April 6, 2016 Nik Livadas

4 Marketers Evaluated 50 Content Marketing Tactics



There are an overwhelming number of content-marketing options out there, and what’s recommended for your business depends a lot on who you talk to and when. Strategic content decisions, after all, must be made in consideration of specific business scenarios, marketing strategies, contextual campaigns, and even the global conversation around your brand or market. We wondered if any generalizations could safely be made. In the spirit of exploration, we decided to leverage the collaborative culture at Carlson Cowork to discover whether the combined feedback of diverse marketers could shed light on the most worthwhile content-marketing tactics.

Who & Where

Four open-minded marketing experts representing 4 generations and 4 specializations took part. All are entrepreneurs running disparate marketing-focused ventures from Carlson Cowork in Rochester, NY.

  • Ginny – Contract Chief Marketing Officer
  • Nik – Full-Stack Inbound Marketing Agency Owner
  • Jessica – Brand Voice Specialist
  • Paul – Hidden Web & PPC Guru

What & When

Individual assessments were contributed during Q1 of 2016. Once base data had been gathered, we spent a few weeks comparing notes and running numbers to determine which content marketing tactics would emerge as high performers.

Why

It’s fun to see what happens when you put a bunch of marketers with very different specializations into a room! One goal of this experiment is to cut through noise and trends to isolate the tactics most likely to maximize ROI. By defining the types of content that have performed well for very different marketers, we posit that we’ll be better able to assess whether any valid generalizations can be made with regard to the efficacy of specific tactics. Marketers may then strategically implement those tactics consistently rated as high-return, thereby more effectively allocating resources to achieve improved outcomes for clients and our own ventures. Another objective is to identify where professional opinions differ, which will give us the opportunity to more deeply explore how unique client-specific scenarios impact the efficacy of specific tactics.
The goal of this experiment is to cut through noise and trends to isolate the tactics most likely to maximize ROI — basically to create a definitive guide to content marketing tactics. By defining the types of content that have performed well for very different marketers, we posit that we’ll be better able to assess whether any valid generalizations can be made with regard to the efficacy of specific tactics. Marketers may then strategically implement those tactics consistently rated as high-return, thereby more effectively allocating resources to achieve improved outcomes for clients and our own ventures.

How (Our 4-step process)

  1. First came the daunting task of documenting 50 disparate content-marketing tactics.
  2. Each marketer then ranked the 50 tactics on a 1-to-10 scale based on two criteria:
    Perceived Effort (time/energy/expertise/resources) required to execute the tactic
    Perceived Impact (visibility/engagement/ranking/ROI)
  3. We calculated a performance score by dividing average effort by average impact.
  4. We charted the results to visualize the data, compare perceptions, and draw conclusions.

Now comes the fun part. What you see here is the method. Next we’ll explore the meaning. Get ready for a nerdy, granular, number-fueled-yet-subjective marketing ride!

Our First 4 Top 4 Tactics Findings:

4 Lowest Effort Marketing Tactics:

Memes – Attaching a line of text to an image.

Quotes – Sharing inspiration aligned with your brand to resonate with your audience.

Lists – or “listicles.”

Content Curation – “What’s old is new again” when you repurpose existing content.


4 Highest Effort Marketing Tactics:

Original Research – New studies and findings are known to circulate because they enable to the audience to become experts who are ‘in the know’.

eBooks – Publishing lengthy new content

Online Games – Designing and Developing a branded online game

Helpful Apps – Online Tools to engage and bring a branded utility to the audience


Even though engagement can be relatively low with low-impact marketing, there’s still a baseline benefit of doing something over nothing. Some are easy small victories and others might not be the best use of your effort.

4 Lowest Impact Marketing Tactics:

Content Curation – Repurposing something you already said. “What’s old is new again.” See what we did there?

Quotes – “Quickly (sometimes automated) sharing of inspiration”

Company News – The robotic newsletter.

Quizzes – Testing your audience’s know-how and sharing the answers.


4 Highest Impact Marketing Tactics:

Videos – High on SEO impact as well as personal resonation.

Helpful Apps – Online Tools like ROI Calculators, Room Designers, and Shopping Lists.

Templates – Useful working documents to be re-used by your audience. Examples are XLS, DOCs, and PSDs.

Original Research – New studies and findings are known to circulate because they enable to the audience to become experts who are ‘in the know’.


Takeaways

Jess’ Takeaways

For me, this sheds light on what hacks could be particularly valuable. There are ways to do some of the highest-impact tactics really efficiently.
Making marketing decisions could be confounding for non-marketers and marketers alike!
Verticals matter. Variables including industries, markets, and demographics will have a significant effect on “impact.”
Experience matters. If you’ve honed in on a few key tactics to fit your resources and goals, you can seek out specialized marketers who’ll deliver maximum efficacy and efficiency.

Nik’s Notes

We’re always looking to save effort, avoid the status quo, and bring the best possible results to our clients. Comparing notes with different specialists allows us to hone in on solutions from a less homogenized perspective. We spent a few weeks comparing notes to find which content marketing tactics are high-performers.

Ginny’s Takeaways

I’m client-side focused so I look at these tactics from a client’s point of view : “what time, talent and money is going to be needed to make a tactic work for my company? And how will this make a difference?” Some tactics are intuitively easy to grasp and execute, others aren’t. Many clients don’t know some of these tactics exist or they know of them but not what their technical name is. This is where experienced resources are valuable by being able to make confusing tactics easy and cohesive with other marketing initiatives.

Your Takeaways?

How do our experiences with digital marketing tactics compare with yours? Leave us a comment with your notes.

Summary

We’re better off as a whole if we share notes and collaborate.
Collaboration at Carlson Cowork is 1 of our 3 pillars.

Up Next

We’ve finished a followup post that will expand on our findings and highlight the best performing marketing tactics considering the effort that’s usually required.
We like to find the ‘low-hanging fruit’ that most businesses should be looking at as they prepare for the second half of 2016.

About the Fantastic 4

Ginny Brandreth
How the world sees a company, an organization or a person happens because of marketing – intentionally or not. Thoughtful marketing is very powerful. A disregard for marketing can be devastating. Too often companies focus on one or two tactics (like a website and a Facebook page) because they are obvious and seemingly easy but not understanding that without a cohesive plan and logical execution their company will not see the benefit of even the most basic efforts.

I founded Brandrethworks as a contract marketing service because I saw the need for companies and organizations to have a strategic marketer on their team who could provide direction then implement it, as if they had a direct hire, but without the payroll or long-term commitment.

Paul Gallipeau
Honesty and compassion are the two tenets that guide everything I do personally and professionally.
I am a digital strategist specializing in pay-per-click advertising. My ad copy is irresistible and I don’t sell middle-of-the-road service packages. Hiring me is more like a non-stop flight on a private jet. Your company, your strategy, and your goals are what guide everything I do and create for you.

Jess Heatly
I’m a content marketer to the core, and I’ve been helping small businesses to build their content assets since 2004. My perspective on content incorporates concepts related to branding, search-engine visibility, website development, and editorial consistency. My career began at a daily newspaper but quickly evolved into the realm of new media as I gained notoriety as a blogger. I took a deep dive into branding at a full-service marketing firm, and after 4 years of agency work, I launched my first company — an SEO firm. Eventually I went in-house to lead the marketing team for a major ecommerce retailer. At Carlson Cowork, I’m returning to my roots with Next Level Content and focusing solely on helping inspired entrepreneurs publish meaningful content.

Nik Livadas
The digital marketing landscape is a neo-jungle of vinelike APIs, savvy netizens, and seemingly endless opportunities. As a well-rounded native, I’ve developed the acumen required to chief various tech-tribes — 1.0 & 2.0 web-firms, eCommerce shops, eLearning providers, and adaptive eduTech startups. Since 2001, I’ve helped savvy CEOs and CMOs from NYC to LA conceive and execute award-winning digital, automate action after analysis, and ultimately make an exit.

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