WriterAccess Webinar Archive
Overcoming Budgeting Challenges
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 – 1:00 PM ET
Join Byron White and Robert Rose, Strategist In Residence, Content Marketing Institute, for this month's webinar on developing a content marketing budget for 2012.
Robert brings years of experience to the table working with dozens of companies on the topic. He'll offer some fresh data and research from the Content Marketing Institute to help you overcome budgeting challenges and make the case for content marketing investment. Together, Byron and Robert will help you determine how to use your dollars wisely and why content planning and performance measurement is the key to content marketing success.
In this special content marketing webinar you'll learn:
- How to build a business case for content marketing investment
- How to operationalize content marketing strategy
- How to pick the winning marketing investments for 2012
- How to find out how much your competition spends
- Tools and techniques to save more than just a dime
The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.
Byron White: Welcome everyone, Byron White here, Founder of Writer Access and ideaLaunch. Happy to have you on board today. I’m going to just give you a quick summary of our presentation that will be delivered by myself and Robert Rose, the Strategist and Resident of the Content Marketing Institute which is a title that will deserve some explanation from him as well when we start here.
Robert Rose: Just call me Sir.
Byron: Oh, fair enough! Sir Robert. We’re very excited to have Robert on board today and I’ll give you a quick skim with what we’re going to go over today just so everybody can get a feel for it. So, I’m going to talk with my wonderful summary of what is content marketing. I’m going to walk through that and then I’m going to turn the wheel over actually to Robert to go through his entire presentation and then he’s going to turn the wheel back over to me to walk through some very tactical work on how to actually begin determining how much content you need, how frequently you need to publish it, what distribution channels do you need to publish it, and most importantly, what will all of this cost.
So, I’m going to actually walk you through a very tactical presentation. It will take about fifteen or twenty minutes that will follow Robert’s presentation that I think you will all enjoy. We put together typically two to three hundred hours of work, sometimes even four hundred hours’ worth of work, calculating budgets for companies. We used to do that. It was a big part of our business. We don’t do it anymore; instead we look for people like Robert to help us do that stuff. But I’m going to walk you through some of the three or four years of summary work that we’ve included with how to calculate budgets and how to do that and I think everyone will find that interesting.
A couple of logistics for you. Number one: Robert and I love getting tweets from you. Live from the presentation would be great or following the presentation. Any thank you’s you have about what a great job we’re doing or even if we suck let us know on Twitter. We want your feedback and we use Twitter as our gauge to offer that. You’ll see our Twitter addresses on the presentation form here. We’ve got so much material to go over I think I’m going to dive right in. One other announcement: If you’ve got questions, please post them in the question section as the presentation is migrating along here. I will bottle up all those questions as we’re gathering momentum here and we’ll field some questions at the end of the presentation. So feel free to ask questions but do it in a question format.
Without further ado, let’s chime in and move along here. This is my thirtieth monthly content marketing webinar. I’m very proud of that. It’s been a lot of work and a great ride; we’ve been blessed with having incredible guests on. But I love beginning with really a quick summary of what is content marketing so we can all get on the same page. Content marketing is super hot right now as you know and it’s defined, at least in my words, as the art of listening to your customers’ wants and needs. And I’ll make a note that that is probably the single most difficult aspect of content marketing is trying to figure out what are the customer needs. We’ve traditionally used questionnaires and other antiquated methodologies to try to find out those needs but of course now we have search boxes, we have social media which we can listen in to, we can look at our Google analytics to see what people are interested in on our website, etc., etc. There’s a lot of really interesting ways that people are able to listen in but I think we’re going to see some major significant breakthroughs on that frontier as we move forward.
Next, is of course, the science of delivering great content to them. Looking closely at the diversity of the portfolio that you really need to have these days to of course catch customers orbiting at high speeds is the other challenge that we have. You need to think well beyond your website as people are moving quickly these days and certainly into the mobile platform, and RSS feeds, and social network, and video portals. You know, you really need to get the information out. You need to look closely at what they want, and need, and how to deliver it to them.
One of my favorite demonstrations in this slide is ‘likes are the new love,’ ‘likes are the new links,’ sorry, and ‘loves are the new likes.’ So, you need to look closely at how you’re really gauging success and that is changing I can assure you. Of course testing, and AV testing, and multivariate testing. I like saying that if you’re not testing, you’re living in the dinosaur age. But that’s something to look closely at because there are a whole bunch of different types of tests that you can run now. Probably one of the more exciting is geotargeting: looking at where people are coming from and even what companies’ domains they’re coming from. There’s incredible technology out there that will track not only the visitors on your website but what likely companies they’re actually visiting from. So we can talk about that in future presentations. But anyway, if you’re not testing, you need to be testing so get with it. And it’s of course finding the most efficient path to success and that is defined as, of course, engagement on a number of different levels. That could be downloads, it could be scoring actual downloads, or different assets, or different types of actions that people can take on your website. Gathering all that data and doing something with it. But most importantly I need you to think about content marketing as being a process and a workflow. It starts with content planning, I’m going to talk about that a little bit today, but it doesn’t end there. It really extends itself into creation, optimization, editing, distribution, and of course, performance measurement.
So without further ado, I’m going to turn the reigns over here to Robert. Robert, in one second, take it away.
Byron: And thank you very much for being onboard as well today, Robert.
Robert: Oh it’s absolutely my pleasure, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. And thanks to all of you who are participating here today. Hopefully we can be somewhat interesting and give you something a little bit to take home with you to think about in terms of how content marketing can really have a positive effect on the business.
Byron, is my screen coming across okay?
Byron: Yep, looks great.
Robert: Great, thank you. So when Byron called me and asked me about this webcast we started talking about budgets, and business case, and ROI, and content marketing. And I will tell you that when I speak at conferences and when Joe and I wrote the book, Managing Content Marketing, it was really the number one question that we hear most often which is—and they’re related I guess, they’re really a two-part question but they’re related—which is how do I build a business case for this for my boss because I think it’s a good idea but I really need to be able to support this? And then okay, now I have the business case made I need to know how much I’m going to spend on this and how it’s actually going to apply. And what I’m hoping to do over the next fifteen or so minutes is to one, share some information that we’ve gotten from research that we’ve conducted with businesses out there that are actually doing content marketing and their budgeting process, and where they’re spending their money, and how they’re spending their money. Then I want to dispel a couple of myths that are out there about how the business case gets made and I think it will have a really positive impact on the way that you look at content marketing from a tactical planning perspective and how you might apply your marketing budget to it. And I think it will tee up Byron’s talk very well because what hopefully it will do is set the table for how you might then set that content plan in the budget—and my title here is obviously a little tongue and cheek and I’m working desperately for a punch line for it so I would love if anybody has a suggestion for a punch line for this please do let me know. So if you are live tweeting or want to come by and just pay a visit there’s my info and a couple of places where you can find stuff that I’m talking about.
So lets’ get to it. As Byron said, he defined content marketing with a few, I think, very apropos slides. When Joe and I think about content marketing we really think about it as when you own the media instead of renting it. We have spent our entire careers as marketers renting media space from publishing companies. Whether we’re advertising on television, or whether we’re advertising on a website, or a billboard, or a newspaper, or a print magazine, we have spent our entire careers really renting the media and content marketing—the ease in which we can publish content, move content out, and aggregate our own audiences—really gives us the opportunity these days to own our own media, to really solve the needs and wants of our customers with our own content, to become brand publishers. And really, at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is utilize content in a way that meets those needs and wants in a way that basically changes or enhances the behavior. And that’s really how we define content marketing and it really pervades across the entire funnel from lead generation all the way to customer retention, upselling and even into evangelism. And I’ll touch on that in just a bit there.
Byron: Robert I don’t know if it’s me but—oh there you go. I do see a new slide now. There may be a bit of a delay in the slides. I’m not positive on that but I’ll look for some other questions that may have come up. But I’m seeing a slide now that says ‘marketers who use content marketing.’ Correct?
Robert: Yeah, I had just switched it actually.
Byron: Cool. Okay thanks.
Robert: So let’s start off with a little bit of data here and talk about marketers who are actually using content marketing in their own businesses. So, when we did this study—and this, by the way was done just at the end of last year with Marketing Props and the Content Marketing Institute—really we found that nine out of ten folks, it’s almost five dentists who chew gum recommend…this is becoming extraordinarily popular and using content to drive some sort of marketing result is really becoming sort of a check box that we need to make sure that we’re doing. Nine out of ten marketers are actually doing it these days. When we look at budgets we can sort of split it out and look at business sizes and of course it really ranges. And I think the interesting thing here that came back from the results is how small businesses especially are utilizing content marketing even much more than some large businesses. There is a lot of misperception out there that really content marketing is only for large brands and large brands can afford to do it, but quite honestly we find that small businesses are actually getting a lot more effectiveness out of content marketing even than some large brands because they’re actually putting a lot more effort into it because it’s a better way for them to become, to rise above the noise and get the attention that they need. So you can see here that a third of the budget for some small businesses, whether that’s blog, social media, and other elements of content marketing, it really is all-encompassing there. And then as you go up to the business size, you’re noticing that the budget gets smaller. But even at the large size we’re looking at almost 20 percent of their marketing budget these days is getting spent on content marketing initiatives and the average there about a quarter of the budget. And that’s going to range across a number of things including staffing, including content, including promoting the content itself, and of course other elements of technology and the ability to enable content marketing in the organization.
Moving on from there we ask basically, of the B2B content marketers by usage, what’s the most common tactic or what’s the most common channel that’s being used across this? And so, as you might, expect articles are really still, and written content are still the highest percentage there with almost 8 out of 10 B2B marketers using articles or some sort of thought leadership there to promote their own businesses. Social media, as you might expect, is white hot these days in terms of how marketers are using social media to drive some sort of content marketing. And then on down the list we’ve got blogs, e-newsletters, case studies. In person events is something I really want to touch on a little bit later because I think one of the things we often have a misconception about is that content marketing is only written content or video content and it’s not. It’s also in person events, it’s the human driven part of the business where we can actually use a physical event to drive education, awareness, entertainment, and that sort of thing to drive a content marketing result.
A little bit more data about specific social media channels, with marketers who are using content marketing—and Twitter of course being the lion’s share there, as we all know Twitter is a hugely popular platform. Linkedin and Facebook also really driving the top there. The interesting thing for me was, and this chart doesn’t actually show it, is the growth of YouTube. So I think, and I think Byron will agree with this, I think the amount of video and the type of video that we’re using these days is growing exponentially. We need to start thinking about more heavily how we’re using video in our marketing because it’s a hugely growing percentage of the amount of content we’re producing and it’s becoming just very easy to produce it whether it’s with our iPhone, whether it’s with a flipcam, or literally just using Skype to record a phone conversation or an interview or something like that.
One element I find that’s really underutilized is SlideShare. I think there’s a lot of value out there for businesses to utilize SlideShare to share presentations and documents out there. And a lot of SEO benefits out of that and I think SlideShare is an underutilized channel and one I’d like to see businesses use a little more in their content marketing efforts.
Looking at the content marketing spending and their projections over the next year, I think it’s fascinating that 60 percent are going to increase or significantly increase. So we’re finding that it’s effective, we’re finding that it’s actually driving some business result so a lot of marketers are actually looking to increase their budgets over time and if you look at it with the increase, significantly increase, or even stay the same, it’s a very large percentage who are becoming satisfied with what content marketing can provide from a business result.
Then we looked at challenges. And really what’s the big challenge that marketers are having with deploying some sort of content marketing program in their organization. And interestingly enough, we did this study a year ago previous to this, and one of the biggest ones was getting buy-in and vision to this. And then budget was huge, and these numbers have really come down a little bit, but producing the kind of content that engages prospect in costumer and producing enough content are really big challenges for organizations. The interesting thing to me here is that third, excuse me, that fourth one down, that ‘lack of buy-in vision from higher-ups inside your company.’ And this is that building the ROI, or building the business case for the organization to actually do some level of content marketing. And I think this is a big part of what we need to focus on when we’re talking about budget. And really doing a content plan is something that makes sense for the organization because we’re still, as marketers, looking at content marketing as something separate, something that is separate from the things that we’re doing now and what I’d hoped to do over the next part of this presentation is talk to you about how content marketing actually integrates into what you’re doing now and at the first step you can really take an effective one by just integrating content marketing into your existing tactics.
So I love the movie of course, the first rule of content marketing: you’re not competing with your other tactics. If you’re actually just starting a content marketing program or just thinking about a content marketing program, what I’d like you to do is start to think about ways that you can introduce content marketing into your organization by making it be more effective for the traditional tactics that you’re already doing.
Let me give you an example of that. So you’ve all seen the traditional funnel. This is the funnel that Joe and I introduced in Managing Content Marketing, the book, and it’s really sort of an idealized funnel there because we think that content marketing can have great effect over all aspects of the funnel beyond the point that your customers become customers. Because, if you think about it, once your customer decided to become a customer, all they’ve really decided to do is do a financial transaction with you. They have not decided to be satisfied, they have not decided to be retained, they have not decided to be loyal, they have not decided to be upsold, and they have certainly not decided to be evangelists. And so one of the greatest responsibilities that we have as marketers these days is taking the customer relationship way beyond just the customer stage and building a community, building a much larger community of retained, loyal, upsold, and evangelistic customers. This is what Guy Kawasaki called “enchanted” these days. And so building that community is a really big driver for us, and we’re already doing things in the marketing funnel to drive that engagement through the funnel. We’re doing search engine optimization, we’re doing public relations, we’re doing pay-per-click campaigns, advertising, e-mail, lead nurturing. When we get customers we have CRM and social programs directed toward them. We have maybe loyalty programs, special offers, customer events. And what I’d like to suggest is that content marketing as a first step can be aligned with what you’re doing already to make those things better. I like to think of content marketing in those cases as kind of like butter: by itself it doesn’t taste quite right but if you start to use it in conjunction with the other things that you’re doing it can make everything a little more tasty.
Let me give you a couple of examples of this just driving quickly here. So pay-per-click advertising is an example. Changing your call to action for a pay-per-click a—instead of “talk to a sales guy,” or “download this free sample,” or something like that—to download a white paper. I’ll give you an example. I worked with a company where their pay-per-click advertising was for a software product and they had all of their pay-per-click advertising go to “download a free trial of this software.” Very common with a technology company. They changed it because they were getting a lot of click through on it, a lot of conversion on that but what they were finding and of course, because it was a pay-per-click, they were spending a lot of money on that advertising. But what they were finding was that the sales guys were spending an inordinate amount of time giving demos and free trials to these people who were clicking through the ads and they weren’t converting any of them. And the reason for that, of course, is because they were way early in the funnel so the sales guys would commonly complain, “hey we’re talking to these customers but they’re just on their lunch hour and they’re just working toward trying to build some business case and they’re not really ready for a demo yet.” So they were not only spending cost on the advertising itself, but they were spending cost on the sales guy time which they were missing opportunities to do things that sales guys could otherwise do. So we basically changed the call to action on this pay-per-click advertising to a content marketing layer. We had them start to say, “hey, come download this white paper on building a business case,” or “hey, come download this free ROI tool that can help you build your business case for your boss for this particular solution.” Well, their conversion went to the basement. But what they found was when their conversion went to the basement, their conversion all the way through the funnel went through the roof. So they were paying less for ads, they were doing less demos, and they were actually closing more customers. So it really drove down their cost per lead using pay-per-click advertising by applying a content marketing strategy over the top of it. So it’s really great but you might want to watch out for, it’s easy to get lulled into more traffic where we start advertising content exclusively using this but we want to make sure that we’re measuring the quality of that traffic as it comes through and not completely rely on it going forward to our piece of content.
Just as an example here, it’s a really great way to use the re-targeting network in Google to start to do things like advertise your piece of content where I can say, “hey, here’s a free chapter of the book” and I can start to align with brands like Harvard Business Publishing in this case, where I can let people download a free chapter of the book and then maybe I can convert them later into actually buying the book.
So public relations. Another great example where content marketing has often been talked about where we can apply to a direct or something we’re doing already. And by applying a thought leadership center of gravity there with public relations, you will start to draw an interest and we can start thinking about transforming our content efforts into kind of a newsroom type of application.
Just an interesting application of that is something that happened with Eloqua. Some of you guys might know Eloqua and what they did and David Meerman Scott actually tells the story brilliantly where he actually—Oracle actually acquired one of Eloqua’s competitors there. And when they acquired Markets Elite, they put out the typical press release that Oracle might put out where they say, “Oracle has acquired this company and it’s synergizing and it’s paradigm changing” and all the kind of sort of financial details and mumboldy-jumboldy that Oracle might do in a press release. Well then the CEO of Eloqua actually came back and wrote a blog post on it and in very plain, straight forward language, within hours he had written this blog post and guess which one went viral? The press release from Oracle didn’t go viral; the actual blog post from the CEO of Eloqua went viral. They actually attribute two, multi-million dollar deals to this particular blog post where they actually explained why Oracle was acquiring this company and then actually talked about why it was really important for the industry. So starting to look at your PR program as a way to respond very quickly, as a newsroom might, to elements that are going on within your industry is a great way to apply this to a PR strategy.
So things like events as well. You’re already doing events, you’re doing tradeshows, you’re going out and doing physical customer events. How can you create a human-driven experience that delivers value where you’re actually creating the experience for those customers? This is also content marketing and can be very effective.
So for example, Williams-Sonoma does cooking classes. One of the things that I love about walking through the mall during the holidays is that you have that wonderful smell coming out of the Williams-Sonoma stores where you’ve got cooking classes going on that are of course, free. And then of course you may want to buy the special rolling pin or the pan that’s being used to make that particular roast, or that particular cinnamon cookie, or something like that. One of things that I thought was really wonderful was I walked into this Williams-Sonoma this holiday season and what you actually don’t see is the little fans at the front of the door blowing that aroma and smell out into the mall sort of drawing you in which is wonderful. It’s a great sort of, promotional metaphor there. They’re promoting their content using that little bit of fan there.
SEO. And I know Byron is passionate about SEO and really content marketing can affect your SEO in a great way and of course we all know a high velocity of good, sharable content is what really drives an SEO strategy. But of course these days with the Panda update, taking your sharability and that social graph into consideration—so how can we use content and the content we produce across all of the different social networks to draw the better SEO results because it’s becoming shared more, etc., etc.
One of the things I really want to drive home here is the be careful part. With SEO especially, it’s really easy to provide data. It’s really easy for us to just dump all our content out on our website in just that sort of, over-dumping of long-tailed content. We need to be telling stories. We need to make sure this content is also engaging our customers because that’s what’s going to drive them to do the next thing we want them to do to change or enhance that behavior. Just as an example here. A customer that I worked with a little bit is the open-source guys at Hippo. They’re a web content management solution. A really nice platform there. One of the things we did was, they want them to start really ranking for Java and open-source web content management. So just by really focusing our editorial strategy on that particular set of keywords, we were able to drive them to the front page of Google for that particular key term. So really thinking about your editorial strategy with a content marketing strategy and how it might affect your SEO strategy other than just sort of out there link building and that sort of thing.
And then my last one here which is customer retention and upsell is my absolute favorite example of content marketing as it pertains to this stuff. Once we get customers in our midst, we want to make sure we’re creating a subscriber to that brand, not just a customer but somebody who’s basically going to be loyal and evangelistic and really engaged with our brand for the long term.
So, an example of this is Experience Life. So these guys are a gym, they have gyms across the country, 700 gyms across the United States and they produce this magazine and forever they’ve produced this magazine as a print magazine which you can see there on the lower right, and they basically made this magazine available in the gyms. And as you finished your workout you could pick it up on the way out and you could read about recipes, or yoga, or basically really becoming healthy and having a healthy lifestyle. Well they created this online version of the magazine and they started to really drive a few things. One was, of course, awareness and branding for new customers. But even beyond that, once you subscribe and once you become a member of the gym, of course you’re automatically a free subscriber of this. You get e-mails, you get content, you basically get all this healthy lifestyle content separate from lifting weights and running on treadmills but all about adventures, and lifestyle, and yoga, and all that sort of thing just completely for free and it completely engages their brand and engages the user beyond the point by which they become customers and really into them becoming evangelistic about the brand.
The thing I think I like the best about this particular piece of content marketing is that little thing up at the top. You may notice that’s an ad. They’ve become so popular, this magazine has become so popular that they’re actually able to sell advertising against it. So this is a content marketing program that is actually paying for itself. So they’re actually paying for this content marketing with advertising and actually driving brand awareness and ultimately having a wonderful marketing experience because of it. It’s a wonderful example of where content marketing can actually take you.
So I’ll just finish up here by saying at the end of the day, one of the things that makes me so passionate about content marketing, what it provides is the idea you can really bring the joy back to marketing. We’ve spent a lot of time in our careers really being in this idea that we have to be so focused on data, and data driven, and sort of inching out that last piece of conversion rate by one-tenth of a percent and really driving up the page views by another four page views and content marketing enables us to really be innovative, tell stories, and really make exponential leaps. And I think it’s a really great way for marketers to become rock stars because it does two things: it really helps me change the world and it really helps me to have fun as a marketing person. And so I think you’re all rock stars ready to take on the world of content marketing. So, what I always say to those that are ready to start a content marketing strategy is: it’s your story, go out and make it remarkable.
And with that I’ll turn it back over to Byron and certainly happy at some point to take any questions that you guys have.
Byron: We’ll hopefully see some questions. Look forward to all of them. Thanks very much Robert. Let me change this presentation back over real quick. And I’ll click that and we should be good to go.
So, what I’m about to take on here is best described as the impossible. I’m going to try to show to everyone basically some of the key ingredients of a content marketing plan and how these ingredients can help you develop a budget for your content marketing efforts. And Robert, I might have you mute your call just because I’ll get on a roll and forget about it while I’m thinking about it so, thanks for muting your phone if you want. Just manually is fine. So the key aspects of a plan and what everyone really wants to know is how much content do I need to capture market share? How frequently do I have to publish it? How good does it need to be? What distribution channels do I need and how much is all this going to cost?
So, as it turns out it’s very hard to do that. Unlike pay-per-click where you can sort of define a pay-per-click budget, look at the visitors you have, your conversion rates, and sort of fiddle with your conversion rates and define some user acquisition costs very quickly and easily, it’s very difficult to do that when you’re talking about investing in content because content involves a lot of different people doing a lot of different things. You need creative, you need to look at a number of different ways to measure the performance of the success. So I’m going to walk you through a typical content plan and try to show you how it can be used and how this research can be used to actually begin developing a fairly tight formula to determine how much content you need and what it’s going to cost. So let’s look at—this is a table of contents from a 141-page plan that we put together, so about 20-25 or so pages that are part of really an executive summary. And then it blows out into a very deep sort of a siloed approach to mini-plans, we call them. They can be distributed amongst product managers and other people within divisions that will lead them with a focus on how they should be optimizing their content from an SEO perspective, what keywords should be included in the content created for that particular silo, making it very easy for them to create and publish content. But the real question is how do you determine how much content you need for each silo? So that’s what we’re going to run through here.
So, some of the first cases I just grabbed—one of these people is our client. I’m not going to tell you which one is our client that we were doing to keep it all gray but we’ve worked with one of these customers. So you want to go sort of survey the competitive landscape naturally and start plugging out data and information that will be popped into your plan. What’s the page rank? Although that’s fairly irrelevant, it’s still good to know how you stack up in Google’s page rank. How many total pages are indexed is another interesting stat you need to look at. Just click information that’s right at your fingertips so you can get it very quickly. What’s the link popularity? You can use the Yahoo Explorer. There’s a whole bunch of link tools. We’re actually partnered up now with SEO Engine. I gave a presentation with a co-founder of SEO Engine. There’s great ways to get link popularity data and that data can be used very intelligently to sort of re-engineer how you’re doing versus your competition in the eyes of the spider bots.
You of course, need to do some very detailed research on the number of content assets that your site has versus the competition. How do you stack up with all kinds of variables? You need to get fairly deep on this and here’s another slide that explains that. How many blog posts do you have versus the competition? How many web pages? How many videos, XML feeds? You can see you really need to analyze deeply. This is probably what takes the most time because you need to do this for each of your competitors to start developing the right strategy and formula to see how steep your slope is as you analyze how much content you need, and how frequently you need to publish it, and what types of channels you need to publish it in. You can look at social media very quickly though, how much volume, how many tweets do they have, how many posts do they have on Facebook, how many posts do they have on LinkedIn? You can start to get a feel for volume. You can also get a feel for fan base. All of these things need to help you understand exactly how steep the slope is for you to beat the competition in the search engines. I’ll talk about that more in a second. But at the end of the day, what really matters from an SEO perspective particularly is developing your content plan and I would argue developing your budgets, is you need to start looking at the keywords you want to focus on from an SEO perspective and a content creation perspective. You know your goal with content marketing, I believe your primary goal is to certainly engage your customers, keep them coming back for more but you also need to be found. If your content is not being found then what’s the point of even producing it?
And that means it needs to be optimized. If it’s optimized you need to start thinking about developing keyword silos. This is sort of how you do it. At the end of the day we use a technology called SpyFu. Mike Roberts, a wonderful friend and a comrade—I met Mike about three or four years ago, I’ve done four or five webinars with him, his technology is killer. With SpyFu you can literally go research all your competitors, find out which keywords they’re driving organically from the search engines, download them in an Excel spreadsheet and in this case, we pulled 156,000 keywords from using SpyFu. It probably took us fifteen minutes and that’s it. The next part is a little bit harder. We pulled out the duplicates, we removed a whole bunch of other duplicates, about 138,000 that we determined were not worthy of going after from a content marketing perspective. This left us with about 3,613 keywords that we then used as, what we call, our keyword universe that we’re going to focus on and break up into some different silos which you see here. We launched about 18 silos for this particular client and we had about anywhere from a couple hundred keywords in each silo to maybe as many as 600. There are a whole bunch of reasons why we would want that many keywords in a silo but for the most part, we like trimming each silo down to have a very focused group of keywords that we can really go after from an SEO perspective. But in order to measure performance successfully, particularly a larger site that’s driving traffic from a lot of long-tailed keyword phrases that have some pretty significant value, especially when they’re combined together, you need to be thinking big and you might need a higher word count on a per-keyword silo basis.
What we’re also doing, however, is putting together actual groups that cross over the silos. One of our favorite groups is golden keywords and this is where we want a client to focus on maybe 100 hopefully. This client wanted to focus on 300 keywords that matter most to them for achieving top listings in the search engines. We also look at low-hanging fruit. Some of my favorites—and these are listing positions that we don’t want to overlook where a customer is getting currently positions 11-50 in the search engines, we want to be sure to include those in our keyword universe. So we don’t want to exclude certain keywords that we have a good chance of moving into the top ten and driving more traffic. We also, of course, want to look at our top 100 pay-per-click keywords that are expensive, that are costing us a lot of money, we want to try to get organic listings in there too.
So you can get the general feel. This is really the road map here guys. This is where the pedal hits the metal. You need keyword silos to begin budgeting, to begin looking at the complexity of how much it’s going to cost you to achieve top listings, and to achieve some of the performance goals you’re looking for from content marketing. So, what you can do when you break your keyword silos up is you can say, “okay, now let’s really see how we’re really performing. Let’s see how many top three listing positions we have versus the competition.” And so, sure enough, one of the competitors might have 462. Like, wow, they’re killing it with top three listing positions! They’re probably driving a bulk of the traffic. Then where are we? I don’t know, we’re mid-pack or lower pack. You can begin seeing how we’re performing with the top three. Remember that 87 percent of your traffic is coming from the top three listing positions. How are we doing with top ten? Well, the scales tip a little bit differently, so that’s interesting to know. How are we doing with our golden keywords?
So again, you can see this data is moving around and it’s different but again, it begins to help you define how steep the slope is overall for you to climb with regards to budgeting. Then we can begin assigning dollar values both to individual keywords, groups of keywords, and even keyword silos. So you can start saying, “okay, what is the average pay-per-click price, or what is the pay-per-click price multiplied times the search volume?” Let’s figure out a mathematical equation that can begin to give us a dollar value of what all the keywords combined are worth in a particular keyword silo. So you can go start doing this, not only by individual keyword silos but by your keyword groups as well. That begins to give you a feel for how much money is at stake out there by doing this simple math that anybody can do. So we can start looking at these keyword silos at the end of the day and that’s really what we need to do is to nail our keyword silos, feel good about them, feel good about the keywords we have in the silos.
Now the fun part comes and let me try to walk you through this so you can get a feel for this so we can leave ourselves plenty of time to have some questions in the end here. It’s a lot of data, I know. So here’s our keyword silo analysis. The first thing we do is, we take a particular keyword silo, we run it through some free technology that we built called WordVision, which anybody can use and get a free trial of. It’s a fabulous tool, WordVision.com. So what you’re able to do once you load your keyword silos into WordVision, you can start to see how you are doing overall for each individual keyword silo versus your competition. Right? So, in this case, here’s a keyword silo. The customer has a 13 percent market share, right? So that means they’re ahead of their competition for 13 percent of the keywords in this silo. It’s got a 7 million search volume so it’s got a fairly high search volume. It’s got 571 keywords in it. The maximum price per keyword is 40 dollars per keyword. The average cost is $3.53 so there’s some really juicy keywords in here. And you can see a little chart that shows for all the keywords in that silo, how are my listing positions? The majority of them, you can see, are greater than 100 listing positions which mean they’re not even in the top 100 at Google. But some of them are 51-100. An even bigger percentage is 11-50 and a small percentage is in the top ten. So we’re visually kind of seeing, okay, this is pretty cool.
Then let’s do the same thing. Let’s look at market share for all of the keyword silos so you can sort of get a feel for this and really see how we’re doing overall versus the competition in terms of keyword silo. So, let me see here. So, this begins to help us think through what content assets—we’ve got to start thinking about our assets: what can we afford, what’s easy to produce, what are we excited to produce? Remember with competitive intelligence we looked at what our competitors are producing. So we’ve got to be thinking assets at some point.
So we looked at market share, we looked at how hard it is, now we need to start thinking about, well, in that particular keyword silo, geez, we need more white papers, or we need more blog posts, we need more articles. So, you’ve got to be thinking through this logically. So the next thing we can do is look at each keyword silo search volume, an aggregate of the search volume in each silo which begins to give us more rationalization for how’s our market share but also how’s our search volume overall? And then we can start looking at all of this saying, “alright, let’s take each keyword silo individually and let’s split up our marketing budget and try to look intelligently at what the value proposition is for this silo.” So we look at, wow, all the keywords combined there’s 48 million searches happening in this silo. Right now we only have a 58 percent market share so there’s a lot at stake here. There’s a lot of money at stake. If we were number one at Google, what would it cost us for all those listing positions? It would cost a million dollars to be at one so clearly there’s some value in this silo versus some of the others. This helps us make the kind of decisions that you’re seeing here which is what’s the recommended stand on a per keyword silo basis? What are the asset allocations we’re recommending for that particular silo based upon our strengths and weaknesses? We’re looking at some numbers, some value, we’re making some intelligent decisions and we’re even giving some estimations based on what we recommend the customers spend in that particular silo and what’s the estimated traffic that we think could increase in that particular silo.
So that’s basically sort of a quick sketch with how you do it. Then you need to make overall content asset recommendations: how many articles, blog posts, case studies based on the individual silo approach. And then you’re sort of left with what do you budget all of this out for? What’s this going to cost to really hammer this all through? You’re then left with a, okay, what’s the recommended content marketing budget? A half a million dollars? We expect to drive a half more million unique visitors, the total value for listed positions for number one would be 2.5 million dollars, so we think we should therefore invest the dollars into content marketing. We’ll have a diverse portfolio of assets, we’ll have more connection points with our customers. So this how we begin making the case using some science to develop some budgets.
Now the real question is, you’ve got your budget, how are you going to measure the bang for your budget, as I call it, or bang for your buck? So you can certainly look at improved listing positions, you can look at increased traffic to your website tied to the content assets. Notice that this is another WordVision chart. It’s tapping into how many content assets did you publish on your website each month and what was the improved listing position in that month. And so overall you can look at not only improved listing positions but traffic on the site. WordVision is a great guide to track ROI measurement. You can also go into Google and look at your time on site. You can also look at return visits or visitors to your site, you can look at the number of content assets that were downloaded. You can also tie those assets to actual sales.
These are two displays in SalesForce.com you can tell where we’re actually tracking on the website—this happens to be stuff that we’ve done at ideaLaunch of people we’ve visited webinars, or attended our webinars, or downloaded contents, or guides—we can actually track that into sales and take a close look at that. We can of course, take a look at our conversion rates and how content influenced that.
So, there is a quick fast-forward view, a very quick—I apologize for the speed—but in general I wanted you folks to have a good example of how to begin looking at the tough challenge of how to budget. So without any further ado, everyone can visit idealaunch.com/101 to download a PDF version of my 101 Content Marketing Tips book which I’m happy for you to get free of charge. We’re also going to send a link to that. We’re also going to be, we have a recording of this that will be available on idealaunch.com. You can also download the decks on idealaunch.com to get my deck and Robert’s deck.
So I’m glad everybody had a chance to tune in. Let’s dive in to some questions real quick because I’m sure we’re going to have some. So, let’s see here, Robert? Are you ready to field a couple questions?
Robert: Sorry about that, I just had to take myself off mute.
Byron: Gottcha. Thanks for obliging. So, I’ve got some good questions chiming in here. I’ll read them off to you, Robert, then we can tackle them together.
Byron: The first one was: “Will the slides be available after the webinar?”
Yes is the answer to that.
“Where can I find an image version of this?”
Somebody had a question I think, where can I find an image version? Let me see. I think that was related to your presentation. Here we go.
“Is curating existing articles by others and linking to a personal, original post a common thing in expanding on the article’s content ideas a good strategy to build a blog around?”
Robert, you want to take that one?
Robert: I’m happy to. It can be. I watched, especially in regulated industries where the—and when I say regulated I mean legal, or healthcare, or financial services—this can be an especially effective strategy where you want to provide a level of thought leadership for your particular audience or your customers, or whatever part of the funnel that you’re trying to have the biggest effect on, and offering a point of view without actually having to create the content from an original basis. I think it works best when it’s in addition to an original content program. So you have a curated program where you’re pulling in great thought leadership and adding your own point of view to it. Not dissimilar to what I was talking about with what Eloqua did with the Oracle press release which is where they’re saying, look, here’s a piece of content that exists, here’s our point of view, obviously linking up to it, etc. So the more you can add your original point of view to it the better but from that perspective it can be a very effective strategy to start to establish your blog or your website as a hub of thought leadership. The quintessential example of this is what Omniture—and now of course they’re part of Adobe—has been able to do with cmo.com and that is largely a curated site where it is not only just some level of abstract in pointing to the original source but also, of course, a hub of original content too.
Byron: Thanks for that. So I’ve got a question directly for you as well, Robert but I’ve got another one here that I’ll tackle. Someone asked first: “Is there a way to do these content marketing plans on a very small budget? How would you recommend a small-fry tackle this, quote, ‘first step?’”
Great question and one that really inspired us to focus more of our attention on WriterAccess over here at ideaLaunch which is just exploding in growth right now but the net of it is, I think we all know that you need a steady stream of high-quality content published on your website particularly to be successful online. And I’m a fan of not spending money on the planning, and the strategy, and the 400 hours it takes to boil these plans together because it’s a ton of work. I think it’s necessary for a lot of companies who are about to spend a lot of money to take your time and to be strategic with what you’re investing in rather than having a scattered approach. But I think that we get too hung up sometimes, with both optimizing content and planning for content. I think what you need to think about as a small business owner is what is interesting? What is engaging? What can I write about? What style can I put together for the content I’m creating? And just keep it simple. You can get content created now for—high-quality content created now—for wonderfully low prices. And you can get more value from it if you really guide writers on the topics that you find interesting you want to write about, on some SEO keywords that you think they should focus on and you can do that really easily now in sites like WriterAccess, and Textbroker, and other competitors out there to WriterAccess. There’s great ways to get content created. We think we’re a little bit more high-end where you can get higher quality at WriterAccess than some of the other platforms but make it simple. Forget the planning. Just start creating a steady stream of content. Next step, try to optimize that content. Try to pick 50 or 100 keywords that you want to focus on that makes sense after a little bit of keyword research in a SpyFu or some of these other great tools. Just find a small, tight list of keywords that are attractive to you and interesting to you and try to steer some of your content that you’re creating around using those keyword phrases. Simple and easy.
Robert, a question for you. “I don’t think I quite got what Robert meant when he was talking about using content effectively with re-targeting.” Can you explain that a little bit more Robert?
Robert: Sure. I mean, and I’m sure you can as well. So, Google offers a—and there are other solutions out there beyond Google too depending on which niche you are in and where you market—but just to use Google as sort of the big example here. Google offers, in addition to search keywords and pay-per-click advertising, where you actually go to Google, you search for a keyword and you see the ads that come up and they are theoretically relevant based on the search term to whatever it is you’re advertising and you click through to your website and so on, and so forth. In addition to that, they offer what they call their re-targeting platform which basically enables content platforms everything from—you’ll see Google ads on CNN, you’ll see Google ads on blogs, you’ll see all over the place in terms of where publishers or the media are offering Google ads out there. And that is everything from text ads to straight-up banner ads.
YouTube is a great example. It’s a Google property and you’ll see banner ads on YouTube. What they do is they actually look at visitors’ previous web history, and there’s some controversy about this now that you may have seen in the news about how much information they’re tracking on and where they’re able to re-target ads to you on other platforms that are using the Google platform advertising and to make them relevant to you. So, for example, if you go visit Managing Content Marketing or Content Marketing Institute, etc. and then you go visit Google, you may actually see an ad that has been re-targeted to you for Content Marketing Institute and for Managing Content Marketing and that’s the re-targeting platform that you can, as a Google customer, you can actually choose or not choose to participate in. It’s a very nice way to get some brand alignment with whatever you’re trying to market and it’s particularly effective, I find, when you’re marketing content.
So in the example I used, a free chapter of my book gets aligned with a Harvard Business Review video, you may also see that ad on a marketing cross website but it’s them using the Google…I don’t need to go place that media on a marketing cross website, it will automatically appear, and again theoretically—this is in italics and quotes—be completely relevant to what that user has experienced or has surfed in the past to match the attributes that I want to try and target to that particular user so it makes it more effective. And because I’m not asking in a call to action to say, “come buy now,” or “come sign up for something,” etc., etc., I’m offering a free piece of content, typically the barrier to entry, the call to action is a lot easier so I’m going to get a higher conversion rate and I’m going to get a better result.
Byron: I’ll only add to that the following e-mail you’ll get a kick out of. So I got an e-mail from a customer that had visited the WriterAccess site and they say, “Hi Byron,” I’m actually reading it, “Everywhere I go these days I’m seeing WriterAccess banner ads. You have totally hit the market perfectly! May I enquire as to your settings? Like I said, you’ve got ads everywhere I look,” smiley face.
Byron: So, what is driving this? We simply set up an account with Google for re-marketing. That’s all we did. And we gave them banner ads, and so what’s happening is—just so we can all understand it—someone went to Google, they did a search for “hire writers, hire great writers.” They then went from Google over to WriterAccess whereupon Google now understands that that visitor of Google that went to WriterAccess and clicked on that pay-per-click ad from WriterAccess might be interested in WriterAccess. So that visitor then went to another website. Let’s say they went to the Content Marketing Institute, right? When they get to the Content Marketing Institute, because the Content Marketing Institute is running Google ads, we are now going to see the WriterAccess banner on the Content Marketing Institute website because the user had gone and clicked though an ad suggesting to Google that they might be interested in WriterAccess. That is re-marketing. I want everybody to really understand that. It’s incredibly powerful. And I kind of agree that it’s sort of is driving our customers nuts. I have some colleagues that have actually taken down the re-marketing efforts on YouTube because they’re actually getting complaints saying, “Will you please stop showing your ads everywhere I go, people?” There is a point where Google is going to have to figure out an obnoxious factor because they’re probably hurting themselves a little bit to keep displaying these ads in front of people and pounding them over the head. But until they do, have at it because it’s a great way to get your brand out there.
Robert: Absolutely. You’re mileage will vary there so it’s worth testing but just be cognizant of it.
Hey Robert, while I have you I want to throw a question myself out. So, what is your position and Joe’s position on these wonderful gray marketing tactics out there that still seem to be dangling by threads and marketing professionals clinging to them? What’s your take on article marketing and distributing your articles to article portals with links and these free sites that take them and gobble them up and you don’t actually know what’s going to happen or if they’re ever going to get published. You’re just kind of praying that they might get picked up. And these are articles that maybe you care about, maybe they’re just linking back to your site for link popularity play. How does CMI sort of view that strategy?
Robert: As you might expect, not with much enthusiasm. You’ll get my personal opinion here more than you’ll actually get—and it would be interesting to get Joe’s take on this as well—but I think that the efficacy of that has gone way down. And I’m not only a big proponent of quality over quantity, but I think really at the end of the day dumping—and I mentioned this a little bit in the presentation—dumping out content, this whole idea of really focusing on the long-tail of SEO now is short-sighted. It’s easy to drive traffic. It’s harder to drive engagement. Especially coming back to your original questioner who’s talking about the ‘small-fry,’ it is so important that once we get traffic—I would much rather have a thousand people hit my site and 900 of them do what I want them to do than 100,000 people hit my site and one of them do what I want to do. And so it is so much more important to actually engage users once we get there and tell compelling stories, have engaging, great, wonderful, high-quality content that actually does something for that user than to just generate words and have it be sort of sprayed out all over the internet. And I know that’s sort of two ends of a dumbbell, as it were, and there’s sort of varying degrees of, as you say, gray in between because I understand that you can take a great piece of content and repurpose it in multiple ways and distribute it through multiple channels in a way that makes sense both for search engine optimization strategy as well as an engagement strategy. But I think there’s an art to it. There’s a real art to the level of quality that you want to focus on versus quantity and I think what you were getting at with this sort of article marketing and that sort of thing is where it’s sort of taking that demand media approach of just throwing up 500 words about every topic that could possibly ever relate to us and hoping that someday someone will search for that term and we’ll come up first. And you may get a click but you’ll very rarely get an engaged user from that.
Byron: Great answer and I wouldn’t have much to add to it other than I’m about a centimeter away of thinking it’s a total waste of time particularly as Google’s Panda continues to roll out, continues to really hurt sites that are in the link farm and content farm camp.
Robert: Yeah. That’s only going to continue, right? Even if Google doesn’t make one more change, which they of course will, but even if they don’t make one more change—and again I just keep coming back to I’d rather have a room full of people that love me than an auditorium full of people that don’t know who I am.
Byron: Yep. Sign me up for that. And that would be a big auditorium in your case, Robert. So, here’s another question. “If I’m the source of great articles but other sites take them and repurpose them, do I get credit from originating the articles?”
The answer is yes.
Robert: Yeah, or you should.
Byron: Yes indeed.
Robert: I mean if you start producing wonderful, great content, the chances of somebody stealing it is pretty high. And there are plenty of articles out there from—like folks at CopyBlogger talk about this a lot where they put out great blog posts that are highly SEO optimized and it’s great, wonderful content and it just gets, quite frankly, copied and pasted into somebody else’s blog and it becomes a little bit of a fight. There are ways to combat that a little bit but at the end of the day, you will get more credit from Google as being the originator of that piece of content and that’s really the best you can hope for.
Byron: That’s right. And that’s the whole secret sauce of the engine. That’s what Google is taking a look at is who’s copying articles. Wow, that must be a really good article; thousands of people copied it. The problem, however, what Mad Cuts fights in the spam mentality is let’s say you publish your own article, and you happen to own 400,000 domain names. You publish one original article then you go, “Wow, I know. I’m going to go build on link popularity back to this original article.” Once again, it can be turned into a spam vehicle. You can falsify duplicate content issues by just taking even your own article and publishing it on your own site. And Google will recognize the duplicate element of it, that’s what the Google engine does beautifully, is it tags an original article as original because there is no variation in the word segmentation and all the other fun things as part of it but it’s an interesting question. I’m hoping that all these conversations and the gray hat issues are really beginning to dwindle down. That was sort of one of the reasons I wanted to bring it up. Guys like Robert and I spend most of our time battling with customers over raising the bar on quality, spending more money on quality content, paying writers what they’re due and less of our time on: is article marketing a good tactic or not. So, our answer is probably going to be no. Spend your budgets wisely on quality content and create things that are worthy of passing around the web.
Infographics need to probably find a place. Robert, I wanted to ask you about that. You guys have not included—I want you to put a word in for Joe on me—I think infographics need its own line item. Infographics need to become its own budgetary line item and question line item, in my opinion, for all the great surveys you guys are doing. Do you agree with that? Do you think we’re about to see an explosion of infographics?
Robert: I think we already have seen an explosion of infographics. Some have said that infographics have jumped the shark a little bit. I think for certain industries certainly they are more appropriate than others. If I see one more online digital marketing infographic I think I might throw up. But certainly infographics are a great way to communicate information these days. They’re succinct, they can be highly creative, and they can be really fun, and entertaining, and of course, they can be quite evergreen in nature. So, I really like them. I think they’ve been overused by some industries, like I say, more than others. And it’s a little bit of, again, I think your mileage will vary. At the end of the day, it’s yet another channel. I really like them as a visual mechanism but I think, again, they can be overused.
Byron: Good point. Liz had a wonderful question. She said, “I may have missed something but you aren’t recommending article marketing and distribution?” she added. “What if the article that you write for article marketing purposes is a very high quality?”
I think that’s a little bit different and that’s something that I think…
Robert: Content syndication is very different from article marketing.
Byron: Exactly. You’re actually honored to be a contributing writer of someone else’s blog and they’ve invited you to contribute because you have knowledge and insight in that industry. That’s exactly what Google wants. Right? You’re building your own brand as an authority writer, as somebody that has followers on a popular blog. That’s the secret sauce right there. That’s exactly what you want. It’s the spam distribution of articles through these article portals that Robert and I are referring to. That sort of spam mentality where you go to this mysterious site that has no phone number on it, that accepts articles, that has 572,000 articles, and I think there’s some empirical value to that by getting your article to be one of 572,000.
Robert: That’s right.
Byron: Which is probably going to get no views, or no anything. It’s just there for link building purposes. That’s what we’re against and that’s got to go away.
Tom made an interesting comment. “Infographics used to enhance and clarify info are valuable but eye candy, not so much.”
Robert: I think that eye candy has its place. I think at the end of the day it’s all about, I often—and maybe it’s because I live in Los Angeles—I tend to look at things from the lens of the movie business and so there’s absolutely room for the Transformers of the world and there’s absolutely room for the Descendants of the world and so it depends on what it is you’re trying to do. I think that eye candy has its place but at the end of the day it’s really about what engages, what entertains, and what informs.
Byron: Yeah. You know, we talked about budget today—we’re going to cut this short at our 2:05. We’re probably going to get cut off in a minute by the fine GoToMeeting people there. They’re roasting us.
But Robert, I wanted to thank you very much for being on the presentation today.
Robert: Thank you for having me.
Byron: It was really a pleasure. It was great to hear from you and we’re of course, big fans of yours and your book, and, of course, your leader and my leader, all of our leaders in the content marketing world, Joe Pulizzi, so thanks again for chiming in.
Byron: Until next month everybody, I hope this webinar was helpful and informational. Thanks very much for tuning in. Once again, this deck and Robert’s deck will be available on the ideaLaunch website and we’ll be sending out a thank you and a link to the 101 Content Marketing Tips book along with links to view this presentation in a couple days. That should be sent out to everyone so you can take a look at this deck.
Thanks for tuning in everyone. Until next month, hope your lives will get better, smarter, faster, and wiser. Thanks again for tuning in.