How to get into the 2017 Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report

  • Our annual digital marketing excellence report is in production
  • Tips and tricks to get into the report
  • Learn about the three areas you can improve on right away

The build up to Microsoft Inspire, the biggest annual event for Microsoft Partners, has begun in earnest. Over at Fifty Five and Five, we are once again putting together our longlist for this year’s Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence awards which we’ll be launching at Inspire in Washington, D.C. this July. This year we will be analysing the blogs, websites and social media presence of more than 28,000 Microsoft Partner companies, crunching the numbers to create our top 250 shortlist.

As we pointed out last year, even getting in the top 250 is a huge achievement, showing that your business is among the top 1% of Microsoft Partners when it comes to inbound marketing. If you just missed the top spot in 2016, or want to improve on your current position in the ranking, we decided to compile a list of practical tasks and activities you can action today.

Of course, the real goal here isn’t to get a slightly higher score in Fifty Five and Five’s rankings. You should always aim to offer better marketing, to support and engage your customers and boost the number of leads you get through your digital channels. All the same, a ranking is recognition of your hard work throughout the year. So, what can you do to improve your position in this year’s Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report?

There's no magic or sorcery

In the end, simply following digital marketing best practice, in a consistent manner, will pay off more than any ‘work around’ or shortcut. To rank companies, we exclusively use Maya, our in-house digital marketing tracker to score our longlist. Maya measures your marketing based on the quality and consistency of your blogs, website, Twitter and other social media activity. Try Maya yourself for free today to get a better idea of what we focus on.

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2017 Top 50 Report
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What do you need to do to get into the 2017 Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report? Start with the following today!

Get your website up to scratch

2016’s best website went to Infragistics, a New York-based UX design agency. Infragistics scored especially well for their website’s mobile responsiveness, besides their all-round great design, easy navigation and great quality, fresh content.

Checklist for fast website improvements you can make:

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  • Mobile optimise your website (this is even more important than ever as Google discredits slow and unresponsive websites). There’s a great guide for website mobile optimisation here.
  • The internet is all about sharing. Boost the number of links you have with external websites, but also grow the number of links to your content by writing articles for respected third party magazines and publications.
  • Search Engine Optimise your pages—great SEO takes months of gradual building, but there are some simple steps you can take to improve your score right away, such as adding ALT tags to images, including header tags and having healthy length URLs—these all help your SEO score.
  • Update your landing pages with recent news to keep them fresh.

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Publish quality, long-form content regularly

Last year’s all-round winners of the Top 50 were Sharegate, who also got the highest overall score for their industry-leading blog. Sharegate publish content daily and have a rigorous approach to SEO and keywords.

Checklist for rapid blog score improvement:

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  • First and foremost: post regular, fresh content—aim to upload a new blog at least once per week, although the more the better.
  • We recommend aiming for articles of, at a minimum, 800 words, although longer content is generally better received and ranked higher by search engines.
  • Keyword and SEO optimise your content, making it easier for your target audience to find.
  • Include at least two relevant images in any posts you upload, and add ALT tags to them.
  • Add at least three outbound links to any blog post you write—remember, the internet is all about sharing!

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Revitalise your social feeds

Last year, Nutanix, a cloud infrastructure consultancy, came top of our ranking with their highly engaging Twitter feed and regular posting across their social media accounts.

Checklist for rapid social score improvement:

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  • Grow your number of followers: sure, this isn’t something you can do overnight, but by designing a strategy to find people that post about topics that are important to you and following them, you can start to grow your influence.
  • Aim for about five tweets per day—these don’t always need to be major updates, just share your own content or external articles that will be of relevance to your followers and show that you’re on top of the trends affecting your sector.

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Get recognised in the 2017 Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report

We are always so impressed by the marketing efforts of Microsoft Partners—some of the companies in our list give a genuine master class in digital marketing, and often on tight budgets and with small teams. As we build up to Inspire in Washington, D.C. this July, now’s the time for you to make some final improvements to your blog, your website and your social media presence. And remember, while our Marketing Excellence report ranking gives recognition of the hard work you do, the end goal is always to provide the great quality content that your audience will find valuable, useful and inspiring.

 

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Want to keep upto date with the top 50?

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Partner of the year

Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards : Creating the perfect entry

UPDATED FOR INSPIRE 2017: We’ve updated and expanded this post for this year’s Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards, to be announced at Inspire 2017 in July. Click a link below to jump to the relevant section, or read on.

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  • Find out how to get recognised in the awards
  • Best practice for writing your application
  • Learn about the new Customer Experience category[edsanimate_end]

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[mks_dropcap style="letter" size="52" bg_color="#ffffff" txt_color="#20a1d6"]T[/mks_dropcap]he title of Microsoft's worldwide partner conference (now dubbed 'Microsoft Inspire') may have changed, but the annual Microsoft Partner Awards are still one of the highlights of the conference. Ranging across 50 different categories, the Awards are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the solutions partners have built on top of Microsoft technologies, earning recognition for their hard work and dedication.

To gain that recognition, however, you need an exciting and compelling entry submission to prove your company is deserving of such an award. Entries are limited to 7,000 characters (including spaces) and as such need to be concise and to-the-point. Award judges received over 2,500 submissions in 2016, so competition is fierce. As such, we've created this web page to house everything you need to know about the Partner of the Year Awards - from all the details, to submission entry best practice and where to go for help.

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Inspire 2017 and the Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards

This year's entry period for submissions is now open and runs until April 6th. During this time, The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Partner of the Year Award Submission Tool will be available for submitting your solution entries. After this period, a selection of judges will review all eligible entries and select up to 3 finalists and 1 overall winner for each category, to be announced at the award ceremony at Microsoft Inspire Conference.

Despite well-earned bragging rights, Award recognition means greater visibility for your company and team, which can have a direct impact on creating stronger business opportunities. Whether you're an award-winner or finalist, Partner of the Year Award benefits include:

  • Customised logos and web banners to showcase your company as an esteemed Microsoft Partner.
  • Congratulatory letters from key Microsoft executives.
  • Photo opportunities with Microsoft executives at Microsoft Inspire Conference.

And the lucky few winners can expect:

  • Verbal recognition during keynote presentations at Inspire.
  • An invite to an exclusive awards celebration during Inspire. A unique opportunity to network with Microsoft executives and strengthen relationships within Microsoft business groups.

For more information, check out this year's Partner of the Year Award Guidelines from Microsoft.

Best practice for writing your award

Due to the high-frequency of submissions for all award categories, judges have precise knowledge on what makes an entry stand out and what results in it getting lost in the crowd. Having written many successful award submissions for clients over the years, we offer our 5 top tips for creating the perfect submission.

1. Don't leave it too late

With a relatively long entry period and small word count, it’s common to take on the ‘I’ll get started tomorrow’ mantra. As this mantra so often proves to be, however, this is a bad idea. Microsoft recommends you spend an average of 10 to 15 hours on your submission, so the more time you can invest, the better. You should be editing, re-editing, reviewing and re-reviewing your submission numerous times before you're finally ready to submit, so give yourself plenty of time.

2. Use Word wisely

While some may keep putting it off until it’s too late, the extra eager among you may be tempted to get your submission into the Award Submission Tool as soon as the entry period opens on the 22nd Feb. Whilst this is by no means a bad idea, it can turn into an obstacle if you haven’t previously (at least) drafted your solution entry. We suggest completing – to the best possible standard – your submission in Microsoft Word beforehand so you know it’s completely ready to go. Formatting in Word is far easier than fiddling around in the Award Submission tool, so the uploading phase should really be the final step in the process.

3. Detail, not trivial

Last year saw the nomination format change from a series of 5-7 questions to an executive summary style submission. With only 7,000 total characters, it’s vital that you can provide the judges with as much information, detail and reasoning as possible. This means that despite the ‘executive summary’ label, there is absolutely no room for the infamous ‘business waffle’. Don’t try and impress with superlatives and hyperbole, just tell them what they want to hear – describe the challenge specifically, and express how your solution helped in detail. Metrics, numbers and statistics are a vital part of this; concisely define your achievements, emphasising and solidifying it with factual information.

Don’t try and impress with superlatives and hyperbole, just tell them what they want to hear – describe the challenge specifically, and express how your solution helped in detail. Metrics, numbers and statistics are a vital part of this; concisely define your achievements, emphasising and solidifying it with factual information.

4. Don't rely on a single voice

Some of the strongest evidence of your success is defined by the satisfaction of the customer, and yet many submissions will talk solely from an internal perspective. Gain another voice by talking to your customers and gathering testimonials. It might be a good idea to let them help you tell the story by asking permission for the use of statistics that quantify your success. After all, what good is a narrator if they can't introduce the characters?

5. Once is enough

As we’ve probably made quite clear, the submission process can be a lengthy and arduous one. Considering that, many are likely to sit back and relax once their solution entry has been submitted. However, we're sure you'd feel less relaxed knowing you could have won a different award if only you’d applied for it.

Writing more than one entry will, of course, take more time, but it will give you a much better shot at winning an award. There is no limit to the number of entries and the content doesn’t have to be different for each (not that we'd recommend copying&pasting the same submission for different categories). Find the right balance: submit your best one, two or three entries rather than submitting six or seven and end up sacrificing on quality.

Again, for further instructions on preparing to write your award nominations, take a look at the Award Submission Guidelines.

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From Modern Marketing to Customer Experience

Last year, the Partner Award for Modern Marketing was highly sought after. But as the name suggests, it's a field that is constantly changing. This year, Microsoft have altered the Modern Marketing Award to the Customer Experience Award, to reflect the tech giant's recent focus on the importance of strong customer experience. And the submission guidelines for the award are slightly different compared to others.

For this award, a partner will have to articulate how their own company focus on CX has broadened their appeal to potential customers or helped retain current ones (or both). This comes down to managing the customer lifecycle as effectively as possible, something that continues to grow as the number of touchpoints - mediums and methods that customers interact with your brand - increases.

Why CX?

So, what's the reason behind Microsoft's newfound focus on the Customer Experience? And, more specifically, the value of CX for Microsoft Partners?

  • Microsoft seeks validation that Microsoft customers are having positive experiences with partners.
  • Partners generating a customer-centric experience can use it as a point of differentiation.
  • Microsoft can be confident in investing in partners not only for their technical and/or sales expertise but their strength of CX.
  • Partners can use the concept of CX best practice in their future work with customers and clients.

What's in the submission?

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  1. Take the CX maturity self-assessment test
  2. Download the Partner of the Year CX PowerPoint_deck template from the award site
  3. Fill out slides 1 to 9
  4. Choose the primary persona you work with (CEO, CFO, etc.)
  5. Map your persona across the customer journey for slides 10-15
  6. Validate this customer joruney with five of your customers using the sample interview questions on slide 16.
  7. Document CX metrics calculated from the customer interview questions on slide 17.
  8. Document your top five learnings from customer conversations on slide 18.
  9. List interviewed customers on slide 19 with contact information so Microsoft can verify them.

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View the complete instructions for the Partner of the Year Customer Experience Award, and all other awards, in the Award Guidelines.

[mks_pullquote align="centre" width="500px" size="24" bg_color="rgba(96, 188, 226, 0.53)" txt_color="#ffffff"]"At Fifty Five and Five, we share Microsoft's enthusiasm around facilitating great Customer Experience."[/mks_pullquote]

We love CX so much, that it's the focal point of this year's edition of our annual Inbound Marketing Excellence report. CX is also one of the key metrics analysed in MAYA, our digital benchmarking tool.

Here to help

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[mks_two_thirds]Partner Marketing Concierge UK, as part of the MPN, is a dedicated service to enhance your marketing efforts with expert advice, content and campaign materials and approved marketing packages. So don't hesitate to get in contact with them if you need further help or advice with your Partner of the Year Award submission. Drop them an email[/mks_two_thirds]

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Don't have the time?

Microsoft also has its own 3 steps to follow for the submission process:

  1. Getting started
  2. Write your entry
  3. Polish & shine

Writing your entry is no doubt the most important – and therefore most difficult – part of this process. This may make it tempting to skim over the final polishing stage, but doing so could seriously hurt your chances at becoming the next big Microsoft Partner. Microsoft insists on a thorough editing phase and highlights the value to be found in enlisting the help of writing professionals with technical and marketing experience. Acquiring these additional external skills can help ensure your entry reads well, paints your company in the best possible light and can push it out to the right channels to get as much publicity as possible.

With two finalist entries last year, we what to include for a compelling Partner of the Year Award submission. Whether it's for Customer Experience, application or competency awards, we can help write you a winning entry.

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Get professional help from us with your award

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importance of customer experience

The importance of CX for Microsoft Partners—an interview with Barb Levisay

  • We interviewed Barb Levisay, Contributing Editor for Redmond Channel Partner 
  • Getting in the shoes of your customers is key
  • Improving CX is essential
  • A look at the future of partner marketing

Lately, we’ve been reading about the need for organisations to prioritise Customer Experience (CX) as a primary focus of their marketing strategies. Back in November, Microsoft Partner Network published an interesting piece outlining the ‘Power of Positive Customer Experience,’ adding to the zeitgeist. But what does this rise of CX actually mean for Microsoft Partners?

We spoke with Barb Levisay, Contributing Editor for Redmond Channel Partner, and writer for Microsoft Partners, to hear her thoughts on CX and how it will impact marketers working at Microsoft Partner companies.

Last year, Microsoft published a blog on the importance of customer experience. What do you think has led to the drive in CX for partners?

Barb: It's something that needed to happen:  I’ve worked with Microsoft partners for 20 years, and for so many years Microsoft was too focused on their technology. They were technologists and they weren’t good at looking at the end game, or the challenges partners had in making these solutions come to life for customers. And that’s what CX is about.

The blog post was good in highlighting the importance of understanding your customer. If partners can’t stand in the shoes of customers and think about the challenges they have, then they cannot develop effective marketing programmes.

The first thing any partner marketer needs to do, is to have a good definition of the ideal customer and what they want to experience. When I’m working with partners, the first question I’ll ask them is: 'help put me in your customer’s shoes', and if they can’t do that, then we need to go back to the start. That’s the first step.

Do you find that marketers are doing this? Or they are still at a hurdle getting into the shoes of the customer?

Barb: My advice, especially for new marketers working for a Partner, is it’s more important to get out and interface with customers. I mean it’s something you can’t read about it. Marketers should go out with the sales people on the sales calls, discovery sessions and consulting engagements. It’s incredibly helpful to hear from the customers (face to face is best) to hear their challenges. At least once a month, marketers should be going out to hear the words of their customers, and the Partner organisations should be supporting those connections.

It helps a marketer to get a better understanding of what the experience is, which in turn helps them to build campaigns and an online presence that is meaningful to the customer. I think organisations need to understand that the marketing team needs to be immersed in CX just as much as any other employees.

How do you see CX impacting marketing for Microsoft Partners through the channels that they’re using?

Barb: I think that the actual measurement is the hardest part. As our footprints expand online, we don't have the feedback and the Maya tool that your firm has built helps to do that. And it’s very good to see that Microsoft is getting behind it, because partners need the feedback, and the tools out there only go so far. As much as organisations may think that they understand customer experience, can they be sure that the words they are using are reflecting search terms the customers are using? When you go online, you lose the dimensions of facial expression and immediate feedback, so tools like Maya are a step in the right direction.

 

How can Partners measure their customer experience strategy?

Barb: They need to talk with their customers, keeping that two-way communication going. I think that one of the ways is, they need to use feedback from tools like Maya and work with other teams. By having that ‘loop’, these marketers can and should be leading the charge in customer experience and paying attention to all that feedback that comes in. They should then be distilling and translating that information to their consulting and sales teams. The problem is, consultants get so tied up in the technical parts, that they forget about the real impact, and how easy it is to get that information. That’s why marketers should be out front, helping the rest of the organisation to keep CX at the front of everything.

Have you seen a change of marketing managers doing that?

Barb: To a certain degree yes, but not as much as we should have. Far too many marketers are living in a vacuum, kept separate in the office because of expectations of partners, and owners that don’t want or see the benefit of them being out in the field. Marketers still have the challenge of communicating that marketing isn’t just a cost center, but can bring real value to the organization. This is why marketers have got to keep working at communicating the value of the work they’re doing."

What does the future look like for marketing for Microsoft Partners in relation to CX?

Barb: This is referring to the [Microsoft Partner CX] blog post: Having Microsoft recognise now that CX is what we need to be talking about is a huge step forward. There was a time when Partner marketers had to make it up themselves. All of the campaigns and content coming out of Microsoft were just technology driven and marketers had to translate that into business benefits. Not only is Microsoft releasing tools like MAYA that are more practical, but the content they are creating is much more benefit driven. That support goes a long way to help Marketers stretch the slim resources that they have. The key thing to remember is that CX is about the marketers getting out of the office and stepping into the customer’s shoes. There’s no replacement for that. Don’t think technology, think about how the solution benefits your customer. That’s how the content that matters is created.

We want to thank Barb for her time discussing the importance of CX and the ways that Microsoft Partner marketers can strengthen their strategy to align with Microsoft. If you're interested in driving CX with your marketing strategy and getting in the shoes of your customers, why not try Maya, the digital benchmarking tools for Microsoft Partners.

Not getting enough leads?

Digital benchmark your marketing and master the art of CX

Try Maya today


blog page is dead

The blog page is dead. Long live the blog!

  • The traditional company blog page is dead
  • Our research highlights its decline
  • Market leaders are adopting a 'media organisation' format
  • Find out how you can replicate this

It was 22 years ago that a US college student taking a leave of absence from his studies founded what is now widely regarded as the world’s first blog. With article titles like “high stylin’ on the Wurld Wyde Webb”, its author, Justin Hall, went on to become a minor celebrity with his zany and often personally revealing posts. Justin was writing at a time before the word ‘blog’ had even been coined, but with his website’s focus on linking internally and externally, tags and sharing, it was a blog in all but its name.

In the years since, any company worth its salt has started a blog page containing articles about their latest news, company updates, latest product releases, new hires, etc. The blog page helped companies advertise themselves, boost their search engine rankings and create an editorial theme to define who they were. A simple medium to connect and share timely and relevant information with potential customers; blogs were everywhere.

But in 2017, the blog died.

Fifty Five and Five’s latest research has reviewed how industry leaders are now presenting their content, and shown irrefutably that the traditional method of blogging is on its way out.

“The blog page is dead” he proclaimed... in a blog post

If it seems like we’ve written ourselves into a corner, so let's elaborate. We believe that blogging per se is doing just fine. However, the blog page—as in, the place you navigate to from a website’s navigation bar—is kaput. It’s dead and gone. Worm food. It’s pushing up daisies.

blog page is dead

The blog page (rather than blogpage) is a curious place where a very specific kind of content is uploaded. At small and medium sized companies, it’s normally the job of a marketer or someone in comms to prod their colleagues to write something: a 400-word article about anything to make it seem like the firm is still alive every couple of months. Any marketer who’s done a half-day course on SEO knows they need to keep uploading fresh content to their website to maintain some sort of ranking. And so they write articles and post them to the blog page.

But here’s the news: the blog page is dead. No major or forward-thinking company in 2017 just uses this blog page to promote their content, to tell their stories or get inbound links. The blog page is dead for them. And other companies need to start realising that a whole new type of content creation and marketing has subsumed the blog.

If not the blog page, then what?

If the blog page is dead, what exactly are companies doing to express their views, share their news and enthuse about their latest releases? At Fifty Five and Five, we’ve carried out a study of the most successful companies and their websites and compared the way these businesses present their online content with smaller firms.

As content marketers, we spend our days exploring the websites of companies of all sizes and in the last couple of years have noticed some consistent differences in the way the most successful companies market and promote material on their websites in comparison with smaller firms.

Our findings concluded: many ‘forward thinking companies’ (often those with 1,000 or more employees) do not have a ‘blog’ tucked away somewhere in the corner of their website anymore. Instead, organisations like PWC, Oxfam, BMW (to name just a few) have taken a media organisation approach to presenting themselves, modelling themselves on the methods of news providers like the BBC. They no longer have dedicated pages for specific kinds of content. Instead, they use their company home page as a central hub for any and all content they produce—blog-style articles included.

Does size matter?

We wanted to see if there was a link between bigger companies and this more forward-thinking approach. To do this research, we used LinkedIn to list companies by size and selected 20 European, North American or Australasian firms at random that were listed as employing 10,000 people or more. We then did the same for firms listed as having less than 50 employees. Once we’d collected our list of companies, we took screenshots of their website homepages and compared the kinds of content we found on the home pages and in the navigation bar.

The result? As expected, the big firms had, by and large, abandoned the traditional blog format. 75% of the big companies we reviewed were instead using their company home page as a regularly updated, multimedia news source. Most of these companies used their homepage as a place for presenting all their latest news, research, videos, promotional material and more. By contrast, only 10% of the small businesses could be described as having a ‘multimedia’ style home page. The 90% used this page as an ‘about us’ or a place to list their services. This was very different to the big brands who focused instead on telling stories.

The following demonstrates the way the homepages of some websites in our two groups compare:

 

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BIGGER FIRMS

blog page is dead

Chubb - www.chubb.com

  • Policy report
  • Magazine
  • Duty of care report
  • It does not have a separate blog

blog page is dead

Idea Couture - ideacouture.com

  • Links to thought leadership articles
  • Links to the company’s magazine
  • Links to the CEO's blog
  • Separate blogs accessed via the home page

blog page is dead

Generali - www.generali.com

  • Articles on the company and thought leadership
  • Latest company financial data
  • Latest research findings
  • Instagram links
  • News
  • Has no separate blog

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SMALLER FIRMS

blog page is dead

Think Productivethinkproductive.co.uk

  • Homepage has a distinct ‘About us’ summary
  • Lots of information about specific services
  • Has a separate blog

blog page is dead

Verifile - www.verifile.co.uk

  • A summary of the firm’s services
  • Links to register for more information
  • Includes a separate news/blog page
    -
    -

blog page is dead

TMB Events - tmb-events.com

  • A paragraph of ‘about us’ messaging
  • A separate news and updates blog

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Clearly, this random selection of companies are hardly comparable in terms of what they do. However, just focusing on how content is presented on the home page, we notice a stark difference. Big firms are undeniably phasing out the traditional blog sub-page from their websites and instead are opting for a homepage which feels more like the front page of a multimedia news website. A single page of more versatile, curated content.

If we take a couple more examples of major ‘thought leaders’ here and compare their homepages to those of leading media organisations, the direction is even clearer:

 

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INNOVATIVE FIRMS

blog page is dead

Ipos MORI - www.ipsos-mori.com

They go for Images accompanying various articles with ‘read more’ links.

blog page is dead

Microsoft - microsoft.com

Microsoft.com is an image heavy website with various headlines attached to articles in a grid.

blog page is dead

Hitachi  - www.hitachi.com 

Again a very image heavy homepage, boxes on a grid with links to news stories.

blog page is dead

McKinsey - www.mckinsey.com

Greater use of whitespace, use of listed news, as well as large images accompanying news.

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MEDIA OUTLETS

blog page is dead

The Guardian - www.theguardian.com

The Guardian goes for a grid style layout, images accompanying read-more links.

blog page is dead

The BBC - bbc.com

The BBC use varied shape lead images based on a grid, with headlines.

blog page is dead

The Independent  - www.independent.co.uk

Image and video-heavy, uses different sized boxes on a grid.

blog page is dead

CNN - cnn.com

Lists of news story links, plus varied size boxes, heavy use of images with links to news on a grid.

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What is striking in this comparison is how similar the homepages of the large firms are to those of major media organisations. Not only do they use their homepage as a constantly updated content feed, they also lay out their content in a very similar manner, using grids with lots of images of varying sizes.

What can you take away from this brief comparison?

The immediate conclusion to draw from this comparison is that, for large companies at least, the notion of using the website homepage as a kind of ‘about us’ with a list of services is dead (along with the blog page). Very few produce blogs (and other content) in the way smaller companies continue to do so. While they still write blog posts, eBooks, reports and other typical marketing content, large firms are not hiding this content away somewhere in the navigation menu. Instead, we see these companies using their homepage as a content hub, where a lot interesting and relevant material is placed front and centre.

So how can you use these findings to improve your content strategy and engage visitors more effectively?

For smaller firms who see content marketing as a key part of their strategy, there are some important lessons to learn from the research

  1. Don’t hide great content. Blogs should not be placed somewhere in the back end of your website, only accessible via the navigation bar or a link on your homepage. Instead, every new piece of content you upload should be made clearly visible and accessible on your home page.
  2. As with blogs, the same point goes for any other content you produce. Place all your latest research findings, your new eBooks and whitepapers right at the front of your website.
  3. Avoid the temptation to use your homepage as an ‘about us’. One big lesson we can learn from reviewing these major companies is that they show rather than tell. By producing great content, the likes of McKinsey show right away that they are thought leaders and experts in their field—they don’t have to define that up front with a bland statement or a description of their products.
  4. Rejig your design. Of course, the goal isn’t to wantonly copy industry leaders, but there’s undeniably a lot of value in imitating what works. At present, it seems the trend is for varied size boxes on a grid, with video, news stories and integrated newsfeeds all built in neatly together. Take inspiration from both industry leaders and media organisations.

A new vision for the blog

While we've only shared a small sample size, our research does strongly support the notion that the blog—at least in its traditional form, tucked away somewhere in your website’s navigation—is dead. Industry leaders are irrefutably moving away from the traditional approach of presenting their content. No longer do they have separate web pages for videos, downloadable resources or blogs. Rather, they are now using their homepages as a kind of central, media-style hub for all their different kinds of content, regardless of format.

This makes sense in many ways. For visitors, it shows them who you are, rather than tells them. Visitors can more easily get a taste of what you do, and browse in a way that they are now used to thanks to the format popularised by major news websites. Finally, killing off the blog and integrating your content into your company website’s homepage simply looks more professional and modern.

[mks_pullquote align="centre" width="800px" size="24" bg_color="rgba(96, 188, 226, 0.53)" txt_color="#ffffff"]"As we move into 2017, we believe the blog page is dead. So go ahead, kill yours today."[/mks_pullquote]

At Fifty Five and Five, we practice what we preach. Our research strongly suggests that in 2017, firms of any size should be reappraising how they present their content on their websites. We believe that bringing all your content right to the front and centre, in a similar way to media organisations, will increasingly become the preferred way of businesses to present themselves, and is already the preferred way for visitors to investigate companies they’re interested in. And this is why we are launching our new multimedia style website, killing off our separate blog and content pages, and bringing all that information direct to you, the reader, where you want it.

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