Getting Started - Apple Box Studios

Getting Started

“If your content marketing is for everybody, it’s for nobody”
–Joe Pulizzi, CMI founder

You need to think about the strategic role of content marketing within you/ your clients’ organizations before you dig in. Without prepping a content marketing strategy first, you risk losing sight of the overall goals. In fact, this is one of the most crucial mistakes iN content marketing. The complete content marketing strategy analyzes the different ways content marketing can be used across the buyer’s journey, the customer life cycle and/or the different customer experience touch points.

“Plan the work. Work the plan” –CMI


1. Plan: Set Goals

  • Why are you creating content in the first place? What are your goals? (Traffic building, conversion optimization, event marketing, lead generation and management, email marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation, customer service, etc. can all be improved by a better usage of content and content marketing)
  • Consider your overall topic positioning. What exactly should you create content about. The answer lies somewhere between the interests of
    your customers and your unique expertise

2. Plan: Audience

  • The evaluation of your different audiences (both internal and external) should occur regularly
    • Create your personas – it’s important that you understand how your prospects are accessing/consuming the content on and offline that helps make a purchase decision
    • Remember your influencers – you need to have a plan for reaching industry thought leaders, those within your organization and customers


On the surface, creating buyer personas can seem like a waste of time. After all, you already know who your buyer is right? But, do you really? Creating personas with buyer information can help you understand exactly what your customer wants to consume.

Buyer information consumption is how a buyer is researching, discussing, reviewing, reading, watching, or engaging with content that influences their decision to buy. Where does this engagement take place? It could be as simple as reading a comment in a forum, asking questions online, or listening to a case study at a live event.

How do they like to access info?

  • Do they attend events? In-person or online?
  • Do they subscribe to RSS feeds?
  • Do they like email newsletters?
  • Do they access content online or via a mobile device?
  • Do they get most of their information during work hours or at home?
  • Do they get their information through word-of mouth from their business community?
  • Does paid advertising play a role?

The easiest way to get a real sense of how your buyers are leveraging content through these channels is to talk to them by interviewing new customers, conducting a survey, engaging in conversations with leaders in the space, or engaging in social networks. Your web analytics can be the easiest way to determine what content your buyers are interested in, what formats they prefer and the channels they used to arrive at your content.

3. Plan: Touch Points & an Omni-Channel Approach

The customer’s journey is now dynamic, more accessible and continuous, because the touch points consumers are exposed to are “always on” or at least, always instantly accessible. Touch points were once based on single channels, then to multichannel and cross channel and now it is about omni-channel marketing. Omni-channel marketing is based on the concept of creating personalized, contextually relevant customer experiences across all the channels which your brand can interact with someone. This requires new organizational processes and tool sets. Consumers are going to expect a seamless, integrated, consistent and personalized experience with their service providers on across all channels.

  • Plan to optimize your digital touch points across the customer lifecycle by thinking omni-channel and mobile first
  • Will you plan for your one source content to be leveraged across mobile, online, print and in-person?
  • To help plan, create a touch point map to map the journey, or flow of events, that a typical customer moves through as they interact with the products or services
    • Awareness > Consideration > Purchase > Retention > Advocacy

4. Plan: Messaging/Call to Actions

Your content must do more than simply inform. It must clarify the next step. Call to actions triggers visitors to engage in a more meaningful next step with your organization, whether it is engaging the audience in the comments, finding more content, or buying your product or service.

How will you create call to actions? How will you define each call to action tier? Marketers should always follow guidelines for implementing calls to action – whether such a plan involves weaving hyperlinks into their content or developing buttons or banners. Examples of different tiers could be:

  • Buy Now – should be responsive to what the intended reader is likely interested in buying. The link that takes your visitor from the content to the next step in forming a relationship.
  • Capturing the lead – catches the visitors while they’re considering your company, product or service. Many use this command to collect email addresses through newsletter sign-up, white paper download forms, and other lead-gen tactics.
  • Nurturing the relationship – such a call to action may point to other onsite content or encourage the visitor to post a comment – anything that
    takes your prospect deeper into your brand and its expertise. Placing a hyperlink in a blog post to related information on your site is a good example of third-tier call to action.

5. Plan: Measure

Measurement should come at the beginning, middle, end and everything in between of your process. It is thus key to plan to measure.
“This is our goal and this is how we will measure”

  • Every channel has engagement rate
  • What analytics tools will you use?
    • Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics, or Wildfire, etc…plan to see what content people are going to and start to build content strategy around findings
    • When you see series of traffic, can then strategize channel
“For content marketing, it’s a long season. There are, and should be, many chances to fail – as long as we fail quickly, learn, and adapt to the new surroundings.” –CMI


Research is necessary for every marketing challenge. Content marketing trends and tools are constantly changing, which means in order to maintain a competitive edge and stay ahead of market trends, it’s what you have to do day by day. Doing market research helps you better understand your competitors, barriers and your target audience like what they want, what they need and what they are compelled by. Doing initial research may even open doors to new opportunities like finding untapped markets. Some tips:

  • Become a part of the community you are trying to reach
    • Participate on other websites and blogs that attract the type of audience you’re trying to connect with
    • Tools like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook let you gather information about audience mindsets by letting you eavesdrop on their digital worlds (NOT in a creepy or unethical way)
    • You can learn a lot by watching and tracking online trends and what people are saying
    • You can also discover audience’s problems

This gathered information can then be used to create compelling and relevant content that your audience will be engaged in. Customers want content that is relevant and addresses their needs and desires, and talks to them in a way that resonates with who they are and how they look at the world. This sets you up for being able to create sharable content that’s so contagious it cannot be controlled (in a good way).


For brands, in order to truly become publishers, the size of content marketing teams and the volume of work for which they’re responsible needs to rapidly expand.

A Managing Editor

No matter what your team composition is, it is critical to have someone take on the role of the Managing Editor or at the very least you should have a talented copywriter with a mastery of grammar who can pull double duty for a while. This role entails managing content production and distribution, supervising audience development, coordinating with the wider demand marketing/marketing automation team, and monitoring metrics.

A creative content and strategy team is much more than just the art and copy that compose the piece. Creative, promotion, and reporting are all essential pieces of the puzzle. This should involve two or more creative content wizards.

Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to have one person on the team who knows their way around data visualization (like a data master). They would need to have the ability to add compelling visual layer to figures, facts, and stats. It can go a long way toward making your content stand out from competitor’s. Whether you hire a data design master or mentor an existing member to specialize in that skill,

This is a recommended book for anyone tasked with data visualization.

  • Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information because Tufte literally wrote the book on data visualization

Outreach and Promotion

Without promotion, most content will be ineffective. Sometimes the difference between “good” and “great” content is the person promoting it (like a die-hard internet outreach fanatic that can get content in front of the right sets of eyes).

Analytics and Reporting

Measuring and reporting is an important job that will identify strategy gaps, and help you turn them into benefits the next time around. Analytics expertise involves outlying data points, social share metrics, and increases in share of voice. They can derive insights from these data that can be woven into actionable opportunities for optimization.

“Don’t think of these as new job titles, but rather as the core competencies that need to be accounted for across the enterprise. “ – Joe Pulizzi, CMI Founder

According to CMI, 61% of the most effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly to discuss their content marketing program.

Marketing Technologist

Personalization and configuration technologies are becoming a part of the storytelling arc and at the same time, content is becoming more interactive and facing ever-greater competition.

Enter the chief technologist role – a hybrid professional that is both tech-savvy and marketing-savvy with an intuitive appreciation for how software works and a passion for applying that knowledge to brilliant marketing and remarkable customer experiences. This person can help configure and operate the many different varieties of software that are entwined in marketing today.

TOOL BOXTools that can better enable the outreach and promotion guru’s success: Followerwonk for Twitter influencer identification, and Toutapp
for email outreach (a light version of salesforce) And, if you’ve got the budget, Group High helps them gain access to some of the most
influential folks online.

Tools for the enterprising data science type (who doesn’t have an enterprise-level budget) include:

  • Google Analytics custom dashboards for easily segmenting out your campaigns
  • Raven Tools for inbound marketing performance
  • Lucky Orange for watching visitor behavior in real time


Creating conversations and story-telling through content should be a company’s focus now. It will involve understanding what your targeted personas are interested in, less branded product-oriented content and more engaging, interactive and sharable content. It is often referred to as moving from “creative excellence to “content excellence” or “liquid content”

“Good Content = Fire
Social Media = Gasoline”
-Jason Falls,
Social Media Strategist

Liquid Content

The purpose of content excellence is to create “ideas” so contagious that they cannot be controlled. Move into content excellence by creating sharable content and dynamic stories that can be expressed through every possible connection. This relies on quality content and technology to power highly relevant content delivery to every channel.

The 70/20/10 Business Model for SEO & Content Excellence

  • 70% of investment is “low risk” content– (the bread and butter) Appeals to a large audience (safe).
  • 20% of content is innovative and engaging and will target more specific demographics. This is moderate risk content. Appeals to new audience.
  • 10% is “high risk” content. 10% of the content is new ideas, new ways of connecting, new ways of engagement. However, this means preparing for any sort of failure.

This flexible rule can help in many areas of marketing. It can be used for prioritizing time and budget for different marketing activities.

Mobile first thinking

is necessary for your content to prosper in digital environments today. This doesn’t mean you should completely rule out non-traditional tactics like print (yep, print is considered non-traditional now). But mobile friendly content is an expectation now. To keep an integrated user experience, stick to this checklist when producing content:

  • Visual trumps everything: rich media is the top factor to engagement. Use multiple visuals – one for every sub head
  • Headlines: 86% of consumers suffer from banner blindness according to Adobe 2016. Clickable headline integrated with imagery that reinforces the reason for users to be drawn in to click is a must
  • Optimize for mobile: Test out rich media on your phone or tablet to confirm it can be consumed on smaller screens. There’s about a 65% chance your content will be consumed via mobile according to a new report by comScore
  • Analyze assets for targeting: Just as you evaluate sources for distribution potential, look at your assets in the same way. Then incorporate rich media on those findings as the feature in your social posts so that asset can be used to drive personalized content to consumers

TOOL BOXCurata has put together a map of content marketing tools to help guide you.


If your content marketing goal is to influence, inspire, and move to action the unique group of people you have chosen to reach then you may want to take a look at this list of the 21 types of content we all crave brought to you by

  • This is the kind of content we never get tired of
  • This is the kind of content we always have time for
  • This is the kind of content we don’t forget
  • And this is the kind of content we want to share with others
  • This is the content we must create not every type in every piece of content you produce, but at least one of these types of content especially for longer forms of content you produce


One important strategy that is too often overlooked in publishing is building distribution into your content. The channels and touch points in which audiences are discovering content is growing by the day. This means you must first proactively optimize you content for distribution as well as use paid media and post-publishing tactics.

1. Owned Distribution Channels:

  • The first place to start is with your owned media channels – like the blog, website, email newsletter, or magazine. These channels also include branded properties, such as your company’s and your teams’ social accounts.
  • Don’t blast content out to as many people as possible. It’s best to do some testing and research first, to see where the greatest potential for successful distribution may lie. Some content will work better for some channels than other.
  • Example: You can schedule a Facebook post and choose who sees it in their News Feeds. You might segment the audience for a particular post by gender and by age brackets, showing one version of content to women 25 – 35 and another to men 25 – 35.

2. Earned Distribution Channels:

  • Earned distribution (e.g., coverage in mainstream media; guest posts on others’ blogs, etc.) is probably the hardest to achieve – and the hardest to optimize – since it’s dependent on others’ interest, guidelines, and business agendas.
  • It is a highly powerful means of distribution, given its potential to exponentially increase your reach and engagement without having to significantly increase your output.
  • Key to success for earned media = creating epic content that attracts attention and interest of external outlets.
  • You will need to start by reaching out and engaging with relevant outlets and influencers in the industry.
“Funny how ‘organically’ and ‘magically’ sound very much alike. Organic growth is the result of strategy, planning, and implementation – in other words hard work. There are no magic bullets and if you want your content to get to the right people, you have to hand it to those people.”
–Clay Morgan,
Content Marketing Writer

3. Paid Distribution Channels

  • Paid distribution channels hold the best potential for optimization whether you’re running paid search ads in AdWords, placing sponsored content or ads on Facebook, or are distributing content as part of a native advertising strategy, there are ways to optimize virtually every element of your distribution in detail.
  • Facebook advertising for example, allows you to target different users with different versions of content at scale. With paid distribution, you can quickly send that content to 1,000 people and measure how they interact with the page, how many social shares you receive, etc.
  • You can also measure which groups of people prefer different versions by using Facebook’s ad targeting options (such as: age, gender, education level, degree subject, relationship status, life stage, interests, language). Twitter has similar ad targeting options and its own analytics tool.

“The bottom line is, as always, the fundamentals remain the same. We need to continue to create helpful and relevant content. The difference is we’ll have to rely on other channels outside of search engines to get in front of audiences by building relationships with influencers and networks.”
– Lisa Gerber, founder of Big leap Creative Integrated Communications

SECTION 6 – Audience Development

In addition to a solid strategy, content creators (or some type of content/social team) and the content production and distribution process, the key element that needs to be nurtured is: a connection to, and conversations with, your consumers.

Identity-based Interaction:

Your declaration of your value, who you are, and where you can be found. Your customer happens upon your online identity that you, as a provider, define and declare.

Association-based Interaction:

Your customers’ opportunity to associate themselves with you and with your customers. Most obviously, this is accomplished through things like become “Friends” on Facebook, you and your customers’ BlogRoll, or through their social bookmarking. This is your customer wearing your company’s logo proudly. Make it easy for your customers to bookmark your site, blog posts, etc. with their favorite tool.

User-initiated Conversation:

is your users’ opportunity to create their own judgments, declarations or questions, and your opportunity to respond. Here, you serve your customers. Perhaps the most cut-and-dry examples of this lie in message boards, forums and “groups” sites such as Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups, community sites, etc. So, how do you find these conversations?

Provider-initiated Conversation:

Provider-initiated conversation is your chance to find out what your customers think, feel, love and hate about your service or product. Ask them. Challenge them. Present yourself to them, but do so respectfully. As much as it’s an opportunity for them to tell you what they love and hate about your product or service, it’s also their choice whether to do so or not. Be kind. Be respectful. Appreciate their time.

In-Person Interaction:

The peak form of interaction with your customers. You’re interacting with them online, why not in person? Does it get better than that? This is where relationships are built and authentic conversation is had with so much more input, feedback, collaboration and communication. Nothing beats face-to-face. Get out there. Build your community. Go to conferences and events…better yet, organize your own.


Content marketing metrics = consumption, sharing, leads and sales. Focus your metrics on behavior and don’t under evaluate leads and sales – email subscriptions from people who first read the blog and, ultimately, sales from among that group

  1. Retweets, “likes” and comments don’t matter to business objectives. Track conversions like Twitter followers, shares, and website traffic (actionable metrics).
  2. Take time for analysis. It’s not enough to just collect data and add it to a spreadsheet. The data needs to be analyzed for opportunities for improvement. It is critical for learning about your audience.
  3. Give it enough time to make a difference. – Content marketing is not a campaign with a start/stop date.
  4. Measuring bounce rate can help determine the effectiveness or performance of an entry page at generating the interest of visitors. An entry page with a low bounce rate means that the page effectively causes visitors to view more pages and continue on deeper into the web site. High bounce rates typically indicate that the website isn’t doing a good job of attracting the continued interested of visitors. A 50% bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60%, you should be concerned. With traffic measuring you can find where you need more work.
  5. Be ready to adapt – What you track over time will likely shift, so evaluate your lists metrics quarterly, bi-annually, or annually to make sure you’re capturing the best data to address your key questions.

“The most important thing is to identify from the outset of the content marketing initiatives what will be the metric sought for each content asset or approach utilized. Every metric — from video views, to emails opened, to tweets retweeted, to wall posts shared and, yes, to products and services sold — can then be woven together into a narrative of how well the initiative is (or is not) working.”- Russell Sparkman