Thursday, August 30, 2018

Five Content-Led Marketing Campaigns That Drive Results

Five Content-Led Marketing Campaigns That Drive Results

In today's competitive marketplace, consumers are empowered to drive a hard bargain. Your audience knows how to get the best price, so it's easy to get scared into thinking that a shrewd discount strategy is the only tactic that delivers results.
That is not the case. An attractive offer might make the perfect incentive to join your mailing list, but an email marketing strategy that's consistently offer-led can be damaging to your business.
Discount-driven campaigns do little to promote your story. They can devalue your brand, and they confuse the customer experience. Plus, continually bombarding your contacts with campaigns that spout terms such as "sale" and "bargain" increases the risk of your emails' being marked as spam.
The key to maintaining customer interest is resonance, according to the Forrester Brand Experience Playbook. A brand that resonates with customers is one that not merely provides the product, service, and experience they anticipate, but—even more important—also enriches customer experience by providing value-driven engagement opportunities.
And the proof's in the ROI: A good content-focused marketing strategy drives six times higher conversion rates!

Here are five content-led campaigns to help you cement a lasting relationship with your customers.
1. User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaigns
Rebuild trust, recruit brand advocates, and get time back by adding UGC to your email marketing strategy.
A good review is worth its weight in gold. Although trust in brand messages has fallen in recent years, the influence of consumer recommendations has skyrocketed: Most online consumers prefer to be informed about what others have said about products and services—and therefore read consumer reviews regularly.
If you've wowed customers with your product or service, use their feedback as testimonials to influence your entire contact list. A UGC-based campaign allows you to push your most impressive reviews straight to the inbox, promoting a third-party, impartial view.
You can achieve that by adding a dynamic content block in an email template to pull in live review content directly from your site. Customer feedback from review sites such as Trustpilot and Feefo can be integrated into your campaign with ease for added credibility. And, if you're feeling inspired, use UGC to construct the basis of your campaign creative and let the 5-star reviews speak for you! Check out how global skincare brand Elemis did just that:

2. How-To Advice Campaigns
Providing your contacts with useful and informative content is a great way to showcase your business's expertise.
Prospective and returning customers actively use content to inform their decision-making process: 47% of B2B buyers viewed three to five pieces of relevant content before engaging with a sales representative, according to a report from Demand Gen. Creating advice-based campaigns to deploy to your lists at appropriate stages can have a huge effect on your conversion rates.
Brands that resonate strongly with customers provide user-focused content to drive engagement. Think about what a customer might want to know about your product or service, and design an advice campaign based around your answers.
Great British Chefs uses its "Weekly Menu" campaigns to advise on food preparation. The emails feature guides, recipes, and blog posts to get taste buds tingling. And with the company logo displayed clearly and consistently in every campaign, readers can easily remember which brand serves up this mouth-watering content.

3. Competition Campaigns
Want to generate new, quality leads and re-engage customers at the same time? No problem.
An attractive, time-restricted competition campaign has the power to generate hot new leads. Constructing a thorough and relevant entry form will give you good-quality data to send to your sales department. Plus, you can increase your audience and entice an entirely new fan base with an initiative strong enough to get shared across social media. It might even go viral.
A competition that gets good traction promotes brand awareness, online conversation, customer loyalty, and market presence. And when it's all over, your key campaign metrics provide a rich source of data to inform your future strategy.
Check out this competition creative from luxury clothing and accessories brand Aquascutum. An interactive game hides behind the gorgeous email illustration, and those who complete it and provide their data are automatically entered into a drawing to win their favorite bag. With one initiative, the company has re-engaged existing customers, increased brand awareness, and generated new leads. Plus, it's captured data on its customers' style preferences. Genius!
Key ROI metrics from Aquascutum's competition include the following:
·         6% average email CTR
·         100% increase over average link clicks
·         100% increase over average open rates
·         50% increase over average views and forwards

4. Multichannel Engagement Campaigns
Email is your digital key, and you can use it to unlock a healthy ROI from your social media efforts.
A campaign that showcases your brand's multichannel opportunities will promote cross-channel communication and nurture that single customer view. Give your contacts the chance to get socially acquainted with your business, and watch your brand ambassadors multiply. Plus, collate the data from multichannel engagement campaigns to get deeper insight into lifestyle and behavior. That all leads to better targeting.
An engaged community with multiple touchpoints will do the work for you. Customers who feel valued and nurtured by companies are more than happy to build brand and salience in order to get a better ROI for themselves. The inbox is the perfect environment for your brand communities to thrive!
This email from British fashion brand Jack Wills is beautifully designed and chockablock with channels. It gives customers five unmissable opportunities to connect, and we love the persuasive copy creative!

5. Re-Engagement Campaigns
Looking for a win-back strategy that works? Reinstate valued members of your community by rolling out an irresistible re-engagement campaign.
Customers who have become dissatisfied with your email marketing want you to take a proactive approach to regaining their trust. Even your most loyal engagers will be bombarded with attractive alternatives, so get ahead of the competition by designing a campaign to collect customers' preferences. That email should be sent out to contacts who qualify as unengaged. Use the results to re-engage customers with better-informed emails and more precisely targeted CTAs.
Check out this simple, effective, and on-brand re-engagement email from Dormify. The US dorm decor brand used its design expertise to create a seriously clickable campaign.

Make It Resonate!
An attractive incentive provides great leverage for obtaining email signups and acquiring crucial consumer data. Customers have come to expect discounts in return for their data: Offers remain the top reason for filling out an online form and subscribing to a mailing list. But generic, batch-and-blast offer campaigns can dilute and devalue your company's message. It's easy to lose connections when the line of communication is poor.
To retain interest, you need to nurture long-term brand resonance. That is where adding value drives the best ROI. Content-led campaigns that are helpful, personal, and relevant can help you foster a lasting attachment between business and customer.
If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or email me at

X2Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month. . . .remember. "you don't get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression."
Always make it a good one!!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.
John E. Hornyak
X2Media, LLC 

How to Measure the ROI of Your B2B Content Marketing Campaigns

How to Measure the ROI of Your B2B Content Marketing Campaigns

Many companies these days see the benefits of content marketing.
But, although content marketing's popularity (and necessity) continue to increase in the eyes of B2B marketers, 47% of them say they do not measure their content marketing ROI.
Of those who don't measure the returns of their content marketing efforts, 38% reported that "there is no formal justification required" to do so, 38% said they needed an easier way to measure ROI, 27% admitted to not knowing how to do so, and 21% found the process too time-consuming.
Here, we'll touch on why measuring ROI is integral to B2B content marketing campaigns, what the most important measurement factors are, and how to go about measuring content marketing ROI.
Why You Need to Measure ROI 
With the rapid, continual developments in digital marketing, it's easy to see why marketers can often get too caught up with implementing new tactics and trends, while sacrificing the crucial element of measuring ROI. But tracking and measuring content marketing ROI justifies why you're asking for all those marketing dollars, and it will show exactly how that money is being spent.
Measuring ROI also helps you...
·         Understand what's working and what isn't. If you don't measure the ROI of your efforts, it is doubly difficult to determine which priorities or campaigns are working. If you spent cash optimizing your website but aren't generating enough traffic, what's the point? You could pay top dollar for the most engaging content, but if nobody's seeing it (or if it's not your target audience that sees it), then it won't lead to the results you want.
·         Calculate client acquisition. Another benefit of measuring data related to ROI is that you can take seemingly abstract concepts and turn them into evidence-based information. By tracking ROI, you'll be able to get a clear idea of how much you spent on content marketing and how many new clients were generated as result. There are various insights to be gleaned from tracking ROI-related data, such as which channels are resulting in new leads and whether you're spending enough on a particular marketing strategy. But how much you're making on a per-client basis is one of the more straightforward ones for assessing the bottom line.
·         Prepare for the future. When you set out to track marketing ROI, you come across an ocean of data that, if used correctly, can help you make informed decisions in the future based on personalized marketing trends. Making mistakes is part of the game, but with the availability of ample data, making them time and time again is inexcusable.
A Simple Guide to Measuring ROI
Determine the costs
Depending on the scale of your content marketing campaign, there can be numerous factors involved in determining the cost, including...
·         Production costs: for writers, artists, and photos
·         Distribution costs: for PPC advertising, paid social
·         Cost of special tools: for producing or distributing content
Set the metrics
To effectively measure your content marketing's ROI, you need to determine what your specific goals and objectives are. Are you looking to increase brand awareness or generate qualified leads? Or are you trying to establish your brand as an expert by providing in-depth 10x content?
Once you've determined those goals or objectives, you need to set the metrics that you're going to be measuring. Here are some key metrics you can focus on if you're just starting to measure your ROI.
Demographics and Behavior
Ask yourself the following questions: Who are the members of your audience? What channels to do they use? How often do they engage with your content? As noted by Search Engine People, Google Analytics is an excellent base for measuring demographic and behavior metrics, including...
·         Demographics
·         Pageviews
·         Unique visitors
·         Average time on page
·         Bounce rate
You should track the progression of each metric over time, which will also allow you to get insights on which types of content resonate with your audience.
Social and Sharing
The most basic elements to monitor for social media content are the following:
·         Shares. Share counts indicate how much your audience thinks your content is valuable. Platforms such as Hootsuite enable you to track social shares, schedule posts, and find relevant followers.
·         Comments. Don't be too affected by negative comments (although you have to obviously address what might be causing them). The important thing is that your post evokes emotion. So whether it elicits disagreements or compliments, as is the case with publicity... any kind of comment is usually a good thing (unless it comes from a bot).
·         Follower growth. Because content marketing ROI progresses over time, follower growth rate is often more important than simply the number of followers. If you find that your followers increased during a period when you published more content, that's a good indicator of your content's effectiveness.
Those metrics give you an idea of which content pieces are being shared, who is sharing them, how they are being shared, and how often.
Lead Generation and Nurturing
Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) consist of those who have expressed interest in what you're selling by engaging with your content in some form (downloading e-books, consuming product demo videos, filling out contact forms, etc.).
Once you've identified your MQLs, you can then move on to measuring subcategories, such as...
·         MQLs per channel. This can give you a better idea of where to focus your content marketing efforts (e.g., email, paid social, and website materials).
·         Email open rates. Tools such as MailChimp and Pardot allow you to monitor email open rates. If you find that your open rates are low, you can make the copy more appealing, change the subject line, or adjust frequency.
·         Clickthrough rate (CTR). CTR shows whether your content captured your audience's attention and whether it was compelling enough that they positively responded to your CTA.
The Math
The simplest way to measure what really matters to businesses (revenue) is with this basic formula:

If the ratio is greater than one, your content was profitable from a sales perspective. The formula can be scaled for an entire campaign or for all content marketing activities.
But it's not always that simple. Depending on your parameters, it can also be tweaked to:

Example: ROI = ($5,000 worth of MQLs - $1,000 content production and distribution costs) / $1,000
You can measure various factors (traffic, conversions, brand awareness, etc.), which require attaching a dollar value to the respective element you want to measure. Determining your parameters from the onset allows you to focus on which ones to measure.
How Often Should You Should Measure Content Marketing ROI
Although measuring your content marketing ROI may be overwhelming at first, it is imperative to integrate the process within your company's or your team's routine.
According to Shopify, incorporating data into your company's routine can directly impact your team performance. So, if possible, have weekly checkups to identify your bottlenecks at the start of the week and prioritize your actions for the following days, and then have another checkup the following week to point out whether your numbers have improved.

Revenue is every company's ultimate goal, but there are other vital elements that may not be as easy to quantify financially. It's important to view content marketing as a long-term game.
Finding that you have a negative ROI at the onset of a campaign is natural. Trust the progress, and continually tweak your content as the data suggests, and you'll put yourself in a position to have an enduring and effective content marketing campaign.

The No-BS Formula for Customer Service That Doubles as Marketing

The No-BS Formula for Customer Service That Doubles as Marketing

Fellow marketing professionals, I have a quiz for you: What costs US companies $62 billion annually and fuels 99.9% of the angry, misspelled tweets you hate answering?
If you replied with "poor customer service," you win.
Digital technology was supposed to make customer service fast and seamless. Instead, it made service slow, impersonal, and dissatisfying. Still, by ensuring that you retain more customers than your competitors, your customer service can double as marketing.
First, let's better understand the problem.
Infinite Ways to Fail
There are endless ways to scare away a customer, but limited ways to keep one. Today, without much effort, you could make 20, 2,000, or 2 million of your customers disappear; it's much more likely, though, that you're losing customers one conversation at a time.
In the tech industry especially, people don't contact Customer Service because they're abounding in joy. Interactions usually begin with a frustrated, distressed, and stymied customer. When service leaders talk about "delighting" customers, I call BS—unless they plan to give away product.
More realistically, you're dealing with a human powder keg and trying to prevent it from igniting. Sometimes, people pre-ignite on social media, and there's nothing you can do other than damage control.
Modern conceptions of customer service are naïve and deny the inherent unpleasantness of solving a problem neither you nor the customer wanted; let's reframe the concept with a dose of reality.
Redefining the Craft of Service
Online and over the phone, a customer service interaction is an unwanted, unexpected dialog that occurs on a spectrum from severely disappointing to pretty good. Exceptions occur when a company does something unwarranted and extremely generous.
So, the goal is to retain frustrated customers because acquiring new customers can be 5-25 times more costly.
To achieve high retention levels, we need to name the challenges of remote service.
1. Time Inequality
When you imagine a service interaction in a department store, it probably illustrates time equality. You find a store staffer in a few seconds. Together, you return an ill-fitting shirt, make an exchange, or solve whatever other problem you may have. You both expend equal amounts of time.
Time inequality occurs when one party—the company's rep or the customer—spends more time on the problem than the other. In a good service interaction, the rep expends more time than the customer. Unfortunately, the opposite tends to happen online.
Let's say a customer spends 35 minutes reading knowledge base and forum articles in attempts at DIY troubleshooting. After finding no solution, she then spends another five minutes navigating a robotic call tree, then 10 minutes waiting on hold (all the while being told her call is very important and to remain on the line), and finally 10 minutes on the phone with a rep. That's an hour lost. Notice that your rep spent one-sixth of that time dealing with the problem.
Time inequality angers customers because they feel they've taken the brunt of a problem they didn't cause—all to save your company money.
Maybe that approach brings down the monthly cost of their subscription, but good luck making that case to an angry user.
2. Narrative Accumulation
Think of each service engagement as a story—not the kind people would ever want to hear... but, still, the kind that has characters, conflicts, a beginning, middle, and end, etc. There's an accumulation of narrative until there's a resolution.
In the physical world, the narratives accumulate in relationships. My car's "check engine" light switches on, so I visit the mechanic. He services the car and documents the repair work he completed. I pay for the service. If the "check engine" light comes back on, this mechanic and I have an established relationship; we each have a memory and documentation of what occurred, which enables us to take the next step without rehashing the narrative.
Narrative accumulation is less common with remote service. If my laptop breaks down and I call support, the rep will ask questions and try to solve the problem. If the problem persists and I call back, generally I must re-navigate the call tree, answer all the same questions, describe the problem and solutions we attempted, and then continue the narrative. If my warranty has expired, some companies will charge me $45 for the privilege of speaking to a rep: If they're trying to improve my warm and fuzzy feelings toward the company, that won't do it.
Narrative accumulation suffers online because, unlike the mechanic, the tech company has a multitude of reps in unknown locations who don't have a memory of what occurred or a record documenting it.
The lack of narrative accumulation drives customers nuts. It also contributes to time inequality by forcing customers to repeat stories in which they don't want to be a character in the first place.
3. Service Relativity
We established that the best a service interaction can be is "pretty good"—unless you give out free stuff or do something outrageously kind. Costco, for example, raised the bar by refunding the cost of a Christmas Tree that was returned because it died—in mid-January!
But how does a person distinguish "pretty good" from the spectrum of other experiences? By comparison.
Let's say you buy shoes from an e-commerce site, and they don't fit. You want to exchange them for the proper size. The timer has begun, the narrative is accumulating, and you somehow connect with Customer Service to make the exchange.
As you go through the experience, you'll make comparisons and imagine counterfactuals. Would it have been easier to buy shoes at a local store versus online? Had I ordered from Zappos, Amazon, or another popular shoe retailer, would the exchange have been quicker? Is this exchange free, or am paying for shipping? Can I trigger the exchange online, or must I call someone?
The shoe exchange prompts comparison with other shoe sellers—not with banks, health insurers, or other unrelated businesses. If you have a bad experience with a local business, you may have some alternatives depending on where you live. If you have a bad experience online, you have manyalternatives no more or less accessible than the company that failed you.
Back in 2010, one survey found that 82% of consumers had stopped doing business with a company because of bad service. That means they had and pursued alternatives (or didn't need what the company offered, after all).
Your company is interchangeable because barriers to change are no longer insurmountable; they're just a mouse click.
A Winning Formula
A company that offers better time inequality and narrative accumulation relative to its competitors creates better impressions, retains more customers, and therefore has an edge in marketing. The edge may come in the form of word-of-mouth, lowered acquisition costs, reputation, and other benefits that are harder to measure.
Naturally, you might ask, "What's the winning formula? How do I improve time inequality or narrative accumulation?"
Some of it's not rocket science. Invest in a good knowledge base. Automate common service requests. Use a record-keeping system and protocol for service interactions so that anyone can pick up the narrative.
However, I'd be remiss if I just tossed out googleable ideas knowing next to nothing about your company, its competitors, and the modes of service you rely on. How many "do-this" tips that you find on the Internet pan out for you? Most lack context, and most probably aren't backed by real experiences.
The "formula" lies hidden in your service data, in interviews with customers, in your competitor's social feeds, and in other places where you can find clues to the puzzle.
The concepts of time inequality, narrative accumulation, and service relativity apply to any industry. If you set out to optimize those variables, you'll find the means.