Choosing a marketing automation platform

The proliferation of digital channels and devices can make it difficult for B2B marketers to accurately target prospects with the right messages, on the right devices, at the right times. Faced with these challenging market dynamics and increasing ROI pressure, B2B marketers at companies of all sizes can gain benefits from a marketing automation platform. […]

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The proliferation of digital channels and devices can make it difficult for B2B marketers to accurately target prospects with the right messages, on the right devices, at the right times. Faced with these challenging market dynamics and increasing ROI pressure, B2B marketers at companies of all sizes can gain benefits from a marketing automation platform.

MarTech Today’s “B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide” examines the market for B2B marketing automation software platforms and the considerations involved in implementing this software in your business. This 48-page report is your source for the latest trends, opportunities and challenges facing the market for B2B marketing automation software tools as seen by industry leaders, vendors and their customers.

Also included in the report are profiles of the 14 leading marketing automation vendors, pricing information, capabilities comparisons and recommended steps for evaluating and purchasing.

If you are a marketer looking to adopt a marketing automation software platform, this report will help you through the decision-making process. Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download your copy.

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Donald Glover’s Airdrop stunt at Coachella proves experiential marketing gets bolder with influence

Fortune favors the influencer – especially when combined with an unusual experiential marketing tactic and a new pair of sneakers.

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Artist Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) used iOS Airdrop at Coachella to surprise random festival-goers with a photo of shoes he created in collaboration with Adidas. Those who accepted the Airdrop received a free pair of the sneakers – with terms and conditions, of course.

The lucky recipients had to sign a contract stating they would wear the shoes, attend the show, and keep the shoes on all weekend. Experiential marketing in action.

Why we should care

Glover’s Airdrop play comes at a time when experiential marketing is making waves. From Chanel’s Le Rouge Pop-Up to Refinery29’s 29Rooms funhouse, brands are finding ways to invite customers into their story.

But the creative experiences are only part of the strategy. In Adidas’ case, the brand leveraged Glover’s celebrity to influence an audience that was already tuned in (literally). The Airdrop tactic was simply an unexpected and delightful conduit bringing fans to the product.

Before launching an experiential strategy, we should consider what resources are appropriate and available to rally awareness and engagement. Because if there’s anything we’ve learned about tangible experiences, it’s that delivery and perception can be everything.

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Learn how to discipline your story to serve your digital transformation

Here are the steps to define, create and protect your story so that it measures up to the same quality as the products and services you sell.

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A digitally transformed organization is a content organization. You now manage a continuum of experiences across an expanding range of digital customer touchpoints. And all those experiences need content constantly. The good news (besides the data that comes from such a continuum) is that you have a lot of opportunities to bolster your story. However, with the increase in velocity of both content and consumption, it gets cacophonous out there. And the best shot to get your message heard and understood in all the racket is to keep your story focused, clear and consistent. To arrive at that kind of story, you need to define, create and protect your story.

1. Define what a story is

This is an easy stumble out of the gates, and it’s mainly a marketing and business problem. We are surrounded by stories today. Inundated by them. Movies, television, books. We know what a story is because we experience them multiple times every day.

But, when it comes to business and marketing stories, we tend to forget all the ideas we know about character and plot, conflict and resolution. Marketing stories are subjected to far less scrutiny inside the marketing department than the latest Netflix series is in the organization’s cafeteria. We also seem to weaken the idea of a story to elevator pitches and messaging houses.

That means you need a detailed definition of what a story is in your organization. Defining story has been a cultural exercise for millennia, and definitions range and disagreement abounds. But there is plenty of material out there from story experts that can be adapted and refined into that detailed definition.

2. Develop a process for arriving at a story

Defining a story doesn’t guarantee that you can create a good one. That takes a process (and practice). Great stories are crafted. They’re researched. They’re plotted in a way that each piece relies on the piece before it. They go through multiple drafts. They’re put out for feedback. They’re tested. Every novel in your Amazon cart represents a rigorous process that an author and publisher went through to arrive at that book. And that should be true of your marketing story.

For instance, without a process, your message to the market could have plot holes. It might be based on the wrong assumptions. In might be incoherent. Lack empathy. It could focus too much on your organization and not enough on your audience. The most likely pitfall for a story in an organization, however, is that it might be boring and have nothing new to share with the audience it is trying to engage. The way to catch and correct those story issues is to submit it to a formalized process, one that should start with research and end with validation, but whatever points are in between should be documented and rigorously followed.

3. Deliver that story in a protected format

The process for your story should yield a hard output – a document. One that should be protected under glass that you break only when it’s time to change the story. This document is an internal one that nobody outside the company will see. It’s the story bible in the writer’s room of your favorite long-running television show, crafted so that multiple people in the organization have the freedom to own the story without deviating from it. Made so that any new hires that come aboard can quickly get up to speed and tell the story themselves.

And, while nobody outside the organization will see that document, everybody will see a version of it. Every piece of collateral, from a tweet to a one-sheet should reflect this narrative.  In many ways, the story document acts as a brand guideline as it keeps everyone consistent, on point, and gives a unified, recognizable look to the organization. It’s also what the organization rallies around because it represents what it believes for the market and how we can help our customers.

4. Designate someone in charge of that story

The previous three points in this article are moot if nobody’s in charge of the story. And I mean an individual, not a department. Managing and protecting the story is a full-time job in a digitally transformed company. Not only does it entail writing actual collateral, but it also involves reviewing and editing everyone else’s collateral to ensure the story is being appropriately told in all formats across all channels. It also involves tracking the success of the story and adjusting it when needed.

The person who assumes that role needs to be passionate for the story and needs to believe it. They may or may not have been involved in its creation, but they do need to buy in. If the story is not safeguarded in this way, it will get ignored, misinterpreted or misused until it doesn’t exist anymore, at which point your organization is just introducing more noise into that cacophonous market. In the end, the story needs to be a priority for a digitally transformed company.

Sure, disciplined storytelling has always been important in commerce. Products and solutions are complex; markets are complex; organizations are complex. But digital transformation has raised that complexity to the point that your story needs to be as quality-controlled and customer-relevant as the products and services that you sell.

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Why brands need to take ASMR more seriously

A little bit of data on the latest trends can help brands create strategies to connect to consumers in new ways – but pay attention to the details.

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Slime. It’s the biggest crafting craze of 2018 and a rising video sensation. There were nearly 25 billion slime video views last year. Big box retailers are reporting glue shortages across the country.

Crafting brands are getting into the game, sponsoring content and making last minute products like sparkly glue to jump on the trend. That’s great. But, more brands need to look more deeply at trends like slime and its cousin ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). Both offer an opportunity for brands to connect to consumers in entirely new ways, on video and in real life.

Are you taking ASMR seriously?

Visually stimulating slime videos are a part of a growing category of wildly popular videos that are being labeled ASMR. These videos offer little controversy and provide consumers with a calming time-out from real life. A small set of brands like IKEA and Dove created viral ASMR videos already. Michelob went so far as to create an ASMR Superbowl commercial.

These one-off commercials are not genuine attempts to be part of the trend but rather were created as tongue-in-cheek cultural references. Similar to slime, real ASMR videos are largely the domain of influencers, and they’re banking billions of video views with long engagement times from viewers that take the content seriously.

With such a trend that is mostly new content, with an unknown amount of staying power, most brands will see bigger rewards by advertising against the content rather than creating their own. Across billions of views, slime videos average 1.5x the engagement of YouTube’s average. To do that well, brands will need to reset their approach. Influencers are not impressed with advertisers to date. This ASMR influencer even created a video to try to teach brands to tone down the volume to better assimilate with ASMR content.

The glue that binds

The different slime video types appeal to different audience segments, which is good for a host of brand categories like beauty, retail and even fitness. The influencers creating content offer deeper audience insights that can help brands select the right type of content for their target audiences, and then create a retargeting strategy to further expand their scale. Broad targeting against the latest craze can be an ad spend black hole, but, for trends such as ASMR and slime videos, a little bit of data goes a long way towards creating a strategy that sticks.

Brands often see great success buying media against influencers in the beauty and fashion space with a growing category called “Get ready with me” videos. Brands are often able to specifically identify the demographics engaging with that influencer and get a read on the universe of other content by that creator who has similar watch times and engagement within those same demographics.

Staying on top of slime

Such new and varied trends like slime or ASMR need to be watched carefully. When content views skyrocket around particular events or themes, there can be serious brand safety risks if brands try to ride the wave without adequate monitoring. A recent focus on the role of comments on YouTube shows that even innocent content can contain elements that brands will need to review and refine regularly, especially when parts of the category appeal to kids.

Trending content like slime videos will attract new content creators nearly every day, who can take the genre in new directions. These new videos are nearly always brand safe, but may not be brand suitable, and so it’s still important to keep a watchful eye. For example, Some slime videos include makeup or branded toys like Play-Doh, which an advertiser might not want to advertise against for competitive reasons.

The magic of YouTube is that brands can connect with consumers on very new content topics and themes, well before most linear and traditional digital content creators catch on. Viewers and influencers both take the category seriously. It’s time for brands to do the same.

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Spotify acquires Parcast storytelling podcast studio

Spotify announced Tuesday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Parcast, a storytelling-driven podcast studio. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. “The addition of Parcast to our growing roster of podcast content will advance our goal of becoming the world’s leading audio platform,” said Dawn Ostroff, Spotify Chief Content Officer. Parcast […]

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Spotify announced Tuesday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Parcast, a storytelling-driven podcast studio. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“The addition of Parcast to our growing roster of podcast content will advance our goal of becoming the world’s leading audio platform,” said Dawn Ostroff, Spotify Chief Content Officer.

Parcast runs 18 high-quality scripted, story-driven podcast series including Serial Killers, Unsolved Murders, Cults and Conspiracy Theories and the studio’s first fiction series, Mind’s Eye. These genres are particularly appealing to women, according to Spotify. Over seventy-five percent of the Parcast audience is female.

“In three years, we have created a production house that has grown exponentially and hit a chord with mystery and true-crime fans, especially women, across all 50 states and around the world,” said Ostroff.

Parcast will continue to develop its own stories. In addition to the podcast series Parcast currently runs, the studio is developing more than twenty new scripted shows focused on topics like crimes of passion, the justice system, and the world’s most resilient survivors which Spotify plans to launch by the end of 2019.

Why you should care

The podcast industry as a whole is growing, and Spotify considers itself the second biggest podcasting platform in the world, behind Apple. The acquisition further bolsters both Spotify’s competitive edge and podcast advertising revenues.

The IAB and PwC forecast that podcasting ad revenue will more than double to $659 million by 2020.

While Spotify doesn’t play ads to Premium subscribers, some podcasts might have third-party ads within their episodes. For some marketers trying to reach certain demographics, podcast advertising could prove to be a effective channel. Whitepapers like the IAB’s Podcast Playbook: A Guide for Marketers are a good starting point for marketers interested in exploring more about the opportunity. Spotify’s Ad Studio program also offers extensive resources and tools for advertisers.

More about the deal

  • Spotify has said it plans to spend up to $500 million on podcast start-ups this year.
  • In February, Spotify spent $337 million to acquire the Gimlet Media podcast network and production house Anchor.
  • Spotify claims more than 200 million global users, far behind Apple’s nearly 1 billion users.

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Reaching the elusive digitally-driven millennial consumer

Millennials adapt to new formats and screens quickly, which means marketers must constantly evolve beyond the traditional platforms of previous generations.

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Nielsen describes the millennial generation as today’s “most coveted consumer demographic from a marketer engagement perspective,” and brands and agencies are investing millions in digital advertising to reach them.

Not only are millennials on pace to become the nation’s largest living adult generation in 2019, but according to the latest projections they are also wielding enormous buying power. Research shows that by this time next, millennials may spend as much as $1.4 trillion annually.

These digital natives are using a wider range of devices in their daily lives and consuming digital content via an ever-expanding array of fragmented channels, presenting a significant challenge for marketers. What’s more, traditional mass market digital strategies are falling by the wayside as millennials continue to demand more authentic advertising experiences.

As brand marketers seek to tap into the explosive spending power of this ascending generation there are several key challenges that must be overcome to better unify the fractured digital landscape they live in and gain a deeper understanding of how to reach, engage and ultimately convert millennials in the right way.

Understanding the channels that matter

There’s no question that millennials spend a lot of their time on their mobile devices. Eight out of 10 spend at least three hours on their devices daily, and one out of five spend six hours or more per day — that’s one out of every four hours in the day, or one-third of their waking hours spent consuming mobile content. In a recent survey conducted by the Harris Poll, millennials were found to spend nearly 5x more time on a mobile device than watching live TV, which isn’t as surprising knowing that 40 percent of millennials don’t spend any time watching live TV at all. Let that sink in.  More than a third of all members of this rapidly growing and valuable demographic watch zero, as in not one minute, of live broadcast television.

Live TV isn’t dead yet, but it certainly is not the paramount vehicle for millennial brand engagement. One-third of millennials have already cut the cord, and nearly half plan to get rid of cable services within the next year.

Research from Park Associates reveals that 85 percent of millennials in the U.S. subscribe to at least one OTT video service, such as (Netflix, Hulu, etc.).  The reality of OTT is that brands can rethink their “TV budgets,” moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, to one where they can have hundreds or potentially thousands of unique messages designed to engage the desires of different consumers all watching the same program.

The speed at which the millennial generation adapts to new formats and screens can be dizzying, but it also means that marketers must constantly evolve beyond the traditional platforms that may have resonated with previous generations. This includes channels that are just beginning to emerge, such as audio. Research shows that 50 percent of millennials who own voice-enabled devices talk to their smart speakers daily.

Content creators and brands looking to reach this digitally-driven generation must recognize voice as an engaging, relevant platform for reaching a more connected audience. In the not too distant future, the thought of ever using a keyboard to search for content or shop for goods or services will likely become as foreign to this generation as using a rotary telephone. This will have profound implications for how brand marketers surface content and engage consumers in new, real-time and truly relevant ways. And the good news is that early indications are very positive. Thirty-nine percent of consumers find ads on smart speakers to be more enjoyable and engaging than traditional tactics, such as banner ads or TV ad spots.

Meeting millennials where they’re at

As this generation continues to integrate digital devices into their everyday lives, they’re changing the way they shop as well.  We’re now seeing this generation engage more directly with specific products they love as opposed to broadly engaging with a specific brand.

Direct-to-consumer businesses are proliferating because millennial consumers expect to be known and understood, and they want to work with companies that value their uniqueness and perceived individuality. Ultimately, millennials will opt to purchase a uniquely customized outfit from ASOS or the perfect meal from HelloFresh, rather than buying from a portfolio name that perhaps their parent’s generation once routinely shopped. Given this desire for one-on-one engagement, brands both big and small must acknowledge customer wants and needs and deliver on the types of experiences they desire before the consumer even has to ask.

Millennials have a growing expectation of authentic, personalized experiences that reach the channels they use most but at the same time it is critical not to lose sight of the fact that millennials are far from monolithic. There’s significant divergence within this group, specifically when it comes to what they expect from the brands they support.

This is why walled garden personalized advertising experiences within social channels like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat tend to resonate so well with millennials. Data is being used to personalize ads to their interests, and advertisers go beyond just “targeting millennials” but can go much deeper in terms of recognizing an individual’s specific interests.

For brands seeking to cash in on the cresting millennial consumer wave it no longer enough to just recognize millennials are online. Marketers must evolve their strategies to truly embrace one-to-one engagements that unlock the power of data-driven, people-based marketing, to deliver the personal and valued engagements that genuinely resonate with the world’s largest generation.

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How to make old content marketing new again

Your archives just might be a traffic gold mine if you take the right steps to refresh and resurface those pieces, marketers say.

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A major benefit of high-performance content marketing is that it doesn’t have to retire. If a blog post, article or any piece of content does exceptionally well pulling in traffic, even for a short span of time, the topic can inform future content marketing choices.

Expert content marketers know this and often recreate and update content that has delivered, giving it a second life and more opportunities to drive bigger results.

From 50 clicks a day to more than 200

SEO consultant and podcast host Dan Shure was able to take one of his client’s previous columns that had been part of a series answering reader questions and turn it into article that delivered substantial organic search results.

The original column was part of a reader response series on Mark’s Daily Apple, a fitness and nutrition website. The ‘Dear Mark’ column was a response to a question about intermittent fasting, serving only one objective – to offer reader feedback. The objective shifted when the column was identified as content that could be repurposed.

“The objective did change because [Mark’s Daily Apple website owners] saw over the years that the article originally drove search traffic, but that search traffic to this single article had declined. The search traffic was accidental, so the objective became to totally refresh the old ‘Dear Mark’ entry into an actual up-to-date post which could drive search traffic.”

The Process

Shure took the following steps to repurpose the ‘Dear Mark’ column:

  1. To start, he moved an exact copy of the original piece to a noindexed archived page on the website.
  2. He then completely rewrote the original content as an actual article (versus the reader-response format).
  3. The previous content was replaced with the newly re-written version of the article, but remained at the original URL because it had gained authority over the years.
  4. A link to the archived (noindexed) version of the content was included within the new article along with a note to the reader explaining the content had been updated, but that they could still read the original version.
  5. Also, a link was included within the archived version back to the new content.

Mark’s Daily Apple: Old Content vs. New Content

“The set-up was done with both the user experience and the Googlebot’s experience in mind,” said Shure. Users would see a note that the article had been updated and that they could visit the archived version if they wanted, while the Googlebot could identify the connection between the old and new version, but not index the archived version.

The Results

Without any extra promotion, the newly produced article resulted in high visibility and a significant upshot in traffic once Google picked up the updated article.

“The article went from barely 50 clicks a day to well over 200 clicks a day, and still maintains 125 clicks per day,” said Shure.

Turning a ‘listicle’ into a lasting piece of content

Brad Smith, founder of the content marketing agency Codeless, said his team often refreshes old content to keep it relevant and deliver better results.

“Basically, we take content that historically performed well, but is starting to slip, and rewrite it, update, etc.,” said Smith. One example provided by Smith included an update to one of his company’s own “listicles” that involved 22 tips and approximately 5,500 words.

“The content was solid, but kind of all over the place. And even though it ranked fourth without any real promotion or link building, we could tell that it didn’t really perform for us in terms of driving leads,” said Smith.

Solid content, but lackluster performance

Google Analytics showed the original piece had an 89.61 percent bounce rate and 88.86 percent exit rate from organic search visitors.

“Literally, everyone that came to this page almost left immediately,” said Smith, “Our goal was to completely rework it so that people wanted to actually stick around, and also bring it more in line with our current positioning for potential lead gen.”

Smith’s team rewrote the piece entirely, reducing the word count to 1,500 words. They also added a “real life” example within the content to increase engagement and an audio version of the content recorded by a voice actor. Custom, branded images were included throughout the content to illustrate different points and the team tested headline variations to determine which performed better.

The content was also translated into multilingual versions for wider consumption, and Codeless ran Facebook ads around it to accelerate results.

Added benefits of supplemental content

“Creating custom, branded images and video didn’t just help on-site content performance, it also provided us with ammunition for creating better ads too,” said Smith, “One little investment boosted page engagement and lowered ad costs. In the three ads we created for this campaign, the headline and description copy were exactly the same. The only difference was the media asset.”

Smith says the “Custom” variant of the ad outperformed the other two with a $0.439 cost-per-click (CPC). The “Custom” version of the ad used a custom image versus the “Featured” version which defaulted to the featured image used in the post. Smith’s team found that the “Featured” version with the default image performed the worst of the three ads at $1.486 CPC. It’s worth noting here the custom image far outperformed the featured image as most companies do not use custom media in their social posts, instead relying on the featured image that is automatically inserted within the ad.

“That’s another 70 percent CPC cost savings on social distribution that most companies leave on the table by sticking with the default featured blog post image,” said Smith.

The video option was second at $0.617 CPC and a 1.051 percent click-through-rate. Overall, Codeless was able to drop exit rates for the content by 23 percent and increased the average session duration from SERP visitors by 280 percent.

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What a year’s worth of publisher responses can teach you about digital PR

It’s important to understand the topics each publisher wants to cover – and then how to pitch that content – to earn the best response.

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Most marketers agree that if you can get your content in front of the eyes of journalists at mainstream online publishers, it has a good chance of being shared widely across the internet. Journalists hold the power of the press, but getting their attention is more competitive than ever, with a nearly 5:1 ratio of PR people to journalists.

Crafting a perfect subject line and getting the journalist to open your email pitch is the first step. It’d be great if we got a reply from every email we send, but that’s simply not the case. That’s why when a writer does respond, it’s important to pay attention to what they say. Our team at Fractl records every response we receive from journalists verbatim so we can identify trends and improve our outreach. We analyzed all the publisher feedback we received in 2018 and here’s what we learned.

Methodology: For this internal study, we analyzed all publisher feedback we recorded from 2018. Along with a language sentiment API, we aimed to determine whether or not the language journalists used in their feedback was more positive, neutral, or more negative. As you’ll learn, all of the assets show feedback on a positive scale – the closer the sentiment score is to approaching one, the more positive it is, the closer it is to approaching zero, the less positive it is.

Takeaway #1: The higher-tier the publisher, the more rigorous the  editorial standards

Our analysis found that the higher the Domain Authority of the publisher, the less positive the journalist’s feedback was likely to be. For PR pros that have even the least experience, this makes perfect sense.

What do the New York Times, CNN, TIME and The Washington Post have in common? They’re all top-tier publishers (with a Moz Domain Authority of 90 or above) that we have placed our clients’ content marketing campaigns with directly in 2018.

These top-tier publishers lead the way when it comes to media companies that have been awarded the most Pulitzer Prizes. Campaigns pitched to journalists at these extremely reputable and competitive publishers must be authoritative, methodologically sound and newsworthy even to be granted a reply by a journalist.

As a standard, we use Moz’s Domain Authority score as a way to categorize publishers as top-tier, mid-tier and low-tier. While the debate about DA is contentious among SEOs and digital marketers, we find it useful for our digital PR team because it gives a good overview of the trust and authority of publishers relative to each other.

According to our study, when journalists at these top-tier publishers do respond, they’re much more likely to ask about the methodology or the source of the content. Often, data from a campaign needs to be backed up by an expert in the field for it to meet their editorial guidelines, so they want to make sure any data-driven content is methodologically sound.

When we analyzed feedback from websites with a Domain Authority of less than 89, the top feedback we received from journalists were focused on complementing our work. We speculate that this occurs because lower-tier publishers have less stringent editorial guidelines and therefore are quicker to give praise on content they receive for their coverage.

Takeaway #2: Who you pitch matters as much as what you pitch

What is the difference between a staff writer, an editor and a contributor? If your first thought is “not much,” you may want to reconsider. Knowing the difference between these three common roles for publishers can both inform your list building process and give your digital PR team a stronger knowledge base when approaching publishers with content.

Staff writers are typically salaried employees that write around a specific beat. They can come up with their own content but have to pitch it to their editors first for approval.

Staff editors still write stories, but they publish their own work with much less frequency. Pitching a staff editor has the added benefit of reaching directly to the person that decides whether to assign a story or not.

Contributors are writers that work on a freelance model and have to pitch ideas or fully-written articles to editors for approval, typically every week. They are usually paid per word or per finished piece.

In our analysis, we found that contributors are likely to respond more positively than staff editors and staff writers. This may be true because they are not constricted to a specific beat and receive fewer pitches than members of the editorial staff do. While they respond with the most positive feedback on average than other roles, they ultimately have less deciding power when it comes to determining their publication’s editorial calendar.

When it comes to writers with a specific beat or vertical, we found that feedback from travel writers offered the most positive feedback on average, while finance writers were less favorable in their responses.

Takeaway #3: Feedback type and sentiment are related

Unsurprisingly, compliments on our work were the most positive Feedback Type, on average.

Other categories of feedback that ranked second and third most positive on the sentiment scale were “Timing/Editorial Calendar is Full” and “Wants Expert Opinion.”

For our team, this ranking makes perfect sense. Often, a journalist will provide very complimentary feedback on the campaign, only to decline because of issues with timing or their editorial calendar. We’ve heard it dozens of times: “I’d love to cover, but I’m booked for the week. I’ll keep it on file.”

In the case of wanting an expert interview, a response that requests for additional commentary basically guarantees a placement is in our future. If they’re asking for an expert quote, they’re probably already writing the article!

The least positive responses came when the journalist thought the content was not newsworthy, had questions about the source, or had just covered the same topic recently.

Katie Roof, a journalist writing for the Wall Street Journal, explains this perfectly with her tweet:

While it’s important to research your contact in advance to make sure they cover the content topic, targeting, in this case, may have been too good. To avoid getting blasted on the PR wall of shame for this offense, it’s important to offer a fresh perspective or an otherwise unexplored angle on their topic area when pitching to a journalist – otherwise, it can seem inauthentic and as if you’re just looking for a link or press mention for your client.

Tying it all together

After six years of pitching journalists from every corner of the internet, our team has developed a deep intuition for understanding the kinds of content that publishers want to cover and how to pitch those topics to earn the best response.

For example, if you find that journalists like one content type more than another, or that travel writers prefer informal pitches and finance writers prefer data-heavy pitches, adjust your strategy based on the data and you will see response rates, and placement rates, soar.

With competition for press more fierce than ever, informing your outreach strategy with your own internal data can give you an edge over other PR professionals.

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Adobe, WordPress, Google Docs lead CabinetM list of content marketing tools

CabinetM reports content marketing technology is the sixth most popular layer within client martech stacks.

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Content marketing technology is the sixth most common layer of customers’ martech stacks, said Anita Brearton, CEO of CabinetM, a marketing technology management platform. And based on her company’s list, Adobe, Google and WordPress are the most common of that mix.

“There is no longer a clean line between content marketing and marketing technology,” said Brearton. “We are all content marketers in one way or another. And, as such, we all use one or more pieces of technology to create, deliver, manage or measure the effectiveness of content.”

Brearton pulled a list of the most often used content marketing tools among her clients and found the number one tool was Adobe Creative Cloud, which CabinetM classifies as a content creation solution.

Top 10 Content Marketing Tools based on CabinetM data:

  1. Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe)
  2. WordPress (Automattic)
  3. Google Docs (Google)
  4. Canva (Canva)
  5. Drupal (Drupal Association)
  6. SharePoint (Microsoft)
  7. Sitecore Web Experience Manager (Sitecore)
  8. Curata Curation Software (Curata)
  9. InVision (InVision)
  10. LiveChat (LiveChat Software)

Of the top 20 content marketing tools from Brearton’s list, five were content creation platforms, three of which showed up in the top 10: Adobe Creation Cloud, Canva and InVision. While content creation platforms made up 20 percent of Brearton’s top 20 most popular content marketing tools, the bulk of the list was divided evenly between content management/workflow solutions, content management systems, content marketing platforms and chat systems.

“One of the biggest trends is that marketers are viewing chat as a content marketing tool and are recognizing that it offers a way to engage customers and enhance the customer experience,” said Brearton, “There are three chat tools in the top 20!”

Drift, a content marketing/chat solution focused on “conversational marketing” came in 16th in Brearton’s list of top 20 content marketing platforms. Brearton said the tool was a big driver in the chat trend.

What makes a great platform? Brad Smith, founder of the content creation firm Codeless, says the true value of content marketing technology isn’t that it allows content marketers to do more, but that enables them to do less.

“Martech removes the time-consuming bottlenecks, making preparation easier, collaboration more seamless, and distribution more consistent. That frees up content marketers to spend more time prioritizing the most difficult part: starting at a blank, white screen and creating something from scratch,” said Smith.

When asked which content marketing technology the team at Codeless finds most helpful, Smith points to everything from an SEO content template from SEMrush, a workflow management platform and a Facebook ads tool.

“We use AdEspresso for social paid promotion,” said Smith, who disclosed the platform is also a client of Codeless. “We pay for an account and use it to automatically run split tests for both ad creative and placements to bring down distribution costs. You can set the variables, and then it will automatically pause under-performing placements and creative, or increase budget on others that are working well.”

One of the content creation tools in Smith’s arsenal of content marketing tech is Grammarly. Codeless uses it to catch glaring errors, but Smith said it also helps his team check for plagiarism (both automated and manual) when contracting out writing assignments to freelancers.

“For example, we commonly see less experienced writers will basically rip off content that’s already out there and that puts us and our clients at risk,” said Smith.

Snail mail? You might expect something like AI or virtual reality to come up as the next big thing in content marketing, but Brearton has another idea: direct mail.

“In the world of what’s old is new again, marketers are back to focusing on direct mail as part of their omnichannel programs because the response rates are very good, and direct mail serves as a great reinforcement for mobile and online initiatives,” said Brearton.

CabinetM recently released its direct mail technology stack with assistance from the United States Postal Service and Postalytics. The stack includes more than 175 martech solutions aimed at creating, personalizing, distribution and tracking direct mail campaigns.

In a release announcing the direct mail technology stack, USPS vice president of product innovation Gary Reblin said that direct mail response rates are often 30 times higher than display ads and nine-times higher than email ads.

“What’s new and exciting is that there are lots of new tools that make it easy to create, produce, and deliver personalized direct mail on demand, as well as tools that provide the means to track and measure the effectiveness of direct mail programs,” said Brearton.

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