic experience and by serving up that content, they changed the entire model and got a revenue increase in a massive, massive way. If you as a marketer were to go to your CEO and say, “I drove revenue and increased it by 25%,” imagine what your bonus would be at the end of the year.
Next is journeys. So we have to understand that the buying cycle is typically much longer. That’s something you’ve been told and I don’t have to reiterate that. But what I want to talk about is then what do we want to do with that journey in between the first and second stages? You can get into these ideas, some people call them nurturing programs, some people call them journeying maps, it just depends on what tool you’re using. What we need to understand is how to actually build them.
What you see on the screen is not how I want you to start. I’m going to teach you something real quick, and there’s a chapter in the Marketing Automation For Dummies book and there are chapters all over the place in different publication that I’ve written on this concept of agile marketing. Let me explain really quickly the basis of nurturing. They are timed actions. Time means you have time to wait and see what happened with that past action before you have to build the next action. So I’d suggest, rather than building this massive journey map and then going into your program and investing all the time to create the content, write emails, build the map, and argue with people about what should happen, start with three actions, see how those actions go, then, from that learn, and then build your next three. It’s an iterative process, and what you will end up with is a very powerful accurate program very quickly and very effectively without maxing out your resources. Remember, you have to focus on other stuff to do, even while you build this.
These techniques I’m about to teach you, I taught a company years ago. They had already been doing nurturing programs, and then I taught them to look at them in a stage-based model, and they increased the revenue from email by 300%; not the click-through rates, not the open rates, the revenue by 300%. Remember, the goal is to move somebody to the next stage. And in B2B decision, on average there are seven people in a buying cycle, but on average you will only have two to three of them in your database.
Let’s look at a couple of ways to get to those people. This is nurturing outside the bounds of email. This is nurturing in a technique called account-based marketing. It is not super effective for lead generation, but it is amazingly effective for getting to those four or five other people in the buying cycle who are decision makers. Why do we need to reach those people? Because the people doing the research are not the decision makers. They will want to discover things rather than you calling and telling them. So make your ads discoverable rather than ads. And then you can use account-based marketing tools. There’s DemandBase, there’s Terminus, there’s a whole host of others that will allow you to target people based in the IP address of the company. You can then sync that up with your marketing automation platform and nurture people both via email and via online advertising, because they are real-time bidding models. Byron, I know you had something you wanted to ask me about this one.
Byron: Several hundred questions surfaced, and a couple were a little bit back that I might ask. I love your comment about “be relevant, not invasive,” a quote you picked up. Can you show some examples of dos and don’ts, such as “What is being relevant in your mind, and how is that different from not being invasive?”
Mathew: That, in itself is an hours-long conversation. By the way, I’m not trying to pimp-out the book; I don’t get paid for the book, it’s just, if you wanted to further that there’s a lot of places to go. What you need to understand about relevance is a couple of things. The words that you’re going to use is your first trick. The second is what they’re trying to solve with those problems, and you get those from user stories. The third thing to being relevant, and here’s one of those tricks that helped that company get to the 300% mark, is understanding the difference in what I would call being socially literate.
Let’s take email as an example. If you were to take all of the emails your company sends, and put them into two buckets: emails marketing sends, and emails everybody else sends, which of those two has the higher open rate and by what percentage. The answer, on average, is going to be by 95% in favor of people from their personal email inboxes. Look at the difference, because where those emails come from, where they go, and who they go to are the exact same people. What is different is the language that we use and the crafting of that email itself.
Go back to that idea of disqualification and qualification. Think about what you are physically doing in your head. You only have about 200 characters of information to determine instantly if that is relevant for you or irrelevant for you, and you do it with amazing accuracy. Because marketers tend to write with the golden pen, just like salespeople tend to speak with the golden tongue. They’re trying to optimize for the masses. But when you realize when you write a personal email you are crafting it only for one person, you write with a different language, and secondly, when you actually write that email you write it in rich text. How many marketers have ever written a full-formatted HTML email for a single person? When we’re building these journeys, they’re completely personal. Remember they’re going to one person at one time. So we need to make sure that we’re engaging and looking like we actually care about a single person and that we’re talking to a single person at the same time. That’s a great way of showing relevance.
And the next is, in stage one, try to focus on helping that person do their job better. In stage two, usually it’s more social proof. Now that person has bought into the idea and understands their pain, and in a B2B buying cycle they now have to convince a group of other people to put this on the docket. Stage three is typically vendor selection. People will choose the vendors and make their short list well before they ever reach out to you. Understanding what is relevant to that time helps you design that relevance in a systematic way.
Byron: Makes sense. Carry on.
Mathew: Let’s get to some pretty crazy stuff. Let’s go back to the whole concept of presence. This is a new idea that I unveiled earlier this year, and I’ve been doing a ton of research on this. This is a lot of theory, but I’m also going to back this up with some hardcore actions for you. Micro actions: go back to the concept of why people engage on social media, and the idea is presence. There’s a purpose, and that purpose is the presence. We are mediated selves, we have, on average, 7.4 media channels that we are actively engaged on, and so we have these different images. So when we post, we are sharing an image of what we want. Think about us as the director of our own movie that’s playing out on everyone else’s TV screen.
I remember taking an English class in high school, and the most fascinating thing I learned in that English class was, we looked at videos. And the professor told us, “You will never look at anything in a video or read anything in a book that the director or writer did not want you to see.” And that is exactly how we as individuals view our social media channels, because we control everything that goes out. We will express what that presence is that we want. Conversely, when people engage with that, it then validates that presence. The idea of micro interactions is that they’re much smaller interactions, but they’re still content. Think about liking someone’s post. Think about commenting on blogs.
This is a great example. This is a software called [unintelligible] that they use to do some amazing things. They had these advocates, and they were able to use those advocates to express these micro actions and generate some amazing things. What they did with that, was they were able to do 190 referrals. There were 70 advocates offering to be sales references, 42 blog comments, and what you realize is that social media is still word-of-mouth. If you can help people validate who they want to be, you can drive those relevant brand impressions.
Take that back to the following consideration that I said earlier, of where is that final frontier, and that final frontier is the notification screen on the person’s cellphone. What gets you there? Notifications via social channels. A comment on a post, it pops up on a notification. Like a photo, pops up on a notification. It’s not in the newsfeed where you’re competing against everybody else and those 1,200 posts every time they logon. So 1,200 times 17 gives you a magic number. I went to a state school so I can’t do that kind of math, but you get the idea.
I’m going to wrap it up and bring us into the time of questions. Remember content is not just what you would normally consider content. It’s relevant engagement an can be anything from a micro action to a blog post. Intelligence is the key to better content distribution, not more mass media. Automation is really the execution of your intelligence. It’s knowing where to do something, how to do it, and why to do it. That is what really drives engagement. It’s not just doing more of something, it’s doing the right things. One of my coaches used to say, “It’s not practice that makes you perfect, it’s perfect practice that makes you perfect.” And new social is an amazing way to leverage distribution, by using your advocates, by using micro actions, and all these different ways.
Hopefully, that was an eye-opening thing, and it’s probably not what you expected in terms of how to automate content marketing, but it’s definitely the future of content marketing for you. With that, let’s get some questions, Byron.
Byron: Fantastic. A question just came in from Jennifer. I manage a marketing team of brokers, and I want to craft a marketing automation plan targeting their prospects and existing clients in targeted segments, but my problem is gaining access to their contact lists and having them be cleaned, de-duped, and grouped according to the right segments for establishing these work flows. Thoughts?
Mathew: If your brokers are willing to give you those lists, are they going to be highly protective of those lists. Because, just like a salesperson, that is their livelihood. You’re first going to have to gain their trust to allow them to let you send that list. Next, in terms of the de-duplication or the cleansing, or what I would call the data governance issue, invest in a tool. There are a bunch of tools you can use and just run that list right through and they’ll do that for you. Just type in data governance or list cleaning in Google and those will come up. There’s a whole bunch of different ways to do it and that’s a chapter in the book.
When you think about segmenting, think about not just segmenting according to whatever their normal investment structure might be. First off, think about doing something larger. Think about what the actual of that campaign is, and the goal of that campaign is to really fulfill that person’s purpose. That person’s purpose is to be successful in life, not just to invest. They want to be successful in life, and they want to have more money than they started out with. So think about fulfilling that purpose in much larger ways rather than just smaller things. And the real goal is that they then reach back out to the broker. So think about that as your goal, and try to focus on those things rather than what piece of content.
Also, don’t think about you having to create all that content. There’s so much content online that you can use and leverage so you don’t have to create it. Something that proves that point, think about the idea of a retweet. Have you ever clicked on a retweet? The answer is yes. Did that person create that content? No, but they shared it with you and you still found it valuable. Just remember there’s lots of content online, and finding it and sharing it with those people will help reinforce that relationship, and that should help drive more sales for your broker.
Byron: By the way, we call that sharing is caring. One of the points that I would love to have asked, Jennifer, is we all get so entrenched in this whole marketing automation concept. Sometimes it’s good to step back a little bit and say, “What is the purpose of the content we’re creating? How much content are we going to be creating, particularly for each of these segments that we’re going to work so hard to try and figure out?” Oftentimes, we’ll find that, we’re going to do all of this segmentation work, and it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of money, but at the end of the day we’re only going to publish two blog posts for each segment per month. Really? Those are some of the ways I think people get lost in the forest, particularly with marketing automation and all that pressure we put on people.
The other things are, what channels are we going to publish in? How good does the content need to be? Where are they in the buy cycle, and in the trust relationship with that particular broker? There’s a lot of data we can pull without seeing names on a list, and even by having the broker go down and do some scoring or grading or answering some of these questions we’re talking about. I think that make a lot more sense.
What’s your quick take on persona development? Which, by the way, years ago was done almost in a vacuum. Agencies were tasked with trying to nail who the target audience was, so they’d do some research, perhaps use some database management, and do some preliminary work or maybe some focus group testing if there was enough budget to facilitate that. But, at the end of the day, a lot of our persona development is frankly, pie in the sky. Don’t you think that, Mathew? I’d love your take on that. And isn’t testing, publishing content, seeing what people gravitate towards, seeing what resonates well with them, isn’t that the secret sauce that we should all be aiming towards?
Mathew: You’re completely right on that. I was at an Argyle summit, and Argyle is a group that puts on these big executive forums and I was speaking there. And there was a panel with a guy from Informatica, which is a big company, said that the moment they moved from demographic-based profiles to behavior-based profiles, they increased their lead generation two to four times. What we used to use to get to the information was demographic. If I wanted to target somebody between 18 and 24, it was because they’re somebody that usually has the behaviors I was looking for.
Now we can target specific behaviors, and that’s what we should actually target. Those behaviors then make up the profile. Really the persona should be behavioral-based rather than role-based, because every environment is going to be different. And I completely agree, because don’t do it in a vacuum. Do it in an interface with people and setup user stories and ask them a couple of basic questions. What got you started going down this path? What were your expectations when you engaged with a piece of content? What could have been better about it to meet your expectations? And just start to figure all those basic things out, and that will get you into this idea of personas and help you out with content creation, automating those stages, and building those programs.
Byron: James has an interesting question. Would you say that one way to conceive of this automated marketing is not necessarily to drive people to your organization’s website, but rather to view each outgoing email as a kind of mini-website delivering targeted content to the recipients?
Mathew: You’re in the right vein. I don’t know if I’d say I view it as a mini-website. What I’d say I view it as is a mediated interaction. Consider that what a mediated relationship is what we have to have, which means we’re going to have multiple interactions across multiple different channels, all via media. So I would say it is a mediated relationship and that is one of the pieces of that mediated relationship. But yes, you’re right. It is one to one completely; that is correct. And it’s part of the relationship, it’s not anymore just to drive people to a website.
The idea of driving everyone to the website is a holdover of when we had to invest all of that money into the website, meaning if we did so then we had to figure out how to prove value to it. Now we’re proving value in marketing in completely different ways, where people may not even ever go to a website. But, most of the time they will, because that’s where we host a lot of our content.
Byron: Here’s another question from Tim. As a small business, what recommendations would you have to help us get into marketing automation? Most of the tools I’ve seen to date have been prohibitively expensive.
Mathew: You hit the nail on the head, my friend. They are expensive, and when you define the term “marketing automation,” think about it with a big “a” and a little “a.” First, figure out what you need to automate, and then a lot of times you can tie things together. There are also, as time progresses and technology progresses, lots of other marketing automation vendors that are much less expensive, and are slimmed-down tool sets, that can get you to what you need to get to at a lower cost. But first off just figure out what you need to do and start researching how to do it. There are a lot of ways you can combine things together, and the best piece of information I can give you is: remember that everything always ends up with a URL. So try to make sure everything focuses and lives on a URL, and you can usually figure out some way to track it and automate it.
Byron: Paula, great question on the tightrope of where we stand right now in the industry. Given search drives, and that Google has fresh algorithms all the time regarding content, how do you recommend we balance content segmentation and planning with SEO demands?
Mathew: That’s a constantly moving target. You’re correct; search is a large portion of this, but it’s not the only portion. That’s a responsive action. With a lot of these mediated relationships we can be proactive. Search does play a part, and SEO will always be important, and for those who are just starting to invest in SEO it’s a much tougher battle to win. I would suggest finding new way to win the SEO game, and the best way to do that is through publication.
Good example, when I wanted to own the SEO search term “marketing automation thought leader,” I wrote an article. That article then got published on Mashable. Now when I type “marketing automation leader” into Google, that article I wrote with the top 25 marketing automation thought leaders owns that search space. And that took one article and it happened literally overnight because of the power of those two publications. So try to get other publications and be able to leverage those; don’t expect your own internal blog to ever be able to compete for a term like that against those other powerhouses. It’s very difficult to do so, and it’s much easier to be able to leverage other things like that.
Byron, to give you guys a plug, that’s a great way when you can use other people to write for you, and then get into those other publications. And that really gets into the idea of understanding modern media, and being socially literate and technology literate. And the idea of driving SEO just from our own website, yes we may want to get them there, but in the scheme of the buying cycle, maybe that’s not the right time to get them there. Maybe we could give the same impression, do the same relationship building, get the same stage-based movement out of publications from other places, or social media, or social selling, or whatever your marketing strategy may be.
In terms of your direct question, the SEO game, it’s constantly changing. You’ve just got to try and stay up on it and that all then goes back to the user stories. You’ve got to know what people are searching for to know what to write for in the first place. As long as you’re honest and writing good content with the words that people are looking for, you should be able to win the SEO game. The little tricks will always be technological barriers that you’ll have to overcome, but just try to stay up with them and do them when you can.
Byron: Do you think we’ll end this perpetual curse to pepper keywords into our content and have such a focus on keyword optimization in the content we create? Do you think there will be an end to that journey?
Mathew: That’s a technical question that is far beyond my level of understanding. It’s all going to be based off what Google finds. So, however Google finds is the best, most accurate way to answer your question. Currently we use that based off of keywords. SEO is such a massive algorithm that the actual keyword is important, but there are so many other factors in SEO optimization. Whenever Google finds a better way that doesn’t involve keywords, then they’ll do it. So we can’t say for certainty that it will always be, but currently on the basis of the best technology available, it seems to be something that for our foreseeable future will stay that way.
Byron: Great question here: Facebook has reduced friend network reach and has forced us to pay to play. Google Plus is on the decline. What would you suggest to extend the reach of our content?
Mathew: Kayla, you should be jumping for joy that they blended organic reach, and here’s my example and reason why: Paid reach is probably the best trick you have in your playbook right now, because if you learn how to use paid reach you can reach people outside of your audience in hyper-targeted ways for rates that are ridiculously low. Go back to that idea of escapism, and read Gary Vanyerchuck’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right-Hook for examples of some of those practices, and combine that with the idea of putting articles, not advertisements inside of people’s newsfeeds, and you can drive some serious relationships and serious engagement off of social media in ways that were never possible with sheer organic, because you would have to get that person to become a friend or a follower in the first place.
Byron: David asks, how do you overcome the plague of distractions that the internet searchers experience to become the length that they choose to read?
Mathew: That’s a great question, and there’s no silver bullet answer. I’ve had articles I’ve written that have been 2,000 words, that have then become the top articles on the website, and I’ve had articles that are very short that become the best articles read. And it just depends on what your topic is and what your audience’s appetite is. I’m writing my next book and a lot of people keep telling me, “you got to make this book super easy and super digestible, and I’m arguing against that. I’m making this book much deeper because I believe there’s a need for people that want a deeper understanding and a deeper dive into these topics and the reasons why rather than just gloss over them. It really depends on what your tactic is, but just do anything and do it well, and it usually works. It just depends on your execution and the scenario, so there really isn’t one answer.
Byron: We’ve reached the final hour and I have one final question for you, Mathew. Is there a high likelihood that you might return to Content Marketing Conference with some fresh new stuff and also a book that’s coming out in May 2016?
Mathew: Yeah, I wonder who’s asking that question. The answer to both of those is yes. I’ll definitely be coming back to Content Marketing World. I had a great time out there, it was a great audience with the audience, so I’ll be happy to be back.
Byron: I love the fact that you said Content Marketing World, because that means we’re synonymous now. I love that; that is a wonderful Freudian slip. I’m going to send Joe a quick email now saying we are being interchanged with Content Marketing World.
Mathew, just a wonderful and great presentation today. Thank you for bestowing all of this great knowledge to us. Thank you for being here with us.
Mathew: Thanks guys, thanks for listening.
Byron: Thanks Mathew, and everyone I hope you enjoyed the presentation today. Until next month, I hope your life’s a little smarter, better, faster, and wiser. Thanks for tuning in; we’ll see you next month.