Analyzing Content Marketing Strategies and Challenges

We have been discussing content forever now! While it has been hailed as the king, the queen and what not, it is surprising that not much is said about its creators – the content marketers and the challenges faced by them.

While we cannot deny the importance of content marketing (and that it is here to stay), the job of a content marketer has become highly challenging and demanding. With a very fine line between the job profiles, a lot of us (read: social media managers) deal with this role-reversal each day. Apart from being responsible for maintaining a highly engaging brand identity, we are also entrusted to roll out exciting content even quickly, each day every day!

We at Beta21 love to share firsthand experiences and for this story we got in touch with Serena Mariani, who shared with us interesting insights on how to battle this aspect. Serena is an award-winning, social media marketer and a digital project manager based in London. A citizen of the Internet since 1992, Serena received the Mark Hanson Award 2012 as “Best Social Media Communicator under 30”. In 6 years of agency and in-house experience, she has been part of teams helping brands like Max Factor, Subway, and Vanish to successfully transition to the era of content marketing and social media. We tossed the following question to Serena and this is what she had to say:

Brands are trying to churn out a greater amount of content for their audience today. Is this tactic really helpful to brands to gain the reach they are looking for? 

[box type=”shadow” ] There are different aspects to this issue, so let me articulate with different examples. Content marketing is an area in which the “less is more” rule does not necessarily apply – in fact, maintaining an adequate output of content is generally rewarded in SEO terms (search engines love fresh content) and can help keep the brand top of mind for your customers/consumers. An example: an informative weekly blog post providing your B2B clients with valuable industry information they\’d take much more time to gather and digest; or a daily useful tip on your Facebook page – these are good examples of “more is more”. [/box]

Serena

[box type=”shadow” ] However, the temptation to churn out generic content that does not add any value for your customers just for the sake of it hoping to generate “more views” has to be resisted. The risk is to alienate your audience and ultimately lose relevance in an overcrowded, noisy media environment – it happened with traditional advertising and it could happen quickly to relatively new marketing tools. I recently wrote about how the decline in organic Facebook reach is paradoxically a good thing for (better) content marketing. In short – if what you are going to publish is just “filler” content, think again – lose it, or even better, think of what could make it better. No one likes to see their Facebook feed (or inbox) full of “Happy Friday!” silly posts, and the “Mute/Unsubscribe” button is always just a click away. [/box]

What is the content marketing strategy taken by you for your clients in relation to the above mentioned issue?

[box type=”shadow” ] When working with clients on their content marketing strategy, I try and adopt a fully customized approach, adapted to the specific brand and area of operations. This also applies to volume and frequency of the content output. In short, you have to choose what is best for your specific brand. Sometimes, especially in niche, technical industries, less is really more – a small quantity of long form, high-quality content pieces (for examples, white papers or sector studies) can be more effective than a daily presence over a number of social media. [/box]

What are the challenges faced by you as a Content Marketer (on a constant basis) and what are the steps taken to overcome them?

[box type=”shadow” ] With a new social network or platform coming up almost every day, I would say that the #1 challenge for a content marketer today is to make tough, but necessary strategic choices.  New platforms (or new tools inside old platforms: for instance, Instagram introducing videos) pose as much of an opportunity as they represent a challenge.

A few questions to ask before jumping into another arena – Which channels are the most relevant (in terms of demographics, reach, potential) for my brand/client and for its specific objectives? Is my content plan sustainable with the current resources if I stretch it over more channels? Will the results be measurable and relevant?

This brings us to challenge #2 – proving the ROI of Content Marketing for your company/brand.  The way to overcome this is simple – just remember content marketing IS marketing. A robust content plan is not a series of topics and formats: it starts from the objectives that the brand wants to achieve and draws a path to achieving them, and includes clear KPIs for performance analysis. “Increasing newsletter sign up by 15% in 6 months” is an objective – “publishing three blog posts weekly” is not. [/box]

Serena

Do you have any tips for content marketers that have just started out?

[box type=”shadow” ] Three things about content marketing I wish somebody had told me before – but it is ok, I learned them from experience instead:

1. Start with the objectives, set ambitious but realistic goals, and go achieve them (see previous answer).

2. There is no such thing as a “boring” subject or industry – don\’t shy away from jobs or assignments because they sound less sexy than writing jokes or posting pictures of funny animals a\’ la Buzzfeed. In fact, technical or niche subjects offer great opportunities to provide value to customers through a well-thought content marketing strategy.  For example, UK insurance company Simply Business is a great B2B content marketing success story.

3. It\’s about the story, not (just) the technology. Content marketing must start from good insights about your audience – what do your customers, prospects and stakeholders care and want to know about? It is of vital importance to nail this and decline it into a sustainable content plan, rather than jumping on the next social network bandwagon. [/box]

Serena

Any noteworthy tools that you use as part of your content marketing and would want to recommend to our audience?

[box type=”shadow” ] On a daily basis, I use Hootsuite to manage a number of different social media channels on behalf of clients – remember, a good mobile up s a must for an online publishing and engagement platform as we live more and more on the go, and this includes content managers! For industry knowledge and professional development, I find the Smart Insights website and newsletters always informative and up-to-date. They also offer excellent content marketing plan templates and evaluation tools. Other must reads include Copyblogger and Moz (aka SeoMoz). You may also want to look up the Content Marketing curriculum at General Assembly, where I am also an instructor. [/box]

Follow Serena on @social_serena or go through her digital marketing blog for some hands on tips! We also highly recommend her food & travel blog, so check it out too!

Dissecting Google Plus with Andrew Harasewych

After Avtar’s encounter with Andrew to get his thoughts on Why Most Internet Marketer’s Are Wrong, I thought I’d track down the Google Plus Guru to get some great tips on G+ strategies. It was quite difficult nabbing him this time on the countryside of WWW. Nevertheless, here’s proof there nobody can hide from Beta21.

For those of you who are new to the digital arena, Andrew Harasewych is one of the top social media marketers who specializes in almost every area of online marketing. He’s a genuine know-it-all, who loves to share his knowledge and experience with the world. He’s also the COO of Weal Media, a digital PR firm and online marketing agency. Andrew is best known for his insights into G+, and has written several articles, eBooks, and tutorials for marketers to get a jumpstart on succeeding in this ever-elusive platform.

Here’s an exclusive uncensored interview with Andrew, where he divulges the secrets to success on Google Plus.

In your experience, what are the common obstacles that community managers face on Google+ and what are best practices that you can recommend for building a strong community on Google+?

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Before building any community, whether it’s a community of fans around your page, or a community on a social network like Google+, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or even an old-school forum or Listserv (does anyone use those any more?), you need to think about your intended audience. Do you want to be a hub for thought leaders and experts to engage and discuss, or for beginners in your industry to get a foot in the door, or to learn the basics? Or maybe something in between.[/box]

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If you want to be an “advanced/expert hub,” you need to only promote the highest quality content. Quality in a community breeds more quality content and quality users. Sure, people will say they want an “all inclusive” community that walks everyone through the process of joining, but the problem with this is that your advanced users, the ones who post quality content, have large followings and audiences of their own, and can truly help build a community, they don’t want to deal with the noise. Advanced users get sick of seeing the same old “how to” guides for the basics. It’s what we’ve done in the Social Media Strategy community. You won’t find the same old regurgitated posts about the “5 XXX you need to get XXX Engagement.” Instead, you are more likely to find expert analysis of the latest Google search algorithm updates, or the analysis and overview of a recent social campaign by a major player in the industry. It’s a place for intelligent conversation, not a continuous stream of “How do I do this” single line posts. Sure, there needs to be a place for it – but every community cannot be everything to everybody!

Focus on your priorities and goals, whether it’s a place for beginners to just hang out and chat, or if it’s a place you’d prefer experts to post. The way you run that community or the types of things you share on the profile or page around your community have to reflect that.[/box]

Formulating a strategy that works usually involves trial and error. Is there a case that was particularly interesting in your experience?

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Something I’ve been learning over time is that some battles will never be won. On the internet, there will always be someone who wants to disrupt a comment thread, or argue just for the sake of argument. You need to learn to pick your battles, and give up the fight when the battle is lost.

It’s amazing to see the simple things work. Working as a webmaster and social consultant for a popular podcast series (by a certain popular astrophysicist who will remain nameless) has really been a blast. Something that has been fun is working with this huge pool of fans and followers, and really being able to get almost instantaneous feedback and engagement on posts. When I started, all the posts were simple 1-2 sentences and a link, and sporadic. No real schedule or focus on Google+, it was more of an afterthought. Engagement was not bad, but certainly not on the same level as Facebook engagement at the time.

By simply focusing on unique content, sharing content from sources other than ourselves, formatting posts (with bold titles, italicized quotes, and underline for emphasis!) and being consistent with all of this, not only have we since seen engagement skyrocket from current fans, but we were quickly added to the Suggested User List, and since October of last year, the page following on Google+ is over 2.5 million users. That is over a 1000% increase in following in just eight months.[/box]

What tips do you have for social media managers that have to develop a good Google+ strategy?

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I’ve found that most often, people fail on Google+ because they treat it like other networks. This isn’t Facebook or Twitter. Don’t just assume you can port the same one-liners and low quality clickbait type activity to Google+ and achieve the same results. The number one piece of advice I can give people is to be descriptive. If you drop a link – be sure to take a paragraph or two and describe the content of the post. Anyone can go to a search engine and just get a list going to see when we get there. Well described posts ALWAYS do better than a post with just a single line, or no additional text/commentary at all, especially if you have not had the chance to build up some trust and authority in a subject. To give you an example, if Vic Gundotra posted a single link with no description, he’d likely still go viral with the post. If a newcomer to Google+ does the same, nothing will happen.[/box]

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The reason for describing a post, in my opinion, is twofold. First, link litter (as we call anything with just a link and sentence or less) is lazy. It shows no care, no effort, and proves nothing to others about your own ideas, abilities, and experience. By taking the time to describe the post, you show people that you have read and digested the information yourself, and you have a chance to prove some authority on the subject by expanding upon and making comments on the content. Secondly, all of this additional text helps your post get found! Remember, this is Google after all. People search all the time. By targeting your post content, just as you would blog content, you can actually influence keyword searches for your potential audience. Not only are these posts found within Google+, but as Google nearly instantly indexes every public Google+ post, you now have the chance of ranking on a Google+ post just as you would with a website or blog post.

Sure, your readers like when you deliver information. But people would rather engage and discuss if you share your analysis.[/box]

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I’m sure Andrew’s tips can help you rethink your strategies and build successful campaigns. We will jam with him again to dissect other tough digital subjects.

Tune into SMHangout on Google Plus for excellent G+ hacks from Andrew and many other experts.

Google+ Content Strategy: Android

Surprisingly, Google+ pages is an underestimated and often under-utilized tool in the realm of social media marketing. However, the good people over at Android’s online marketing department would doubtlessly swear by it. According to SocialBakers, Android is currently topping the list for the most likes on a Google+ page this month–an impressive 7 million!

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Visuals

Let’s ease on in with some visuals, shall we? We can’t stress how important visual presence is as an online marketing strategy. It is generally the first thing the public will notice, and often the most retained information.

Android has a good grasp on this factor; one glance at their Google+ page, and you will be greeted with a flurry of bright, colorful, aesthetically pleasing posts. Android’s visuals essentially fall into 2 categories–their ads featuring the android mascot (that little, green, alien-esque dude), and functional ads, which feature a high resolution background, with an android device held in front of it, displaying a pertinent app.

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The Android mascot apps are great – they depict the brand’s martian-like spokesman in various activities related to current events or a product. These range from the little guy playing soccer for the World Cup, dressed in a graduation gown to congratulate recent college grads, or hoisting dumbbells and in full workout attire to promote the My Track app. These posts are surprisingly effective because they essentially cover three key marketing bases with one cute, entertaining image:

  • Android is providing the consumer with relevant information and current events, and linking it to their brand or product.
  • The use of the mascot in these ads reinforces their brand image. You see him, and you think “Android”.
  • You are providing the consumer or follower with entertainment, a laugh or smile, and not just spamming them with “buy our product” ads.

The second type of visual that is present on the Google+ page are the ads which directly feature Android’s products. In these ads, an Android device is in the foreground, with an attractive setting behind. On the screen of the device, we can clearly see some sort of app being used, often one which is relevant to the setting. These visuals do not seem to be as effective, and on a whole, have less likes than the Android mascot–and for good reason. They are essentially just screenshots of someone using an app, with a pretty background behind.

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Content

Android’s Google+ content is a bit of a mixed bag. There are copious amounts of attractive visuals and ads, which we just discussed, but they also make sure to employ interactive content, such as the Androidify app and video content.

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Android’s page also offers the latest industry news, keeping customers and followers coming back to stay informed. They also engage customers by encouraging them to send in photos related to the current holiday, such as their “show us what you heart” promotion for Valentine’s Day, where followers were asked to send in pictures of people, places, and things they love.

Having content that engages or encourages fans to participate is invaluable to any brand. It keeps fans coming back for more, and it makes them feel as though they are part of a community–this is undoubtably what contributed to, at least in part, the recent spike in Android\’s Google+ popularity.

Insights From Jesse Stay

For further insights on Android\’s success with Google Plus, we spoke with social media expert and Vice President of Social Media at Fit Marketing, Jesse Stay. Jesse is a seasoned speaker, author, and consultant on the topics of social media, and has written six books in this field. He was also featured as one of 20 developers to follow and one of 10 entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Mashable.

Why do you think Android has been doing so well, from an online marketing standpoint?

Jesse: I\’ll be honest – a lot of Android\’s success is because it\’s owned by Google, and the influence they have in their own products and cross-integration between those products. That, along with a strong interface that interfaces really well with Google products is the reason it has taken off so well. My experience is that the more a brand can \”own\” the experience and make it as easy for them to use their products, the more their products will spread.

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I\’m not privy to their marketing strategy, but I wouldn\’t doubt that they\’re also applying a strong SEO, PPC, as well as social ad strategy (but as you see in my response below I\’m not 100% sure of that – they may not be doing anything there). Also, just searching for \”cell phone\” on Google brings up a whole host of their vendors\’ sponsored ads all promoting Android phones. I\’d say a strong and solid partnership with the major mobile phone brands (and the acquisition of Motorola\’s mobile division) has had a big affect on their success. Going open source also probably helped, as that made the transition for vendors even easier.

What tactics do you think contributed to Android\’s Google+ page, in particular, getting so much traffic?

Jesse: My experience is that many of Google+\’s most passionate users have a strong bias towards Google products. Where Google+ is a Google product, and Android is a Google product, I anticipate psychologically Android\’s Google+ page would be one of the first places Google+ users flock to. In addition, Android is already on many suggested accounts to follow lists as users join Google+, giving them even more opportunities to grow.

All of the other Google+ accounts also share content from the Android Google+ channel frequently. I have no doubt that drives more followers as people recognize the Android brand, something many Google+ users are already passionate about. So to sum up, Android just fits the demographic of a typical Google+ user.

Why do you think there is such a large disparity between Android’s Facebook page (1+million likes) and Android’s Google+ page (over 7 million likes)?

Jesse: I think it\’s just further proof of my point earlier that Android is a much more familiar brand on Google+, and that it has an advantage on Google products. I\’m not seeing a ton of evidence that Google is advertising their Facebook Page on Facebook (and if they are they\’re doing a horrible job at it), so I\’m sure that contributes. Google needs to invest a little more into their Facebook Page to see growth there (in other words, they have to actually try over on Facebook). I\’m noticing they\’re not giving much enticement to their fans to engage in posts. The images they\’re using aren\’t quite sharable enough. Honestly, it doesn\’t look like they\’re putting much effort into Facebook. I anticipate it\’s the same on Google+, but they get more fans there because it\’s a Google product.

QUIT\’s Creative Vine Campaign For World No Tobacco Day

Quit is a non-profit organization that aims to deter children from smoking so when faced with the challenge of creating a campaign for World No Tobacco Day they turned to M&C Saatchi Sydney.

M&C Saatchi wanted to communicate the dangers to Quit’s young demographic in such a way that it would be ‘cool’ to share. Often, the challenge that most health marketers face when advertising the harm of cigarettes is that this young demographic actually like a danger factor in adverts and this can work well in other campaigns.

Simplicity in Vine Videos

A pro bono online video campaign using the social network Vine. Vine is particularly driven to a younger audience meaning M & C Saatchi depending on shares to drive awareness of the dangers of smoking.

The rapidity of Vine, with its unique 6-second looping video format, is the perfect medium to communicate the fact that every 6 seconds someone in the world dies from a smoking-related illness.

Glyn McIntosh, QUIT CEO: \”The fact that someone dies of a smoking-related disease every 6 seconds is shocking – that means 14,400 smokers will die on \’World No Tobacco Day\’ alone. M&C Saatchi has dramatised it a way that will drive awareness, debate and donations. Ultimately, this highly emotive work will inspire people to quit and help us save lives.\” In the first five days, the three posts altogether got nearly 50,000 likes and 26,000 revines. While spreading awareness was the campaign’s main goal, some of the shares included a call to action to donate to anti-smoking causes.

https://vine.co/v/MdtluprM2dB/embed

Someone Dies of a Smoking-related Disease Every 6 Seconds

The videos are not over dramatic but the sobering facts that are enough to create a memorable and chilling film. Each vine portrays a model representing a different demographic group (the carefree youth, the invincible old timer and the older smoker resigned to their fate) audibly dragging on a cigarette.

Each vine closes with the line, “Before this video starts again, another smoker will die.” Hard-hitting and straight to the point.

https://vine.co/v/MdtL5gElBJT/embed

How Can You Use Vines In Your Campaigns?

This campaign is a great example of how Vine can change initial conceptions within a matter of seconds. At first glance, the campaign’s main image, of a young, attractive woman exhaling smoke from her red-painted lips, might come across as glamorizing smoking. However, with the nature of Vine, as the videos are played over and over, the effect changes. Think about your campaigns, what wrong conception of your brand do your users have? Something you want to challenge or change? Maybe you want to challenge the idea that your brand is only for men or perhaps you want to dispel and negative outlook on your brand.

Previously, at Cancer Research UK, we have been thought of as a colder brand, a team in lab coats, which care about science rather than the people. However, our Every Moment Counts campaign and Race for Life, Cancer We\’re Coming to Get You campaign, helped demonstrate that we’re all about the people and that research is the way that we can fight cancer. Therefore, a Vine is a great medium to challenge misconceptions. However, don’t accuse the users by challenging them. You want to enlighten them.  Similar to the Quit video, use interesting facts to make your video anchored and relevant.

The real challenge is portraying a powerful message in a short amount of time. Don’t get lost in the visual like you could with traditional video, focus on delivering a short and impactful message.

https://vine.co/v/Mdt3HjIinIH/embed

Q&A With M&C Saatchi\’s Ant Medler

We spoke directly to M & C Saatchi\’s Creative Director, Ant Medler, to find out more about the campaign.

Hi Ant! Could you share with us the idea behind this campaign?

We knew that, because of the peer-to-peer nature of social media, for something to work, to take off and spread, it has to be disruptive, different, compelling, engaging. It also has to have that magic ingredient that’s makes it funnier/more shocking/more original than anything else in people\’s feeds. The other essential ingredient is simplicity. Social media by its very nature is quick – from twitter to Facebook to Vine and beyond the platforms are unforgiving of complicated messages and executions. This works well for us: at M&C Saatchi our ethos is \’Brutal Simplicity of Thought\’ – we believe that it\’s harder to make messages simple than complicated, it takes talent and time to boil them down. But when a message is distilled to its simplest form it goes into the audience\’s brains quicker and is likely to be remembered for longer.

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Taking this thinking into the Every Six Seconds campaign, we believed that if we could launch the right execution at the right time, it could deliver the impact we were looking for. Fortunately we were right. We learned this blend of an engaging idea executed simply can achieve outstanding traction in social media.

Which element of this campaign would re-use in another campaign?

The infamous advertising \’mad man\’ Howard Gossage once said: \”People don’t read ads. They read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.\” I think this principle can be applied to putting marketing and public service messages into social media. Sure, you can stick your client\’s message onto the platforms, but if you don\’t deliver that message in an interesting way, it\’ll just get ignored – just as a consumer would simply turn the page on a dull press ad or tune out a boring radio ad.

QUIT has an essentially important message to get out there, facts and information which can positively impact the world. On platforms like Twitter and Vine, users are sharing their passions, passing on things that move and inspire them. So if we were doing the campaign again, we\’d use Vine again as it\’s the perfect platform for people to pick up simple, socially informed messages and pass them on. The fact that the campaign achieved over 200, 000 likes and and ReVines is proof of this. And putting Vines at the centre of the campaign than spreading them across Facebook and Twitter worked very well, with high engagement across all platforms.

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How did QUIT react to your team\’s creation?

Our client was over the moon with the work and the response to it. QUIT is an independent charity that has to work with minimal budgets to get their message out, engage people, drive awareness of the dangers of smoking and remind people of their important work educating kids, corporates and ethnic minorities about the dangers of smoking. Without a huge budget to carpet bomb mainstream media, it was still important to launch a campaign around the World Health Organization\’s No Tobacco Day.

To drive such phenomenal engagement on social media plus such a huge response in the mainstream media (national press and TV coverage, coverage on websites and blogs globally) is a massive win for them. Every piece about the campaign on and offline is another audience reached with their message.


This revolutionized marketing campaigns for companies, especially non-profit ones to convey that Vine can be a great medium for health messages and for summarising a message in an effective way.

Don’t think that a medium won’t be taken seriously just because it’s new. Get vining!

Kapost: An End to End Solution to Your Content Marketing Woes

Company: Kapost

Website: http://kapost.com/

About: Kapost is a content marketing tool that helps brands grow revenue with their content. Kapost simplifies, the creation, distribution and analysis of content on a single platform giving content marketers an edge with their marketing efforts.

Usage: Kapost allows marketing teams of all sizes to easily collaborate, manage and organize their content, marketing assets and campaigns in an efficient environment.

Highlight: Kapost helps brands and businesses understand and learn what type of content best fits their needs through content score. The Content Scoring technology allows marketers to move prospects easily through the marketing funnel leading to increased sales and revenue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–9SGb44ahQ

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How does your content fare?

Lead scoring and lead nurturing are two of the words that are being thrown around a lot these days in the content marketing circles. Lead scoring allows you to determine if you are targeting prospects that are genuinely interested in your products. Lead nurturing on the other hand gives marketers with a systematic approach to follow up with leads and nurture them all the while moving them further down in the marketing funnel and leading to a successful conversion eventually. However, content plays a major role here. As a marketer, you will need to evaluate your content too and provide your leads with the right kind of content at the right time for marketing success. Kapost is a tool that tries to fill this gap quite impressively through their Content Scoring technology.

To shed some more light into Kapost, we managed to have a brief chat with Stanton Champion, Director of Product Marketing at Kapost and here is what he had to say.

On Content Scoring and the future of content marketing:

With Content Scoring, a marketer can quickly tell which pieces of content help move prospects down a buying funnel. With this information, marketers can ultimately nurture their prospects with the right content at the right time, progressively improving their prospects’ lead scores, encouraging more sales conversations, and ultimately driving more revenue. Prior to content scoring, marketers had to rely on what we call “vanity metrics” which show how much a piece of content was consumed. But this did not tell the marketer how valuable that content was in driving results, including revenue. With content scoring, marketers now have a tool that tells them the real business results of every piece of content at every stage of the buying funnel, helping them make the best decisions possible about nurturing prospects and driving revenue.

-Stanton Champion, Director of Product Marketing

Content scoring is something that is sure to help marketers a lot in the days to come especially with the rise in popularity of new strategies and tools that focus towards lead nurturing as well as lead scoring.

How can Kapost help a modern brand?

Making sure that the right form of content reaches your prospects at the right time is the most crucial aspect of content marketing as a vast majority of the modern buying cycles take place online. Many of the prospective customers prefer to conduct extensive online research before reaching out to the brand. As a result, marketers need to place sufficient information for the prospective customers in a ways the customers can easily find. This content also needs to be highly relevant as well as engaging and this is one of the areas where most brands fail. When asked how Kapost can help with this situation, Stanton responded saying

We believe that content is critical to modern businesses and that it’s the most effective way to reach customers in the always on internet and social media worlds. Kapost solves this problem by helping companies build a content operation – a repeatable and scalable process that makes it possible to create a steady stream of content that drives results. We do this with a combination of a content marketing platform that enables companies to adopt the right best practices to create their content, including providing team alignment, accountability, and insights into success. We also do this with our expert services offering, making it easy for companies to see results from content, even if they’re just starting out. Lastly, our partner ecosystem helps companies find the right tools and platforms to create the highest quality content possible, even if they lack the resources internally.

-Stanton Champion, Director of Product Marketing

What to expect from Kapost in the days to come?

While Kapost certainly seems to have some really powerful features, there certainly is some scope for innovation. Also, we had a lot of fun trying out their platform that we couldn\’t resist but ask Stanton if they were planning on reinforcing Kapost with more features and he was kind enough to let us peak under the hood for a bit.

Our content scoring algorithm is just the start, and we intend to improve it further to give marketers even better information about which pieces of content drive business results.

-Stanton Champion, Director of Product Marketing

Stanton also went on to say that Kapost was keen on developing three additional features to Kapost\’s existing environment. Stanton said that they are currently working on growing the partner ecosystem that already includes several content creation partners such as Scripted, Ebyline, Getty, Smartshoot and many others.

Providing quality content to internal stakeholders is another area that has been nagging content marketers for a very long time and according to Stanton, Kapost might just come up with a solution soon. Finally Stanton also revealed that auditing existing content is something that is quite hard for brands and businesses to undertake and that Kapost has plans to roll our features that could simplify this process in the near future.

Key features of Kapost

1. Editorial Calendar

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Kapost provides one of the most advanced editorial calendars with features that are sure to help boost your productivity as a content marketing team. There are plenty of predefined filters and options to include custom filters giving you an unlimited number of ways to organize your content in the editorial calendar. You can filter the calendar by region, author, campaign, buying stage, buyer persona and a host of other filters.

2. Analytics

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Kapost measures and analyzes different types of metrics including production analytics, engagement analytics, performance analytics, content scores and alows you to generate customized reports as per your needs. These key metrics could help you make sure that your entire team is working towards a unified goal.

3. Easy Communication

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Content marketing efforts usually require a massive team and this could easily lead to massive confusions within the team. To simplify this, Kapost has a powerful dashboard to manage your team. In addition to this, you could also assign tasks and converse with other members of your team with a simple @Mention like Twitter.

4. Editing and duplication

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Kapost makes editing content a breeze on it\’s platform. The platform supports innovative features such as collaborative editing much like Google Docs. In fact, if you prefer Google Docs, you can edit all of your content at Google Docs and Kapost will keep a copy of all the revisions so you can conveniently choose the best of the lot for the final version.

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Kapost also has an additional feature to duplicate content. The ability to duplicate content can help those who manage international content marketing efforts greatly. For example, if you need a particular blog post translated to different languages, you need not have to rewrite the whole copy several times. Instead, you can simply duplicate the initial copy and translate into as many languages as you like and reduce all the additional work.

Alternatives

While we are very much satisfied with what Kapost has to offer, there are a handful of competitors but only 2 of them come close to Kapost. One of them being Compendium and the other being CoSchedule.

The Problem With Twitter: Marketers Don\’t Get It

Lately, there\’s been a lot of discussion around the fact that there\’s a problem with Twitter. Marketers believe that it\’s undergoing algorithm changes similar to what Facebook has implemented and that soon marketers won\’t enjoy Twitter the way they used to. Another common problem that they feel with Twitter is that it\’s crowded, and it\’s hard to be seen.

Strategists aren\’t convinced that Twitter\’s ad platform is robust enough to allow them to get the right ROI or value from it, and on the whole – even though Twitter is a massive platform, it continues to fall behind the \”lure\” of Facebook for businesses. So what\’s the problem with Twitter?

I caught up with Krisoffer Howes, CEO of Weal Media, an international PR firm. Kris is as an expert on the Social Marketer\’s Quiz that we\’re running, and a well known social media expert on Google+ who frequents the Social Media Strategy community on Google+.

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1. Heading up a digital PR firm today is fairly challenging. Do you have to spend a lot of time educating your clients on the benefits of digital? Or have brands and companies now started to \”get it\”?

Given that Weal Media is an international PR firm, we get exposure to a number of different geographical and cultural areas. In doing so, we have noticed that some regions are more receptive to digital strategies and are recognizing and embracing the shift from traditional media. Surprisingly, when compared to their neighbors to the South (United States) and East (Asia,) Canada has been significantly slower in adopting digital marketing strategies.

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The challenge for most business owners and executives who resist the move to Internet marketing is to identify and measure the value in their contributions, whether they be time or money. This in turn becomes a challenge for digital marketers to provide metrics that can translate things like relationship-building and post views, into a language that speaks dollars and cents.

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2. While Twitter has a huge number of \”registered\” users, a very small percentage of them are actually active on a weekly or even monthly basis. What do you feel Twitter needs to do to change this?

I do not think that it is something that Twitter needs to change, as much as I believe that marketers should re-assess the methods in which they communicate with their Twitter audience and build an active following on the platform.

To begin with I think that, by virtue of Twitter\’s 140 character limitation, marketers should already expect that their visitors will have a short attention span. That said, this highlights the need to focus on providing content that captures attention in a busy social stream and inspires consistent and meaningful engagement, particularly from active members and brand advocates. Ultimately, marketers should aspire to motivate the audience to seek-out their branded message, rather than produce a multitude of redundant posts that are left alone to desperately search for an audience of their own.

In Twitter\’s last update, the social network provided some important updates that can be used to identify a business\’ or brand\’s content that inspires engagement with the audience and also offers features to showcase the things the audience loves most.

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3. Only 21% of marketers who took the quiz know that it\’s possible to schedule a tweet on Twitter without using a third party tool. I remember discussing this with you when we were formulating the questions! How surprising is this stat for you?

This does not surprise me in the least. In fact, I am much more surprised that number of people actually knew. I myself was surprised to learn that it was possible to schedule Tweets inside Twitter\’s \”Ads\” panel, easily and at no charge. As you called it, \”a hidden gem.\” Another is Twitter\’s number of allowable lists. Would you believe that Twitter affords us up to 1,000 lists?

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4. Did any particular questions in the quiz stand out for you as being incredibly interesting or useful?

I was stunned by your results for calculating Bounce Rate. This as a fundamental metric in the online marketing industry. Internet marketers use this measurement quasi-religiously to determine and improve a webpage/website\’s performance. The fact that your quiz was able to identify this area as deeply problematic is a testament to its value and effectiveness in educating marketers.

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5. Different brands and companies need to be on different networks, depending on who their target audience is and what kind of content they produce. However, if from all the big networks of the world, we had to do away with one – based purely on the fact that it doesn\’t add much business value to brands in terms of engagement, sales and interaction – which would you choose to do away with?

At the moment, and without much hesitation, I would say Facebook. Over time, the leading social network has intentionally reduced business\’ and brands\’ exposure to their fans. And, to make matters worse, Facebook offers their own paid methods of exposure as (pretty much) the only viable alternative. The other option is for businesses/brands to build REAL and meaningful relationships with consumers, and consistently deliver content that entices fans and friends to independently seek-out the company\’s updates and information, even when it is not immediately visible in their news feed. Regrettably this is something too few social media marketers have done in the past, particularly on Facebook.

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On the other hand, the platform\’s competitors like Google+ and Twitter are introducing features that contribute to marketing efforts and help businesses and brands improve and maintain their exposure and engagement with fans, friends and followers. In fact, even Tumblr and Reddit are providing services that benefit businesses and appeal to marketers.

[divider]

You can add Kristoffer to your circles on Google+, or interact with him on one the various communities of SMHangout! And if you haven\’t yet, you should really take the Social Marketer\’s Quiz!

Here\’s Why Most Internet Marketers Are Wrong

Andrew Harasewych is one of the most popular faces in the marketing world on Google+ and beyond, primarily because of his live hangout every Saturday at 9 PM EST where he strips for viewers, free of charge.

Just kidding. Andrew\’s one of the smartest people in social marketing that I\’ve come across. What\’s he good at? Engagement? Facebook ads? G+ marketing? SEO? What\’s his speciality, you ask? The best part is – that as far as I\’m aware, he doesn\’t have a speciality. His speciality is basically being a no-nonsense marketer who knows a huge amount of every aspect of it. That\’s probably why he\’s COO of Weal Media, a digital public relations firm and internet marketing agency.

That, coupled with the fact that he\’s a reliable and trustworthy person, is why I asked him to be the expert on the General Knowledge section of the Social Marketer\’s Quiz.

Earlier this week, I stalked his new house, waited till his guard was down and then took him prisoner. This interview took place in the basement of his home.

Since you oversee a community of 150,000+ marketers – you\’re exposed to a lot of views, opinions and ideas. What\’s the biggest misconception that marketers have today?

That they are even marketers to begin with. Okay, I kid. But seriously… there are a LOT of people out there, who played around with Facebook in their spare time, and decided to open a marketing firm. And what happens? We all get dragged down with them. I am, however, just so happy about how the Social Media Strategy community has turned out so far, from weekly Hangouts, which are growing in audience, to the great discussions with excellent marketers, businesses, and independent professionals.

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But I get off point here. As to the biggest misconception that I notice among even the more legitimate marketers, is this idea that EVERYONE and their mother has to blog, regardless of whether they can even generate new and original content themselves. Instead of immediately charging a business for writing content, you need to analyze the person\’s or business\’s budget, needs, goals, and target demographic(s).

Perhaps there is another marketing avenue which would require less of an investment with more benefit? Every business is different, thus we can’t expect the same answer to be the best for every business.

How do you, personally, stay up to date with the latest trends, news and opinions online?

I don’t sleep.

I’d say that’s a joke, but as I write this, my wife is begging me to come to bed. I’ve been able to keep up on most things simply by visiting the communities each morning and evening to moderate posts. Sure, I still have a few newsletter and aggregator subscriptions, but more and more I’ve been finding that Google Plus really is the best place for me to find updates on the news and information I need, and discuss it with people who really know what they are talking about when it comes to… well, just about anything.

The last round in the quiz on general knowledge has been a tough one to crack, what do you think that says about marketers, and is it a reason for worry?

What I’ve noticed with any quiz that offers free prizes or discounts, you get a lot of… freebie hunters who are not at all the target demographic of the quiz, and although they can get through some of it, they get stopped up when it comes to more specific questions and information they otherwise would never have come across. That aside, there are definitely marketers who will still trip up on at least half of those questions, if not more.

I admit, there were two, that when I was reviewing them, had me thinking for quite a bit (and one of those I finally had to google to verify myself!). That’s just the nature of the business. There are so many competing social networks, news sources, bloggers, and even local “Mom-and-Pop” brick and mortar businesses are all interacting with people on a global scale, meaning that there is an information overload for the average person, let alone the average marketer, spending most of their days online.

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Did any particular questions in the quiz stand out for you as being incredibly interesting or useful?

Well, it’s actually one of the questions that I immediately knew the answer to, as to whether Facebook or Twitter have a better SEO benefit for your business. It’s NEITHER! There is no significant ranking benefit to using either Facebook or Twitter (as of writing this interview, who knows how things may change in the future, that’s half the fun). And that is a VERY common misconception with “Marketers” and “SEO professionals” that do not know as much as they think they do.

That, or they are purposely trying to mislead potential clients on their site, by claiming that their social media engagement will improve the search rankings for their business (unless they use Google+, which is the only way to currently boost potential ranking thanks to social search). There are still certain industries that are VERY underrepresented on Google+, giving a small business an amazing foot in the door right now, if they just work out a Google+ strategy!

If you had to choose between a marketer who had incredible knowledge around marketing on various social platforms, but wasn\’t good with staying up to date with marketing news and trends and a marketer who had above average knowledge on marketing on various platforms and was always on the ball with the latest changes, trends and insights – who would you pick and why?

I don’t want this answer to come off like I am copping out of the question, so if I HAVE to pick one, I’d say the first: general knowledge on marketing on various platforms may be more important than being up to date on every last trend.

This is a tough question though, and even now, I already don’t like my selection. I’ve always been a huge fan of the “many hat” approach. No, I don’t mean white hat and black hat, I mean being able to fill multiple roles and positions within a company, whether it’s for a client, or for yourself. And that does require not only having that general knowledge base, but also keeping up on current trends.

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Social Networks do all have their differences (did you know you can, without being shamed, use up to 30 hashtags on a single Instagram post? Do that on Google+, and you’ll have the villagers chasing you down with pitchforks), but in the end, A LOT of marketing is just common sense and building relationships. It’s something that carries over all platforms, and it’s something anyone with a pulse and a typing finger can do. You just need to be willing to listen, and then… /gasp/ respond accordingly and build the relationship!

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Due to the quality of his responses, I let Andrew go. He is now freely roaming the wild countryside of G+.

Andrew (and a TON of other well known experts) hang around in SMHangout\’s Google+ communities. You should also tune into their Social Media Hangouts, that are littered with great advice from the usual suspects as well as some great guest experts.

Insights from the Top Scorers of the Social Marketer\’s Quiz

For those of you that have been living under a rock for the last two weeks, Circus Social\’s Social Marketer\’s Quiz has got the entire online marketing community buzzing. Spread over 10 rounds, the quiz asks marketers questions about how well they engage, how good their content marketing and SEO skills are, how ethical they are – and tons of other stuff. You have GOT to check it out. Over 1,300 marketers have taken the quiz so far!

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We caught up with two of the top 20 scorers in the quiz, Johanna Both and Allan Vazquez, to pick their brain about the quiz and ask them what they thought about the experience.

The Quiz! How was it overall? Did you get bored at any point?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: It definitely was challenging, a lot of apparently pretty basic stuff but OH SURPRISE! There were a lot of questions with misleading answers, it was all about picking the best of the lot. I didn’t get bored, the whole concept of “little SM city” was a fine detail.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: The quiz was really challenging and in the same time fun to do, so no time to get bored.[/box]

2. Do you remember the toughest question that totally stumped you?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: It was definitely in Analytics Compound, so much data and so little time to think that well, I can’t remember a single question though but there was one about creative campaigns (arts about products) – very tricky.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: I don\’t really remember the exact question but pretty sure it was somewhere in the ethical part, where I got pretty confused with the different possibilities, sometimes at a first glance not even one answer seemed to be the right solution, or more of them did.[/box]

3. Which round do you feel has the hardest questions of all?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: Analytics.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: I\’m really bad with names and dates and stuff like that, so the last section, the Knowledge Nook, was kind of a nightmare for me, i think i actually passed only the 3rd time![/box]

4. Which round do you feel has the easiest questions of all?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: For me \”crisis castle\” was somehow so natural. I do that all the time in my life (not especially in social marketing), solving problems while multitasking. And i love Analytics as well, so that part was kind of fun to do, although I didn\’t quite get maximum points like in the crisis part.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: The early stages, about engagement, many basic facts & questions about plain theory.[/box]

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5. Do you feel the quiz adds any value to marketers? What do you feel marketers are getting out of this quiz?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: I think marketers are always eager to learn and they also have to keep themselves updated. I personally like challenges, especially if it gives me some information about where I am right know with my knowledge and experience and also what should i brush up a little.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: I do, I actually posted it in many Social Media groups I manage in Mexico and OH BOY, people couldn’t pass through many questions or stages. It definitely makes us think again and never take anything for granted.[/box]

6. Which voucher code / reward can you not wait to take advantage of!

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: Absolutely the Circus Social voucher. I don\’t have too much experience with Facebook Apps, so experimenting with them would be cool and also can get a picture which one would fit my social activities. The other one is SocialBro, as I already heard a lot of good things about the tool and would like to try it.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: Well, I saw many attractive stuff but can’t remember one right now, will have to check them all out at some point.[/box]

7. If you\’d like us add one more round to the quiz – which one would that be?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Allan: There should be one building for DIGITAL BRAND DEFINITION, you know, for briefing, for understanding and analyzing target audiences, content definition, topics, etc.[/box]

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Johanna: Maybe something connected with advertising, PPC ads. I think it was a question in the Facebook part which was mentioning it, however i think it still needs a big amount of knowledge from the marketers side. [/box]

So there you have it! With such endorsements for the quiz, we can\’t believe you don\’t want to take it for yourself and figure out how good you are. 🙂 Take the quiz now!

An Expert\’s Views on Effective Social Media Engagement

The debate about Facebook\’s organic reach drop is still in full swing. Many still believe that there is hope for some free marketing on Facebook, and continue to pump time and effort into creating effective content for their pages. A lot of marketers have either given up, or simply accepted that Facebook is \”pay to play\” – and have started allocating a larger budget for Facebook advertising.

In my quest to find reason in this world of an ever changing social media landscape (yes, I\’m dramatic) – I stumbled upon the door of EdgeRank Checker\’s Chad Wittman, someone who\’s been tracking page engagement metrics on Facebook before Mark Zuckerberg himself understood what it was. Chad is quite obviously, on our expert panel in the Social Marketer\’s Quiz.

The Engagement round is the very first one in the quiz, which of course, stresses on the importance of social marketers having the right skills to engage with their audience. I chased Chad around and got him to share some insights on social media engagement with us!

Let\’s tackle the major question that\’s on everyone\’s minds, after the fall in organic reach and everyone crying foul, should brands continue to use Facebook as their primary marketing platform?

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A brand’s primary marketing platform should be the platform that is most in line with their goals. For a majority of brands, it is still Facebook. Every brand should be asking this question for every campaign they are doing. This should be a question that is always asked, and should continue to be asked.

 

The quality bar on Facebook continues to rise. The reality is that it will continue to rise. The space in the news feed is limited, the brands and the content they produce is constantly growing. Ultimately, this “problem” will never be solved. Humans have 24 hours in a day, I promise you that brands will produce content that far exceed anything anyone could ever consumer. This creates an ever raising bar.

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With the recent Facebook newsfeed changes, how does EdgeRankChecker make everyone\’s lives easier?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]We try to make things easy and fast to get the insights you need to improve your strategy. It’s one thing to tell you how you’re doing in general, it’s another to try to improve that. We keep tabs on as much data as possible to keep you informed and on the right track.

 

It’s about constantly trying to improve, while avoiding things that Facebook dislikes. We keep our customers constantly informed so they can focus on doing what they do best, instead of trying to moonlight as a data scientist.
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Based on the amazing analysis you\’ve continuously done with EdgeRank Checker, what would you call the four pillars of a marketing strategy on Facebook?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]News feed, ads, customer service, intel. The news feed is the battleground that you want to win. It’s constantly changing and is an obvious challenge. The brands that dominate this space have huge leverage with the rest of their strategy.

 

Ads can really amplify small wins and turn them into big wins. Ads can get you started from Step 0 to Step 100 a lot faster than the news feed. The key here is balance and being effective with your budget.

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Customer Service is an underlooked value-add on Facebook. People will go to their platform of choice (not yours!) to talk about your brand. Giving people a space they can bring up issues and a space that you can actually help them is undervalued in our industry.

 

Intelligence, specifically competitive intelligence, is a great asset on Facebook. There is a plethora of data on Facebook publically available, it just needs to be accessed and analyzed. This data can be used to learn from the mistakes of your rivals or tap into new opportunities in the future.[/box]

From all the questions in the quiz in the Facebook round, which one stood out for you as the most interesting and why?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]I think the questions stood out, as a whole. The preparedness that goes into being a social media manager is often overlooked. There is a lot to know and be prepared to react to quickly. There is also the reality that each brand is different and deals with these issues/challenges differently. Again, the key is tie this back to the business’ overarching goals as much as possible.[/box]

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It\’s clear that brands should stop obsessing over \”likes\” on Facebook, what metric on Facebook should they truly obsess over?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]None. Obsessing over any particular metric leads people and brands astray. Human’s minds are fascinating as they tend to want a single variable to better understand the world around them. We see this in sports constantly, is a player “good” or “bad”? The answer is that it always depends, it always changes, and it is always subjective. I feel the same about Facebook marketing.
The key is to not get tied up in the novelty of another metric. Focus in on what helps your business the best, and figure out how to maximize the metrics that improve that goal. It’s most likely a blend of Reach, Engagement, Clicks, tied back to goal conversions in your site.[/box]
Not entirely sure about you guys – but this was one of the most crisp and useful interviews I\’ve conducted. You should print out this interview and paste it on a wall, or perhaps utilize the quote images and splatter them all over your desk. Some incredibly valuable insights from Chad on what we should keep in mind going forward in our social media efforts.
For those of you who haven\’t taken the quiz yet, you\’re missing out! Click here to take the quiz!

An Expert Explains the Importance of Analytics in Social Media Marketing

Most people believe that only four people in the entire history of humanity have had any sort of liking towards numbers, and one of them was Pythagoras. As marketers, we don\’t like numbers unless they say things like \”400 shares\” or \”800 comments\”. Those are numbers we can deal with.

But each time a client asks us to give them a report on the CTR over the last month, the bounce rate on a particular landing page, we all start panicking. Spreadsheets in general, are something that Satan himself put on earth. All that said and done, there is nothing more important today to marketers than data. It should be the backbone of your marketing plan, the backbone of your content calendar and what you base your business decisions on.

If you don\’t have hard data to back up your plan or justify what you\’re doing, you\’re shooting in the dark. We learnt that the hard way. The Social Marketer\’s Quiz has an entire round dedicated to Analytics, and it\’s no surprise that it\’s proving to be the hardest one to cross. Our Analytics Expert, is Alex Peiniger, one of the most efficient people on the planet, and CEO of Quintly.

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We caught up with him to figure out how important analytics truly is today, and what marketers are missing out on if they\’re not paying enough attention to it.

For marketers who don\’t pay too much attention to analytics, what are they missing out on?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Analytics is basically the only way how you can measure the success of what you are doing. In the current environment it is key to understand which channels work well for you and which don\’t. By measuring the return on invest you can distribute your budget in the right way and make sure that you get the most out of your marketing strategy. When you ignore the analytics part, you basically throw money away, which could be better invested somewhere else.[/box]

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What does Quintly provide in terms of analytics that no other tool out there is able to?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]We focus especially on giving you one central dashboard that brings together all the data from currently six different networks. On top of that we offer a broad range of features to benchmark your own performance with that of your competitors. Only by looking at the numbers of your direct competitors you can differentiate your own performance from general market influences. The combination of a high data quality and an easy to use interface lets quintly stand out from all the analytics tools around.[/box]

Do all marketers need to be come data scientists? How much is too much obsession with data?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]Of course you can always go over the top, also with your analytics approach. In the end you should only measure and look at the numbers that drive action, meaning that the data tells you what you should do next. But in general I think that marketers should put more focus on the data science side and learn languages like SQL or understand how Map-Reduce works, to really leverage the big amount of data they have access to.[/box]

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Traditional marketers tend to advocate a \”gut feeling\” to a campaign. How much stress should be given to a \”gut feeling\” when analytics is also in the picture?

[box type=\”shadow\” ]The \”gut feeling\” is of course really important, because there is much more to a campaign than just the numbers, for example positioning of the brand and other things. But from the huge number of campaigns I have seen there is definitely a lot of room to put more focus on the analytics side and try to find out which campaigns actually work and which don\’t. In the end it\’s all about the goal that you are aiming for. If your goal is to drive conversions, definitely go for a really deep analytics implementation.[/box]

Some marketers dive into data every day, some every week, some every month – is there an adequate amount of time or an adequate amount of visits after which one should look at data insights?

[box type=\”shadow\”]I know you can spend hours and hours diving deep into the data. The goal should be to use technology that helps you optimize these processes and filter out the data points that are most important and don\’t spend time on numbers that don\’t help you. This is also our mission with quintly. We want to save our clients’ valuable time, we handle all the data collection, aggregation and analyses for them. Regarding a frequency I think it makes sense to look at the data every day or at least every few days to see what happened. This doesn’t need to take long, a few minutes should be sufficient and if you see something interesting you can dive deeper.[/box]

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Some amazingly insightful answers from Alex, hopefully this will make you pay attention to the analytical side of what you\’re doing with your marketing! How good are you at marketing? Take our quiz and find out! There\’s a dedicated round for Analytics for you to figure out how good you are when it comes to analytics specifically, and the questions have all been vetted by Alex himself.