Your Mid-term Content Marketing Review

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2016 Reports 69% of B2C and 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content this year than last year. The fight for customer attention, spend and loyalty is more intense and now is a great time to review and act on how you have fared so far.

On the one hand there is research to suggest that more marketers have a documented content strategy, and no doubt eyebrows have been raised about the standard of quality content production and distribution. On the other hand it seems to me that many marketers and business leaders are still struggling with the organisational and content marketing issues of yesteryear, and are finding it very difficult to gain the desired traction in their content marketing efforts.

As a daily content surfer across blogs, websites and social media channels I still see a significant slant towards the quantity over quality content approach as well as dozens of link bait articles likely to hurt bounce and conversion rates not to mention search rankings.

Having analysed various companies efforts I dig deeper I find a lot of wasted content potential that is not advancing search (keywords, SEO, PPC ) tactics and conversions as much as it really could, as well as consistency and integration issues across the offline and online marketing channels.

Yes we are up against it. Content marketing is still an emerging philosophy with inherent challenges constantly under tactical development, particularly when it comes to measurement. However there are many instances where we as marketers need to shoulder some responsibility for marketing that is poorly aligned to business goals, and content marketing efforts that are failing for lack of an understanding and relationship with the sales funnel and customer journeys.

Are these the signs of resource or capability issues? Is there outsourcing issues that need to be collaboratively addressed? What internal working issues hold you back? Have stakeholder relationships not been correctly analysed and managed?

Now is a good time to assess the root causes and make the achievable adjustments/ changes needed to enhance your performance for this year and identify some of the learning’s to develop next years plan. So the following is a range of considerations that will help you review and improve your content marketing efforts.

Analyse your Content Marketing performance

Mistakenly assumed to be a straightforward task the challenge is to establish credible answers to the most important questions. How is our content advancing your strategic and organisational goals? Are you performing better than last year? How do you fare against your competitors? How can we improve?

Remind yourself – What is Content Marketing?

Whilst sales is one of the goals and there is an emergence of content used in the social selling process it is important to remind ourselves that it is not a tactic best led by sales goals. The core purpose is to start conversations with customers and prospects, focusing on all stages of the buying process and multiple personas, from brand awareness through purchase and loyalty to brand evangelism.

Marketing giant, Marketo recently reminded us of 6 good rules of execution to follow subject to my edit below:

  1. It’s not promotional
  2. It is relevant and contextual – be useful
  3. Answer a business question, solve a pain point or entertain – to build the trust and reliability useful to lead nurturing or engage an emotional response
  4. Ensue it’s well written
  5. Be relevant to your company objectives
  6. It gives proof – e.g. research, quotes, testimonials, actual metrics, stats

Why do I need a Content Marketing Strategy?

Without a content marketing strategy in place there would be no road map to produce goal focused content that engages in an integrated and measurable way.

Your strategy sets the focus for your creativity and innovation processes that lead to producing a highly effective portfolio of paid, owed and earned content. It is also is the impetus for collaboration and marketing integration across your business functions and roles to improve marketing in and consistent, effective and efficient way.

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, quality content should underpin all forms of your offline and/or online marketing.

Overview: The 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy

A diagram of the 7 pillars of content marketing
I wrote recently about the 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy which explains top topic and structure in greater details and provides tips to excel but an overview is as follows:

  • Plan for Purpose – Your clearly defined objectives and business goals for content e.g. brand awareness, lead conversion, customer loyalty/retention, build email subscribers
  • Audiences – The details about your target segments / personas
  • People – Assimilating the key people and planning the tasks, responsibilities and procedures for everyone in the content process
  • Storyline and Principles – The brand story and propositions for the campaign including style guides, tone, design
  • Platforms – Decisions about where you will source, create, publish and amplify content
  • Processes – Outlining the series of repeatable actions for each piece of content
  • Performance – Specifying the budget, benchmarks and measurement KPI’s and metrics for control and monitoring success that matters

For more description, guidance and tips please read the article…

 Schedule a Content Audit

If you haven’t done one already perhaps it will be a good time to schedule a content audit to appraise and adjust content in terms of position, links, search value, accuracy, consistency and relevancy.

The overarching issue is whether each item within your content inventory is relevant to both your customers’ needs and your needs. An audit will help you clearly understand where you are, where you are going and identify and gaps for consideration.

During the process it is also beneficial to refresh content because as an ongoing concern out of date content is annoying and bad for business.

It is well worth investing time out at least mid-way through implementation season to consider these key factors and take necessary action. For some the process will validate much of an already successful year, highlight the need for a few pats on the back and spur on greater performance. For others I hope that it serves at as the catalyst to boosting your performance beyond your targets.

About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn 

Making Big Data a Little Smaller

Big data continues to provide exciting opportunities for small, medium and large businesses to optimise business spending and become more customer-centric. Many marketers and business leaders are already using data, but there are increasing pressures to go beyond the use of mere intuition and increase the use of data backed decision making across the business.

The key issue for marketers is about how clever we can get with the data. Big data means nothing if we cannot turn it in something of value such as unique actionable insights, optimized processes, fuel for personalisation, more responsive marketing and improved customer experiences.

Once the ‘right’ types of data is flowing in to your organisation people still have to make the connections to derive value. It is how you turn the data in to market intelligence and that intelligence in to actionable insights that really matters. But many marketers can get overwhelmed by the volume, velocity, variety and veracity of data to the point of temporary paralysis and the ineffective use of data.

8 Tips That Make Big Data a Little Smaller

  1. Don’t collect data for data sake it will only get in the way

Make sure you are only collecting data that is relevant to achieving the business mission, long-term and short-term objectives. Plan ahead and consider scenarios to establish the parameters for data collection

  1. Become familiar with the internal and external data already being collected

Look across your organization and understand the types of data that is already being collected, what types of data can be used, where it is stored and whether it is already being converted in to usable intelligence such as news and reports

  1. Be clear and solely focus on the issue(s) you are trying to understand

Let the specific problem, trend, behaviors, or need be the guide instead of the data which could take you off the beaten track and lead to the perils of unnecessary data overload

  1. Proceed with questions

Start by asking a simple question: what are you trying to figure out? For example, you may want to know how customers move through your sales funnel. Do they call first? Do they visit your website, then call? Where do customers originate from online? Let the data answer the who, what, where, when, why and how

  1. Deconstruct the issue and start the solution with… why?

A good way to develop insights in to the root causes of particular issues so that you can develop creative solutions is to use Sakichi Toyoda’s simple 5 Whys technique. When an issue arises, simply keep asking the question “why” no fewer than 5 times and on each occasion look for answers that are grounded in fact and supported by data. Continue until you reach the underlying source of the problem, and until a robust counter-measure becomes clear

  1. Consolidate, integrate and evaluate

It should be the goal for your IT infrastructure to support the growth of big data alongside analytic tools to analyse enormous, varied and rapidly changing datasets in a consolidated and integrated way.  The technology will quickly aid analysis but it is for marketers / business leaders and their team(s) to earn their crust by interpreting and evaluating data in ways that extract the real value

  1. Overlaying data to tighten things up

It is common for broad data sets to still be used in other areas of the business and via external advertising agencies. To improve returns on investment and increase marketing effectiveness it is important to share your insights both internally and externally. For client-side marketers working with advertising and creative agencies it is a relationship best viewed as a collaborative partnership to deliver your business objectives. A great way to align the specialist resources, capabilities and efforts of the agency with your business objectives is to overlay their broader data sets with your hard-earned insights to inform the brief, execution and ongoing development of your campaigns.

  1. Communicate and collaborate to activate creative solutions

Share relevant market intelligence; invite feedback and solutions internally as part of the ongoing knowledge management process. Sweetspot insights and creative ideas can come from anywhere inside and outside of the room so just fuel the fire and help it burn


About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn 

Implementing Multichannel Marketing & Inspiring Collaborative Change


Shoppers do not shop exclusively ‘online’ or ‘offline’ they shop on a ‘best fit’ basis influenced by a range of one and two-way communications across multiple channels. Multichannel marketing strategy is not merely about extending the communications and commerce pipeline to our target customers. When combined with technology it is also the means by which we can understand the complexity of modern day shopping habits so that we can optimise our marketing activity for future business growth. To do that, we need to increasingly understand the value of each channel at an individual and combined level.

Such a shift does have an impact on the internal structure and operations of your business. The very best results come from well-managed transitions that inspire positive and collaborative changes within your marketing team and horizontally across the business, particularly with the sales team(s) which can be very challenging but ultimately very rewarding.

Attribution Modelling Can Impact Assigned Marketing Budgets

Attribution modelling is about understanding what specific marketing tactics led to the conversion or sale. In today’s multichannel B2B and B2C landscape, where consumers engage with brands on a range of platforms and across multiple devices within a single purchasing journey, the single (last) touch attribution model presents an incomplete picture of marketing ROI.

We as marketers need to know what is working and measuring revenue growth, ROI and conversion rates is one thing but proving the marketing impact on business results to upper management and other business functions is entirely another. This is where successful attribution modelling really helps to increase credibility and secure the necessary budget.

Marketers that will excel both today and tomorrow are those that equip themselves with right tools to measure the impact of marketing spend in each channel at every stage of the customer journey more accurately so that they can optimise and scale up or down their per-channel spending accordingly.

Whilst attribution modelling does continue to have its challenges, rapid developments in technologies are continuing to turn this pipe dream in to a reality. Take the increasing ability to add tracking capabilities to offline channels in ways that digitally infuse offline journeys for instance.

Top Tips

  1. Test technologies to develop the right mix for you. This is one part of the puzzle, increased collaboration and effective communication pipelines to tackle attribution is the other
  2. Develop an understanding of how marketing is affecting the sales funnel to increase revenue and/or brand value. You will be able to devise influential marketing projections alongside your marketing budgets for your plans and campaigns. It helps shift the perception of marketing from being viewed as a cost center to a revenue and/or brand development machine


From Old Silo Marketing Habits to Collaborative Marketing

image3From experience I have found that silo marketing habits among agency, retail, leisure and professional services sector marketing teams are increasingly presenting barriers to successfully implementing multichannel marketing strategy, particularly when monitoring marketing performance. Silo working habits have inherent fractures that hinder your ability to fully leverage your collective marketing team and business strengths. Project by project collaboration is great but we need more of it, we need it to become the norm and doing that poses issues that generally fall in to two categories.

The first are the management issues relating to your organisations structure and culture. For such a strategy to flourish leaders should endeavour to have the right structures, processes, people and technology in place at a team and organisational level to support collaborative working.

The second is the ability of managers to adopt a leadership style that motivates colleagues, and facilitates effective communication and collaboration among team members and other cross functional business units.

Top Tips

  1. Audit your current position and plan for improvement
  2. Utilize team and 1-2-1 meetings to reinforce the need to make ‘the customer’ or ‘the brand’ united focus of all activity. Continue to unite, inform and excite the team around the company mission, clear SMART objectives, and align their values with the corporate and brand values
  3. Work towards developing or recruiting ‘generalist’ marketers to be the glue that helps bind together the specialist roles that may exist within silos of your marketing team
  4. Avoid just managing from the balcony and make time to get on the dance floor – Make time to interact with the team / colleagues in order to relate to them at a more personal level. Today’s workforce has motivations beyond pay such as doing ‘meaningful’ work, recognition, development opportunities and social involvement with the team beyond work


With Change Comes The Opportunity… To Make POSITIVE Change

image4Getting the best results out of a multichannel marketing strategy may need some changes to be made within the team and beyond it which at the implementation and controls end of your marketing strategy can be quite tricky. But it is always important for us to remember at this point is to remember that we are embarking on a process to bring about positive changes in line with our objectives.

The process provides endless opportunities but to highlight a few:

  • Modifying the structure of the marketing team – develop more agile, innovative, influential and integrated marketing teams that can champion the customer and brand across internal departments
  • Highly influential and predictable multichannel marketing data to inform decision-making
  • Increasing sales and marketing collaboration projects and campaigns that increases profitability
  • Letting the numbers, not hunches or intuition, drive your business decisions. Leading with intelligent data will drive you to the top of your profession.

Top Tips

  1. Find ways to involve management and staff members early in the marketing process with opportunity for input and feedback that informs and encourages wider ‘buy in’ and ownership of marketing strategy and tactical planning.
  2. Encourage collaboration and open communications on an ongoing basis for planning, projects, campaigns and news via IT. Apps and software such as Evernote, Trello, CRM systems, instant messaging and such are very good enablers.
  3. Consultative or persuasive leadership styles are better breeding grounds for effective 2 way communication and collaboration.

We shouldn’t fear change because change brings opportunities and standing still passes opportunity by.

About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaign strategy and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn 


The 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy

Simply put, without a content marketing strategy in place there would be no road map that outlines your plans to advance your organisational goals supported by metrics or milestones, in a clearly aligned and integrated way.

There are two crucial factors to bear in mind about your content strategy. The first is to view it as a framework that sets the focus for creativity and innovation processes that produce a highly effective portfolio of paid, owed and earned content. The second is that content strategy is an integrated marketing philosophy closely linked with the sales funnel, search marketing via keywords, and social media although it should ideally come before social media strategy and ultimately help shape it.

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, quality content should underpin all forms of your offline and/or online marketing.

 How to devise a content marketing strategy


A diagram of the 7 pillars of content marketing

Plan for Purpose
– Specifying the smart strategic objectives and the goals. Have clearly defined business goals with content that are the overarching reason every piece of content exists.


  • Include a content marketing mission statement to provide better focus for tactics
  • Aim to conquer the 3 prongs of content marketing – Socialise, Publicise AND Optimise
  • The strategy should be a framework that ignites creativity and innovation so avoid it being too prescriptive and limiting
  • Be familiar with the types of content marketing goals:

Common Content Marketing Goals

– Includes the overview of the current intelligence about your target segments or personas and positioning. Continue to develop your target personas and communicate intelligence to your people.


  • Develop personas to target – Two simple ways to do this are
    • For B2C – As a starting point is use Google Analytics to find out details like age, gender, and understand journeys through your website via clicks and times on site
    • For B2B – Use at least one of the following in order of popularity according to Content Marketing Institute B2B research: Industry trends; the profiles of individual decision makers; company characteristics; stage in the buying cycle
  • Resources permitting, look for synergies between your online personas and offline personas for a more holistic view

People – The details of the tasks, timescales, responsibilities and procedures for everyone in the content process including cross-functional colleagues and external partners.


  • Consider the role of third-party content e.g user generated content, guest blogs etc towards the bigger picture
  • Influential and collaborative leadership skills are best suited towards managing external partnership relationships including influencer marketing. Analyse whether their goals, resources and capabilities are the right fit and a collaborative partnership can flourish. For more guidance perhaps read ‘Better stakeholder management’

Storyline and Principles – The brand storyline for the campaign(s) and the fundamental propositions that are the foundations for conversations including style guides, tone and design guidance.


  • Before doing content marketing identify your unique brand story and values. To do so use the ‘who, what, were, why, when and how’ technique or the ‘5 Whys’ technique
  • You want to provide a framework to create kick ass content that adds value, solves a pain point or entertains whilst infusing it with your brand story to develop unique content propositions
  • Don’t limit your brand. Your content can go beyond what you sell to what your target audience loves and shares such as the case of Red Bull’s content focuses on extreme sports

Channels – The decisions in light of your plan and audience(s) as to where you will source, create, publish and amplify content


  • Plan the journey and tailor to the channels – Consider ‘who’ are our targets segments (personas), ‘what’ content resonates best ‘ and where’ best to find them
  • Stress the need to select keywords that align with your goals for website and content strategy
  • Integrate with offline content – utilize mind maps to help develop strategy with a structure that assists information architecture

Processes – Highlighting a series of actions to repeat with each piece of content, including set of criteria for sign-off.


  • Provide scope for real-time marketing (RTM) or reactive marketing (near-time) including integrating your crisis communications protocols that deal with negative PR and trolls
  • For outsourcing content creation aim to write outstanding ‘on brand’ and to objective content briefs
  • Set realistic timelines for content production and distribution
  • Use technology to collaborate around content ideas and processes. For instance, I use apps like Trello and Evernote that operate and synchronise across desktop and mobile devices

Performance Measurement – Specifying the budget, benchmarks and measurement. This is not just ROI, shares and likes, but must be related back to purpose.


  • Devise a good hierarchy of organisational goals from top line KPI’s through to headline content success metrics and then lower level content optimization metrics
  • For ROI measurement work towards arriving at a point where you can calculate your costs across – Planning, Ideation, Production, Distribution, Measurement. Use a consolidated set of analytic tools and invest the time ahead of every campaign to set up tagging, grouping and tracking which will pay dividends for more accurate real-time / near-time tracking of your content marketing ROI

With these tips hopefully you will be on your way to creating or adjusting your content marketing strategy and producing better results. Be sure to add any further tips and best practices that work for you in the comments below.

About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn