“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.

News

Make your brand content ‘Google News’ good

How does Google rank branded content? In some cases, the answer is: Very well. This is one reason savvy brands are trying to use it to operate at a level above the type of basic search engine optimisation (SEO) we saw for a five-year spell. The idea if to be useful for humans, especially potential customers, and rank highly.

But recently research by Collective Content and DWPub has unearthed a range of views from those in PR, people who are gate-keepers to contacts and information that can make content exceptional – what we call media-grade. In particular, some PRs don’t see the same value in working with brand journalists as opposed to traditional journalists.Google News

One of the big differences between most media content and most brand content – we could use the catch-all content marketing – is that the former will often appear in Google News.

One PR told us: “There are SEO implications. Google (et al) will keep on top of marking down paid-for content and so it will far less valuable [to my clients].”

There is clearly truth in this. Two and a half years ago this excellent Slideshare felt like a watershed moment. It explains more than a few things about content marketing well but I’d particularly focus on its main hook, namely how IBM Midsize Insider got so good that it was included in Google News (where you can still find its stories to this day) and “…Sent Traffic Soaring”, as the piece puts it.

If that really was a watershed, then we’d expect other brand publications to follow. It wouldn’t be many – for one thing Google knows it has to keep standards high (that term media-grade again) and for another it isn’t easy for brands to produce content that well, even when they hire publishing and editing experts. (That’s another blog post.)

We haven’t been able to find out from either Google or any other content marketing experts why other brands haven’t broken through to being included in Google News.

If it were an exclusive club, only for traditional publications and journalism, we’d never have expected IBM to be included. But if it’s not, why not more by now?

Our hunch is that this will change, over time, as consumption habits move away from favouring what we’d consider traditional content and publishers. In the world of social media, which in many ways competes with search for eyeballs, this is already happening. We are all more promiscuous finders and consumers of content than we were a decade ago.

So we’d say to the PR who spoke about the value of taking part in terms of his client’s voice being heard – or not – because of good/bad SEO: You’re right – for now.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Download our report ‘PR’s love-hate relationship with ‘brand journalists’ – and why it matters’

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Content marketing in 2015 – more growth but challenges ahead

B2B marketers plan to spend more on content marketing and produce more content over the next 12 months but they also face significant challenges in tracking and measuring its effectiveness. Those are just some of the findings of the eagerly awaited annual B2B content marketing benchmarks, budgets and trends report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), published this week.

You can check out the CMI’s presentation of the results on the slide deck below:

The headline findings probably won’t surprise many. Some 70 per cent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago and 55 per cent say they will increase spending on content marketing over next 12 months.

Favoured types of content used by marketers

For content marketing tactics – or content types – social media (other than blogs) remains top at 92 per cent, followed by e-newsletters (83 per cent), articles on the company website (81 per cent), blogs (80 per cent) and in-person events (77 per cent).

The results haven’t changed much from last year and again infographic use shows the biggest jump from 51 per cent in 2013 to 62 per cent. It’s also interesting to note tactics that significant numbers of B2B marketers (fewer than 40 per cent) don’t use – print and digital magazines, mobile apps, virtual conferences and e-books.

Effectiveness of content

As content producers, it is interesting for us to note the difference between the most common content types and tactics used and the ones that B2B marketers say are actually the most effective. The latter list reads very much like a tick list of old school marketing tactics – for the fifth consecutive year in-person events tops the list (69 per cent), followed by webinars/webcasts (64 per cent), videos (60 per cent), blogs (60 per cent), case studies (58 per cent), white papers (58 per cent) and research reports (58 per cent).

Social media

LinkedIn is still the most used – and most effective – social media platform, used by 94 per cent of B2B marketers to distribute content. We have talked here on this blog in the past about the growing influence of Google+ so it is Interesting to note the biggest rise in social media usage by B2B marketers has been in Google+, up 9 percentage points from last year. But after sizeable jumps last year, SlideShare, Pinterest, Instagram and Vimeo have all levelled off. Vine’s novelty seems to have worn off, dropping 9 per cent.

Goals

Brand awareness remains top at 84 per cent, as it has done the past five years. Close behind, however, is lead generation at 83 per cent. As content marketing matures we would hope and expect that the lead generation goal drops in favour of things such as engagement, awareness and thought leadership. For sure, content marketing has a role to play in the whole sales cycle but the ‘sell’ bit should come much further down the funnel.

Challenges ahead

In addition to the issues around tracking and measuring ROI and effectiveness of content marketing, there are likely to be challenges around sourcing the talent to plan and deliver these programmes. While B2B marketers are planning to spend more and produce more content, almost a third (32 per cent) also say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals, up significantly from just 10 per cent last year.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need a corporate blog but don’t have the time or editorial expertise? Try Speech-to-blog, a new corporate blogging service from Collective Content.

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Spotify striving for advertising without ads

Interesting piece today in the consistently good Digiday – Spotify chief revenue officer Jeff Levick was talking about ads on the platform.

Or rather, he was talking about working with the types of companies many in media would call advertisers. Here’s the quotation:

We don’t really want to offer just straight advertising. If our CEO had his way you wouldn’t see ads at all. The way we think about advertising on Spotify is communicating through content, whether that’s an audio experience, or a great app. That’s where we see the future of ads on Spotify; understanding the content itself in order to successfully message to consumers.

I love the idea that CEO Daniel Ek has a pure, ad-free vision. That might be horse crap, of course. But I’m inclined to believe they – as a smart company – know there is a better way than traditional display units etc..

Lord knows there has to be a better alternative to the sub-radio standard ad breaks in the free version. (I used to be a premium subscriber but have since switched to rival Deezer, which I’m pretty happy with, since you ask.)

I think I know what Levick means when he says “understanding the content itself in order to successfully message to consumers”. The reason this is even a post on CC:UK is because the statement points to a world where content and product (yours or a third-party’s) can be indistinguishable.

Expect (more) interesting things from Spotify.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need to know about events? Buy the e-book, Everything In Moderation: How to chair, moderate and otherwise lead events, by Collective Content (UK) founder Tony Hallett from Amazon.co.uk.

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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