Illustration woman planning content strategy

Content planning: the 3 crucial steps to keeping your audience coming back for more

When it comes to content planning, developing a strategy is easy…in theory. In practice, it can be tricky to create a successful plan that not only reaches the right people but keeps your readers coming back for more. That’s why we’re revealing the three crucial steps to attracting an audience and keeping them primed and interested in what you have to say.

 

Step 1: Know your audience

The first step to great content is understanding who you’re creating it for. It’s been said a million times before, but it’s worth saying it again:

  • Research who your ideal customer is
  • What is stopping them from doing a better job?
  • What do you think they would change about the way they work if they could?

Asking these questions – every time you think about your audience – is absolutely crucial. Never lose sight of who they are, what they need and how you can help them.

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Quick tip: combine tech and human insights

Get in touch with the person in charge of your sales strategy. Ask them to help you with their insights into who your business is talking to. You likely have an idea who your ideal audience is. Your sales team are the people on the ground talking to them day after day. Mine them for all the insights they can muster.

In combination with speaking to the humans who sell your products and services, don’t forget to lean on technology to give you a hand. Conduct keyword research to understand what your audience is searching for online. The phrases and keywords they use should help you understand exactly what they’re looking for.

Try to adopt the mindset that your audience doesn’t know who you are yet and then think of your content as the answer to their questions. You are the solution to their needs. They may just not know it yet.

 

Step 2: Connect with your audience

At first, your audience may be looking for the answer to a question, as mentioned above. But what keeps them coming back to you for more? It’s all down to the way you tell a story. We all love stories and are hardwired to respond to them. The key to growing a readership is to create engaging content that tells a compelling story.

What is engaging content?

Really great content goes beyond answering a question or ‘providing value’. The engaging stuff connects with the people consuming it. The dynamic is similar to a joke or a piece of art. It’s surprising, it rises above the humdrum of everything else you may have read or watched on a subject, and above all it contains your unique voice. But how do you do that?

Well, first, forget the idea of ‘converting’ a reader into a lead and a lead into a customer. These things get in the way. Instead focus on connecting with what motivates your audience. This is where the art of rhetoric comes in.

When creating your content, think about the rhetorical devices that will connect with your audience:

Logos

Use facts and figures that will resonate with a certain type of audience who need to know what you’re selling will get them results.

Ethos

Develop content that shows that you are credible in your field. Awards, length of service and experience in a sector, and partnerships with other brands or vendors are all good ways of highlighting your credibility.

Pathos

Pathos is about emotional appeal. To connect with your audience on an emotional level, appeal to their beliefs. Using anecdotes, a specific tone (e.g., 'straight to the point' or 'irreverent'), along with figurative language are all good ways of doing this.

 

Step 3: Grow your audience

Getting your content in front of people is the task at hand. But to get them coming back for the next piece is the goal. And it’s the key to growing your audience and developing your authority in a space.

So, to recap: you need to put together your knowledge and connection with an audience into great content. That will ensure that they remember you and come back for more. By knowing what your audience wants and what it needs you can create content that is relevant to them.

Produce on a consistent basis

Looking forward to a piece of content requires knowledge and expectation of when it is going to appear. If your content is sporadic, even the most ardent members of your audience are likely to forget you. You need to schedule your work and stick to it. Creating a content calendar is a good step. Putting in place time and resources to develop ideas and create the content is crucial. And following that with a peer review will help make sure what you produce is fit for purpose.

Put your content where people will see it

There are several places your content can be seen by your audience. Your website and social media platforms like LinkedIn are the obvious two. But also creating a newsletter each week or month to send to your email marketing list is another good way of getting your work out there. Along with these, you can also publish your content on third-party sites as a guest blog or a syndication article.

Capture contact details and convert readers into subscribers

Not all your content should be kept behind gates. But long form pieces like eBooks, whitepapers or webinars can be great for capturing email addresses from interested readers. Giving people a way to put their hand up and acknowledge their interest in your content is a great step to establishing an audience base.

 

Amplify your brand

Once you've established a loyal following, then you can expand your content, developing longer/deeper/more niche stories. Your audience will follow you into new formats (such as podcasts). And a loyal audience will share, tell their friends, and help amplify your brand.


Illustration woman looking confused

The nine circles of content marketing ideas hell 

Do you ever feel like you are living the same day over and over? If you’re in charge of your organisation’s content marketing ideas, there’s a chance you might feel like you’re stuck in a type of creative purgatory. Content marketing has become ubiquitous. Everyone is ‘doing’ it. Your competitors are doing it, which means you have to do it. And because it’s a ‘must have’, it means if you’re not careful it could become a rote, meaningless, box-ticking exercise. And if we live our lives simply ticking boxes, we could begin to lose meaning…do you ever feel like you are living the same day over… 

This article covers the cycles of repeated content marketing ideas and mistakes you can all-too-easily doom yourself to if you are not careful.  

 

1. Constant wandering  

In a marketing context, ‘wandering’ means acting without a plan. Creating and deploying content just because you feel you should, instead of having a clear idea of exactly what it should achieve, or who it should be ‘for’ is likely to be a waste of your time and marketing budget. 

Instead of endless, costly wandering, embark on your grand adventure with a map – a well-defined marketing strategyIt will set out where you are, where you need to go, and the best way to get there. If you need a hand with that, the keen cartographers at Fifty Five and Five have created an end-to-end-guide to marketing strategies to help with your mapmaking.  

However, even your best attempt at a marketing strategy will probably fail if you’re... 

 

2. Lacking vision 

Your marketing budget may not extend to teaching the world to sing or hiring Oscar-winning director Ridley Scott, but that’s no reason to resign yourself to just one format. Think outside the blog. Blog posts are the foundation of many a good content marketing strategy, but they’re just that: a foundation, not the whole house.  

So, you’ve taken the time and effort to create blog content that aligns with your marketing aims. Is your email marketing and social media driving traffic to these posts? OK, that’s the start of a joined-up digital marketing strategy. But what if the blog content wasn’t the end of their journey? What if those articles, in turn, were driving traffic to an eBook, infographic or whitepaper? Or even an animation or video or a podcast?  

All the above could be gated assets’, prompting the user to provide contact details before they’re accessed. That allows you to capture contact information to reach out to leads or continue providing them content. Blog posts are just one tool in your digital marketing arsenal – think bigger and consider all the methods at your disposal.  

 

3. Ignorance 

Understanding all the digital marketing possibilities is one thing. But you also need to understand your audience – targeting your content toward the right people, in the right wayOtherwise you’ve got ‘all the gear but no idea’Think about who you’re aiming to attract: 

  • What’s their typical job title?  
  • What might their professional (and educational) background be?  
  • What’s their organisation’s likely size and industry?  
  • Which specific business problems are they trying to solve?  
  • What factors are likely to persuade – or dissuade – them?  
  • Do they prefer Oasis or Blur? 

Researching and developing in-depth customer personasand putting yourself in their shoes and their mindsets, is crucial to knowing and really reaching your audience. What type of rhetoric will they respond to? Are they fact-heads’? Do they wear their decisions on their sleeves? Or is your character or ethical behaviours the most important factor?   

 

4. Boredom 

Your content should provide valueIt should be useful and informative to your audience, and it should present your business as a good choice for their custom, a thought-leader in your field, or simply a helpful, friendly standout voice in a crowded marketplace.  

You’ve established your content’s purpose, the forms it should take, and who you want it to speak to. Now, you have to make sure those people want to listen. Otherwise, it’s all for nothing – and you’ve come too far, conquering three circles of content marketing hell, to fail now. At this pointa lot is riding on your storytelling 

This is where your research and strategy will need to pay off. It helps you cut through the noise and reach potential customers with relevant and interesting information that grabs and holds their interest and resonates with them. And it’s also a matter of craft. Just like a well-made website or image, well-written marketing content takes time and skill. Underestimating that, or generally failing to ensure content is engaging, is a sure-fire recipe for failure.  

 

5. Unrealistic expectations 

It’s fair to expect results from your marketing content, but patience is a virtue and impatience can very easily be your ruin. Beware of expecting too much, too soon, and giving up because these expectations aren’t met.  

Some organisations see content marketing merely in terms of one-shot campaigns where certain content assets either deliver easily quantified results within a certain time or they don’tThis ignores the subtleties of the brand/buyer relationship, wherein a reader may not simply be persuaded to get in touch and sign a contract after reading one (albeit really good) eBook or blog post.  

Instead, think in terms of curating content, a digital presence, and a relationship with your audience. That’s why it’s called lead nurturing – it’s not a fishing trip where you’ll hook or net a wealth of leads ione outingIt’s a garden to be cultivated. Don’t become disheartened if it doesn’t bear fruit right away.  

 

6. Worshipping false idols 

By that, I mean the great and all-powerful Google. Don’t get me wrong – SEO is a very necessary part of ensuring a good harvest of website traffic. But sacrificing everything to please the Almighty Search Engine is a mistake too many make.  

Letting SEO alone dictate the direction of your content is fraught with peril. It’s painfully obvious if every article on your blog is framed around hot search term. That’s especially true if these articles don’t really resonate with readers at the right level and on the right topics. For example, if you’re a Microsoft reseller creating content around the Office suite, writing an article called ‘What is Excel?’ or ‘How to write an Excel formula” isn’t going to impart a sense of thought-leadership and expertise, or bring in the right kind of site traffic – in this case business decision-makers rather than end-users looking for help with spreadsheets 

And on a line-by-line level, in your eagerness to search-optimise your content, you could find yourself crowbarring in every keyword under the sun. ‘Keyword salad’ isn’t palatable to any reader and visible to even the untrained eye. Subtlety and restraint are your friends here. Tick the boxes for Google without putting off your human readers. After all, it’s their approval you really want in the end.  

 

7. Gluttony 

You know what I said about lacking vision earlier? The opposite can also doom your content marketing to failureTrying to do too much and spreading your efforts too thinly could land you in a mess and mean none of your content achieves the impact you want it to.  

Bombarding your audience with a mass of emails, social posts and blog articles means the things you really need to stand out won’t. ‘If everything’s important, nothing is’. In an already noisy marketplace, you could just be adding to the static instead of offering decisive clarity.  

This is once again where the value of a solid, well-defined content marketing strategy comes to the fore. When all your content and other interactions with your audience have a clear purpose and fit into your overall marketing plan, nothing’s fighting against anything else and everything’s working as it should do. Otherwise your prospective customers will find it all hard to digest.  

 

8. Fraud 

In Dante’s epic, this circle of hell contains hypocrites, flatterers, falsifiers and thieves among others. It also includes fortune tellers – not sure what Signore Alighieri would have thought of predictive analytics and data scientists, but perhaps that’s a topic for another article.  

Unlike its 14th century predecessor, this circle of content marketing hell focuses less on the act of being fraudulent and more on the appearance of it: in other words, selling too hard. You know your product or service is great and you want to shout its benefits from the rooftops – that’s only natural. But you don’t want to appear too insistent or even desperate. 

Your audience is shrewd and if you’re too overt and pushy in your efforts to get their custom, you’ll turn them off quicker than you can say ‘buy now!’ Don’t be the salesman at the cocktail party, as the old expression goes. Once again, have some subtlety and be sure to provide something of value. That way they’ll trust you, your business and your offering.  

 

9. Being too bound to process 

Our final circle might seem to contradict all I’ve said before about strategy and focus but hear me out. Planning and awareness of what you’re doing goes a long way. It’s good to have a sense of purpose, but take the occasional leap, too.  

Go off-piste. Write that off-topic article that doesn’t necessarily promote this or that service but demonstrates passion and insight into your industry. Sticking too rigidly to the schedule might also mean you miss out on making the most of a big topic or breaking news. Surprise your audience and try to keep things fresh (that’s also how you build an audience)Otherwise, they might feel like they’re stuck in purgatory themselves. 

 


Your content marketing could be a delight. Instead, it’s likely a bit underwhelming. We’re not criticising. It’s hard to execute content marketing really well. Because usually it’s a task that’s part of a juggling act with other tasks. It’s a box to be ticked. If only you could devote more time and resource! Well, hopefully this article helped you give it a bit more thought. If  need help improving your content marketing ideas get in touch with us and together we can create something beautiful


Your 4-step guide to creating great content

It’s 2020. You know the deal; effective marketing requires good content, but the internet is crowded with companies competing for clicks, scrolls and views. Creating content that stands out is harder than ever. And yet an effective digital strategy relies on it. So, what’s the solution? How do we create truly great content?

Many have tried to crack the secret to good content. And there’s no single trick to guarantee a piece of content will be truly great. No formula will replace personality, creativity and a strong brand voice. But there are certainly a few things that can help you along that journey.

1. Know your audience

The first key to creating truly good content is to know your audience. It might sound simple, but it’s true; if you’re not sure who you’re talking to, your content will never be able to truly sing. One of the best ways to achieve this is by creating personas before you start planning or writing your content.

A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal target audience, complete with a name, job title and back story. You can find this information by looking through your CRM or website analytics data. The idea is that by giving your ideal character a personality, it becomes easier to target content towards that person; ensuring the resulting piece of content is clearer, more specific and more relevant when the real audience finally reads your piece.

2. Offer a solution

The internet is awash with content. Everywhere you look there are how-to guides, listicles, roundups, recaps, webinars and anything you could possibly think of. Standing out in the crowd is difficult. But it’s not impossible. Good content achieves value by offering a clear solution to a specific problem.

Whenever you plan a piece of content, it’s important to have the audience in mind, and consider what they’re going to take away from the information you provide. Will it explain a tricky concept, will it provide advice, or perhaps simply give a unique opinion or worldview that they might not have encountered? Whatever the case, make sure the value you’re offering is clear, the points you make are concise, and you don’t leave the reader waiting too long to find the real nugget of insight or vital takeaway that you’re offering.

3. Tell a story

Many assume that B2B tech writing is dry, functional and lacking in creativity. That might be sometimes the case, but good content should be eye-catching, compelling and interesting, regardless of whether it’s travel writing or an explainer about Microsoft’s latest productivity update. And the key to that is in storytelling.

Consider, for instance, a company that installs a new productivity app. Which of the following statements is more compelling:

  • “John no longer has to spend two hours each day trawling through emails.”
  • “Productivity in the business has increased 20%”

That’s right; it’s the first one. Humans love a story. We love to meet characters, understand their wants and needs, experience what they experience. And even in the driest, most technical piece of B2B content, stories can be found. A story can be as simple as a character having a problem and finding the solution. It’s much more fascinating to talk about people and lives than it is to talk about abstract business benefits.

But whether you’re talking about software licenses of digital transformation, make sure your content is grounded in the stories of the people and lives that technology will impact.

4. Add value

Here’s a secret about online content; a lot of it isn’t very good - or more specifically, plenty of content fails to add value. It might be coherent, well written, eye-catching or funny – but if you’re stating the blindingly obvious or just repeating information that can be found elsewhere, you’re not creating good content. And chances are, your audience will pick up on that.

The benefit of the internet being awash with bad content is that it’s very easy to learn what not to do. So, when you’re planning content ideas, make sure to do some research into similar pieces of content. See what they’re saying, where they go wrong and where they add value. And then consider how you can make your content different; how you can say something different, give new information, perhaps even challenge a consensus.

Are you content with your content?

Creating good content isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort when done properly. If you offer something that isn’t available elsewhere, the readers will begin to flock in. And by presenting your content as informed, expert and unique, your readers will naturally assume the service or product you are selling is equally unique.

At Fifty Five and Five, we work with technology providers of all shapes and sizes to make sure their content really sings. That involves all of the things we discussed in this blog; finding an angle and telling a story, all underpinned with a detailed understanding of the audience and the subject matter we discuss. But it’s about more than just that; it’s about understanding the unique personality and culture of the companies we work with and finding how to translate that into truly winning content.

If you want to find out how we do that, simply get in touch today.


Illustration woman with magic broom

What we can learn about AI's ethical issues from Disney’s Fantasia

As technologies like machine learning proliferate across every aspect of our lives, they’ll also appear more and more across the business technology landscape. So, now is as good a time as any to explore an important question for AI research that all kinds of organisations will need to be aware of. Why is it important that AI is ethical? And, specifically, what are the ethical dilemmas associated with AI? To answer that, I’ll draw on a source you may not expect, which happens to be one of the most iconic animated films of all time. But first things first. Before we get down to the details of these ethical issues, let’s start by exploring what the ‘ethics of AI’ really means.

The Terminator lied to you

It’s vital that future applications of AI do good for humanity. In popular culture, we’ve often looked at AI as something that’s either intrinsically good or evil in terms of its intent. Often, it’s a sinister digital being that seeks mankind’s downfall: Skynetthe MatrixMegatronHAL 9000, etc.

This idea of AI having good or bad intentions is a red herring – at least right now, with the level the technology is at. We’re still a long way off machines with sentience or sentiments. AI is still very much a tool, with no intent of its own except what we programme for it. Terms like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are better applied to AI in terms of the end results of its actions. AI may be programmed with the intent to serve us well, but the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

There’s a story I often bring up when talking about the dangers of AI: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It originally appeared in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 18th century poem, but you might have seen it in Disney’s extravaganza of animation and classical music: Fantasia.

The sorcerer’s apprentice, played by Mickey Mouse in the film, is tired of cleaning the sorcerer’s home, so he enchants a broom to do the work for him. This is AI fulfilling the basic mission statement of all technology. Right back to stone tools and the wheel: we create a machine to do the work to save us time and energy.

So far, so good. However, the enchanted broom is so good at its job that the place is soon flooded with water. Poor Mickey didn’t programme it to stop cleaning or set the right parameters for what ‘clean’ means. All the broom knows is that it was told to clean. The situation quickly spirals out of control.

This is the danger that AI really poses for us, right now. Not an evil robot wanting to take over the world, but a tool that’s good at doing a task we’ve given it, and the instructions we’ve given it are flawed. Or, in the case of AI that learns how to make decisions and do a job by itself, that it has learned the wrong lessons. AI is a great student: we just have to ensure we’re a good teacher.

It's a matter of trust

Trust is very, very important when it comes to AI. Popular culture has already led to some distrust – the portrayals of the evil robots in the movies. But, in reality, we don’t connect these images with the many everyday instances of AI making our lives easier all the time. Alexa. Google. Snapchat filters. Amazon and Netflix recommendations. We already trust AI to do so much for us.

As time goes by, we’ll be trusting AI with even more important matters. Whether your self-driving car decides to speed up or slow down, or whether it decides it’s seen a plastic bag in the road or a pedestrian. Or an AI checking medical records for signs of disease. You want to be able to trust that it’s making the right decisions, which could potentially be matters of life and death.

Explain yourself, AI!

This need to trust AI is where a concept called ‘explainability’ comes into play. If your mortgage decision has been turned down by an AI, you’re going to want to know why – or at least know that somebody, a human somebody, can understand why. That the AI’s thinking can be explained in terms we understand and we can say “OK, fair enough”.

The problem is, the smarter AI gets, the more it’s able to look at data and draw its own conclusions. That’s kind of the whole point: we don’t want to have to be constantly supervising and teaching AI, but to be able to let it learn to do its job from the data it gets. But the smarter AI becomes, seeing patterns we’d never see in huge, complex datasets, the harder it is for us to understand its thinking. It’s making connections we never would, because it’s got access to more information than we can handle, and it can see patterns that we can’t see in both the big picture and the tiny details.

What’s in the (black) box?

This lack of explainability is referred to as the “black box of AI”: AI decision-making as a closed box that we cannot see into, and therefore we cannot trust. A machine intelligence that is different to our own, which we cannot count on to look after our best interests and act for good. This is how the villain of popular culture manifests itself in modern AI, but not as an evil robot. It’s a machine trying to a good job for us, a dog keen to fetch the sticks we throw, but such an advanced learner that its decision-making is beyond our understanding and may mean it’s not making the right choices for us.

Explainability poses huge ethical issues in AI research, and it’s a safeguard that AI developers are working to build into their software. As AI becomes more and more widespread throughout our lives, there is going to be a call from the public for these safeguards to be used in the digital tools they come into contact with.

The next hot-button ethical issue?

When an AI developer puts ethical AI at the core of its research, they’re committed to an aspect of AI that may become increasingly demanded. It’s an issue that already affects us all right now, but its importance is set to skyrocket in the coming weeks, months and years. With the advent of data protection regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we’ve already seen data protection and cybersecurity become hot-button tech issues of our times, and it’s likely that AI ethics will become another.

Responsible tech companies, and those trusted by the public, will be the ones who learn the lesson of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Instead of blindly getting carried away with AI’s potential to work for us more and more efficiently, we must also make sure it's working for us in ways we can trust.

If your business needs to communicate corporate social responsibility messages about AI ethics, data protection or sustainability in tech, Fifty Five and Five can help. We understand the issues and the technology and have the experience and expertise to tell your stories and make your selling-points shine.


Lead generation secrets you need to know

It all starts with lead generation. And, according to marketing automation provider Nurture, 60% of marketers say that lead gen is one of their top three priorities, of which 26% claim it’s the highest. However, this cornerstone of B2B marketing can be the trickiest to master. At times, lead generation is more of an art than a science, making it hard for businesses to define concrete and actionable lead generation strategies. It’s a craft that needs to be honed if you want to practice it successfully. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some lesser-known, but highly effective, tips to boost your lead generation skills. Read on for Fifty Five and Five’s lead generation secrets you need to know.  

1. Understand lead magnets 

It’s not easy to stand out in the crowded, competitive B2B marketplace. It’s loud, crammed to the rafters, and you can easily get elbowed out of the way by other brands vying for attention. In these circumstances, first impressions really countthe first impression may be the only chance you get to create a long and fruitful relationship. 

Here’s where lead magnets come in. They’re the incentive you dangle in front of prospects in order to attract them to your business. Sounds a little cynical? Not at all. What you’re offering is something valuable: the solution to a business problem they face. It might come in the form of a piece of content, free consultation, or something else that helps them. And, if it’s good enough, it will earn you their business.  

2. Master the micro survey 

We’re living in a fast-paced, time-poor, low-attention world. More so than ever before. You can’t expect your audience to willingly answer 15-question feedback form. They’ll balk at being asked to take ‘just 10 minutes to answer our quick survey’. If that happens, you’ve just lost their attention – and their valuable input. The next of our lead generation secrets addresses this.  

Mastering the micro survey allows you to gain this vital feedback without subjecting your prospects or existing customers to lengthy, time-consuming questionnaires. If you can ask the right questions, with enough brevity, to deliver the data you need, then you’ll be able to create more effective campaigns, enhance your lead generation strategies and convert more of those leads into customers. The bottom line is that micro surveys will allow you to get insights faster and more often.  

3. Learn to mix it up a little 

As with all things in life, lead generation campaigns don’t last forever - no matter which combination of classic lead generation strategies you use. You may earn and convert dozens of leads over a short period, but eventually this will peter out. Every campaign has a shelf life. 

 Variety is the spice of life, and mixing it up, testing new approaches and staying flexible leaves you room to constantly transform. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to abandon the things that work, however. If one of your tactics is converting leads at a higher rate, maybe there are some tweaks you could make to keep it fresh or tap into a different audience. Try to always be evolving to meet the current needs and challenges of the market.  

4. Consider influencer marketing 

The consumer world has already enthusiastically adopted this trend, and 2020 looks to see the growth of B2B influencer marketing. Buyers trust other buyers more than they trust businesses or brands – that’s why the retail sector has seen an explosion of reviews on sites like Amazon. If you can harness this kind of credibility, it can do wonders for your business.   

Influencer and word of mouth marketing might even be more important for B2B than B2C. After all, B2C decisions are often thought to be more carefully considered and with greater consequences than consumer purchases. When you spend company money, you need to be able to properly justify any purchases you make. The realisation of this is causing more and more businesses to implement this strategy to boost their lead generation success.  

5. Don’t underestimate the landing page 

Imagine you bought a car online that promised a spectacular drive, guaranteed to blow your socks off. You get to the showroom and it looks like it’s gone ten rounds at the demolition derby. Even if it’s just cosmetic damage, you still wouldn’t want to get inside  no matter how well it drove. 

The same goes for a badly written, badly designed or dated landing page. A prospect will arrive full of good expectations, attracted by all the good work you’ve done with your lead generation strategies. This will all be immediately undone if they arrive on your unprofessional landing page expecting a Rolls Royce product but get a 1978 Fiat with no doors. Unless you make your landing page as effective as possible, can kiss that lead goodbye. 

Discovering and developing your own lead generation secrets 

We hope this blog has helped you develop your strategies for lead generation success by providing some useful areas to focus on. As time goes by, you – or your marketing agency – will discover and refine the tactics that work best for your business, brand or products.  

With time and experience, you may even develop your own set of tried-and-tested lead generation secrets. If you’ve got any top lead gen tips that you think are missing from our list, or you’d like a hand getting to grips with any of the existing, we’d love to hear from you. 


effective content marketing

Effective Content Marketing: How to amplify your content

What is Content Amplification?

There’s only one problem with creating fantastic content, and that’s getting the right people to see it. Content amplification is a marketing term used to define the ways content can be amplified using online channels.

Marketers can often use template strategies and wait for results to appear to them instead of engineering their marketing to produce results for them. Truly effective content marketing (the key word here being ‘effective’) will generate leads and drive your business forward. But great content on its own isn’t always enough.

The harsh reality is: where a million voices shout for attention, making your own voice heard above the noise will either make or break your digital marketing strategy. This is where content amplification comes into play.

Key tips for amplifying content

1. Make it interactive

Bring content to life by making it fun and memorable.  Successful content amplification encourages the user to actively engage with your content.

2. Visualise the content

Make your content easier to consume by guiding your audience and encouraging them to share.

3. Capture the attention of your audience

Make users want to stick around for longer, in turn increasing dwell time and improving conversion rates.

4. Maximise your investment

Make the most of your existing resources – creating great content takes time.

Content amplification uses specific channels online to ‘amplify’ your content, beyond the organic posting on your blog. Examples of amplification channels include:

  • Facebook ads
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Today, we’ll share some of our top tips on how to amplify your content to get the best results from those cleverly crafted pieces of content.

Let’s begin with asking:

Why is content amplification so important?

Content amplification does three major things:

  1. Expands your audience reach
  2. Establishes you as a trusted brand in your industry
  3. Creates new leads, opportunities and sales

Amplification helps to get your content seen by your intended audience at the right time, which could help you receive a higher return on investment. But without the extra leg work to really catapult your content, your marketing efforts could be wasted.

Tip 1: Shift the attention from you to your customers

Effective content marketing is like an invigorating conversation at a dinner party. It’s not the annoying guy in a tuxedo boasting about the heated seats in his two-seater coupé. It’s not fun when all someone ever does is talk about themselves, so don’t produce content that only talks about how great you are, this method might get you impressions, but it certainly won’t attract a loyal audience. What you really want to do is intrigue, discuss and debate with your audience – you want to engage them.

Ask not what your customers can do for you; ask what you can do for them

A customer-focused strategy will add value to your campaigns because you’re getting to know your audience and building trust with your customers which in turn encourages loyalty. You’re treating them like the wonderful individual that they are – and not just an email address in your database.

Where are your customers? How are they consuming content? And what platforms are they using?

Since the birth of Google, SEO marketers have scrambled to get high quality content to be discoverable in search engines and social media. Sure, you can pepper your blogs with keywords, but we want true engagement! We want effective content that adds value. The best place to start is in finding out what devices your customers are using and when your traffic is peaking, so you can tailor your content and calls-to-action to either mobile, app, web, etc. to make for a flawless user experience.

What motivates your customers to engage with your content?

Is it free incentives? Are they busy finance directors that love snackable content on the commute home? Do people look to you for expert knowledge of your industry? Find what people love about you and amplify it. You can measure trends in your content by click-rate or you can take a more qualitative approach and measure audience participation with posts, separating your influential content from the stagnant.

What topics drive the most engagement with your brand?

Before you can answer this question, you’ll need to perform some basic analysis of your content engagement levels. For instance, you can conduct a split test by posting a variety of content and measuring your website traffic before and after you post. Change the titles, change the structure and alter the tone to get an idea of what garners the most attention from your audience. ‘The future of’ titles tend to do especially well on LinkedIn, for example, as it’s a platform geared toward industry expertise and business trends. Once you know what peaks your audience’s interest, you can do more of it.

Want our best tips on how to improve your content marketing? Grab a copy of our fool-proof guide to content marketing.

Tip 2: Create a variety of content and split test

Variety is the spice of life and if you’re serving a buffet of content, a balanced diet is key. You don’t want to serve the same thing every day—that would be boring and predictable. Instead, save your big pieces of meaty content for when you know you’re going to receive peak interest. Likewise, serve regular dishes of content throughout the week. This will increase trust in your brand because you’re showing consistency, with a reliable stream of content.

On Friday’s, you could serve your audience a slice of chocolate cake because we all enjoy something fun to read and personality helps set you apart. This could be an informal creative piece or a chance to promote a new product. By constantly revolving your content, you’re keeping your audience alert and interested, which in turn generates loyal followers.

Weekends aren't off limits, either. Mobile content can be digested on the go and you can take advantage of weekends being a time where post rates slightly decrease as most businesses don’t tend to post as much. If you do post on the weekend it may get fewer impressions, but it’ll likely get a higher engagement rate, making it a great time to test bigger, heavier pieces of content.

Test, test, test!

Conducting A/B tests or split tests each week will greatly improve your engagement rates, as you’ll start to see what your audience actually respond to. And no detail is too trivial: for health insurers Humana, changing the micro-copy on a website button from “Get started now” to “Shop Medicare Plans”, achieved a 192% increase in clicks!

The most important thing to remember here is that, although we can estimate consumer behaviour trends, the ‘optimum time’ to post content is entirely unique to each business, as you will each have your own set of global customers with their own time-zones which will have an impact on what, where, and when you post.

Being strategic with your content plan will give you the upper hand over your competitors, as you’re essentially creating a heat map of when people engage with your brand.

Tip 3: Develop an employee advocacy programme

Word of mouth is perhaps the most effective form of advertising, probably because it’s the most truthful form of advertising and the hardest to manufacture. Which tells us two things: we trust things more when the people we like trust them, and we’re more likely to take recommendations from those we trust. Which is why when peers and colleagues share content it tends to go viral!

Want our best tips on how to improve your content marketing? Grab a copy of our fool-proof guide to effective content marketing.

A social media advocacy program (which is a fancy way of asking staff to share/like work-related content), will ignite your content from within! That’s exactly why there’s been a massive rise in employers encouraging employees to share content on social media.

For assistance, tools like Audiense and BuzzSumo will analyse, filter and present Twitter data to help you track your most influential advocates. The trick though is in deciphering how your employees use social media. They could be enthusiasts or inactives, thought- leaders or networkers. But once you establish their unique strengths, you’ll be equipped to nurture your ambassadors with a blend of training, tools and content to really make the magic happen.


Gated vs un-gated content: which is better?

Unsure whether to gate your content? This is a common issue for many marketers today, who struggle to decide if the perks of gating premium content will outweigh the cons of asking for personal information from users.

In this blog, we’ll assess each side of the coin and offer advice on implementing your own gated content – capable of driving more traffic, leads and revenue to your business.

Want our best tips on how to improve your content marketing? Grab a copy of our fool-proof guide to content marketing.

What is gated content?

Gated content, in short, is any content or media that is hidden behind a lead capture form. To access the content, a user must provide personal information, usually in the form of an email address, phone number, job title, industry information or an answer to a survey question.

Gates are highly valuable to marketers because they are powerful tools for lead generation. Typically, users will arrive on your site through a blog or social post. Hopefully, if they are impressed by what they’ve seen, they will be interested in accessing more of your content. And by creating an enticing gated content offering – you then open up the possibility of generating numerous, new and valuable leads.

Importantly – gated content is not content that your audience needs to pay for. Rather, gated content trades access to the content in exchange for an action or information from users.

Ungated content, on the other hand, allows visitors to access content without filling in forms or providing personal information. It often comes in the form of infographics, blogs or videos. Ungated content is a valuable asset for building trust with prospects – as it removes any roadblocks to interesting, useful information.

Of course, while ungated content can increase views – it can also have a negative effect on lead generation, as you are not capturing contacts along the way.

What kind of content should I gate?

eBooks and whitepapers

There are several ways that you can use gated content. Digital assets like eBooks and whitepapers are a great example – as they are ideal for delivering further value (by going in-depth on a topic your audience is interested in), whilst also establishing your business as a thought leader. Thanks to their high-value, users are often happy to part with contact information as an exchange.

Content upgrades

Content upgrades are another popular gated content strategy. This simply involves offering readers bonus content – or an upgrade to the content they are currently viewing – in exchange for their data. This technique is effective as your audience’s interest is pre-determined – you already know that visitors on a specific page or blog have at least some interest in the content that your upgrade provides.

Webinars

Webinars provide you with a unique opportunity to provide content in a live online setting. They typically have high conversion rates because they are seen as having higher value than other gated content types.

Usually webinars will have their own landing page where lead information is captured. It makes sense to put them behind a subscription wall, rather than giving them away for free, as they generally focus on high-value topics. As such, webinars are a quick and effective way to grow your email list and reach new leads.

When should I use ungated content?

The answer to this question isn’t always straight-forward. Generally speaking, though, it comes down to whether you are trying to increase brand awareness or generate leads.

For instance, during the awareness stage, most prospects will know very little about your brand. They have no reason to trust you and may be unwilling to part with personal information. At this point, removing the gate from content can boost the visibility of your brand and improve your credibility.

Then, as prospects travel along the marketing funnel, their interest in your business should peak. As they become more familiar with your content, they will likely be more willing to fill out a form to access further assets. This is the point where you can begin generating leads.

The great content gate debate

As we’ve seen throughout this article, there are many compelling reasons to gate your content. Equally, there are also several benefits to keeping it ungated. As such, marketers just can’t seem to agree on what strategy is best.

On the one hand, marketers believe that the pros of gaining qualified leads outweigh the cons of turning away potential visitors. On the other hand, it is believed that asking for personal information can cause your business to lose the potential reach of your content and link opportunity.

All we can really say for sure, at this stage, is that there is no steadfast rule. Gating the wrong content at the wrong time during your customer’s journey can discourage potential clients from continued engagement with your brand. Likewise, gating the right content at the right time can do wonders for nurturing leads and building a strong relationship with future clients.

To help you decide on the best content delivery strategy for your business, we’ll leave you with some questions:

1. What are your competitors up to? Are they offering similar content ungated?

If your competitors are providing content without a gate, then it could be worth doing the same. You risk putting your brand at a disadvantage if you add a form at this stage.

2. Is your objective brand awareness or lead generation?

If you’re aiming to improve brand awareness, then it makes sense to keep your content open. If you’re looking to generate leads, then gated content is the right option – as you’ll be able to capture valuable information about your prospects.

3. Is your content of high enough value to warrant a gate?

We touched on the kind of content that should and shouldn’t be gated. Improve your chances of capturing leads by ensuring the content you wish to gate provides enough value to your prospects before you ask them to part with contact information.

Do you need help with your content strategy? As a full-service digital marketing agency, the team here at Fifty Five and Five have the tools to help. Get in contact with us today to learn more about the pros and cons of gated content.


How to seduce your audience: Rhetoric in marketing and the art of persuasion

  • What is rhetoric?
  • The classical art of persuasion
  • Pathos: the appeal to emotion
  • Kairos: the right moment in time
  • Telos: knowing your purpose
  • Ethos: promoting your credibility
  • Logos: logic, research and facts

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You won’t be surprised to learn that, as a writer, I’m fascinated by language. In my role at Fifty Five and Five, I enjoy practising my craft for our clients to achieve the results they need. The writer’s toolbox is a rich and varied one, and the writing team here use all of it to present our clients and their products and services accurately and effectively. Of the many theories and devices of language we use, I’m particularly interested in how we apply concepts of rhetoric in marketing.

What is rhetoric?

The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.

– Oxford English Dictionary

In a nutshell, that’s it. The art of persuasion.

People don’t just use rhetoric in marketing, public speaking and debating. We use it all the time. We speak, we listen, we read, we write – and rhetoric is always there. It’s embedded in all human thought and expression. That’s why much of what I’ll talk about here may not seem new to you – because you’ve already been using rhetoric all your life, without always realising it.

Think of the times in everyday life that you use words to influence and persuade others. In your professional life, in your personal life, in all kinds of situations. Getting out of a parking ticket. Convincing your boss to give you a raise. Talking a friend into meeting at this restaurant, not that one. It all involves rhetoric.

The classical art of persuasion

Rhetoric is the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.

– Aristotle

The classical Greek philosopher Aristotle is known as the ‘father of rhetoric’. He developed a theory of persuasion in the 4th century BCE that’s still every bit as applicable today. Aristotle also wrote Poetics, the world’s earliest known treatise on theories of literature and drama. It’s safe to say he knew a thing or two about the spoken and written word.

According to Aristotle, there are several clearly defined elements of rhetoric. They each work in different ways, appealing to different parts of our thinking and achieving different persuasive effects.

We use all of these kinds of rhetoric in practically everything we write, to varying extents, with varying aims, and in various combinations. You don’t have to keep these in your mind every time you write marketing copy. As I mentioned earlier, it’s likely you already apply them automatically, unconsciously, instinctively, because they’re fundamental to human thought, speech and persuasion. But it’s useful to examine exactly how we commonly use these rhetorical concepts, and how we can use them in future.

Pathos: the appeal to emotion

Rhetoric is the art of enchanting the soul.

– Socrates

Emotion plays a part in everything we write. We’re not robots, or Dr Spock, although certain decisions must rely more on considered logic than instinctual feelings (we’ll come back to that later).

Emotion is what pathos works on, in particular, sentimentality. Consumer-facing marketing leans on this heavily sometimes but, whether in B2B or B2C, evoking positive emotions toward your organization, brand or product is always good for business.

When you create a favourable emotional response, you instantly become much more memorable. That person will then associate you with that feeling, consciously or unconsciously.

This doesn’t have to be evoked via a big, bombastic TV commercial that tugs at the heart strings. Most brands work hard to foster a general sense of likeability, which can be as simple as having pleasant branding and communications; communicating with prospective customers in a clear and enjoyable way. People are people, whether they’re wearing their ‘business hat’ or not: bombarding them with cold jargon and stilted sentences will put them off, while talking to them with warmth will do the opposite.

B2B marketing also often creates this sense of goodwill by producing content: useful, free materials that help customers make their decisions. It would be a mistake to see your content as simply a gated asset created to gain contact details and sales leads – it should be valuable to both you and your prospective customer.

As with all other marketing communications, the same rules apply here; your blogs, infographics, eBooks or whitepapers should be informative, well-written and excellently designed, breaking down dense technical subjects simply and bringing them to life with well-chosen analogies. Your customers will thank (and like) you for it.

Download our B2B Content Marketing eBook here.

Kairos: the right moment in time

This is the right time, and this is the right thing.

– Sir Thomas Moore

Kairos is an often neglected or even forgotten principle of rhetoric, but it shouldn’t be. It refers to time – not in a strictly chronological sense but in terms of good timing. A particular situation or moment. The right place and the right time.

Lead nurturing is kairos in practice – an exercise in timing. Guiding buyers along the purchase journey, being aware of what their thoughts and responses are likely to be each stage and tailoring your messaging accordingly.

Marketers also know all about creating a sense of urgency. The limited-time offer is a good example of this, and the ‘call to action’, a marketing staple, is a simple and effective embodiment of this use of kairos in marketing: ‘buy now’.

Businesses’ messaging frequently uses evokes urgency – that ‘now’ is the right time to act. Other interpretations of the term kairos are ‘the times’ and ‘the weather’. In marketing communications, this could mean the current technological or economic climate or the state of the market. The zeitgeist, a paradigm shift that is underway, a radical sea change in business models.

In the technology world, concepts like digital transformation or the advent of big data and the Internet of Things drive businesses to make new investments and changes urgently, to adopt early and be part of the moment or the movement that is occurring.

It’s a powerful motivator, when used correctly. Nobody likes to be rushed, but nobody wants to miss out, either. Kairos evokes opportunity, and that’s extremely compelling.

Telos: knowing your purpose

The two best rules for a system of rhetoric are: first, have something to say; and next, say it.

– George Emmons

Telos is best summed up like this: having a clear idea of what you’re trying to get across and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s knowing your goal or goals.

For the classical Greeks scholars, this might have meant knowing the best argument in a philosophical debate. For marketers, it’s a comprehensive marketing strategy. Who is this campaign or asset aimed at: the chief information officer (CIO) or a software developer? Are you trying to gain awareness or are they in the consideration phase of the path to purchase?

Without clear answers to questions like these – a firm sense of telos – your marketing won’t be as effective as it could be. It’s difficult to achieve your aims when you don’t know exactly what they are.

Ethos: promoting your credibility

The true orator is the good man speaking well.

– Quintillian

Trust makes all the difference. Our choices are strongly influenced by whether we have confidence in a person, an organisation, brand, product or service. And this is at the heart of ‘ethos’. Is the speaker ethical? In B2B marketing, that can be taken to mean ‘are they credible’?

When a business promotes their expertise, they draw on ethos. They can be trusted to do a good job, to provide a high standard of service, to bring a superior set of skills and expertise to the table.

‘We have solutions spanning a range of industries and sectors’. Statements like this tap into a feeling of ethos – of being capable and ready to meet clients’ needs. Similarly, when an organisation namechecks their customers, for instance listing them or including their logos on their website, this is a direct appeal to ethos. It says, ‘we have a proven track record of working for successful companies just like yours’.

And how many companies’ marketing talks about the length of their experience? They might mention ‘50 years of satisfied customers’ or that they were ‘established in 1905’. These too, are appeals to ethos; portraying themselves as a solid, trustworthy organization of long standing.

Building a sense of ethos is crucial to successful marketing. All the types of rhetoric can be used to foster this sense of trust, but especially the one I’ll explain next.

Logos: logic, research and facts

The duty and office of rhetoric is to apply reason to imagination for the better moving of the will.

– Francis Bacon

Logos is the appeal to reason. Persuasion through rationality – via facts, statistics and research.

This kind of rhetoric can strongly evoke others. A persuasive argument that demonstrates experience and expertise can create a feeling of credibility (ethos) and emotional reassurance (pathos).

But a logic-driven approach is powerfully compelling in itself. Particularly in the B2B sphere, where people have a responsibility to make the best and most thought-out decisions possible with company money. In these circumstances, they respond especially well to a highly rational argument. They may have to repeat those same arguments to other stakeholders in their company to justify the spend.

When you provide customers with a logical, fact-based argument for an investment, you’re not only persuading them. You’re helping them to persuade anyone they may answer to. Sometimes that’s just as valuable.

This is where we come back to content – perhaps the essence of logos in business-facing marketing. The more useful your content is, the more persuasive it is. That’s why it’s important that everything is factually correct and technically sound. Make sure you avoid bad research and don’t hesitate to reference reputable third-party sources that support your case, such as whitepapers from market research companies and tech consultancies. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: ‘would I find this helpful?’ The answer should always be yes.


Smart Microsoft Partner marketing tips: content is still king

  • Learn about Microsoft's content marketing strategy
  • Find out how content drives the Microsoft Partner Network forward
  • Improve your content marketing

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Content marketing has evolved over the years. How and where we publish content, the channels available to reach customers, customer behaviours and demands – all of these have changed considerably.

In this blog, we look at the state of content marketing in the Microsoft Partner Network and how it has grown more sophisticated and competitive. We also provide some smart partner marketing tips to improve your content output.

Grab yourself a free copy of our “A fool-proof guide to content marketing” eBook!

Pioneers of content marketing

Back in 2004, Microsoft was one of the first organisations to launch a corporate blog. Since then it has made blogging a staple of its marketing diet. From internal news and product releases to the latest developments in AI, Microsoft has put storytelling at the forefront of its marketing strategy – successfully engaging, informing and delighting its customers.

It should come as no surprise that Microsoft has been leading the way. Back in 1996, Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” in an article originally posted on the Microsoft website. In that blog, he predicted the rise of content marketing in the age of the internet.

smart partner marketing
Source

Fast forward 20 years and it’s clear to see that his predictions were not only accurate but hugely influential. Today, it’s far more difficult to find a company that doesn’t blog rather than one that does. But, intriguingly, this wasn’t always the case within the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). Organisations in the MPN were initially slow to take up content marketing – today, they’re following Microsoft’s impressive lead.

Microsoft content strategy today

Content marketing is everywhere. If you want to stand out, you need to tell a great story, you need to tell it well, and you need to publish and promote it on the channels your audience prefers.

In 2019, Microsoft is taking content to a whole new level. For a full picture of Microsoft’s content marketing strategy, you need to include its use of social media, both as a publishing platform and as a channel to amplify blog content. You also need to include all the video content created for sites like YouTube.

Here’s a short selection of official Microsoft blogs/vlogs:

Official Microsoft Blog – the official homepage for Microsoft’s numerous blogs

Microsoft News – the place to go for Microsoft news, announcements and product releases

Microsoft On the Issues – Microsoft’s take on the big issues of the day, from technology’s role in society to societies influence on technology

The AI Blog – a deep dive into Microsoft research into artificial intelligence

Transform – a hub of inspiring stories, featuring news about how Microsoft is helping to make a difference globally

Microsoft Unboxed – a fresh and fun take on life inside Microsoft, this vlog goes behind the scenes at Microsoft HQ to showcase all the latest news

Microsoft Partner Network podcast - this podcast brings insider access to unforgettable interviews with Microsoft Partners.

The rise of content marketing in the MPN

The MPN consists of approximately 500,000 organisations, employing over 17 million people worldwide. Microsoft relies on this ever-growing network to help deliver success for its customers.

Yet, for Microsoft Partners, content marketing has often been a challenge. Content marketing requires an upfront investment in time and resources before results can be seen. And for many partners, who are busy perfecting innovative solutions for customers, this simply isn’t possible. For this reason, content marketing hasn’t always been treated as a priority.

Yet, Microsoft Partners who embraced content marketing found a way to reach new audiences – by providing insightful content and value to potential customers.

Five years ago, we launched our first Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence Report to showcase which Microsoft Partners had adopted this new approach, and to celebrate their success. Since then, things have certainly improved. Partly because it became hard to ignore the success that early adopters of content marketing were enjoying. Now, most partners embrace inbound marketing, from blogging and social media to SEO.

In fact, Microsoft Partners have raised their game so much that the bar has risen too. Now you need to do a lot more if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Smart partner marketing

Now that more Microsoft partners are writing blogs, eBooks and whitepapers, you need to be more creative with your content. For instance, a generic blog titled ‘10 tips for SharePoint Online’ won’t cut it anymore. Even if your content is well-written and engaging, blogs like this will simply get lost in the crowd.

Fifty Five and Five’s Head of Content Stephen Reilly explains:

The best partners know their customers inside out and can tailor content to meet their target audience’s needs. This might mean creating content that is focused on a vertical, a job role or a highly specific problem a customer faces.

Another key differentiator is content type. Content marketing used to be about blog posts. Now, you need to be creating video, audio and interactive content, alongside the written word.

Download our B2B Content Marketing eBook here.

The Partner Benchmarking Tool

If you need help improving your content marketing, you’re in luck. As a digital marketing agency specialising in working with Microsoft partners, we have combined our marketing expertise and our experience in the MPN (we’re a Microsoft partner too) to build a tool to help partners improve their content marketing.

The Partner Benchmarking Tool runs over 40 tests, quantifying performance across three main metrics: website, blog and social.

partner benchmarking tool scores

This data allows you to diagnose the health of a range of content marketing factors. It quantifies these insights into a simple score, making it easy to see where improvement is needed. You can then access a range of informative, how-to videos and tutorials to learn how to get better results in the future.

Microsoft has made the Partner Benchmarking Tool accessible to all 500,000 partners via the Smart Partner Marketing Portal.

So, what are you waiting for? Smart partner marketing is just a few clicks away.

As a full-service agency for the modern world, we provide a complete suite of specialised marketing services for the technology and IT sector. Find out more about the content marketing services that we provide at Fifty Five and Five.


Partner Benchmarking Tool: maximising marketing output for the MPN

  • The Partner Benchmarking Tool helps you to audit digital channels
  • Get actionable advice on how to improve your marketing
  • Test your channels for free today

Do you want to audit your digital channels and receive actionable advice on how to improve them? The Partner Benchmarking Tool does exactly that. The free tool helps you to stay competitive and ahead of the curve by highlighting your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to track your marketing progress.

What is the Partner Benchmarking Tool?

The Partner Benchmarking Tool is a free tool that lets you quickly test, score and improve your online marketing channels. The tool was designed to evaluate the three core components of your digital presence:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social media

The tool analyses your biggest strengths and weaknesses to give you a snapshot of your current overall performance. It’ll then generate useful tips and advice on how you can create stronger content and improve your marketing performance overall.

Where has it been used?

Notably, the Partner Benchmarking Tool was used in the production of our independent report – Digital Marketing Excellence Top 50 2019/20. Here, we used the tool to compare the very best digital marketing efforts from high-profile partners across the Microsoft Partner Network.

In the four years since the report was first published, it’s become a staple of the industry – delivering crucial knowledge that helps companies improve their own inbound marketing strategies. This proven success rate demonstrates how you can leverage the power of the tool for your own business and find out how you can surge past your competitors.

How does it work?

Using the tool is super easy. All you need to do is enter your website URL to get started. You can optionally add your blog RSS feed, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn details to gain a more comprehensive score.

microsoft partner benchmarking tool

From there, the Partner Benchmarking Tool will get to work. Using sophisticated algorithms, the tool runs over 40 individual tests across all the data that you provide. In just a few minutes, the tool produces an easy to read scorecard – with a rating between 1-100 for each metric.

 

microsoft partner benchmarking tool

The Partner Benchmarking Tool makes it simple to understand the performance of your channels. Alongside a clear scoring system, you’ll also have access to embedded tutorial videos and blogs – which provide tailored guidance and advice on boosting your future results.

Become a better marketer through benchmarking

The Partner Benchmarking Tool will help you to become a better marketer. Not only does it shine a light on your current marketing scores – it teaches new skills and helps you to keep up to date with the latest marketing trends.

You can also create a free account on the platform to save your scores and track your progress over time. This means you can compare your old website with your new one – or assess the impact of putting more resources behind your social media output. These kinds of insights are vital as an effective marketer.

The Partner Benchmarking Tool works to help you better understand all of your marketing decisions.

Benefits to the Microsoft partner community

Back when inbound marketing was still a new concept, Microsoft partners found it fairly easy to reach out and make an impact on new audiences with valuable, interesting content. These days, as more partners are engaging in sophisticated digital marketing practices – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out amongst the competition.

Looking ahead to next year, we think that partners will be capitalising on data, developing IP, and providing integrated cloud and infrastructure offerings that utilise the full capabilities of the cloud. Keeping your finger on the pulse of these services while remaining customer-obsessed will keep your business ahead of the pack and at the forefront of digital transformation.

Gavriella Schuster, Corporate VP at Microsoft

These insights demonstrate that it’s now more necessary than ever before to strategically plan your marketing output and stay ahead of marketing trends. The Partner Benchmarking Tool makes it easy to do this, by providing clear insights, valuable tips for improvement and direct comparisons with other partners in your field.

Partner Benchmarking Tool: endorsed by Microsoft

Here at Fifty Five and Five, we are beyond proud that our Partner Benchmarking Tool is verified and endorsed by Microsoft as the primary method to help partners measure, understand and improve their digital marketing.

In using a single Microsoft-backed tool to conduct the ranking, we are confident that the results are more accurate, reliable and informative than ever before. If you’re keen to put it to the test and see how your marketing efforts measure up, head on over to the Partner Benchmarking Tool now to get your free test and score.