b2b, content strategy, Digital Channels, Social Media Marketing

Content: Focus on Your Customers, Not Volume

Feed the beast. Tame the monster. Stop the roar. Why do marketers insist on characterizing their content consumers as unruly, insatiable animals?

I suppose it’s because that’s exactly the way many have learned to think of it. For years now, marketing organizations have been trying to create messaging that can fill what may seem like an infinite void. Just keep churning out the content, and somehow, someday, some way, it will all pay off in the end . . . right?

There is a better approach, and now that 90% of B2C marketers and 93% of B2B marketers say they’ve thrown their hats in the content marketing ring, you need to start using a strategy that’s more efficient – and more effective. If you don’t, much of your effort will be wasted, because your customers are becoming increasingly distracted by the marketing messages – the content – bombarding them at virtually every turn.

To be more effective, you need to cut through all that noise. And to cut through all that noise, you need to produce content that’s targeted, useful, succinct, and shareable delivered at the right time within each buyer’s journey.

I’m not suggesting that we simply substitute one impossible beast with another. Rather, the key here is to break the problem into more manageable pieces.

First, take a long, hard look at the data surrounding the content you’re already creating. Analyze it. Find out what your audience wants to consume and how you can best present it to them. In other words, learn which 10% of your content does 90% of the work to create impact.

Then, strive for operational efficiency in your engagement tactics.

For example, our research shows that Millennials turn first to social networks for content discovery, and then to online and customizable newsfeeds. How many of your customers are doing the same? Or let me ask an even more fundamental question; do you know where your customers are engaging with content? (A recent study from Forrester showed that for some top brands, Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.) Are your customers using Instagram and wondering why you’re not?

As you dig into your customer data, you may also discover where and when to create triggers for communication at different points along the customer journey. Fine-tuning your messaging so customers feel like they’re being acknowledged as individuals –with unique preferences and paths to purchase – can also lead to very effective (and cost efficient) content marketing.

In the end, it’s not about satisfying an endless sea of content consumers. And it’s not about taming. Instead, marketing success today – and even more so, in the future – is all about paying attention to your data and implementing a solid strategy so your content finds the people who matter most, your customers.

Big Data, Customer Intelligence, Data Driven Marketing, Digital Marketing, Facebook, Marketing Analytics, Marketing Trends, Social Media Marketing

Facebook Hearts Hashtags…Finally

facebookhashtagsFor a long time after hashtags became the de rigeur way to link conversations on Twitter, their presence on Facebook proved to be impossibly irritating to social media junkies. Why would anyone use a hashtag in a place where it served no purpose? Shouldn’t all status updates be customized to the channel where they’re posted?

But perhaps hashtag lovers had the bigger picture in mind all along. Perhaps they somehow just knew Facebook would eventually see the light and make hashtags a searchable part of its data, too. And finally, that time has come. Continue reading

Big Data, Branding, Customer Intelligence, Data Driven Marketing, Digital Marketing, Facebook, Marketing Analytics, Marketing Trends

The Race to Affinity


I was in London a few weeks ago and attended Forrester’s EMEA Forum for Marketing Leaders. A thought-provoking event! One of the ideas which got people buzzing the most, was Nate Elliott’s ‘Database of Affinity’. I’ve been thinking about this idea alot in the last few weeks.

What Is The Database Of Affinity?

Affinity is the way that people express their preference for things for example by ‘Liking’ something on Facebook. And affinity data can be collected to observe people’s preferences mainly through their social behavior.

How Can Affinity Data Be Used?

Elliott compared ‘Affinity data’ with another type of user data marketers are very familiar with – data they capture via online search or ‘Intention data’. Intention data collects information on people’s needs and desires by observing search behaviors.

AffinityTimeline_SnapseedIt shows user exploration in the short term because intent usually happens just before a purchase e.g. “What product should I purchase?

But the great thing about the layer of ‘Affinity data’ is that it gives us deeper insight into how users are engaging, what emotions they are feeling, and is relevant over the long-term e.g. “I purchased product X and now I love it.

The big idea here is that brand marketing will be transformed by harnessing Affinity data, and the race is on as to who will get there first.

The picture on the right above shows Elliott’s stages of affinity, which started in 2010, and goes through until 2016/17. We are at the beginning of the wave here, with companies just starting to put together the potential here.

How Marketers Can Capture Affinity Data

Ok, so you’re convinced you need to start harnessing your customers’ Affinities to leverage in your brand marketing. What next? Elliott says there are three things you need to build a usable Database of Affinity:

  1. Data from across the social world
  2. Analysis tools that bring meaning to data
  3. Ad formats that create brand impact

And here’s where Elliott fired a shot across the bow of Facebook: Facebook has been slow to expand its data set, struggles to provide meaning to data, and is still pushing basic ad units which can’t create brand impact.

On the flipside Google collects data from multiple sources, is highly advanced at extracting meaning from user behavior, and offers sophisticated brand ad units including rich media in the form of video.

Elliot predicts Google will win at building affinity data into something marketers can extract real value from.

The Database of Affinity finally brings meaning to the age old question “What’s the value in social marketing?”. It’s not marketing or advertising via the social channels themselves — its the data and sentiment of the data we can extract that provides value.

In other words, those ads that have been clogging up my Facebook feed may go away as Facebook starts to monetize the affinity associated with the data set to marketers. It can’t happen soon enough…

Note: This post was modified from a post I wrote for iJento’s blog, originally titled, “The Database of Affinity.” I will be reposting my iJento blog posts here from time to time.