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communications consulting | Brand Content Studios
Gen Z


  • Gen Z is wide open to Influencer Marketing, if you avoid the pitfalls.
  • Spotify is allowing 3rd parties into its podcasting library.
  • We’re spending a lot on website content. Is it being seen?
  • Content Marketing has something big to learn from local journalism’s struggles.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of March 24, 2020.


Influencer Marketing to Gen Z

First I’ll give you all kinds of medical advice on how to deal with the big virus. No I’m not going to do that, because I’m not a health expert so you shouldn’t listen to me or anyone else who’s not a health expert or who at least knows what’s going on. That’s the only advice I can give you. But maybe you can influence someone to wash their hands, and according to Kantar, it’s Gen Z that’s most likely to pay attention to influencers. Robert Williams reports on mobile marketer that 44% of them bought something after it was recommended by a social influencer. Only 26% of the general population did that. 70% follow at least one influencer, and they’re a lot more open-minded about who those influencers can be. They don’t care about race or ethnicity, which bodes well for us eventually reaching a Star Trek future where none of that matters. And in terms of how many social platforms they use, it’s a virtual appapalooza out there. 39% have more than 4, compared to 15% of the general population who load up on that many. The top ones for Gen Z are, believe it or not, still Facebook at 62% (gotta use it so mom and grandma can get a sanitized version of what’s going on with them). Next is Instagram at 55%, YouTube at 54% and Snapchat at 52%, so really they’re all kinda bunched up there close together after Facebook. If you think you’re going to reach Gen Z with TV and print, think again. They’re on their phones, for just about everything. That’s why spending on influencer marketing to reach them on those phones is estimated to hit $15B by 2022 according to Business Insider Intelligence. But while Facebook is king, it’s actually Instagram most brands are using to execute on influencer marketing. Influencer Marketing Hub says almost 80% of brands use Instagram most frequently for that. LinkedIn brings up the rear at 12%. But go into that with eyes wide open. There’s so much sponsored content there now that InfluencerDB reported last year engagement rates for Instagram influencer content were around all-time lows. Plus the FTC is watching much closer for misleading advertising. What? Who would ever make advertising that’s misleading? I’m clutching my pearls in shock.


Spotify Lets Podcast Developers in the Door

Spotify podcast news! You know they’ve got a bunch of podcasts that are exclusive to them, and they’re going to stay exclusive. That’s not the news. That would be pretty lame. What they are doing is rolling out a new version of its Podcast API so 3rd party apps can access its catalog. Those 3rd parties can then manage someone’s podcast library, search the catalog and get info on shows and episodes. Might not sound like much but it’s the first time they’ve allowed anyone to go poking around in their library. The idea is to get more developers familiarizing with Spotify as it grows its podcast user base. You know a podcast used to mean audio available on the web using the open format RSS. Apple still treats it that way. But Spotify defines “podcast” as any audio program presented in an episodic format. That includes podcasts behind paywalls. Remember, it bought some startups that help people create and manage podcasts and podcast networks like The Ringer, Gimlet and Parcast. Well that worked. Podcast listening on Spotify jumped 200% last year. Of the 700,000 podcasts there, many are exclusive. So you can’t stream them on podcast apps like Overcast, Pocket Casts, Breaker, or Castro. This API change doesn’t change that. It’s purely about podcast discovery, search and managing shows. And they’re going to keep improving it over the next 6 months.


How much Website Content Goes Completely Unseen

Every once in a while, you run across a statistic from a study that just makes you go, “Wow, that really sucks.” Blame Uberall’s VP Market Insights Greg Sterling, not me. But here’s the wakeup call. A Contentsquare report shows that on average, 69% of all web content is not seen, at all, by consumers. 400 sites in 9 verticals were studied for this. And it was true across all verticals but especially for financial services, beauty, energy and automotive. That clearly lets us know, like a big bucket of water to the face, we’re spending a lot of money to just make …stuff …something, anything. That’s called not thinking content strategy is important or needed. There’s quite a price to pay. The study teaches us a lot more though. The most site visits are driven by organic or free sources. Translated, content that mattered and provided value. Non-PC devices drive 60% of visits, with 55% of site visits coming from smartphones, 60% if you count tablets. That agrees with Hitwise who determined the desktop-mobile split has settled in at about 60-40. Luxury goods had the highest percentage of mobile traffic at 67%. I know when I’m on my yacht in the Mediterranean, I’m not on a desktop. Financial services had the lowest percentage of mobile traffic because, I don’t know, banking feels more secure on a big monitor? Slow loading sites are a killer, especially on mobile. 20% longer loading time means 20% fewer pages viewed. And the study found the average customer visits a website 3 times before buying. After that, 3 strikes and you’re probably out.


What Content Marketing Can Learn from Dying Local Journalism

Lastly, and quickly, let me preface by saying I majored in journalism, I love journalism, I always thought seeking and reporting the truth, wherever that truth might take us, was vital. And I’m not alone. Victor Pickard is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. And he says not only is local journalism failing and dying, that’s a really grim turn of events because without independent, fact-based journalism, good luck holding together any kind of Democracy. Maybe you don’t like Democracy. Maybe you lean toward the way they ran things on Game of Thrones. That’s fine. But if you don’t watch the powerful, educate the public and hold truth to power through local news, people stop caring and voting. Corruption goes up because hey, who’s gonna know? And people just go look for news they agree with. Sound familiar? Well Victor says the death of local journalism happened because the market can’t support it. Commercial media sells eyes and ears to advertisers like us. The problem is, we could care less about responsible journalism. Advertising and journalism was always a shaky, unnatural partnership. When the internet hit, the partnership wasn’t convenient anymore because digital ads are pennies on the dollar and, as we’ve talked about here many times, advertisers don’t even seem to care if digital ads work or if the data they get is legit. To survive, journalism institutions switched to click bait and the public, while amused by said click bait, lost all its respect and trust for journalism. What does that have to do with us content marketers? I’ll tell you. Without trust, there is no sale. Our business is to build trust and relationships with content by being of value to our prospects. When we stop caring about that and lose that trust because of shady practices and just plain lousy content, enormous damage is done. Perhaps permanent.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. As we shelter in place, remember podcasts can be with us anyplace. That’s part of what makes it such an effective channel. So please give me a subscribe if you haven’t already and we’ll be back next week.



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Content mar

Purpose compass


  • Brands know the importance of having a purpose, but they aren’t activating it.
  • The newest stats on how B2B is making and consuming content can help you shift your content strategy.
  • Why are storytellers so important? Because they deal in the critical arena of evoking emotions.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of march 17, 2020.


The Critical Nature of Having a Brand Purpose

Why are you here? Now I know you didn’t come to the Content Marketing Quickie to get hit with an existential crisis but let me put the question to you another way, what’s the purpose of your business? Does it have one? Or is the only purpose to make money? That would be a very honest answer and I bet for most businesses, that is the real and true answer. But if serving and helping your customers in some way can be your purpose, there’s a lot to be gained from that. You know, if you’re able to successfully communicate it and be sincere about it. You see purpose drives customer loyalty, which businesses often ask for and expect, but do nothing to earn. It forms a real connection between brand and user. And now we’re learning it’s no different for B2B. The ANA reports 86% of B2B professionals think purpose is important to their business. Marketingcharts reports the ANA defines purpose as “a company’s reason for being, beyond profits, that guides its business growth and impact on society.” Got anything like that? 57% of B2Bs say well, we’re more focused on purpose than we were 3 years ago. 42% say they’re in the early stages, which means they’re at least talking about purpose internally. Beyond sales, 75% say having a purpose really helps with recruiting and retention, and it’s motivating for sales teams. Research shows consumers have a more positive image of – and are more likely to trust and recommend – companies that have a believable purpose. But only 24% of B2B companies say they’ve activated a purpose that’s embedded across the business. And there’s a reason that’s so hard to do. Most B2B orgs say when they start talking about purpose, it feels like a calculated PR exercise. They aren’t wrong. Research shows a lot of consumers think when brands suddenly take a stand, it’s probably a slick marketing move. That’s where authentic storytelling comes in. Instead of just latching onto the hot cause of the moment, if your purpose is driven by something that personally happened to or affects one of the founders, then that becomes a believable purpose. And going back to the employees, if they know there’s a purpose behind what they’re doing and that it’s real, 67% of them will gladly rave about where they work on social media. So many articles about how to “get” employees to be social media advocates for their companies, and the answer is really simple. Give them an actual reason to admire the company they work for and promote its purpose.


B2B Content Consumption and Production Stats (New)

So let’s just say, making a wild assumption here, that you’re a B2B business that wants to know the latest content consumption and production trends. Lucky you, because you stumbled across this! Chief Marketer put out their 2020 B2B Marketing Outlook and since it takes, from what we hear, an average of 18 touches to convert a customer, knowing what you’re doing content-wise out there is probably going to make a big difference for you. For instance, do you know what content is most effective for moving people through the sales funnel? Okay, since we’re friends, I’ll tell you. It’s articles and blog posts. That’s followed by reviews and customer testimonials, then whitepapers coming in third. Who should you send your content to? C-suiters? VP’s? Managers? Who will pay attention to you? Well a report from Centerline Digital says c-level execs spend 21% more time consuming content than managers do. But managers and VPs consume content sooner—usually within 24 hours of being exposed to it. So if you want a quick response, it’s managers and VPs. If you want someone really going deep into what you’ve put together, that would be the c-suite people IF your content makes its way into their que. Do you know what kind of content work best early in the funnel? It’s infographics. But past that, 59% of senior execs prefer to watch video over read text. Speaking of the stages of the funnel, the later stages are getting neglected. Half the content made by B2B marketers is early stage stuff. Only 14% is made for late stage and a meager 11% is made for customers after the sale. Can anyone say renewal problem in the making? Now let’s look at what tech matters and what doesn’t. The top 3 technologies people think really helps content marketing are analytic tools, email marketing software and social media publishing. The least used were content performance and recommendation analytics, digital asset management systems and integrated content marketing platforms, all of which I was kinda surprised to find living there on the bottom. Half of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity; mostly its content creation. The top content performance metrics used are email engagements, website traffic, website engagement, social media analytics and conversions, while the top 3 goals for content marketing are brand awareness, educating audiences and building trust. And as your friendly host often says in this podcast, there is no sale without trust.


The Role of Emotion in Content Marketing

emotional balls


Lastly, and quickly, your friendly host also talks a lot in this podcast about emotion and the role it plays in content and winning trust. I’m not alone. Manveer Singh Malhi at HiveMinds says emotion plays a critical role in making an indelible impression on the customer’s mind. They have mega short attention spans and tsunamis of content coming at them constantly, so emotion is the only way you can hope to cut through. And it cuts through because our brains were built to connect with really interesting stories that make us feel something. Malhi says consumers make decisions about a brand using emotional intelligence, not data and logic. Emotions are also almost a requirement for any kind of brand loyalty. In your personal relationships, do you trust and are fiercely loyal to people you don’t particularly feel one way or the other about? Doubtful. Now, does all this touchy feely stuff about humans being driven by emotion negate the importance of technology? Hardly. It’s the tech that makes it possible to reach customers and prospects with those stories in the place, time and manner in which they’ll be most effective. Social and mobile facilitates an always-on brand/customer connection that you can use brilliantly or abuse by just shoving emotionless facts and details at them all day and night. Your choice. And here’s where the tech is really becoming an emotion tool. You know consumers can reach brands directly these days, and they do. Some brands now not only know who these customers are, they’re using emotion recognition technology to determine how they feel. When you know that, you know best how to talk to and respond to them. You’re taking how they feel into consideration so you can make them feel better. Have you ever tried feeling better? I highly recommend it. That emotion recognition tech is predicted to become a $65B industry by 2023 by the way. So eventually, someday, somebody will care how you feel.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. I hate the whole idea of social distancing. I’m like Olaf, I like warm hugs. But since we’re currently burrowing into our holes, subscribe to a new podcast or two. Back next week.



Don’t Forget to




  • Think it doesn’t matter if your B2B content is lousy? It’s smacking you right on the bottom line.
  • It’s hard to create content that helps the CX strategy if there is no CX strategy.
  • Instagram is still red hot, so make sure you’ve got the marketing basics there covered.
  • SMBs are using video in their marketing…in a way.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of March 10, 2020


The Cost of Getting B2B Content Marketing Wrong

They don’t come right and say it, but I encounter the unspoken attitude again and again and again. Our content is fine. We’re making stuff, we’re pushing it out. No, it’s not necessarily good, or effective, and no we don’t really think we need a content strategy, we actually just call whatever it is we’re doing a content strategy. But in the end, we don’t really think that quality or having rhyme and reason to our content matters that much. Yeah? Well Forrester just said B2B firms risk losing 19% of their annual revenue if Millennials find their content useless. So it like, bottom line matters. Janice Tan walks us through the report which shows 57% of Millennials saying a lot of the content they get from B2B firms is in fact useless. And while you’re so proud of the volume of lameness you’re putting out, 65% say vendors provide too much material. Who cares what Millennials think? Well they’re 33% of global technology buying decision makers and 73% of them have a say in those decisions. And because Millennials like what they like, Forrester suggests short-form content, videos, and content contributed by their peers. Reggie Lau, Forrester’s director of content marketing consulting in Asia Pacific said Millennials are bringing their consumer nature to B2B buying. What does that mean? They want credible content backed by data and research, but they also want to be emotionally inspired and motivated. Brands are out there trying to win with cold, impersonal, inhuman, logical selling, when buyers are wanting to feel something. Lau says brand need to be humanized to evoke an emotion about them. That’s where icky human storyteller types like me come in handy. I love slashing through corporate BS and jargon. What else did we learn from Forrester? Well, that Millennials and B2B buyers in general prefer substance over style, and 64% say the content they get is design-driven yet weak on messaging. The good news, they do want content from you. 53% like hearing directly from vendors but it’s most important those vendors understand their business, give them a custom ROI analysis, and know what’s most important to the buyers’ own jobs. And they want vendors to show them some kind of vision for what success looks like and have a point of view that’s different from every damn body else’s. But to be most effective, 83% want you to give them a solid story about how you helped someone like them. And if the people you helped will vouch for you, you’re golden. So in summary, I guess stop making content your audience can’t use and couldn’t care less about so you’ll stop losing money.


Here’s Why CX is Still a Complete Mess

CX! Customer Experience! It’s the thing that really proves there’s seriousness about customer centricity, putting the needs of the customer first and super-serving them. So this guy Rob Allman, who’s SVP Customer Experience at NTT, recently talked about the results of their CX Benchmarking Report. And the verdict is it’s pretty much broken. At least how things stand now. He said, “The results indicate most companies still see CX as a competitive edge and primary differentiator. Yet, we’re finding the aspiration is greater than the execution.” Sounds like all my dates in high school. Stan Phelps covered the story for Forbes and in the Americas, only 14.4% say CX is a crucial part of their strategy. Only 26% say CX’s value is defined and tracked. Which make you want to ask, “How come?” Well let’s see, we’ve got lack of harmony. We love our silos and will defend them right up to bankruptcy, so the customer is the one who gets screwed for that. They aren’t going to get on-demand, intuitive and personalized experiences because less than a third of businesses can, or will, connect data relationships between channels. We have the people who are good at CX raising expectations. Maybe that’s why only 12% of customers rate customer experience at ‘advocacy’ level. Businesses refuse to care or listen. 56% have no formal process for considering voice of the customer data and 18% don’t gather any of it period. We’ve got businesses frozen like deer in the headlights, waiting for the miracle of AI to come rescue them. But if CX isn’t the core of the business strategy, you won’t even know what to do with AI if you had it. And check this statistic from the report out; 74% of companies are operating without CX analytics. So, never mind AI, they aren’t getting the intelligence that’s already available. Why do I even talk about this? Because content is such a powerful part and driver of customer experiences, and if the CX is a wreck, it’s hard to make effective content for it. I’m sure the content will get blamed though.


Essential Instagram Marketing Tips

You can never get enough Instagram marketing tips right? At least that’s what Michael Gorman at thinks, and I tend to agree since that’s the reddest of the red-hot social marketing platforms at present. First, why don’t we all gather around in our N95 masks and think about Instagram’s algorithm? There are 3 things it looks at to decide where to put what. 1, interest. It looks at your search history to figure out what you like. 2, time. The latest posts go first so if your posts don’t get seen pretty quickly after posting, they’ll slide into the land of the forgotten, like Carly Rae Jepsen. And 3, interaction. If you interact with someone even a little, Instagram will just assume you adore them and put their posts first in your feed. And by the way “interact” means you liked a post, you DM’d them, commented on their post, used the same kind of hashtags, or tagged them in one of your posts. Remember what Instagram users want, to spend .03 seconds looking at a picture. You gotta grab ‘em and grab ‘em fast. They like portrait more than landscape. And even if your text is genius, it needs a great picture to get people to scroll stop. You want captions but keep them short and don’t go hashtag bananas. Since posts do go stale nearly immediately, posting infrequently will pretty much make you invisible. But if you over-post, you become annoying. Now get out there and thread that needle! Hopefully you know who your audience is and Instagram analytics will help you figure out when they’re mostly on Instagram. That’ll help with your timing. And don’t underestimate how much your profile pic matters. Mine is me in a bikini on the deck of a yacht.


How SMBs are Using Video Marketing

Lastly, and quickly, Sarah Evans at Social Media Explorer gives us the results of a study of how small businesses are using video marketing. Here’s something that will make you experienced, professional, high-dollar video production companies’ blood boil. 76% of SMBs spend less than 20 minutes making a video. Just think of the planning, messaging work, artistry and craftsmanship that’s going into those less than 20-minutes-to-make videos! But hey, at least they’re making videos, and rumor has it the kids want fast, sloppy and amateur these days anyway. To make these instant grits versions of video, 58% use a little bit of their own footage filled out with stock video. Most of them use Unsplash. Now while SMB’s aren’t willing to pay more than $5 to produce a video, they are happy to give up the credit card info to promote them. 38% spend up to $500/month getting them seen, mostly on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The good news for SMBs is video production is becoming commoditized, cheap and easy to do on all-in-one video marketing platforms. The bad news for SMBs is that allows businesses who believe it takes no specialized talent to make videos audiences will value to crank out videos that prove, yes it does.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. I got some subscribers and it’s like a drug, the ones I have only make me want more. Come on man, give me a hit. Back next week.



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