By implementing these four tactics (i.e., documented content mission statement, publishing original research, implementing influencer marketing, and writing guest posts for third-party sites), you can be in the top 1.28% of all organizations’ marketing teams. For the 72% of brands without a documented content mission statement, I hope they find the time to create one this year. Andy details three approaches to original research – the amount of time and effort grows with each one: Research via observation Andy received this question from a client: “Should we have a search box on our website – is that standard?” As Andy wasn’t aware of any standards, he used the question as the impetus for observation-based research. According to Andy, it’s to create content with the influencers. They’re in the content, after all! Anyone who creates content with you is very likely to help you promote that content. It gives you the opportunity to create inbound links to your website (e.g., links from your contributed post to relevant pages on your website). Andy highlights the case of Aaron Orendorff, a marketer who aims to get his content published on mainstream sites such as Mashable, Inc., and Entrepreneur: “Aaron very carefully researches a publication, lovingly writes a piece that fits beautifully into their editorial standards, cites research, includes contributor quotes, provides internal linking, and includes headlines.” Aaron’s pitch is quite simple: “I wrote this article for you. According to Andy, “It’s really rare in my experience for visitors who come to a blog to actually become a lead on a typical B2B website.” He shows this real-world example from a site’s Google Analytics: Of all the visitors to a blog post on this site, only 0.03% converted to a business lead. Start with the easiest tactic then move to the next: Documented content mission statement Guest blogging Influencer marketing Original research You should be able to come up with your site’s content mission in one to two weeks.
Let’s begin with some simple math:
0.28 x 0.47 x 0.15 x 0.65 = 0.0128
The answer, expressed as a percentage, is 1.28%. I know what you might be thinking: What happened to the content I’m used to reading here at Content Marketing Institute?
Let me explain.
Take the four numbers on the left side of the equation and turn them into percentages:
- 28% of brands have a documented content mission statement, according to annual research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
- 47% of companies published original research in the past 12 months, according to a report from Mantis Research.
- 15% of B2B brands implement influencer marketing via “consistent, integrated campaigns,” according to research from Traackr and Altimeter Group.
By implementing these four tactics (i.e., documented content mission statement, publishing original research, implementing influencer marketing, and writing guest posts for third-party sites), you can be in the top 1.28% of all organizations’ marketing teams.
That was the premise of Andy Crestodina’s Content Marketing World session, Content Strategy and SEO for B2B Lead Generation.
I’ll summarize Andy’s advice for each of the four tactics and connect the dots to tie them with B2B lead generation.
Documented content mission statement
A content marketing team without a documented content mission statement is like a nonprofit organization without a cause. For the 72% of brands without a documented content mission statement, I hope they find the time to create one this year.
It’s important. It’s also simple. Andy gives this excellent template:
“Our content is where (audience x) gets (information y) that offers (benefit z).”
In a single sentence, you capture:
For Andy’s company, Orbit Media, the content mission statement is: Our content is where digital marketers find practical advice on content, analytics, and web design to get better results from their websites.
- Target audience = digital marketers
- Key topics = content, analytics, and web design
- Benefit to readers = better results from their websites
A content mission statement helps two constituents: your target audience and your internal teams.
For your target audience, the mission statement is outward-facing. As Andy says, “The mission statement becomes an amazing call to action. Wherever you ask your visitors to engage with you and subscribe, you can use that to tell them what they’re subscribing for.”
That’s why Orbit Media features its content mission statement as the headline of its blog. It’s right above its email sign-up form:
The content mission statement indicates to visitors whether the site serves their goal – are they in the right place?
For your internal teams (i.e., everyone who plays a role in planning, publishing, and promoting your content), the mission statement is inward-facing. It gets everyone on the same page.
As the content team grows, the mission statement is a simple, yet effective onboarding vehicle. A content writer who joins an organization without a content mission statement immediately faces challenges and uncertainty.
A new content writer at an organization with a content mission statement starts on solid footing.
Andy references research performed by BuzzSumo and Moz on over 1 million articles. As BuzzSumo’s Steve Rayson writes, “We wanted to look at the correlation of shares and links, to understand the content that gets both shares and links, and to identify the formats that get relatively more shares or links.”
The research includes this sobering finding: “In a randomly selected sample of 100,000 posts, over 50% had two or less Facebook interactions (shares, likes or comments) and over 75% had zero external links.”
What type of content does well with shares and links? Original research.
As Steve writes, some specific content types have a strong positive correlation of shares and links – research-backed content and opinion-forming journalism. “We found these content formats achieve both higher shares and significantly more links,” he says.
As proof of the effectiveness of original research, Andy shows this screenshot from Orbit Media’s Google Analytics:
Articles featuring its original research received the most inbound links (i.e., other sites linking to those Orbit Media articles).
Andy details three approaches to original research – the amount of time and effort grows with each one:
Research via observation
Andy received this question from a client: “Should we have a search box on our website – is that standard?” As Andy wasn’t aware of any standards, he used the question as the impetus for observation-based research.
He downloaded a list of the top 50 marketing websites from alexa.com. Then, he listed 10 frequently used attributes or elements on websites and asked a virtual assistant to identify the inclusion of those potential “standards.”
Here’s the resulting article: Web Design Standards: 10 Best Practices on the Top 50 Websites. And the results for the article derived from observational research include:
- 126 links from other websites
- 118,000 readers
- 2 position in Google for a search on “web design standards,” ranking higher than the W3C (i.e., the World Wide Web Consortium).
Research via aggregation
Andy didn’t have first-party data to answer a question – how much money do marketers make – but he knew who did.
“Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com have a lot of data about this, right? Self-reported data on compensation for marketers. So I go to those two sites and I download their data,” Andy explains.
He presented the data by listing marketing job titles with their median salary. Eighteen months later, Andy analyzed a fresh set of data from the…