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Feeding the Content Journey [Video]

Michael Reynolds

Posted by Michael Reynolds on 12/16/15 9:30 AM

Companies are continuously struggling with content generation and some research provides that over 90% of content produced never actually helps in converting clients

Earlier this year at Inbound Marketing BarCamp, Douglas Karr gave a presentation titled Feeding the Content Journey. He discussed the science behind intent and motivating your audience to take the steps needed to convert. He provided all the information you need to research and produce a limitless quantity of high performing content that drives business results online.

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Doug Karr is the author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, Chief Blogger/Founder of the Marketing Technology Blog, CEO of DK New Media and an awesome public speaker.

This presentation is a must-watch for anyone who wants to get more out of their content.  Ready for more? Check out our guide How to Create Web Content That Converts.

Enjoy the video recording and the transcript below. Thanks Doug, for feeding our content engine with this video! 

Aron Carlo did a presentation one time where he asked what the ROI was on that couch in your company lobby, and I love that because people spend a lot. Who has a nice lobby for their company, anybody? Yeah, oh yeah? No, you're just helping. Foosball table? Okay, what's the ROI on that Foosball table? No, but his point was that everybody builds a website and builds content and everything else because this is the place that invites the most people into their business, right? Business always say, "What's the ROI on that? What's the ROI on developing content? What's the ROI on putting that out there? What's the ROI on the website?" His point was, do you ever ask what was the ROI on that couch in your lobby?

You still need that lobby, you still need those people there, and we have some problems in the content marketing industry. Only 23% of B to C markers right now are successfully tracking the ROI of their content marketing, and I think about half of them say that it is a problem right now to track their ROI. I want to talk a little about some of the problems with tracking ROI, and then help people with some of the solutions to help you guys think of great couches to put in your corporate lobby. Wow, you guys are quiet, come on. Cubby's fans? Okay, we got a few of those. They're not very loud, but that's okay.

The first thing I want to talk about is the myth of attribution. Everybody, you want to attribute leads. What's great about today is Jen talked early on about the big picture here, and this gets into the content picture and writing content. We talked about leads, so we talked about the other side. Chad talked about promotion, which is a key aspect of content. What I really want to focus on is the content and getting inside people's heads. Getting you to think of content a little bit different than you ever thought about before. A lot of people come to me and they say, "How many blog posts should I write per week to get X number of leads?" I have no idea, but they ask that question. Our point is when we're looking at clients and we're doing that rich analysis that Chad talked about, that everybody's talking about, is we basically look at it more as, if you're going to sell a set of encyclopedias, the world keeps moving right? The news keeps coming, everything's happening, but you still have to finish writing that book series.

You have to finish getting something out there for people to buy, and that's the same thing with content. I want you to look at your content differently, and instead of saying, "What kind of content production are we doing per week, or per month, or per year," and I want you to look at it differently and say, "Of the audiences that are coming to our site, what is the content landscape that we need to create to basically attract them, to build authority with them, and have them trust us enough to do business with us?" I want you to take the opposite. I don't' want you to build a content calendar that does keyword research and says, "Here's the 10 things that we're going to write about this week." I really want you to go home after doing this, probably not tonight, but I want you to go back to the office and start to picture what is the landscape of content that we need on our site? What's the content that's attracting people, what's the content that's converting people?

Create Web Content That Converts

I talk about the myth of attribution. Does everybody know what this is, anybody? Geeks, we got some geeks in the room. It's Amazon Echo. If you don't have one, please go buy one. It's ridiculous. You talk to it and you tell it to set reminders and play music and everything else. Ours is named Alexa, which is one name. The other one is Amazon, but I can't say, "Hey Amazon," I just think that's kind of weird. Mark Shaffer, who Chad also mentioned, Mark Shaffer talked one time on Facebook about he talks to his Amazon Echo. He says that he talks to it like it's a person in the room, and he really feels weird that he does it. Well Mark is not a technologist, he's not a gadget guy. He's not the first guy to go to market and buy the first of anything, so I was kind of intrigued by that. I am a gadget guy, I love technology, so I was like, "Well I've got to go check out this Amazon Echo if he's actually talking to it. I've got to see how this works."

What did I do? I did a search for it, I found some videos. Of course I found the Amazon page, I found some user videos that were pretty funny on YouTube. I read the testimonials, I read some reviews by some of the major sites. My daughter needed to buy a parking pass, so I figured I wouldn't buy the Amazon Echo and she'd be out of parking at IUPOI even though she can't find parking IUPOI. Any IUPOI-ers in the room? Yeah? Parking's fun isn't it? Yeah. I said, "You know what? I'm going to put this off, I'm going to pay for her parking, and then I'll get myself a present in a couple weeks." We got the Amazon Echo, bought it, it's wonderful. I think I bought it based off of I saw an add, and so I clicked on that add and I bought it.

If I ask myself, "What do I attribute that lead to?" Do I attribute it to social media where Mark Shaffer caught my interest? Do I attribute it to the Amazon page that had a ton of technology information, and had the product videos, and specs, and everything else? Was it that? Was it the YouTube videos that turned me over and said, "Oh my God, I've got to buy this thing?" Or was it the remarketing ad that weeks later, when I had the cash and I wanted to buy it I went and bought it? Which one made me decide to purchase the Amazon Echo? Anybody want to guess? Because if you know, you know more than I do. I have no idea what the event was that turned me over to that. This is what Jen was talking about with the 800 customer journeys, is my journey bounced all over the place and it bounced everywhere, but content was a foundation of it, right? Social media was a foundation of it, the articles, the videos, the testimonials, the reviews, those were all a foundation of it.

They had a landscape of content out there that I was interested in that I eventually purchased from. This is the actual Cisco research where they've talked about the pre-Amazon era, the Omni-Channel eCommerce era, and then they start talking about the internet of everything era. They start showing that everybody is doing this. Everybody is bouncing around. We think of these customer funnels as these cute, neat, little things. We build them in marketing automation systems, we set personas, we set the delay two weeks because that's the average time and all this, but the fact is that everybody in this room is motivated by different things, and different pieces of content, different styles, different authors, different mediums, to actually make a purchase. Our job as content marketers are to make sure that we have that landscape out there for people to look at. Your customer is different than you.

I did a presentation that this was founded on that was called, "Your site sucks exactly the way that you wanted it to." This is what we go through every single time, is our clients tell us and we do it ourselves, right? I built my site the way that I'm proud of my site. Does that attract my audience? Maybe, maybe not, and so we have to do this self-analysis where we stop thinking about what our value is to our audience, and start thinking about what they perceive the value to be, and start going in that direction. Your customers are complex.

I want to talk first about the five dimensions: cognition, how are people perceiving content and retaining it? Visual content, audible content, kinesthetic content, so interactive content. You'll notice that if you're in the podcasting era, podcasts are exploding right now in popularity. Part of it is because we all have mobile devices that we can plug into our car, and we can listen like we do Netflix. We can listen to a whole series of podcasts over and over again, and I think it's 2016 apps are going to become standard in a lot of cars. You're going to have podcast apps and RSS apps to be able to digest the content that you want on your drive to work. Podcasts is becoming enormous. It's exploding in popularity, so audible, and audible is important. You guys see me, you hear me, you understand my sincerity. That's a lot different. Is there anybody in the room that read my blog that never met me before? I'm a lot bigger in person, aren't I?

My point is that my writing isn't really me, right? It's how I write, it's how I craft the message that I think is going to be perceived by my audience, but until you actually hear me talk about this stuff, until you've seen me on video, until those things, you don't really grasp me. You don't really understand me. Maybe you don't trust me, and so these visual cues and audible cues are so important. A lot more of our clients were building kinesthetic sites, we're building interactive sites. We're putting calculators in their sites, we're doing stories where they start with text and continue to video, and then we work them through a story so that they can get that perception and get that story to them.

Sharing, we encourage sharing. We write content that encourages sharing. Chad talked about Sharing. We think it's absolutely critical. Mark Shaffer thinks it's the foundation of how you should rate your content is how much it's shared. Well we'll be in trouble then, right? A lot of our stuff isn't shared as much as we'd like it to be, but sharing is what introduces us to those new audiences and relevant audiences because people see value, they want to share it with their network, on and on.

Persuasion. We have six characteristics of effective persuasion that we're going to talk about, and then decision making. How do people make decisions to purchase? Then we have life factors. Believe it or not, we have a life outside of the products that we purchase. Every company thinks that it's the center of the universe, and their customers are all out here. The reality is it's just the opposite, right? The customer's here, and you're one of a million things going on in their life. We don't pay attention to that a lot in our content.

Cognition, I talked about visual, articles, info graphics, video, they're absolutely imperative. Audible, podcast, and video, kinesthetic, interactive digital experiences. When we're creating content that we want to be shared, we want to provide value and educational content to others. We want to help people identify themselves. If I want to be identified as a leader in the marketing industry, in the marketing tech industry, I share thought leadership pieces that other people write because I want to show my audience that that's how I want to identify myself. When you write great pieces out there that people share, that's what you're doing. You as the sharer are creating this image of who you want to be, what your persona is going to be online, and then of course it's a relevant audience down the road.

Network. We want to grow and nourish our relationships, right? We share content because we want it to take off, we want people to see it. We want people to recognize us, we want people to connect with us because we have similar interests in similar industries. Involvement, of course self-fulfillment, value, involvement in the world, causes. Spreading the word on causes is a huge one. You saw Cecil the lion, right? Eight billion people tweeted about Cecil the lion. Two of them gave to the charity of the day before. Sorry, off color jokes there.

Persuasion. Why do people continue down that conversion funnel? Why are they taking that next step with you? There's different reasons why people are motivated to do that. One is liking you, "I want to work with these people." Scarcity, time's running out. Coupons, deadlines, things like that where we make it a sense of urgency to take that next step. Reciprocity, if I do this, they'll do that. I invite people on my podcast because I know that they'll promote the podcast to their audience. Chad talked about that a ton with influencer marketing. It works, it's great.

Consistency. I'm fearful, right? How many of your clients or you guys just don't want to move, please stop, this world is changing too quick. I just want consistency. If you can persuade someone that it's not going to be this huge life shift and this stressful engagement for them to switch to your software or buy your product, that sense of consistency can actually persuade them to purchase from you.

Consensus. Hey, my network uses it, I use it. How many times do we see that? Mac users hang out with Mac users. People that use Paypal hang out with people that use Paypal. I'm on an invoicing system called Fresh Books. I think a lot of people in the room are. Why? Well, because my network was using it. I was getting invoices by it and it was pretty cool, that's why I used it. It's not because I don't like Intuit, it has nothing to do with that. It was just my networks using it.

Then of course authority. A leader recommended it. Someone that you look up to as a leader recommended it, and so that persuaded you to make a change. Then we have the actual decision making process of, "I purchased because I trusted them." This is the biggest. There's a guy, Doug These, here in town, that he used to say that his job was to not get IT people fired. He sold IT services, and backups, and everything else, and so his job was that they had to trust him enough to put their budget in his hands so that they didn't get fired.

Efficiency. I purchased it because it'll make my life easier. Emotion. I purchased it because I liked it. It's why I bought my car. Factors. These are these life factors that we're talking about. It'll help my company. This is the one that we always focus on with B to B. We write everything about how it's going to help the company. Well why don't we write about how it's going to help the person? If you're talking to a CMO or something like that, and that person wants to get qualified with a certain software or something like that, let's say Help Spot. Help Spot certification is a huge deal in the industry. Well of course it's advantageous for them to talk about what kind of demand is out there for people that are Hub Spot certified. That's a reason personally for someone to switch to that software, but they don't talk about that a lot. They talk about, "Your company is going to make this much money, or have this click through rate," or everything else.

Friends. It helped my friends, it's going to help me. Then family, it's going to help my family. We talked about it in B to B. A lot of people don't like buying these mammoth B to B platforms. Why? Because they're already working 60 hours a week, and now you're going to add implementation on top of that. They're thinking about whether they're going to make it to their kid's soccer team. They could give a crap about the ROI of the company, right? These are things that we need to talk about in our content in order to make it persuasive.

Google talks about moments, and this is really good. When you think about how everybody's bouncing from place to place to place in that content journey, there are moments. There are distinct moments. There are, "I want to know, so I want to do research. I want to go, so I want to find something." Mobile search, Google maps, "I want to do something." There's things like, "I want to create." I'm not a creative guy, so I don't know, but, "I want to knit doilies." What do I do? I go to YouTube and I watch a video on how to knit doilies. This is on video too, that's great. I want to buy, right? "I want to buy" is the big one. "I want to buy it now. Is there a way for me to buy it now? Is there a way for me to close it now?" I'm surprised at the number of companies that don't have a way to close, where you have to call and you have to talk to the sales guy. You're like, "Yeah yeah yeah, saw the demo, yep, yep, yep. Let me go, I want to sign! Send it over, let's go!"

Your job as a content producer is really looking at this huge, this is a sound board, and really looking at that content landscape, and then listening for what to raise and what to lower, right? If video's working, oh my gosh, video's working. We're converting more, that's good. Let's invest more there. If articles are working, if white papers are working, if info graphics are working, what are the topics that people are working on? Is it local? Is it branded? Is it topical? Is it industry? Is it thought leader? These are the kinds of things that you need to balance out there.

Six steps to implement this is first, consolidate. Start looking at your site, and start looking at all the content that's spread out on very specific topics, and start consolidating that content into rich silos of information that are easily digestible for people. This is a big problem that we see. We had a client in town that had 17 million pages, 90% of which was not looked at ever. Why? Why don't we cut that down to 100,000 pages of beautiful articles that are in-depth, that have videos, and audio, and diagrams, and info graphics, and everything else. Shorten the site. Make it nice and thick for people, and meaty for people. Chad said it: if you're doing the right job, SEO will follow. That's absolutely the truth.

Categorize and classify. Map your content. Start to look at those topics, and start to look at what is going to go together, or what's that hierarchy going to look like? What's that taxonomy going to look like? This is where we do a lot of upfront work for our clients, is we are really looking at what is the array of content that we're going to write? It's for the audience, it's not for us. If we're selling one product we can't sit there and write post after post after post for one product. We're looking at our audience and saying, "What's going on in their lives?" If it's sales related, what are all the different things that are sales related? Hey, Monster Connects is in the house, so Brad's over there. Brad works for Monster Connects. They basically have an automation system that allows sales people to just pick up the phone and talk to somebody instead of phone dialing, sitting on hold, going through all this stuff.

We could talk about phone trees all day long, right? It's not going to attract anybody. If we're talking more on the sales side of the equation, where we're talking about what are the performance metrics that your team is working on right now? What are the tough things to implement with technology when it comes to sales? Where are people's time getting lost on your team? Well now we're talking to the sales director that makes the decision on purchase. He gets to know this company, he says, "They really know my industry. I trust them. I'm going to work with them." It's absolutely critical.

We re-purpose content. We re-purpose content constantly for our clients. We'll write an array of blog posts, two of them will stick out and get a ton of traffic and attention and sharing, and we go, "Okay, it's time to dive deeper. We're going to go do info graphics now, we're going to go do a white paper, we're going to go do primary research, we're going to do a video, maybe an explainer video." We're going to take this and kill it, because somebody said they're interested out there. If there's interest out there, we want to go deeper with it.

We want to create synergy. Jen talked about that. We want to align all of our channels. You would be surprised at the amount of large companies that the PR team does not talk to the content team, that doesn't talk to the SEO team, that doesn't talk to the social team. It's incredible. You have to align it. If you have a piece of content going out there, you need everybody to massively move in a direction to promote that content. If nobody's reading your stuff, it's not worth it. J. Baird did a stat. He said that the average blog post costs about $900 to a company. They don't realize it, because they think, "Well this person's getting paid $15, $20 bucks an hour, and it took them an hour to write the post, it's $20." No. It was a full time position with benefits. You paid for the website, you paid for the branding, you paid for all of this infrastructure. It's costing you $900 to put that out there, and anybody want to guess how much content actually gets read on a blog, on a given company blog? It's about 30%.

60% of the $900 per post content is never even seen. Why are you doing it? Why not instead work on a $900 blog post. Go do some research, go grab some stuff, go do a video, go do whatever. Put it together. Measure your performance. Absolutely measure your performance, and then the biggest part, have a call to action. If I go to your site right now and I read one of your great articles that you've written, is there something giving me a selection of things to do next to engage with your company?

I can't tell you how many times I land on someone's site, they have 800 blog posts and there's no call to action. There's nothing. I have to go to "Contact Us," fill in the form, do the captcha four times. It's crazy, so call to action, and call to action meaning have a "click to call" button for someone that's on a mobile device. Let someone call your sales team right then and there. Have call to actions that say, "Here's our resource library." Have call to actions that say, "Here's the next webinar that we have coming up, our next event coming up," all of these things. Give people a variety, because those 800 customer journeys, not everybody's going to click to call. Someone's going to do the captcha eight times.

That's it. Did I make it? I did, woo hoo. Oh my God. Contact info, your call to action is text marketing to 71813 on your mobile devices, and that will go ahead and subscribe you to our newsletter. Huh, how's that? Huh, how's that? Then sign up for our newsletter please. If you don't sign up mobile, just go to our site. You will find tidbits of information on there on everything, so thank you. Any questions? Do we have questions, or are we out of time?

Speaker 2: Are there a couple questions? [inaudible 00:23:55]

Doug: The first one should be, "Doug, why are you wearing a sweater?"

Speaker 2: We have a question over here.

Doug: Yes?

Speaker 3: Do you put offers on your blogs?

Doug: We do.

Speaker 3: What happens when an employee leaves the company? Do you re-write the blog?

Doug: We do not. If an employee leaves the employee leaves, but we let it stand. I think it's a problem that some companies now believe that, "Well we need to own this content. We don't want to make a star out of our employee and have our employee leave." Well that kind of company, your employee is going to leave, right? Let's think about it. Let your employees be stars, let them own it. You are taking and you're renting that person's brain. Absolutely promote them as a thought leader in your space and keep them out there. Then when they became famous, I love the Kevin Spacey commercials that are out right now for investment. You think Kevin Spacey would be doing an investment commercial now? No, he did it 10 years ago when he needed the money. Now everybody's watching his video. They're using it now. I say put your employees out there. If your employee leaves that's fine. It was still their voice, it was still them, keep it there. You're not going to look bad as a company. Average job is two years now, or something? I'm unemployable so I don't know. 

Topics: marketing, video, content

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