Content Marketing Takes a Turn for the Better: New 2017 Research

b2b-2017-research-coverIf you were able to join us at Content Marketing World — or have been following some of the coverage — you know that the tides are turning. While last year at this time we were facing the trough of disillusionment, the energy and momentum we are seeing right now are far more positive. In fact, our newest research, B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, backs this up.

Sixty-two percent of B2B marketers in North America say that compared to one year ago, their organization’s overall approach to content marketing has been much more or somewhat more successful.

This was just one of the findings in Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs’ B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America sponsored by Brightcove.


To what factors do marketers attribute this increased success? The top two factors are: doing a better job with content creation (85%) and developing or adjusting their content marketing strategy (72%).


In addition to asking marketers to identify why they are more successful, we also have research to identify what top performers are doing differently than their peers. Our study defined top performers as those who characterize their organization’s overall content marketing approach as extremely or very successful.

As we have seen in past years, successful marketers do a few things differently. They:

  • Document their content marketing strategy (Learn how.)

Top performing marketers document their #contentmarketing strategy via @cmicontent. #research
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Top performing marketers have clarity of what #contentmarketing success looks like via @cmicontent. #research
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Top performing marketers create differentiated #content via @cmicontent. #research
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But, this year we have even more to reveal. In fact, we have more than 75 data points that explain what top performers are doing differently, which we’ll explore in depth over the coming months. (Shameless plug: Subscribe to our newsletter to get all of our new research reports plus the whys of our research.)

Here are just a few highlights:

Top performers are “all in” with content marketing

As I explored in my opening keynote talk at Content Marketing World — and in this follow-up blog post — one of the biggest differences we see between marketers who are top performers and those who aren’t is level of commitment: 91% of top performers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, compared to 63% of the overall sample and 35% of the bottom performers (those who characterized their overall content marketing approach as minimally or not at all successful).

It’s just like being a parent or a driver: You can’t be “kind of” in and expect positive results. It simply doesn’t work that way. Make content marketing a priority or focus your efforts elsewhere.

Make #contentmarketing a priority or focus your efforts elsewhere says @joepulizzi.
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Top performers are realistic about what content marketing can achieve — and how long results will take

Is content marketing a silver bullet to solve your marketing woes? Absolutely not. As I’ve discussed, it takes a differentiated story, delivered consistently over time. If you expect results overnight, you’ll be disappointed.


Our research this year now supports this no-silver-bullet thinking — 91% of top performers indicate that their organizations are realistic about what content marketing can achieve, compared to 68% of the overall sample and 41% of bottom performers.

On top of this, 77% of top performers agree that leadership gives them ample time to succeed, compared to 52% of the overall sample and 26% of bottom performers.

Top performers deliver consistently

Just in case you missed one of the previously detailed keys: It’s critical to deliver consistently. Eight-five percent of top performers deliver content consistently, compared to 58% of the overall sample and 32% of bottom performers.

85% of top performing marketers deliver #content consistently over time via @cmicontent. #research
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TIP: Does “consistently” mean daily or weekly? Absolutely not. As Robert Rose has advised in our newsletter, you should publish “as little as you can and still have the impact you desire.” But do so consistently. (Repurposing is a great way to do this.)

Top performers focus on measurement

Not only do top performers commit, stay realistic, and deliver consistently, they also continuously check on content marketing progress (sounds like the basics of any long-term commitment such as a marriage or even a workout program). Eighty-eight percent of the top performers measure content marketing ROI, compared to 72% of the overall sample and 56% of the bottom performers.

88% of top #marketing performers measure #contentmarketing ROI via @cmicontent. #research
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Of course measurement is key because it enables you to understand what is working and focus on what is creating a return. Also, keeping your management informed of progress helps everyone stay realistic — and committed.

TIP: If you are looking for a simple way to get started checking on content marketing’s progress, look at this template that shows you how to report on key measures for your team.

These findings just scratch the surface of the insights coming out of this year’s research; thanks to all who participated.

We are so excited about all of the data coming out of this research as well as our upcoming reports. If you are as well, please sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Content Marketing Takes a Turn for the Better: New 2017 Research appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

11 Smart Marketing Examples That Nail Visual Content


It’s no secret that visual content is powerful. Numerous studies show that our ability to recall information increases significantly when it’s presented as an image rather than plain text.


Image source

That’s why infographics, despite the fact that they are everywhere, are still effective when done well.

Infographics are still effective when done well says @sujanpatel. #contentmarketing
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What that means, as summarized by Jeff Bullas, is that an infographic (and visual content as a whole) should:

  • Blend seamlessly into the user experience
  • Fit the platform used to share it
  • Offer genuine value — never an aggressive attempt to sell
  • Be bite-sized — quick and easy to consume
  • Relate to the things your audience cares about
  • Be consistent in style and tone

Visual content isn’t going away. It always has played a critical role in marketing (and probably always will), as shown in these 10 examples.

1. One Day Without Shoes

TOMS’ #WithoutShoes campaign is designed to raise awareness of how an inability to afford or access shoes can affect a child’s quality of life, such as not being able to go to school.

Of course, TOMS is doing more than simply raising awareness. For each person who posts a unique image of bare feet with the hashtag #withoutshoes on Instagram on the designated day, TOMS donated a pair of shoes to a child.

Last year, more than 27,000 children in 10 countries received new shoes as a result of this campaign.


The success of this campaign is due to the stunning-yet-evocative user-generated imagery that makes viewers take notice while drawing attention to a worthy cause.

2. Is a Barbie Body Possible?

Is a Barbie Body Possible? is a piece of visual content to accompany a lengthy post on, an information and service referral source for people affected by substance abuse and behavioral addictions.

The article itself explores the media’s role in the prevalence of eating disorders in young girls. It’s a fascinating (yet scary) read that’s packed with sobering statistics. It’s also been linked to from more than 200 sites and shared more than 55,000 times.

Though the article is excellent, it wouldn’t have had the impact without the infographics.

Image source: Fractl and Rehabs

The graphic shows how Barbie’s vital stats measure up to those of the average American woman. The imagery is a natural accompaniment for the article. More importantly, the image boosts interest in sharing because the eye-catching content creates more questions than it answers. This increases its attractiveness because publishers can craft their own story around the visual content.

Of course, there’s much more to this content’s success than pretty visuals. It combines an instantly recognizable, often-controversial pop-culture icon and an issue that affects many.

In short, the graphics explore an emotional issue that we can all relate to in one way or another.

3. Domino’s emojis

Last year Domino’s launched an ingenious campaign designed to revolutionize the way people order pizza. To appeal to a younger generation, Domino’s allowed customers to text or tweet their orders.

That’s cool, but here’s the really interesting part: Customers don’t have to use words to order — they simply use emojis.

Emojis are a great example of the power of visual content. It’s easy for written communication to be misunderstood. Emojis (emoticons especially) help express the intent behind the words. They substitute facial expressions, which is vital to understanding.

Domino’s use of emojis goes beyond that. It shows that words aren’t really needed — visuals alone can express everything.

Words aren’t really needed; visuals alone can express everything says @sujanpatel. #visualcontent
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The campaign makes perfect sense in an information-overloaded world in which the faster we can convey our message, the better.

It was also effective, earning huge amounts of media attention, with USA Today, Forbes, Good Morning America, and comedian Jimmy Fallon all picking up the story.

4. Movoto blog

Movoto’s real-estate blog shows the importance of two things:

  • Visual content
  • Repetition of a concept you know works

It’s packed with great content, but what really stands out for me is the blog’s category for novelty real estate. It takes buildings from popular culture and provides answers to pressing questions, like how much it would cost to buy them if they were real or how many Lego bricks it would take to build them.

Most articles in the series are accompanied by an infographic that provides context through illustration and explains how the final figure was calculated, such as this one about Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

The Value of Hogwarts Castle

Image source: Fractl and Movoto

An article follows the infographic that adds credibility by explaining the calculations in finer detail.

Of course, while the information contained in the article is vital (without it, readers are just being fed figures without facts), it’s the infographic that’s key — simply because it makes the content so shareable.

The reality is that while some people crave all the facts, most of us prefer summaries in an easy-to-digest format. The combination used by Movoto satisfies both types of readers, while the infographic offers an additional benefit — it attracts links. The Hogwarts infographic secured links from Moz, PaperMag, and Pricey Pads.

5. Straight Outta Somewhere

In the lead-up to the release of NWA’s biopic movie Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre’s Beats brand partnered with Universal Pictures to design an interactive, digital campaign that wound up reaching more than 1.2 billion people.

The Straight Outta Somewhere campaign invited participants to celebrate their heritage by creating a personalized meme in the style of the movie’s title artwork.


More than 9 million memes were created, and not just by the general public. A number of big brands and even the White House got involved, with the White House staff creating this meme to promote the government’s nuclear deal with Iran:


The campaign shows how the impact of visual content can be amplified when you enable your audience to interact with it by personalizing the content in a manner that massages their own egos.

6. Liking Isn’t Helping

Crisis Relief Singapore’s Liking Isn’t Helping campaign used a series of shocking images with Photoshop treatment to illustrate how “liking” a picture or taking “action” on social media in general doesn’t actually do anything to help the cause in question.


Liking or even sharing an image on social media does little, if anything, to help the cause charities are working toward.

Seeing a distressing image may trigger an emotional response but that isn’t enough, as the Liking Isn’t Helping campaign shows.

By visually representing something that so many people do every day — without considering whether it has an impact, this award-winning campaign gives its audience much more to think about.

7. Someecards

Someecards is the site behind satirical cards like these:



It’s a free service designed to poke fun at the average greeting card. In this case, the product is the marketing campaign. The cards are unique and entertaining in large part because they depict relatable everyday situations. They also show how basic visuals can transform content and how the simplest ideas can be the most successful.

Basic visuals can transform #content & the simplest ideas can be the most successful says @sujanpatel.
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When someecards launched in 2007, it was a service to send cards digitally. Here’s a (broken) shot of what the site looked like:


Today the site is populated with news and lifestyle content, and visitors create their own e-cards (identifiable by the “user card” stamp).


It also remains completely free; the site is monetized through ads.

The cards and their messages are brought to life by the understated illustrations. What’s clever is how the same illustrations can be replicated across multiple cards. It just goes to show how visual content doesn’t need to be elaborate to be effective.

8. Airbnb map

The Airbnb map is an interactive, real-time visual representation of where Airbnb guests are staying.


The content is visually stunning and fully immersive.

More to the point, it makes otherwise boring information interesting. A list of the volume and whereabouts of Airbnb rentals would be as dull as it can get. No one would care. Presenting the information as an interactive map, however, changes the game. Seeing where Airbnb rentals are happening (and where they aren’t) at a glance provides a unique perspective on the world. It shows where tourism is most and least prevalent and, in a way, manages to make viewers feel closer to the rest of the world.

Its effectiveness as link bait is proof of how the right visuals can transform how people absorb and respond to information. Majestic SEO, a tool that monitors various SEO signals, is reporting 169 links to the map page from 54 domains.


9. KLM Lost & Found

Dutch Airline KLM’s Lost & Found video is one of its most successful — at the time of this writing, it’s been viewed more than 22 million times.

That’s bound to have something to do with its star character — a beautiful little beagle — but there’s more to it than that. The video triggers an emotional response in its audience. It explores an issue most of us can relate to — losing important belongings while traveling — while managing to make us empathize with the employees who help reunite us with them.

That ability to evoke emotion in the audience is thanks to the video, which, while clearly low-budget, is well-made. The smiling employees, the happy customers, and of course the beagle all represent KLM’s message: that the airline is there for its customers, first and foremost.

10. Elf Yourself

Office Depot’s seasonal Elf Yourself campaign is another example of how much more impactful visual content can be when it’s personalized to your audience.

For anyone who hasn’t come across Elf Yourself before, it’s essentially a tool that lets you create an interactive e-card that turns you and your friends into dancing elves.


I’m not entirely sure how Elf Yourself relates to Office Depot, but I don’t really think it matters. It’s great fun and satisfies our narcissistic side by making us the stars of the show.

It also ticks the boxes of being really easy to use and really easy to share. No wonder, then, that by the launch of the 2015 campaign, more than 1 billion elves had been created since its introduction in 2006.

11. The Best Job in the World

To me, the bright blue waters, clear skies, and pure white sand of a tropical island beach are some of the most beautiful sights in the world. I know I’m far from alone in that, which is why imagery like this is sure to turn heads:


The Best Job in The World is a campaign designed by the Queensland Tourism Body to promote Hamilton Island in Australia by seeking an island caretaker.

The job was real and eventually filled by Brit Ben Southall who beat out almost 35,000 other applicants.

Of course, while the job was real, its promotion was all part of a wider marketing plan designed to drive tourists to this incredible part of the world.

Luckily for the Queensland Tourism Body, such a stunning destination sells itself, but it’s still a lesson in the importance of visual content: The campaign, which was successful in part on account of its breathtaking imagery, drove 7 million visitors to the site.


Visuals are vital in all forms of marketing. They help to capture and keep attention, and illustrate points more effectively, all while making content easier to share.

Visuals are most effective, however, when they trigger an emotional response. That might be happiness, anger, or empathy. Whatever it is, your goal should be to ensure that all your marketing campaigns are enhanced with visuals that help people to feel.

Visuals are most effective when they trigger an emotional response says @sujanpatel.
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What visual content have you found to be most effective? Share in the comments.

Want more inspiration to help your content marketing spark your audience to feel or do something? Subscribe to the free daily CMI newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post 11 Smart Marketing Examples That Nail Visual Content appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

3 Tips to More Accurately Measure Your Content Effort


Many people jump into content marketing because they were inspired by all the success stories and case studies they read. You know what I’m talking about, the content marketing for content marketing.

But while content marketing seems straightforward, actually measuring its success can be challenging in practice. Customer journey mapping, attribution modeling, and segmentation can help you improve and more accurately measure your content marketing efforts.

1. Identify and document content goals with customer journey mapping

Before getting into the more technical aspects of measuring your content, it’s paramount that you create clear goals for benchmarking purposes. Without a system of measurement, you won’t be able to make data-informed decisions — and that’s simply no good.

Without a system of measurement, you won’t be able to make data-informed decisions says @jacobwarwick.
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To identify your content goals, use a process called customer journey mapping.

Customer journey mapping is a technique that can help you better understand your customer’s experiences through their interactions and touchpoints with your brand, wherever the customer may be in the lead cycle. It also aligns your content efforts with personas and identifies gaps and optimization opportunities within your content.

First, document the five stages of your customer’s journey: awareness, interest, evaluation, decision, and retention. Using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets should suffice.


Image source: Blast Analytics and Marketing: Customer Journey Mapping

Next, craft goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each stage.

For example, your overall goal could be to increase leads 15% or boost white paper downloads by 50%. Regardless, each stage of the customer journey can drive those goals and should have KPIs to keep you on track.

Consider tracking the following KPIs to get started:

  • Awarenesskeyword rankings, impressions, and overall search visibility
  • Interestwebinar registrations, white paper downloads, and marketing-qualified leads
  • Evaluation – quote requests, demos, and sales-qualified leads
  • Decision – conversions and total customers
  • Retention – shares, comments, subscription renewals, and social community engagement


Image Source: Blast Analytics and Marketing: An example of what to build in your customer journey map in Google Sheets

After documenting your goals and KPIs, audit your current content and assign it to the appropriate customer journey stage. This will help you create stronger and more realistic goals, while also helping identify gaps in your content coverage.

2. Apply attribution modeling to understand channel performance

Note: Before working with attribution, you must have implemented an analytics platform such as Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics 360 and have your content properly tagged using Google Tag Manager, Tealium, Ensighten, or another tag manager. Without tagging, your data will be insignificant.

The concept of attribution modeling is to assign a set of rules to determine how much credit a touchpoint should receive during your customer’s journey to complete a conversion. That can help you determine how valuable your marketing channels are.

A successful attribution model will help you see how your marketing channels work together to create a lead, conversion, or sale while ultimately identifying where you should invest resources.

Start by finding an attribution model that best meets your needs.

Some common attribution models include:

  • First-touch attribution – full credit is given to first customer touchpoint
  • Last-touch attribution – full credit is given to last customer touchpoint
  • Linear attribution – credit is evenly distributed among all customer touchpoints
  • Time-decay attribution – credit is given to each touchpoint based on the amount of time that passed between the first touchpoint and conversion
  • Participation attribution – full credit is given to each touchpoint that participated in a conversion
  • Position-based attribution – a majority of the credit is given to the first and last touchpoint and any remaining credit is distributed evenly amongst the middle touchpoints

The key is to find a model that balances the data you need without being too complex, which could cause analysis paralysis (particularly with less mature marketing and analytics teams).

For most content marketing strategies, I recommend staying away from first- or last-touch attribution because it doesn’t show the entire customer journey.

If you’re newer to attribution modeling, I would start with the linear or participation attribution model to get a general idea of what touchpoints your customers use before converting.

As your needs evolve and become more mature, you can use a more advanced attribution model such as time decay, position-based, or even a custom solution.

I personally like the position-based attribution model because it stresses the importance of both the first- and last-touch channel, while also considering the complementary channels that lead to conversion.

For example, the first touch could have come through an organic search result to your blog, second touch was a white-paper download, third touch from a social media link, fourth touch from another blog visit, and finally, last touch from a product-spec download. Position-based attribution gives credit to the assisting visits — and helps you identify the value of your channels.


Image source: Occam’s Razor, Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling – Avinash Kaushik

If you’re fortunate enough to work with an analytics team, ask them about attribution modeling and whether they have implemented a model of your organization. If you’re on your own, reference these guides for Adobe Analytics attribution modeling and Google Analytics attribution modeling to dive into the specifics. (Disclosure, I work at Blast Analytics and vouch for the content too.)

3. Use segmentation to understand content performance

This section builds a case for why you should use segmentation. For detailed how-to on segmentation, visit these guides for Google Analytics segmentation and Adobe Analytics segmentation.

Segments are subsets of your analytics data that can help you better examine your customer trends by drilling down into your data. You can segment each channel (e.g., only people who have converted, males over 40 who live in Australia), if that’s your prerogative.

Segmentation can become complex, so you should use it to answer specific business questions.

For example, say that you are developing a content marketing strategy for next quarter. The goal is to increase conversions 25% and you’re tasked with scheduling and creating high-converting content.

Start by segmenting visitors who have made a purchase and ask questions such as:

  • What channel(s) attracted these customers?
  • How old and what gender are these customers?
  • Are these customers using a desktop or a mobile device?
  • What content did they read before becoming a customer?

With segmentation, you can answer these questions, identify trends, and better inform your content marketing strategy moving forward.

Segmentation can answer ?’s, identify trends, & inform your #contentmarketing strategy says @jacobwarwick.
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Image source: Google Analytics

Take notes of trends that you identify to inform your ongoing buyer persona research.

You should become intimately familiar with all of the segmentation options that your analytics platform provides so that you can understand what type of marketing questions you can answer with your data — even if you don’t use analytics in your day-to-day routine.

As you begin to mature with your analytics, you can evolve to use more complex segmentation techniques, such as recency, frequency, and monetary (RFM) analysis.

Again, attribution modeling and segmentation can get extremely complex; however, with a game plan and goals to meet, you can begin making more data-driven decisions with your content marketing efforts.

Do you have other methods to more accurately measure your content marketing efforts? Did I miss anything that you could expand upon? Please put your comments and links to helpful resources in the comments.

Want to connect with Jacob Warwick as he answers questions on the ROI of branded storytelling? Join the CMI Twitter Chat at 12 p.m. U.S. EDT Tuesday (Sept. 27). Simply follow the hashtag #CMWorld.

Cover image by via

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

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Podcasting Pioneers Explain Value of Audio Content and Rookie Mistakes to Avoid


As This Old Marketing approaches its 150th taping, Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose wax philosophical about why podcasting is so powerful, and the rookie mistakes they now avoid.

A handful of marketing contrarians have been predicting a spike for podcasting for a few years. While a steep climb hasn’t materialized, audio content is rising steadily in popularity year over year. According to the Pew Research Foundation, the percent of Americans who had listened to a podcast within the previous 30 days more than doubled between 2008 and 2016 (9% to 21%). The numbers look better among younger Americans. A study by ypulse found 35% of Millennials ages 18 to 34 regularly follow at least one podcast.

35% of Millennials ages 18 to 34 regularly follow at least one #podcast via @ypulse.
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The % of Americans who listened to a #podcast w/in previous 30 days doubled from 2008 to 2016 via @pewresearch.
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Is it high time for an audio revolution? The New York Times reports that many amateur podcasters are going professional as major media companies invest in this new form of digital publishing (May 7, 2016). Advertisers are getting in on the action too: They expect to spend $35 million on podcasts in 2016 (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2016). And even a few big venture-capital deals in the space signal that the industry may be poised to grow even more.

Ready to launch a podcast?

As content-heavy brands consider new channels, podcasting should be on the table, say Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, hosts of This Old Marketing. “Podcasting is different because it’s an extremely intimate way to interact with your audience,” says Rose, chief content adviser at Content Marketing Institute. “Joe and I share our family and personal lives on the show, and many times they are issues others struggle with. People come up to me all the time, asking about something very personal I’ve shared on the podcast. I think being in someone’s head when your voice comes through those headphones is a wonderful experience. It creates a connection that other mediums can’t make.”

#Podcasting is an extremely intimate way to interact with your audience says @robert_rose.
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All that connection, however, requires a good bit of work. It may look easy (“Hey guys, let’s record ourselves chatting about stuff and make a podcast out of it!”), but the pre- and post-production work is sizable. Pulizzi and Rose estimate that for each weekly show, they spend about four hours on research and production — or eight hours for every one-hour show.

Explains Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, “We want it to sound like we’re two guys having a conversation, but there’s a lot of background work involved. And the more care we put into it, the better the show is.”


As for measuring effectiveness, any podcaster will tell you it’s like being beamed to the earliest days of digital. Yes, you can see how many people downloaded your podcast via iTunes (the biggest aggregator by a large margin), but you won’t know how many listened or at what point they turned it off. And if you suddenly see a spike in downloads, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether the show was just that good or whether a change in iTunes algorithms was the culprit.

“The lack of podcast data is kind of shocking,” said Gina Delvac, the producer of Call Your Girlfriend, a pop-culture show for women. (Executives at Apple appear to be listening. In the spring, Apple brought seven leading podcasters to its headquarters to discuss their complaints, though the outcome of those conversations is still unknown.)

The lack of #podcast data is kind of shocking says @gdelvac.
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The most useful information, say Pulizzi and Rose, comes from reviews on iTunes and other player platforms, as well as tweets that begin to roll in almost immediately after a show is uploaded. The good and bad reviews, say the duo, help them improve each week.

The most useful information comes from reviews & tweets says @joepulizzi @robert_rose. #podcast
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Comparing to the early days, Rose admits he’s become more careful about how his opinions come across. “What I’ve learned is that when you have this platform from which to speak, your ideas can come across a notch stronger than you intended,” he explains. “So if you’re being a little snarky on air, it comes across as extra snarky. Don’t get me wrong … we still attack stupid ideas, but we’re more careful about criticizing ideas and not people.”

Tools and techniques

All their efforts require the right tools to execute a quality podcast. Here’s how they do it:

Studio and production

Pulizzi and Rose both say a high-quality microphone is essential. Many of the tools they use are either free or low-cost. They record conversations via Skype, use GarageBand (Rose) and Audacity (Pulizzi) for audio editing, and Rose buys stock music online for show openings.


This Old Marketing uses Libsyn to host and publish the show to the major players like iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud. Libsyn also offers podcasters an RSS feed (essential to distribute the show to aggregators) and an HTML5 media player so listeners can tune in right on your website (rather than through a mobile player like iTunes). Libsyn’s competitors include Blubrry, Spreaker, PodOmatic, and SoundCloud.

The podcasting paradox

After scores of shows and over a thousand hours of work invested, Pulizzi and Rose say the medium is their favorite of all the ways they reach their audience. Why? Because people often listen to podcasts while they are doing something else — and paradoxically, it means you often have their undivided attention. “People listen to us while they are running, on the subway in the morning, while they are doing dishes. You capture them at a moment when they are not in front of a screen or otherwise distracted,” explains Pulizzi.

Even so, both Pulizzi and Rose warn that podcasting isn’t for content marketing beginners. “You need to have an audience first before you launch a podcast,” says Pulizzi. That’s because getting attention on podcast aggregators is too difficult for new entrants. Instead, Pulizzi and Rose say, podcasting should be a diversification strategy for brands already pumping out great content.

Podcasting isn’t for beginners. You need to have an audience first says @joepulizzi.
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This article originally appeared in the August issue of Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bimonthly print magazine.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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This Week in Content Marketing: Digital Advertising Will Survive by Limiting Inventory

digital-marketing-survive-limiting-inventory-2PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode, Adblock Plus starts its own ad network (or does it?). Robert and I also discuss the future of advertising, analyze AT&T’s aim to become a media company (of course), and share our thoughts on whether or not content marketing is hard to measure. Rants and raves include a lengthy talk about diversity in the event business, then we wrap up with our example of the week: Walmart World.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on September 19, 2016; Length: 1:03:11)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

1.    Content marketing in the news

  • Adblock Plus may or may not have switched its advertising alliance (06:42): Confusion abounded after ad-blocking technology company Adblock Plus announced its new ad exchange platform, which many have interpreted as the company’s decision to start selling ads. An interview with Adblock Chairman Tim Schumacher on Contently explains the motivations behind the surprising move — and the backlash that ensued — in more detail. But Robert feels the bigger question here is why publishers are letting third parties dictate the terms of ad inventory, when they should be serving higher-quality content experiences themselves.   
  • Is AT&T trying to transform into a media advertising company? (17:28): A recent article on the CNBC website examines evidence that may indicate the telecom giant is in the market for a media-company M&A play. As the article explains, a strategic media acquisition would be a smart path to AT&T shoring up its advertising technology business. Long-time PNR fans will recognize the bigger story here, which is that AT&T is just one in a large number of giant companies that are looking for better ways to deliver signature, media-oriented experiences to consumers.
  • Does the content marketing industry have a measurement problem? (30:20): In his recent post on the Martech Advisor website, ScribbleLive CEO Vincent Mifsud attempts to demystify the equation when it comes to the best metrics to use for content marketing. While I’m sure measurement is a complicated issue for anyone in marketing — regardless of the discipline — I explain why there’s one metric that should stand above all others when it comes to content: subscribers.

2.    Sponsor (38:21)

  • ON24: Webinars have become the single most important marketing tool to generate leads and drive new business, but are you happy with the performance of your webinars? A few best practices can make the difference between a huge success and a waste of time and resources. ON24’s 2016 Webinar Benchmarks Report highlights data from over 12,000 webinars that will help you understand the latest trends in webinar marketing. Watch it on-demand today.


3.    Rants and raves (40:42)

  • Joe’s rave: I have some praise to heap onto Jerry Seinfeld’s online series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The series’ Emmy nomination in the short-form nonfiction category was explored in a recent Chicago Tribune article; but beyond the entertainment value it provides, the show may also be one of the first examples of an Emmy-nominated content marketing effort, since it is entirely underwritten by Acura.


  • Joe’s “semi-rant”: A tweet from Rand Fishkin during Content Marketing World 2016 reminds us of the urgent need for greater diversity at marketing events, particularly when it comes to women speakers. It’s also the subject of a thoughtful LinkedIn post from our own Cathy McPhillips. Though we at CMI are doing our part to make progress in this area — in fact, 45% of the speakers at Content Marketing World 2016 were women, compared to 37% the previous year — this is an important issue that our entire industry should be doing more to address.

45% of the speakers at #CMWorld 2016 were women, compared to 37% last year says @joepulizzi.
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  • Robert’s “rant-y” rave: Robert gives a shout-out to Daniel Newman, whose Futurum blog featured a great article on the cultural obstacles companies face when trying to make a digital transformation. One of the issues that particularly connected with him when it comes to digital content is the need to acknowledge that not everyone is suitably equipped to create content for the organization. If an effort isn’t adding value to the business, there’s no point in doing it just for the sake of giving everyone an equal voice.

Not everyone is equipped to create #content for an organization says @robert_rose. #ThisOldMarketing
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4.    This Old Marketing example of the week (56:50)

  • Walmart World: Among my vast collection of old magazines, one jumped to the top of the stack for me recently: Walmart World. As I did some digging into the publication, I discovered its content mission: “The Walmart World program, both print and digital, fulfills the mission of engaging, inspiring, and educating Walmart associates in the things they care about… Store associates are the real front-line of Walmart; they are in touch with our customers every day.” After exploring the associated Walmart World website, I was impressed at how comprehensive a resource it is for employee issues and discussions, as well as associate promotions, likes, and trends. What I liked most about it is that there is plenty of content directly created by the employees themselves, making it a fine This Old Marketing example of how to enable your team members to willingly participate in your content marketing efforts.


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For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Tips to Help You Start a Successful Blog

While the idea of starting a blog can be quite appealing, if you have never done it before, you may have no idea where to start. The fact is, you are not alone. Most people who embark on the endeavor to begin a blog have to learn from the ground up.

There is good news. Starting a blog and actually making it successful is much easier than you would have ever imagined. Some tips, help and steps you can use to begin your own blog can be found here.

Hosting and Domain

One of the first things you need to do is register your domain name. There are countless places you can do this. When registering your domain name, you just choose what you want your blog to be called and then pay the fee. In many cases you don’t even have to set up your WordPress site first, since this can all be handled on the actual setup of the domain.

Choose Your Theme

The majority of blogs today run on WordPress. This is easy to use and provides you with a professional looking blog site without a huge cost. When you install WordPress you will have to choose a theme. This is what creates the style and look for your blog. One of the best features is that you don’t have to be a coder to use WordPress – virtually any average Joe can successfully set up a blog site with this platform. There are both free and paid themes to choose from, so be sure to browse around until you find something that sticks out and that you like.

Spend some Time Modifying Your Blog

Once you have set up your domain, hosting and your WordPress, you can spend some time tweaking the way the layout looks. You can install Widgets and other features that make the blog unique and that create the look you really want.

Write a Post

Once you have published your newly made blog site and it is live, you are set to write your very first blog post. Talk about something you are interested in and that you will be able to write in an engaging manner. Don’t choose dull or boring topics that don’t really excite you. If you do this, no one will read them.

Don’t Forget About SEO

When trying to write your post be sure to structure it in a way that will actually help your new blog site rank in Google. For example, you need to pay attention to factors such as SEO, meta tags and descriptions and other factors that Google wants to see. If you fail to do this, your blog will not make any traction, which means that it will have limited visibility. WordPress offers a plugin that is called Yoast, it is free. This will help you check the SEO “goodness” of your blog. If something does not add up, then the plugin will make suggestions on how you can make it better. If you are new to blogging, this can be extremely beneficial.

When you take some time to set you blog up right, you will find that you can actually gain traffic and peak people’s interest to stop by often and see what you have to say. When you really put some effort into creating this blog, you will find that success is just a short time and a bit of effort away. Don’t underestimate the power of a quality blog – it can help you have your voice and opinions heard and may even make you some money.

Original post: Tips to Help You Start a Successful Blog

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Say Cheese for These 7 Free Stock-Photo Sites


Whether you promote content that is fresh or seasonal, evergreen or topical, your endeavor will be meaningless if it doesn’t make your readers sizzle and pop with excitement. How do you capture the attention of your audience without crafting content from scratch?

Perhaps all you need is a high-quality photo. Not a bland, lifeless image, but an attention-grabbing picture — one with a story behind it. Maybe you need a series of compelling images if you’re marketing a lengthy content piece.

Research shows that:

Articles with images receive 94% more views than articles without images via @jeffbullas. #visualcontent
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How’s that music for your ears?

High-quality imagery is hard to come by without a significant investment. Having access to a number of free, high-quality, stock-image sites can make it easier. To this end, I’ve put together a list of free cream-of-the-crop sites.

  1. Unsplash: Ten new images are released every 10 days under the Creative Commons Zero license. The uniqueness of the images is what makes this resource intriguing. There are several high-resolution photos to choose from, with exceptional effects and almost Instagram-style filters.

Every image features a link to the photographer’s bio in case you want to know more about a certain image. Just scroll through the Unsplash royalty-free photo collection to discover mystical mountain ranges, faraway rivers, and even natural roads in their high-resolution glory. With several options to choose from, you won’t be forced to use any cheesy handshake shots in your content.

  1. The site says it’s “not your typical crappy stock photo site.” StockSnap adds hundreds of high-resolution versatile and interesting photos each week. The site also has a search bar that makes it easy to discover images for a specific keyword.

Additionally, StockSnap sorts photos by date, views, trending, downloads, and favorites. All images fall under the Creative Commons Zero license. Therefore, users can modify, copy, and distribute any image on the website without asking for permission, even commercially.

How to Use Content That Isn’t Yours
  1. Magdeleine: Featuring a collection of hand-picked photos for your inspiration, this site has categories for people, animals, food, nature, city & architecture, objects, abstract, and technology. The majority of photos include color images but there’s a decent collection of black-and-white images as well.

Users can switch the user interface between light and dark from the top right of the screen when navigating through the site. Additionally, they can see the dominant colors and dominant tags that have been used to search for photos. Each image includes a link to the photographer to help users see his/her image collection to date. Images on Magdeleine fall under the Creative Commons Zero license, but require attribution.

  1. SplitShire: Italian creative Daniel Nanescu built this website with the goal of giving life to images that would have been dead without utility. The stock images on SplitShire have received more than 6 million page views, and over 600,000 downloads. From sleek work stations to striking portraits, you won’t find it difficult to pick a photo for your next blog post or social media update.

Categories include abstract, animal, fashion, automotive, food, street, technology, nature, things, people, wedding, landscapes, blur backgrounds, interior, low poly background, still life, various, mock up, bokeh, and video.

When users open a particular image, they also get to see suggestions of similar images. Photos on SplitShire are free of standard copyright restrictions.

  1. Gratisography: The images on this website are quirky, striking, evocative, and often surreal. All photos are taken by the talented Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. The free stock-image site has categories for animals, nature, objects, people, urban, and whimsical. You can subscribe to receive an email alert when new pictures are added to site.

A search bar at the top of the page can be used to find keywords. All images on Gratisography are under the Creative Commons Zero license, so they’re free to use.

  1. Pixabay: This site offers thousands of free photos and videos. Users also can download vector graphics and illustrations. Pixabay enables you to choose between vertical and horizontal orientation, and define if you want an image to be larger than a particular width and height. Users can search for a particular keyword, and limit the search to a particular category if desired.

Pixabay also offers images handpicked by the site’s editorial team. Moreover, you can see the latest or the most popular images available on the website. Users don’t have to deal with any confusing photo licenses; photos can be used in printed and digital form without attribution, for both commercial and personal purpose.

  1. Pexels: A vast collection of free stock images, the site receives 50 new additions of high-quality photos every day, which increases the Pexels library’s stock by 350 high-quality photos each week. All images are handpicked from other free stock-image sites, and users are given the option to explore categories, photos, and photographers.

You can see which photographer is leading the race in terms of downloads in the leaderboard section on the website. Additionally, users can see the most popular photos from the last 30 days, and the most popular search terms used on the website. All photos on Pexels fall under Creative Commons Zero, so they are free to use for any commercial and personal purpose.

Bottom line

The use of captivating photos isn’t just about injecting visual media into text — it improves content performance across the board. Leaders in content marketing use a variety of images to build and share their brand story. Now you, too, can leverage visuals to improve your content footprint. These free stock-image sites will ensure that you secure high-quality images without spending a fortune.

Using captivating photos improves content performance across the board says @itaisadan. #visualcontent
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Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Want to up your content marketing game even more? Download the 2016 Content Marketing Playbook.

The post Say Cheese for These 7 Free Stock-Photo Sites appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.