Three simple ways to tell the recession is over

The last few months at Maverick have been flat out, with many of our clients having an increased marketing budget and a positive, dynamic outlook that makes me think, in some quarters at least the recession that kicked off in 2007 / 08 with the banking crisis, is now behind us.

It’s not just the sheer volume of work, it’s also the kind of projects I’ve been working on since the election in May.

Strategy

‘Write me a marketing strategy’ is definitely a phrase I heard less of during the recession, when companies were more focussed on immediate returns and stabilising their revenue. But this summer I’ve seen a return to wider, creative thinking, and a willingness to at least think about projects with a longer ROI cycle. When they’re feeling less under pressure, marketing departments can lengthen their view, setting out a co-ordinated set of activities for the next year, or even two years, and think carefully about their messaging and market approach. And one forgotten element of the marketing mix has come up to the surface, its….

The Static Website

‘We want to re-write the website’ is another phrase you won’t hear too much of when the economy isn’t growing. This is a mistake on the part of many companies, who see their websites as unwieldy, difficult to change, complex, cross departmental projects that eat resources and deliver little return, but don’t seem to realise that if that’s how internal stakeholders feel, that’s probably how customers feel too.

A company website is far more important than any other element of marketing communications, because you can guarantee any customer or stakeholder will take a look before getting in contact with you. Two other really important elements are face to face conversations between sales and customers, and sales literature. By the time a potential customer gets to that point, an enormous amount of effort and time, and probably money, will have been spent to get them there, it’s so important to get that very last step right.

But apart from the sale itself, I’d argue that a bad website is a huge barrier to acquiring new customers. Nothing digital should ever be regarded as static, companies need to consider all elements of their website as live (because, your customers can see the pages you regard as legacy, so they do have an effect on the way you are perceived). All companies change, and websites should too.
Many large companies run a web content team, and those web content teams are often understaffed. Adding resources just to get changes live and customer facing can be hugely beneficial.

And finally there’s…

Lunch

I know it sounds flippant, but over the last few weeks I’ve been eating with clients. More and more, marketing is about finding a creative approach to messaging, something that cuts through the endless emails, tweets, and posts. And that creativity is often found when, even if only for an hour, a team are released from the immediate need to account for their time and their ROI.

This summer, it’s been office lunches, but if even this small pace of economic growth continues, I expect to be taken out to the pub pretty soon.

Yes. That’s a hint.

 

Author: Megan Toogood

 

Permanence, novelty and digital revolutions

The release of the iPhone in 2007, the Kindle in 2009, the iPad in 2010 and a myriad of other smartphones and tablets alongside them have built up, over the last seven years, to the beginnings of truly mobile entertainment and communication.

There are thousands of blogs and articles positing every conceivable opinion on what this revolution might mean for book and newspaper publishing (as well as television, radio, games and the elephant in the room, work). So many articles that it’s impossible to know what the future might hold. So for most of those last seven years I‘ve been playing a game. When I get on a tube or a bus I count the phones, tablets, newspapers and books I can see. Sometimes I can see five people, sometimes about thirty.

Four to five years ago, my tiny sample sized evaluation of reading habits would have come down firmly on the side of the smartphone. An Ofcom survey in 2011 found that 27% of adults in the UK at that time had a smartphone, and almost 59% of those had bought their first smartphone within the last year – so 2010 – 2011 was when smartphones began their rise to ubiquity. Back then I could look down a carriage and see the death of the book happening in front of my eyes. There were journeys were every single person was glued to their smartphone. There were some where the only relief from the phone was that occasional iPad or Kindle.

But those were the years when everybody’s smartphone was new. They had novelty value.  In all the many articles I read that predict the future for the publishing industry, for reading, for our ability to think and learn, novelty value and impermanence seem to me to be woefully underrated.

A recent article in scholarly kitchen described the trend for independent society publishing to move to large commercial publishers as ‘a permanent fixture of the STM landscape’. Whilst I don’t have an issue with the analysis as a sound one that looks at a current trend, I don’t think that anything is permanent.

The 2011, printing our photos was a dying activity. I bet since then many of us have experienced a sudden hard drive or smartphone death, robbing us of years of memories. We’re now being told by Google to print out treasured photographs, or risk losing them.

When we read the tech press, or get excited about new hardware, or try to understand new business models, it’s important to remember that the shiny, exciting, newness soon gives way to real scrutiny. And if the new doesn’t work, we get bored of it very quickly.

I’ve had more than one conversation in the last few months with people questioning whether they even need or value a smartphone, given that owning one seems to mean being at work 24 hours a day. Meanwhile some figures from Waterstones suggest that Kindle sales have peaked and they are confident enough about bookselling to be opening more stores.

I’m not making any argument about which form of reading is ‘best’. Just pointing out that trends don’t always go in the direction we expect.

My tube -based survey of public reading habits is ongoing. Last week, on the Northern line, a carriage of twenty people showed me five jabbing at smartphones, five reading tablets or kindles, five looking at newspapers, and five gazing into space.

Personally, I’m glad to see that gazing into space is making a comeback.

 

Author: Megan Toogood

 

Content Marketing 4: Metrics and Measuring Digital Marketing

Over the last three blog posts we've looked at the various aspects of Content Marketing, from Newsletters, White Papers and Other Essentials and Social Media and Search Engine Optimisation to Search Engine Advertising, Video Marketing, and Communities.

One final thought for our series on content marketing; your efforts should generate numbers, by which to measure your success.

Measurement is a huge topic in itself, but it's worth bearing in mind one important question, which often gets lost when marketing teams sit down to design the metrics they'll report to their board.

What are you trying to achieve?

An email open, whilst gratifying, will rarely be the object of a marketing campaign. A website visit often won't be either – except in the case of open access. And even then you will want plenty of your readership to submit to the journals they're reading.

Your content marketing activity is the top of a funnel, and you're trying to get people all the way to the very last action at the bottom of that funnel. Whether they speak to a sales rep, purchase through an aggregator, buy a book, subscribe to a journal, cite an article, or use new research in the classroom, the end result of marketing activity must be a meaningful one to your business – following you on twitter is a first step, not an end result.

Its also worth trying to work out what a decent sample size is. There's little pointing in wringing your hands in anxiety becuase 30 people on an email list didn't respond to your message, the ones not at a conference are probably on holiday. But if an audience of 30,000 aren't listening, then it's worth rethinking your approach.

At the top end of the funnel you'll be looking for metrics such as:

•    Email campaigns: opens and clicks
•    Social media admin tools to measure success of posts
•    Downloads of whitepapers
•    Clicks on your paid advertising

But once people get to your website you need to be looking out for high bounce rates and single page visits as flags that your visitors don't want what you're offering. If, on the other hand, your analytics shows you lengthy visits and complex customer journeys that encompass book or journal level pages, then you're attracting an audience who are interested in what you do.

You may start your content marketing blind, all campaigns are different, so there’s no way around this. But the good news is that as soon as you begin collecting data, you can use it to assess the value of your marketing spend. Mapping the popularity of different topics, offers you the chance to produce proactive and reactive responses to the information the target audiences are interested in.

And then, you can begin again.

 

Authors: Duncan Enright and Sara Killingworth

 

Content Marketing 3: Search Engine Advertising, Video Marketing, Communities

In our last post on content marketing we talked about search engine optimisation, before that we talked white papers and newsletters.  Now we move on to paid advertising,

With paid advertising you can buy your way to the top of the search results – especially with niche or specialist terms, which is good news for publishers, who generally have unique content among their offering.

The first question we’re often asked is, does it work? The answer is yes, it really does and the best way to begin is to:

•    Carry out a simple Google AdWords and LinkedIn campaign (to Groups)
•    Test specific terms and subjects
•    Don’t spend a lot until you analyse your results
•    Make sure the sales funnel is clear – if you want visitors to download a white paper, then make sure they can do this quickly and easily from the landing page.

YouTube

We can’t discuss content marketing without mentioning YouTube. Videos are an obvious choice for bringing content to life and engaging your audience. With YouTube now the second most highly used search engine, it’s an excellent option for reaching a wide target audience, quickly. And it’s relatively easy to do as all you need (in theory!) is an interviewer, respondent and a video camera. There are lots of ways videos can help to promote your content:

  • Author interviews – as well as publishing the latest research in your journal, why not ask the author to provide a synopsis of the research, the background to how the findings came about, which you can record as a video and post to promote the text-based piece.
  • Customer experience – as well as promoting your content, you can also promote your publishing or editorial processes. This is especially useful for open access publishers, who need to market to potential authors, as much as readers.
  • Conferences also present great opportunities to chart customer experiences by asking customers to take part in a video that talks of their experience with you. The final results – a montage of different interviews – can then be used to promote your collections.

Communities

What LinkedIn and Twitter do, when used properly, is allow you to identify communities of people interested in what you do. It’s often easy to overlook the fact that these communities already exist, in purpose built, subject specific forums. If one doesn’t exist for your niche, you can build one, but be aware this is a long term project that takes a lot of commitment.

You can use these communities to make particular content freely available to whet readers’ appetite to learn more about other content you publish in that area.  As with LinkedIn groups, it’s important not to attempt to sell to the groups, but to become a valued member of the community.

Conclusion

Newsletters, white papers, videos, social media, the landscape of content marketing is a busy one, and we'll finish off this series of posts next month with a quick look at evaluating and measuring this activity.

Authors: Duncan Enright, Sara Killingworth

Research Media announces strategic partnership with Maverick Publishing Specialists

Research Media and Maverick Publishing Specialists have today announced a strategic partnership which will develop new business opportunities for a combined client base by expanding the services offered.

Research Media is an international dissemination expert that offers a full suite of editorial, design and production services to academic institutions and research projects across the globe. Maverick Publishing Specialists is a strategic consultancy and outsource services company for the publishing sector offering marketing, market research, sales and content / technical consultancy and support.  The partnership will see both organisations working together offering a complementary and extended range of services.

The partnership enables Research Media to broaden its offering to include technical website development, market research, sales support and data sourcing in order to boost client networks. In addition, clients can benefit from expert advice on digital marketing strategies such as social media which are pivotal in today’s digital world.

Maverick clients will benefit from expert knowledge in design, editorial and research dissemination services from Research Media. The partnership will use reciprocal skills to allow access to innovative and engaging design solutions such as infographics, animations and branding of all communications.

Martin Marlow, President Maverick Publishing Specialists says: “This complementary partnership has been formed to develop new business opportunities. This will be of great benefit to our respective existing and potential clients.”

Vicky Williams, CEO of Research Media says: “We have been working closely with Maverick over the past couple of years and they played a key role in the development of our new content website. I am delighted that we have formed a strategic partnership which I believe matches the expert resources of both companies. We share the same values and I’m confident we will exceed client expectations.”