Archive Digital Marketing

What binge watching teaches us about content marketing

So what did you binge watch last? Did you feel empty after the last episode? Are you experiencing any stages of grief?

Netflix and HBO are bringing us a lot of excellent binge-worthy TV shows. And a Netflix survey from back in 2013 says that 61% of viewers identify as binge watchers.

This study also shows a majority of “streamers” prefer to have access to an entire show all-at-one, rather than spread out over a weekly schedule. Cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken also observes that TV viewers are shifting away from relaxing or zoning out at the end of the day to a new model of tuning-in (ahem, binging) TV content as a new immersive entertainment experience. Both in the quality of the productions, but also in the time you spend inside these stories. And now with streaming services and near-ubiquitous WiFi access in cafes and on airplanes, we can keep these stories going around the clock.

online tv

I’ll admit it right now… just this summer, I binged a couple Netflix series, including the new season of “Orange Is The New Black” and “Stranger Things.” And I watched both in one or two days. I never really stopped to think why until now. Season 4 of OITNB, IMO, is the best yet. Was it the writing? The acting? Or the investment I’ve made in these characters?

Binge watching provides a highly-immersive experience. There is more of a theatrical feeling to binge watching. Contrast this with other must-see popular shows that you can’t binge the newest episodes… “Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Leftovers,” “The Night Of.” These are riveting shows that inspire lots of fan speculation and devotion. Even broadcast TV stalwart CBS is placing bets on a new Star Trek series to help launch a streaming channel. Plenty of content in that universe, eh?

Look at this recent promo from AMC’s website for season 1 of “The Preacher.” They’re offering a binge experience, probably not coincidentally during hiatuses for both “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead.” AMC is actively marketing to fans of that cult phenomenon to keep their fans engaged.

AMC The Preacher


HBO is doing the same thing to keep fans of “Game of Thrones” and “The Night Of” actively engaged with their programming. Promos that lead into episodes of HBO’s new crime drama “The Night Of” highlight their 1997-2003 hit prison drama “Oz.” It’s brilliant marketing. Capture fans of the newest hit to leverage an older title, many credit with helping establish HBO’s dominance in this market. And one that can be binged over HBO’s streaming platform.

Oz on HBO


For “Game of Thrones” fans, HBO is advertising their 2005-2007 show “Rome” as a binge-able fix until season 7 debuts in 2017. Uproxx is even blogging about it.

HBO Rome

And that brings me to content marketing…

In these examples, AMC and HBO are killing it by offering TARGETED CONTENT to KNOWN CUSTOMERS. They are creating a fan-centric experience to keep those fans engaged!

“Oz” is a timeless and powerful show. It makes perfect sense for HBO to add value for its customers by promoting content that very much aligns with the interests of viewers of “The Night Of.” Captivating stories both. And as a streaming-only subscriber (of HBO NOW), I very much appreciate this.

A few questions to ask your marketing team:

  1. How can we reuse existing content?
  2. Are there opportunities to augment new content with existing content?
  3. Is content being mapped to user personas or buyer journeys?
  4. Can we integrate into our most-effective marketing channels?
  5. Are you using keywords or more advance taxonomy to sort content types?
  6. Can we track content consumption?

These are just a few thoughts to get you started.

Ok, go off and inventory that content! Develop new drip campaigns featuring that “classic” content! Measure customer satisfaction! And when you can, please share examples of how you’re winning with content in the comment section below.

Archive Digital Marketing

Ask Quality Questions for Quality Feedback

quality feedback

You’ve been that customer: You’re in the store, trying to browse in peace, but growing annoyed at the store associate who won’t stop asking how you’re doing. Even when they aren’t trying to push a sale, even if they are just genuinely intent on making sure you are enjoying your experience, knowing when to inquire about your level of satisfaction (and when to leave you alone) is a skill many retail employees haven’t mastered. Pay attention, these experiences do not beget quality feedback.

Like the over-attentive retailer, you want to know how your customers feel. In fact, you need to know what their level of satisfaction is. The trick, the complex art of approaching them for an update, is to do it in a way that makes them feel valued rather than probed.

Checking In Doesn’t Have to Be Invasive

Collecting feedback from your customers is a critical tool for improving your retention and growing your revenue, and by sticking to simple inquiries that ask the right questions, feedback outreach doesn’t come across as intrusive (or annoying.) In short, you want to attempt to ask questions that:

  1. are easy to answer,
  2. directly related to their experiences, and
  3. convey that you value their needs.

Whose Feedback Do You Care Most About?

The business management company, Lee Resources, claims that for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.

That unhappy customer is important, though; 56%-70% of customers who complain will do business with your company again if you resolve their problem.

In other words, if your customers feel valued, you are less likely to lose them.

Still, focusing only on an unhappy customer is like giving all your attention to the one aunt at the family reunion who is famous for complaining. Do what you can to help, but don’t lose sight of all the other people at the reunion.

With the right questions, you can encourage the happy customers, resolve and validate the unhappy ones, and make all of them feel valued.

Sample Questions for Quality Feedback

This sampling of questions will work for pretty much any type of business, and they are basic enough to allow the customer to respond easily.

  • Do you recall how you found us?
  • How easy was it for you to buy from us?
  • Do you feel as though we understood what you were looking for?
  • Did we listen to your needs well enough?
  • Were you comfortable working with us?
  • Did you feel the price you paid was fair?
  • How happy are you with your purchase?
  • Have you ever had reason to contact our customer service department?
  • If so, were you satisfied with the experience?
  • How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?
  • Is there anything else we can do to provide you with excellent service?

Timing and Convenience Are Everything

The best ways to have your attempt for feedback ignored are to wait too long to ask, and make responding a time-consuming (and inconvenient) process.

The simpler it is to respond to you, the more likely it is that they will, and the communication method that is most convenient for them is texting – because that’s what they are already doing.

By enabling customer texting, they not only see your message quickly, they are able to respond immediately.

This increases convenience, but it also gets their attention while you are still on their mind.

Receiving an email two days later will likely go unanswered, because they are busy thinking about other things. Before you know it, that emailed survey or request is buried by the incoming stream of other promotional messages.

Think about it: If you are the customer and you receive an email 24 hours after patronizing one establishment or another, how likely are you to open it? How does that likelihood compare to that of receiving a text? What if they would have called you? Do you answer? If not, do you call them back?

Then, assuming you open and read the email, how likely are you to click on the link to go take the survey? Or, if they call, do you take the two minutes to complete the survey?

What if you they asked a question you could respond to with 3 touches?  “How satisfied were you with the service you received today? Please respond with 1-10, with 10 being very satisfied.” It would take 4 seconds to send your response, giving them the information they need but consuming no more of your time than if you’d been caught off guard with a couple of sneezes.

Become More Consumer-Centric

The benefit of asking for customer feedback (and truly listening to it) is that it allows you to hone your business practices in a way that shows your customers that you are responsive to their needs. By responding, you slowly become more consumer-centric.

One important thing to note: When asking anyone for their opinion, you have to be ready to hear the answer. So remember to brace yourself, and recognize that one person’s experience is not a reflection of the worth of your business. Asking for customer feedback (no matter how brilliantly the questions are phrased) is like asking a three-year-old if she liked the birthday present you bought her; her response is likely to either delight or dismay you.

Regardless of the answer, you’re sure to learn something from it.

Archive Digital Marketing

How do B2B marketers segment content?

content development

Marketers… listen up. Content marketing is the single most important demand generation activity you should focus on in 2015. Hands down.

The Spiceworks-sponsored B2B Marketing Content Report from @HolgerSchulze is full of interesting insights around B2B content marketing best practices. But for me, it all revolves around the “why” of that content. If you’re not devoted to generating awesome content and content to drive folks to that awesome content, then take a look at this report.

B2B content marketing segment
Source: B2B Content Marketing Report


Why do I consider this ‘most important’?

In B2B technology, we’re too “content” to develop marketing materials based on products, features, etc. Once upon a time, that was okay. Today, if you’re a technology vendor like Apple you can probably lead with product. But you already own a very defined brand. Business consumers understand your main value prop.

Now, pretend you’re Xerox or EMC. Both companies have strong core legacies. But if you’re in Xerox’s services organization, you might find it a hard sell positioning  Xerox financial outsourcing to an accounting firm that isn’t in the market for a copier.

Looking at the slide above, you see B2B marketers are still focusing on product literature. That’s all well and good, but when a potential customer has a problem in need of a solution, product names and high level positioning might not be the best introduction.

I’m glad to see persona, buyer stage, and pain point are each on this chart. Those are key drivers you should develop content around. But certainly don’t abandon those whitepapers and brochures… or at least the content that goes into them.

Can content be sartorial, or, what’s inside your envelope?


Late night TV fans might recognize Carnac the Magnificent. It’s a classic bit where John––, er, Carnac, would mention an “answer” and the question for that answer would be inside that sealed envelope.

In meetings, I’m known to hold perfectly content rich whitepapers–not unlike Carnac’s envelope–and ask how many blogs posts, tweets, videos, or infographics could be derived from that document. I like to think it’s clever. At the very least, it breaks the ice and helps open a dialog on how existing content could be used differently.

Another approach is to segment content from rich whitepapers into different “flavors” appealing to different personas. Your business user is approaching a problem differently than an IT user might. The former might be focused on features and outcomes while the latter needs to ensure technical specs will work in your organization’s environment. A finance-focused buyer might look at competing solutions to see which fits best in her budget. In other words, there are many perspectives to consider.

[box type=”download”]Download: B2B Content Marketing Report 2014[/box]

So, continue researching your solutions against the competition. Keep your subject matter experts engaged. But be the marketer and use a mix of tactics and approaches to see which bait catches the most fish.

After all, the expertise and value is clearly there. Why not create some extra magic with it?


Archive Digital Marketing

Thoughts on digital inflection points, or, don’t wait for your customers

If you’ve heard me speak about digital marketing or social media strategies, you’ve heard me use the phrase “inflection point” when describing the growth of the web. That growth (and those inflection points) have impacted not just how we communicate online, but also in how business is done through digital marketing. Most importantly, these inflection points have come to influence what our customers now expect these interactions to be.

digital inflection pointDigital inflection points have faceted meanings

For example, the introduction of YouTube in 2005 was a major inflection point along the development of today’s digital communications. The existence, and eventual use, of YouTube continues to be a major inflection “moment” for the evolution of customer communications.

inflection point definition

What does that mean?

For the past decade, users and brands are able to very easily share video content across the web. In the early days, hobbyists and artists dominated the service. But as other “digital inflection points” emerged, so too did society’s ability to use and to understand the power of YouTube. Today, anyone with a smartphone can post and share video content. Likewise, brands are using this video channel to connect with consumers in profound ways.

LOLcats, school recital videos, vacation clips, webinars, Google hangouts, and streaming movies like “The Interview” all have something in common. Each new use of YouTube comes at moments when consumer demand and participation meet. These moments themselves can be considered inflection points for the growth of YouTube.

[box type=”note”]Related: To Make The Most Of Innovation, Find The Right Inflection Points[/box]

Beyond YouTube, there have been many inflection points along the growth of the web that also define how digital marketing is done.

Who remembers when these tactics and channels first came online? Or more to the point, how we leveraged them and repurposed them and manipulated them???

  • banner ads
  • Flash
  • SEO
  • table-based layouts
  • CSS
  • portals
  • video
  • communities
  • RSS
  • social media
  • mobile internet

Each one is marked by new and increasingly creative ways for marketing to communicate AT our customers. We got really good at building the next new shiny object.We also became TOO GOOD at building the next new shiny object.

one way

Going forward, let’s all agree that there will continue to be many inflection points along the web’s growth path. Let’s agree that we should focus our efforts on building great content that supports amazing customer experiences. Let’s agree that we need to enable conversations that will inspire the next great inflection point.

And most of all, let’s agree that end game hasn’t really changed… we seek to connect with each in meaningful ways.

Archive Digital Marketing

Social selling isn’t a hard idea

Or at least, keep it as hard as it needs to be…

This is the first in a series of posts where I hope to inspire colleagues who are just getting started with the concept of social selling. Each post will focus on real-world examples I had a hand in creating.

Social selling

If you’ve been put in charge of your organization’s strategy to leverage social media as a demand gen channel, you’re not alone. Years into the idea of using social networking for business purposes, many companies are still struggling with the big picture.

social selling idea

But the idea is simple and easily enhances existing activities you’re probably already doing.

Here’s the first in a series of examples from my career that help explain the idea of social selling:

Folks understand surveys

We might not like them, but that’s a topic for another blog. While working for a Fortune 100 financial services firm during the very early days of using social media in a business setting, I struggled with the notion of “how do we do this?” But a few hallway conversations with my peers helped shine a light on the problem. And it was much more than getting legal, compliance, and marketing on board. Those weren’t difficult tasks.

The big issue was getting the field and the sales org to understand the tools enough such that they wouldn’t be disruptive. That was key. I had no intention of up-ending anyone’s workflow.

So those hallway conversations revealed that we were in discussions with a leading survey software vendor on how we could best deliver a customer experience survey for both our consumers and for our agents. My peers were focused on building out very data-driven customer experience insights. We had to get both right.

The survey piece was relatively easy. We followed Net Promoter Score methodology to help us understand our customers’ perceptions of us. That research would be pivotal to developing best practices and actionable insights for our field. What works well, and what doesn’t.

Because I was working in a large organization, in-person training and conferences were the norm in helping educate and network. This new survey tool helped spark some new thinking on how we might leverage social networking to better enable our field.

This particular survey tool offered a new set of features that allowed survey participants to network with each other. It was, in effect, one of the very first uses of “social communities” for business purposes. The goal was to allow for real and honest dialog amongst field agent peers in the hopes of sharing best practices.

It worked.

The “old school” way of doing things… flying folks to a company event took time and resources. It was expensive to put on an event and it was expensive to pull sales agents out of the field for any period of time. No one could sell!

At the beginning, my customer experience and marketing programs peers would “chum the waters” with surveys around all manner of topics… be they product positioning, sales training, or new marketing initiatives.

These surveys got the ideas happening, but many field agents took the initiative to continue the conversation within the survey community tool to really explore the new concepts the corporate office had introduced. They made the ideas their own and began implementing them with great success. Not only were agents able to increase sales volume and size, they were able to activate new and expanded local markets.

Community as a sales tool

As with many areas of our lives, “being social” often helps us expand our understanding of events and ideas. Starting with basics, we enabled and encouraged the field to discuss new ideas in ways that gave them ownership over how they might implement these ideas. It started with a survey, but continued with vibrant conversation in an online community.

If you have an example to share on how you leverage surveys or community discussions to enable “social selling,” please comment below!