“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

What does the latest research tell us about content marketing?

Marketing is changing fast. So fast, in fact, that it’s hard to keep up. That’s according to academic researchers. But they also note that “keeping up” is no longer optional for most businesses today – it’s a must for any organisation that wants to survive.

Content marketing has become one of the must-do strategies for those looking to keep up, at the very least.

Know where you are going

“Content marketing has gone from a technique which would get a business ahead to one that merely keeps it equal,” marketing professor PJ Forrest writes in a recent research paper. “Content marketing is now the industry standard.”

While a wide variety of content types can be effective, “[j]ust any old copy will not work”, Forrest notes.

“One of the worst mistakes a company can make is a failure to be useful,” she writes. “The content can provide value to the target market in many ways such as being interesting to read, teaching or providing knowledge, presenting solutions to problems, or just being humorous or entertaining.”

It’s also critical to have a clear, well thought-out strategy for content marketing, Forrest adds.

“Not having a strategy leads to failure in any type of marketing but businesses often do not realise they should have a strategy specifically for content marketing,” she writes. “Without knowing what the company was trying to achieve it is impossible to measure whether it succeeded or failed… As the old saying goes, if you do not know where you are going you are likely to end up someplace else.”

Build trust by being useful and user-friendly

Today’s cyber consumer has different habits, interests and needs than past brick-and-mortar consumers, write a pair of Italian researchers in a recent issue of the European Scientific Journal. Those differences, according to Giuseppe Granata and Giancarlo Scozzese, have “highlighted the inadequacy of traditional marketing methodologies…”

Internet-based strategies such as digital marketing, e-branding and storytelling, they say, can improve marketing content and help businesses build more lasting relationships with customers. And essential to such strategies is ensuring they are relevant, secure and easy to use.

“A customer is satisfied when his overall evaluation of the experience with a brand and its products over time is positive,” Granata and Scozzese write. “With this in mind, it is about the initial phase of the marketing funnel that marketing experts should pay more attention to. The stage of research and initial information exchange is in fact that in which the perceived value of the brand for the consumer plays a crucial role. A website that offers relevant content and a secure, intuitive and simple-to-use architecture will encourage the user to revisit the site and potentially repeat the purchase.”

One study, they add, “demonstrated the positive relationship between content quality and brand trust.”

Format content with mobile in mind

In a recent article for the Mexican journal Mercados y Negocios (Markets and Businesses), Nancy Church, a retired professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the State University of New York-Plattsburgh, reviews a range of activities that will become increasingly important for marketers in years to come. In addition to artificial intelligence, video marketing and augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality, these include mobile-first/mobile-only strategies.

“In order to provide the best search results in terms of content and quality of websites, ‘Google’s move to mobile-first indexing means the robots will look at your mobile website first before crawling the desktop version’,” Church writes, citing a 2018 study. “In order to rank higher in Google searches, marketers must ensure that the information, images and videos for mobile sites [are] comparable to the desktop version and mobile optimised.”

Church cites further research that recommends that “marketers ensure that their websites are mobile-optimised with shorter headlines and smaller chunks of text, with instantaneous mobile page load times, and with more videos, especially videos presented in vertical format”.

Having a content strategy, always being useful and keeping mobile front of mind are all essential – some would say obvious, today – ways to be successful with your marketing.

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Why do we have staff around the world?

Photo by Juliana Kozoski on Unsplash

Why do we have people in different locations around the world? We could simply answer: “Because we can.”

But there’s a wider point that’s worth making.

When I recently mentioned to someone that our latest hire is in Toronto, I was asked whether Toronto/Ontario/Canada is an important market for us. We have a handful of clients there but that’s not the reason for that new hire.

We are global in the search for talent, not markets.

There’s something to be said about the precise difference between being global and being international – or multinational, even.

Most of our clients sell anywhere and sometimes everywhere around the world. Their people are also spread all over, with only sales and on-site personnel needing to be physically close to clients on a regular basis.

They rarely require us to meet face-to-face or even be in the same town or city.

It helps that we specialise in clients within the B2B technology sector. Their products and services have enabled all organisations around the world to work in distributed ways. And of course they practice what they preach – they can’t enable and advocate such a way of working without doing so themselves, and being OK with suppliers like us who also see the benefits.

So being able to be global is on the one hand about working for anyone, anywhere. But arguably the greater benefit is about being to hire anyone, anywhere. This has been the true revolution that makes a business like ours possible.

This has been about the why of a distributed working set-up. Next time I’ll tell you more about how we do it – and the big difference between remote working and distributed working.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

 

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Copy-wise: Beware of too many, too few or misplaced commas

Imaginehavingtoreadentirebookscompanyreportsorwhitepapersinwhichwordswerent separatedbypunctuationofanykindcanyouimagineunderstandinganythingthefirsttime

Writing that way would seem like the opposite of clear communication, wouldn’t it? But that’s actually how information was recorded in ancient Greece, when all writing was meant to be read aloud by speakers familiar enough with the text to understand where – and how long – to pause between words.

Fortunately, today we have the comma, question mark, dash, semicolon, colon and exclamation mark to help break our written words into clear, manageable chunks. But they do this only if they’re used correctly. When they’re not, they can create confusion just as much as writing without any punctuation at all.

Let’s start by looking at the comma. This little curly mark has many good uses. But it also seems to be getting more than its fair share of abuse lately. Consider a few of these based-on-real-life examples:

Besides the benefits, this will bring to both our companies, this move will help our customers as well.

Rather than negatively affecting our customers, partners and suppliers, this buyout, a way of combining our company’s strengths with another’s will boost the appeal of both our offerings.

This problem arises when businesses that have offices in many parts of the world and need local suppliers, try to find services without understanding the region’s culture.

In all of the above examples, commas appear where they aren’t needed (after “Besides the benefits” and “need local suppliers”) or aren’t used where they should be (after “our company’s strengths with another’s”).

The problem shows up most often in sentences that are long and complicated. This illustrates why it’s important to keep writing succinct and try to stick with one key thought per sentence. When you muddle a sentence with multiple points, it’s easier to get lost in the punctuation weeds.

Beyond that, though, it’s worth reviewing the fundamentals of good comma use. Contrary to what you might have been told at some point, this doesn’t include putting in a comma “whenever you take a breath” while reading your writing out loud.

Instead, there are 10 simple rules for using commas properly, according to journalism professor Miles Maguire’s The Comma Project from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Use them to:

  • Separate elements in a series (e.g., “We bought bread, olives, cheese and fruit.”)
  • Separate two independent clauses when they’re connected by an “and” or other conjunction (“We went to the market, and then we stopped by our old school for a visit.”) – although also check out our take on the Oxford Comma, which may or may not be the right style for you
  • Follow an introductory phrase that’s four words long or longer (“Before I drove to the train station, I picked up my clothes from the dry cleaner.”)
  • Set off a non-essential modifying phrase (“William Shakespeare, whose birthday is traditionally observed on Saint George’s Day, began his career writing comic and historic plays.”
  • Separate adjectives of equal importance (“The bright, modern dining room was set for a birthday party.”)
  • Set off a parenthetical word or phrase, or a word like “yes” or “no”) (“The park, of course, was empty during the stormy weather.”)
  • Set off a participial modifier (“Robert sat quietly for a moment, stunned by the TV programme’s final episode.”)
  • Mark a quote or paraphrased comment when appropriate (“Lara laughed and said, ‘I don’t believe it.’” However, no comma is needed in this sentence: “Lara laughed and said she didn’t believe it.”)
  • Set off cities, states, countries, dates, ages and titles (“The two boys, ages 15 and 17, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 15, 1967.”)
  • Separate two identical words when used next to each other (“The question is, is this enough to get started?”)

Finally, if you’re writing a complicated sentence that absolutely can’t be shortened, it helps to look out for missing commas by following this rule of thumb from writer and English/journalism professor Ben Yagoda:

“It may sometimes be because these phrases are so long that by the time we get to the end of them, we’ve forgotten about the first comma. In any case, a strategy to prevent it is to remember the acronym I.C.E.. Whenever you find yourself using a comma before an Identification, Characterization or Explanation, remember that there has to be a comma after the I.C.E. as well.”

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826