The last two

Last 2 public talks of the year. In total, 13 talks, one per month. And 3 podcasts, with the final recording in December, hosted by my friend Jason; this will represent a great way to close my 2016.

Gartner 2016 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Adverts

Gartner has presented yesterday the latest combined Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Adverts. While the positions of some of the technologies are questionable it is still interesting to have a look.

Hype, by definition should make us all a little wary. Gartner Hype Cycles are designed to help sift, sort and qualify hype and manage our attraction to all those bright shiny marketing objects. The ultimate aim is to support decisions on where your valuable attention and marketing resources should be directed

2016 Marketing Technology Landscape

The updated 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape has been released. It’s a monumental collection of solutions and companies active in MarTech.

Landscape Supergraphic in pdf is available here.

Landscape Supergraphic in jpg is available here.

Interesting enough, this year landscape is about 3,874 marketing technology solutions (!) which is approximately 87% growth over last year. That’s really amazing when you consider how large the landscape was last year already. The Landscape Supergraphic listed 150 solutions in 2011, about 350 in 2012, about 1000 in 2014 and 2000 in 2015.

The top 5 largest categories, by number of solutions included, are:

  1. Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence (220)
  2. Social Media Marketing & Monitoring (186)
  3. Display & Programmatic Advertising (180)
  4. Marketing Automation & Campaign/Lead Management (161)
  5. Content Marketing (160)

One thing is certain though: marketing technology is a fascinating space.

Presenting Marketing to M&A experts

My next conference as a speaker (8th Merger Integration Management Forum, 17-18 March, Amsterdam) is approaching and I am dedicating some time today for preparation. Also had a great call to understand the audience. Well, this time will be different: still a marketing-focused presentation, but different audience, different cut, different expectations.

In fact, it’s my first non-marketing conference. Where I will introduce a marketing subject (how to set up properly branding and communication strategy in post-acquisitions and how acquisition performances can be affected by a poor marketing strategy) to a non-marketing audience. I will need some good luck – and a good preparation. Conference site is here.

(Featured image by Brand Quarterly)

Blogs at the core of your Content Marketing strategy

I am a blog guy. Blog is not the sexiest piece of social media, but certainly the most effective. Jason Miller, LinkedIn.

Remember the Blogosphere?

I started blogging in the first years of 2000. Remember vintage terms as “the blogosphere”? Well, I was part of the Italian blogosphere, that small Italian elite. Yes, exactly, the “Italian blogosphere”. I started with personal blogs, moving time to time to new blogging platforms to gain publishing and design flexibility and autonomy. I met other bloggers in Milan, which is the town where most of those innovators were based, to exchange ideas and experiences. After a few years, and with a deeper knowledge of blog technology and dynamics, I created an internal blog at the business where I was leading marketing operations for European countries. I always promoted internal blogs as a vehicle of (employee) freedom and as one of the best way to humanise companies and C-level teams. I turned soon to using external blogs as the main distribution channel of my marketing content strategies. Today, after more than 15 years, I am still a blogger and I still believe that bogs are positioned at the core of our content marketing strategy.

In term of technology, after a few years using pre-built blogging platforms (Splinder, Blogger) I moved to the code-heavy Movable Type platform. I finally met WordPress when I switched to my current blog host, a few years ago. About 25% of websites today are powered by WordPress. This is the technology/platform I suggest even to large enterprises because of its simplicity and social integration. But let’s go back to a formal definition, for a moment.

Blogs and (Content) Marketing

Blogs is where all the marketing starts. Blog posts can capture the attention of search engines, build customer affinity, and feed every other social media channel you’re engaged with. At least once a year various social gurus declare that blogs are dead, usually killed or replaced by other platforms. The blog wasn’t dead then, and it’s not even close to dead now. More than ever, today’s blogs function at the centre of content marketing and social media strategy. They tie online marketing strategy together, lending substance to posts on other social media channels and referring readers to those channels.

Based on my experience 60-80% of blog visitors are “new” visitors. They reach the blogs with non-branded searches, which means they are  conducting preliminary research and are at the very early stage of the buyer journey (but this might differ and we should go with a case-by-case approach). If this is the real scenario blogs can be used as a good content hub. Blogs are well integrated with social and are easy to manage and update. Blogs don’t need to sit on top of existing websites, which simplify implementation and small pilots, even if this might influence traffic/SEO strategies.

A few considerations:

  • content fuels social interaction, and that starts with your blog. Infusing your social channels with blog content captures attention (for example, when you link to a blog post from your LinkedIn Company page, you drive potential customers to your site);
  • relevant, well-written content counts. When conducting preliminary research buyers at early stages of their journey look for original, well-written content that offers substantial information. By nature, blogs feature longer-form content, which offers deeper thought leadership. This content is your first step to engaging prospects;
  • the old-fashioned press releases don’t impact media as they used to, but the same kind of idea still lives on in your blog. Use blogs to announce new products, services, features, customer stories and other relevant company news. Press releases fuel content and blogs will benefit;
  • Always keep SEO in mind. Blogs significantly influence your search rankings. The metrics that search engines use just happen to be the exact same web elements that blog posts represent: fresh content and trending keywords that are relevant.

Blog content should be well balanced

As a major fuel source for social, it’s vital to mix up the content on the blog; after all, variety is the spice of life. Just as anyone would quickly tire of eating from the same food group day after day, your customers and prospects can grow tired of consuming the same type of content again and again. Miller and Burnes recommends treating your blog like you would your diet, incorporating a healthy balance of content based on five food groups. By providing a mix of how-to and influencer posts (whole wheat and grains), leadership articles and guest topics (vegetables), research and analysis (meats), light-hearted viral content (dessert and sweets) and bold statements (condiments), blogs will engage readers and, where applicable, hook potential customers.

The final recipe is a 1500-3000-word blog post on a topic that you want to own (Moz.com and Quicksprout analysed more than ten thousand blogs and found that in order to rank on page one within the search engines, your article or post should be a minimum of 1,500 words).

Blogs and Influencers

The fact is simple. According to several data sources and analysis it is obvious who has to tell our company’s story: our customers, partners and employees. Which brings back to Influencer marketing and Employee Advocacy practices.

Influencers are topic experts, thought leaders, or brand advocates who possess strong credibility and an extended reach with your target audience.

From providing a new perspective on your usual blog content, to accessing a whole new audience, these are just some of the reasons why you should consider accepting guest posts. In fact, the results from recent B2B blogging studies indicate that the best content marketers source 25% of their blog posts from external contributors. Your audience will appreciate seeing a new perspective in addition to the topics that you usually write about. As great as our content may be, our audience wants different perspectives on the same topics. This will also increase thought leadership on specific blog themes. Another simple and less sophisticated reason: guest posts increase publishing frequency, and this is an important (proven) driver of more traffic.

Summarising: blogs is where all the marketing starts. Because of its nature and technology, this platform can still be considered as the core of content marketing strategy.

Marketing and WordPress

Interesting post from Matt Mullenweg, Automattic’s CEO. Extract.

One of the areas where Automattic and its products like WordPress.com have the most room for growth is in the area of marketing. It’s also an area our competitors are spending heavily in, with Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Web.com, and to a lesser extent EIG and Godaddy, spending over $350M this year in advertising. (Of course marketing is much more than just advertising, but their spend is still significant.)

Well, I too see the need for Automattic to invest more in marketing. It should better capitalize from the huge user base it has today, exploring other segments that are not necessarily geeks and super tech-enthusiasts. But I find interesting that Matt identifies marketing with adverts. Or maybe he doesn’t and I’m just giving his words a too sophisticated meaning. Advertising is the very last association I’d do with marketing. Automattic could win the marketing battle without spending 1 cent in adverts. Latest Content Marketing trends and facts are a visible sign of where the company should focus.