In our third episode of Positive Chats, we interview Content Marketing Expert, Danny Denhard. We spoke about everything from terrible content marketing to what the perfect seeding platform would look like, more advanced content and, of course, the ROI of content marketing. It’s an in-depth look into the world of content marketing in 2015.
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Jon Buchan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Positive Chats. Today we have Danny Denhard with us, who’s an expert on content marketing. Welcome to the show.
Danny Denhard: Thanks for having me.
Jon Buchan: Let’s get on with the questions. So a lot of content that I see at the moment is purely there to tick a box, it’s for the sake of it. Someone’s told them they need to do content, and it’s quite infuriating and obviously it does nothing for them. Do you think this is going to change, and how is it going to change, and when will this happen?
Danny Denhard: I think in 2015 it’s going to have to change. I think people are overly spending on budget, I think they’re not actually getting anything from it and I think people are getting very savvy to KPIs and analytic data, to actually pull something back. I think some companies are going to have to create more compelling content that’s actually for a use. I think there’s a lot of companies out there at the moment that create content for content’s sake, and basically what they do is they put it on their blog or they put it on their website and there’s nothing after that, there’s no interaction with their consumers, their customers. I think the real problem for a lot of companies now is to actually say ‘Well we’re creating this content, what’s this going to be about, what’s the series going to do for our clients or our customers, or how are we going to engage people into it?’ I think the worst thing in 2015 is people are going to carry on just doing it because the Head of Editorial says so or the SEO person’s given them a list to edit, update, reuse, we want to rank for, and actually what happens is they just get into a rut and people don’t enjoy writing any more, and I think that’s the problem now.
Jon Buchan: Do you think there’s an education process that has to happen?
Danny Denhard: I think if the business is at a point where they’re creating content and they’re creating it regularly, I think a lot of people need to take a step back and say ‘Why are we creating this content? What is the end goal for us, and if we’re not hitting end goal how do we do that?’ I’ve got two mottos that I say a lot of the time: ‘Always be auditing’ and ‘Always be marketing’, and I think they kind of counteract each other, but I think you should be auditing what you’re doing, you should understand what you’re trying to achieve and then you should be marketing that content. I think some of the larger businesses now are just stuck in an everyday rut, they’ve got external writers or a team of writers and they just write content for content’s sake. You know, there’s other companies that are doing it particular well, I think a lot of the publications are getting savvy to digital now, like The Mirror have done some cool, quirky things.
Jon Buchan: I’ve noticed that.
Danny Denhard: And I think The Telegraph are going to be doing stuff that are going to be more compelling and more interesting even to the broadsheet reader.
Jon Buchan: You’d expect these will have a natural inclination to knowing how to create good content, harder for non-publishers. With creating better content, what departments or people need to come together to make a successful content strategy within a brand?
Danny Denhard: Honestly, I think now everyone should be involved, but I think there should be… I call them Captains, people that lead by example but push the content quality forward. So if you’re writing content for ranking purposes definitely have the SEO person in there, but also have someone who is of editorial background and a writer to help you shape and mould the content. I think you should have a marketer and a sales person in it as well, you know, product and dev [development] aren’t always essential for a lot of companies within content but I think Medium have done it very well recently, they’ve created really compelling content and it’s always an open platform and they’re creating pure backbones for people to build out on. I think now people should have everyone involved, as many departments involved as possible to get the best results, but moving forward it’s a budget thing at the end of the day, so as long as you can make budget work.
Jon Buchan: Where does it come from at the moment? Do you see people with content marketing budgets, or does it come out of SEO or PR, because it affects so many different things? I have this problem that it gets results in all of these divisions, which pot does it come from?
Danny Denhard: I’d say if you’re savvy you should try and skim it from everyone, you should take chunks of money from everyone. From working with some businesses over the last 12 months it’s coming from the marketing budget. I’ve come from a company who went through an IPO and everything had to be to the penny or to the Euro cent and had to be attributed to the right department. I think moving forward people are going to have to do that, but you kind of have to have the smart people involved and you have to use the accountant or use the CFO where you can to really take the money from the right departments, because ultimately you should have the same KPIs and you should have the same results, so you should all be fine for the end goal, but at the moment I think a lot of times it comes out of marketing. I think SEO do swallow because they’re needed for links or citations, social as well because of the social shares, and also editorial, now I think a lot of companies are creating targets for visits or read time or length of stay, how many times they visit certain pages. So I think, to answer your question, it should come out of every budget.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, so you have to convince multiple people now?
Danny Denhard: You know, honestly, I think if you can break it down by line item almost and say ‘This is the time we need from each department, this is the resource that we’re going to use, this clearly is coming out of PR, this comes out of social media, this comes out of SEO’.
Jon Buchan: I’m enjoying this, this is free consultancy!
Danny Denhard: Yeah, yeah.
Jon Buchan: It’s a video podcast for everyone but I’m getting free consultancy at the same time.
Danny Denhard: For me PR has got a large budget, SEO technically do have large budgets, so I think at the moment it’s taken from SEO, but I think if you’re a smart Head of SEO or Director of SEO you should be trying to split your budget with the other departments, but getting buying and selling, you know, that’s the core problem for most people. I think as long as you have actionable targets I think you can get the right budget from it, but again it all depends on the company or the agency that you work with.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, yeah, cool. Okay, so we’ve seen people like The Mirror create bigger, more interactive, interesting content, what do you think of that? Do you think more publications will start doing that? What do you think are the trends for 2015?
Danny Denhard: I think for publications it’s moving away from the generic basic content, creating an article that people will read but they won’t do much afterwards. I think people have learned from the likes of BuzzFeed because of their clickbait and they’re interesting and people go on and they share it, and I think we’ve seen a trend, like The Mirror Group have done some quite cool interactive content, and also they’ve used raw data in a lot of their publications where maybe they couldn’t have done on themirror.co.uk but have done throughout the sites; that’s a really good example of that, they’ve used a blend of infographics, interactive pieces, polls, questionnaires, and I think the trend moving forward for a lot of companies will be to take the learnings from The Mirror and really implement that across their own publications. I think where you’ve got potentially bigger issues are the paywalls, because then ultimately they’re not sharable, or you get even Harvard Business Review now, you’ve only got five reads. So I think moving forward people will use that, but only if they’re open and not behind a paywall. The other thing I think a lot of publications are learning from is that people want to read multiple articles, and even if they come there from a social share they want to stay on there and read something equally entertaining, and I think that’s going to be the problem for a lot of companies in 2015, is keeping people entertained or keeping their interest. You know, if you ever look at The Daily Mail, say what you want about the content quality…
Jon Buchan: They produce a lot of articles.
Danny Denhard: They do.
Jon Buchan: And they’re very successful, but yeah, I don’t read it.
Danny Denhard: If you’re ever on the tube or the train I’d say at least one in three people are flicking through the app, and I think that they’ve mastered the art of having questionable content but also answering questions, so big content.
Jon Buchan: I knew the previous Head of SEO at The Daily Mail and he said to me that half of editors are people that love them and half of them are the people that hate them, they’ve mastered the art of baiting people onto their site, and also producing a tremendous amount of content. Yeah, they’re very clever.
Danny Denhard: I think, you know, they can only go strength to strength really. You know, the Marmite effect, love/hate, if you can create emotion or affinity with your brand you’re going to get people coming back, and that’s two of the core areas I think with content marketing, is that you really need to draw into and tap out of human beings. I think content has to draw emotion or it has to draw affinity to the brand or it has to make you want to feel like you’ve learned something or you’ve pushed some teaching on someone.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, the hook.
Danny Denhard: Yeah, exactly, and moving into 2015 and beyond I think people are going to have to learn that one piece of content isn’t always enough.
Jon Buchan: Yes, that is a major point that I’m trying to sell at the moment. Publications, you would expect like The Mirror to get this sooner than everyone else. We’ve done some interactives with brands, do you think brands will catch up with people like The Mirror and start putting content like that out, do you think they’ll see the advantages?
Danny Denhard: I think people will, it’s just a big move, sort of big tech changes, bigger steps and bigger leaps for people, the bigger the change the harder it is for them to understand, but I think I can definitely see, from the people I’m interacting with and meeting and doing workshops with, they want to do bigger pieces, they want to learn the benefits of doing bigger pieces. The harder it is for the change the longer it’s going to take, but I think you have to take baby steps. Companies do drive things out, but it’s understanding the audience and understanding the right piece, but also having content calendars is essential, you have to leverage events, the hook is so important, like you said, and if people don’t understand the hook or why they’re reading it on a certain publication they’re not going to always want to choose to come back.
Jon Buchan: That’s one way that I use to convince clients to go for the branded utility, branded entertainment, is to fit it in with their marketing calendar, be topical. There are definitely certain rules to make content successful, in a way the creative part is secondary to the process, I would say, than successful content.
Danny Denhard: The one thing people should do is it should be married in the middle and everyone should speak a similar language, not the same but they should understand what they’re doing to the output and understand what they’re achieving from it. I think the worst thing is when you don’t educate the development team or the coding or creative teams to what they’re actually doing at the end and how important it is, because at the moment design is imperative, you know, the importance of design is so important in an ever increasing visual world now, especially Smart phones.
Jon Buchan: So you have to anchor our brainstorms with a set of rules, which is something we’re struggling with, rather than any idea under the sun then we’ll pick the best, you have to anchor it, there’s certain principles we need to adhere to if we’re doing this for reasons of exposure.
Danny Denhard: Yeah. So we’re interviewing on Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year, and I think people have leveraged that already. I think what people need to do is they need to pick the right hooks, they need to pick the right calendar events and then leverage upon that, because some companies don’t understand that they’re not always going to be applicable. You know, pizza, the people that you order it from, you can order pizza seven days a week but not everyone fancies pizza for seven days, so it’s certain events that you are relevant for and then people want to interact with you around that, I think it’s essential, whether that is a photo on Instagram or whether that’s a great piece of content, a podcast or an interactive.
Jon Buchan: This is almost taking a skill set from the PR world, they’ve been doing this for years, so it’s another department that can get involved in creating ideas that are topical.
Danny Denhard: The first thing I do when I go into companies is to say ‘Do you have a PR calendar and do you have a marketing calendar, and how do you cross those over to get the biggest impact?’ If you’re pushing out a message that isn’t relevant or isn’t newsworthy no one’s going to be that entertained or interested in it when they see it, and I think that’s where everyone needs to learn from. Ad people are the greatest, everyone worships the Don Drapers of the world because they’re really creative, but they always had to have a hook, and I think now we’re so time sensitive, we’ve got mobile phones that are constantly connected, we’re always connected, so we want information straight away.
Jon Buchan: I agree that there’s old rules of ads. Dave Trott, his presentations, I use some of his diagrams that he’s done because they’re as relevant to content marketing as they were to successful advertising.
Danny Denhard: Exactly, and ultimately, in the middle of content, is people, right, and if you create content and people aren’t seeing it you’re doing it wrong, so you’ve got to make sure that your demographic and your people are right in the middle of Dave Trott’s diagrams.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, so a big education process for brands this year.
Danny Denhard: 100%.
Jon Buchan: Cool. So in your predictions for 2015 I read that you said there’s no real seeding service, what do you mean by that?
Danny Denhard: For me distribution is a problem for everyone and seeding is a problem for everyone. When you’ve got great content you need it to go to the right audience but there isn’t an easy way to get it in front of those eyeballs. You know, you’ve got the outbrains to bring us those types of services but that doesn’t guarantee you to get the right eyeballs in front of them, especially within Europe and further afield in the Western world, you don’t really have the chance to get in front of people. A lot of businesses are going towards instant messages now or into messenger services because they know they can blitz a message out and it will hit an audience.
Jon Buchan: Could you explain that to me for a second?
Danny Denhard: So Align, which is an Asian instant messenger service, you can do hundreds of things on their service, it’s not just their IM service, you can book taxis, you can engage with friends, you can share stickers, life events, and that’s where people are moving towards now, but their service brands are on there and they’re pushing the message out and they’re sharing links, so think of it like Snapchat, you know, you blast an audience and you hit them. It’s not replacing email but it’s another way, it’s another touchpoint.
Jon Buchan: So what would be the ideal, if you had venture capital to create this ultimate seeding service, what would the features be?
Danny Denhard: I think the key features would be to split down by demographics, but actually further than that. Everyone says Facebook is great for demographics, which it is, but it’s not great for consuming content unless someone’s got affinity or you’ve got a large budget. I think what it will be is it will get in front of the right eyeballs, you’ll have the opportunity to seed your article if it’s of great quality within the right publications, before you spend a lot of money and feature in the local advertorial sections of publications. I think if I had the money right now I’d be going to the publications and the companies and saying ‘We really need to create a section within your site that people can target the right audience, it will give you great content, you can look at it, but it will be more than native advertising’.
Jon Buchan: I see. It brings me up to the question of your conversation on native and organic splitting up, can you explain what you mean by that?
Danny Denhard: Sure. So at the moment native is two things for me, it’s putting your content on a sponsored area of a site or having it clearly labelled as sponsors, and then you can pay for that distribution or that seeding. You’ve also then got the ‘have you seen?’ or ‘you might like’ plug-ins that are appearing across the site. They’re great services, being featured on the big sites and potentially for traffic if you do it right, but the problem of that is you’re continuously paying for that service and you’re actually going to get low quality reads or low quality engagement. With the more organic solution there’s no reason for the amount of quality content that’s out there that can’t be published within guidelines or within big publications and people want to read that. One thing that people don’t necessarily always do right with native is still audiences, you know, they don’t leverage the native products beyond really big publications for potentially low budgets and taking the audience away from that. Publications need to make money so you can always piggy-back off that and I think people can openly do that. The one concern I would have with an organic product is no one yet can really target the right people or necessarily get engaged with the right people, and I think, moving forward, if you can capture those interactions and that content then the organic product will allow them to follow-up, make it better than BuzzFeed, so much higher quality content. They’re making waves in the US with real time news and the in-depth and long reads, but I think there is definitely a need and there’s always going to be a need for outlets for quality content.
Jon Buchan: Just as a side question. Personal, what do you think of VICE?
Danny Denhard: VICE Network is amazing, from where they’ve come from to where they are now it’s great. I’ve worked with two companies in the last 12 months that have used them and loved their service. I think some of the new stuff that they’re doing and the people they’re working with, they’re working with the right people. The one thing for VICE is they potentially are for a core set of users and a core audience.
Jon Buchan: There’s a definite type of person to watch VICE starred stuff, but that might be beneficial to advertisers, that they can target.
Danny Denhard: But it’s not for everyone, and also, when you’re VICE, you need to create and stick with an editorial stance. Potentially the issue is going to be in the future is how to widen their audience base.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, they’re going to run out of ideas.
Danny Denhard: Yeah, I think online you’re only as good as the last product or the last series of information that you’ve put out, and VICE can be as creative as they are but at some point there’s going to be someone who are doing it bigger, better, bolder, or actually more entertaining, so we’ll see. You know, the YouTubers of the world, they do some amazing things and VICE and other networks are really piggy-backing off the popularity of that, but again the audience, the demographic, you’re always going to hit and achieve greatness with I guess, and they don’t put content out, crap content is only going to end up in the waste online.
Jon Buchan: They’re very strategic about what their goals are and what their targeting is.
Danny Denhard: I think in the long run people like VICE are inspirations to companies, because you can create audiences and you can create great content around questionable or something that isn’t necessarily known as an interest area, or they can go on the front line and report almost without any censorship.
Jon Buchan: It’s proved now that content can build brand.
Danny Denhard: 100%, and I think old brands now need content more than they ever have, is to re-educate and realign with new audiences or almost buy back old audiences. So Johnson & Johnson and Kraft Foods are doing loads and loads of work at the moment just to try and re-engage and re-educate users, which is great.
Jon Buchan: So there’s lots of work for consultants such as yourself?
Danny Denhard: I hope so.
Jon Buchan: To educate the marketplace.
Danny Denhard: I hope so.
Jon Buchan: Excellent. Okay, so what do you think of, well not newer services but newer than Twitter or Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, what do you think of these for marketing purposes and how well do you think they’re going to do? How are they making money?
Danny Denhard: Well it’s an interesting area. I personally love Pinterest and Instagram, or Pinstagram as I call it now, because they’re visual, and I think people now are used to being hit up with really small content or content on Twitter and Facebook to click through. I think now people want to be entertained and visually entertained by really high quality content. With Pinterest, for instance, there’s a huge movement for Pinterest to actually engage male audiences, because it was so female heavy or orientated, but what they’re doing is they’ve just opened promoted pins to everyone and it’s a really interesting.
Jon Buchan: In the UK too?
Danny Denhard: Yeah, everywhere, yeah.
Jon Buchan: Excellent.
Danny Denhard: I think what Pinterest allows people to do is to tap into multiple areas of everyone’s lives, so you can have an inspiration board, you can have a wish list, a buy me board, you can have a present board, and also people plan for weddings on Pinterest, but it gives such an insight into people’s lives. Pinterest is all about interests, it isn’t really about the person, so most people now follow boards, they don’t follow people, and I think they’ve really allowed people to invest their time into what they’re truly interested in and not worry about an algorithm changing their interests or influencing their decisions. So Pinterest, I personally believe Pinterest is going to be something people really have to invest time into, whether a brand or an individual.
Jon Buchan: So you don’t think you can just spend money on Pinterest and have it work?
Danny Denhard: For me Pinterest is all about purely organic seeding and having the right interesting story to tell. It’s really a storyboard, so it’s all about having the right product and the right account to allow people to find interesting. If you’re brand new and you went on, for instance, and just tried to do a page promotion or have page promoted pins, I don’t think people are really going to win from doing that.
Jon Buchan: If you build up that organic audience though, that’s when the promoted stuff can be useful?
Danny Denhard: Definitely.
Jon Buchan: Because obviously Pinterest have to make money at some point.
Danny Denhard: Pinterest at the moment are a company that they’ve obviously got bigger, grander plans, but for now they’re all about organic growth, they’re all about a quality destination for people to be on, and they are an e-commerce platform so they do drive a huge amount of sale, and it’s really one of those, that I know definitely my girlfriend used to pin all of her present ideas and I used to go on there and steal them and buy them and I’d look a hero. So I think a lot of people now have that mindset, they can go to Pinterest and find a lot of interesting information about people. For them to make money, I think they can carry on using their quality products but also offering a really good discovery engine, so in the background they’re offering… if you search for something it’s not a traditional way of searching Google, it’s actually you’re provided with real interesting pieces of information, like images or holiday inspiration. If you’re looking for a wedding dress you’re going to be bombarded…
Jon Buchan: It’s also great for obsessives, if you’re obsessed about a topic.
Danny Denhard: Completely.
Jon Buchan: That is a great way to spend time.
Danny Denhard: I think the other thing to remember about Pinterest is when you’re on Pinterest you spend a lot of time on there because everything around you is still relevant, it’s still open. You know, people say infographics are dead, they’re oversaturated, but they do perform pretty well.
Jon Buchan: Well everyone says SEO is dead, X is dead.
Danny Denhard: So Pinterest just need to keep offering really great services and keep working on their discovery engine and their search, because there’s going to have to be an education piece where they move people away from how people use Google and their local search engines to how they’re going to search Pinterest.
Jon Buchan: I’m a recent converter to Pinterest, I do enjoy it.
Danny Denhard: Going back to Instagram, touching on Instagram, I think Instagram have taken almost the lead on high quality content. So some people don’t post pictures for days but when they do post it’s really, really good content or really high quality images. So a hip-hop producer, Jermaine Dupri, he talks about Instagram a lot being really influential for him, because he posts the same images but at different times to see when he gets the highest point of engagement, the most amount of likes, and again it’s another great touchpoint for brands to be on there. I’d say there’s a cultural shift for businesses to go on to Instagram because social media for the last 10 years almost has been about blitzing out messages and constantly putting out things around the calendar. With Instagram, and likewise with Pinterest, it’s all about putting out really, really high quality content that people want to engage with.
Jon Buchan: Quality over quantity.
Danny Denhard: Yeah, and I think the sponsored posts and pictures on Instagram do do pretty well as well because they’ve got their targeting down to a tee, being a Facebook company they have learned.
Jon Buchan: So they’ve got good targeting and you can optimise campaigns as you go on.
Danny Denhard: Completely.
Jon Buchan: Okay, cool.
Danny Denhard: I think Instagram allows people to have an aspirational life.
Jon Buchan: Yes.
Danny Denhard: And I think that’s what Facebook is guilty of doing as well, but I think Instagram tries to make people better people, if that makes sense?
Jon Buchan: Instagram I think probably would be… I’ve heard from one person that I know that runs a luxury jewellers said Instagram works the best for him.
Danny Denhard: Completely. You know, tracking is the problem on Instagram, people can’t necessarily click through as they’re used to on other social networks, so there are services out there that allow you to when you like it, it will email you an update and a link to that product. Moving forward I think there’s going to have to be a lot more, just move you away from the one click that everyone’s used to, people are used to clicking once and then being pushed towards a product that they like and enjoy. I think with Instagram it either makes you want to go there or makes you want to follow the account more, but I’ve seen Instagram do wonders for in-house teams when they really need to have engagement with their audiences, and also, one thing I would say about Instagram is it isn’t saturated by parents and it isn’t saturated by brands, so the younger audience love it, people under 35 love it. I also think people, when they get a little bit older, will appreciate it more because they can follow accounts that they enjoy and there’s no pressures to follow people back, where there is across all the other networks.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, yeah. Finally, Snapchat, how the hell do they make money?
Danny Denhard: Well Snapchat are a really interesting business, they’re going through a transition period at the moment around stories and offering what I’d call blasts, that they send out information to the whole contact list and then if it’s seen within 10 or 5 seconds they can click the link, and it’s on the device people use primarily for the internet now. Snapchat are holding strong with how much they’re going to charge, because I think they’re going to borrow the TV model of how many eyeballs it gets in front of or how many people it can influence rather than how many people actually click through, but music artists and magicians are even making money through it just because they can show a trick or show something interesting or content…
Jon Buchan: How is their targeting?
Danny Denhard: So basically it’s like anything, you have to push your username out to your audience and other networks and platforms and push them over. Obviously there are hundreds of articles out there that say people who are interesting and compelling to follow. One thing that Snapchat maybe doesn’t have at the moment is relatable people that you might be interested in, and I think they’re going to have to work on a product like that because that’s how social media and people are used to engaging with people online or through mobile apps. Snapchat in the future, I think isn’t necessarily going to be around for 10 years, but I think what it is doing, it’s creating multiple other spinouts of businesses. So Cyber Dust is a really interesting one that Mark Cuban has created, which you can send out to a list, and it’s very much how engaged you are with your audience is how well it works, and there are a lot of social media that have become almost disposable in 2014 and I think in 2015 it’s going to continue, but actually businesses are going to go on there and allow them to have a real shop window into how they act and interact within an office. So most businesses now struggle to put an idea or show how big they are or how small they might be, so Snapchat, it’s the only real medium that’s acceptable to send a picture of you messing around or making tea because it is the personal window into people’s lives, where people share. A lot of my friends on Snapchat share the most ridiculous things on Snapchat that they wouldn’t ever share publicly, so it is a peer-to-peer, a one-to-one network, which again companies will like that. It’s whether you can support that, the server can support the structure.
Jon Buchan: Yeah. So brands are going to have to decide their priorities on all of these networks.
Danny Denhard: Exactly.
Jon Buchan: They have a hell of a lot of work to do.
Danny Denhard: Definitely, but again it’s all about the quality that you put out, the content that you provide people.
Jon Buchan: Cool. So I saw that you have a prediction that there will be a mobile app just for content seeding, can you tell me a little bit about that?
Danny Denhard: Sure. Right now I think there’s a lot of people that say software is taking over the world and everything’s becoming ‘applified’. I can’t see someone who isn’t savvy enough to create an app that’s going to be for distribution purposes, that you can upload digestible content or something that’s really compelling and hit out multiple areas and people, it will be on someone’s home screens; so someone will open it, interact with it, tell you whether they like it or not and it’ll disappear, but it will feed back within a website. I can’t see for now, there’s like Flipboard, publications like that, their own apps that are out there for now that do a good job in syndicating content and having feeds, but I think now people have a real desire to consume information on their phone, on the go, or even if they’re at their desk. A lot of people sit on the toilet and email now, right?
Jon Buchan: Yeah.
Danny Denhard: So I think there’s going to be times in the very near future where people can upload information really quickly and hit the audience that they want to hit through a mobile app, and it will go on to someone’s home screen and notify them. I think email is sort of underused but no one really enjoys going back to email, inbox zero is a pain for most people. Text messaging is kind of being dumbed down a little bit through apps, and I think people want to be told just great information, they just don’t want it always to be a friend that tells them or to find it organically.
Jon Buchan: Do you think these mobile apps will be sort of topic specific or all-encompassing, or a combination of both?
Danny Denhard: I think it will be interest based, so if someone’s got an interest, almost tapped into the interest graph, but I think people will want to pick, if they’re interested in computers or LOLs like 9GAG and people like that, people will be able to sift through what their interests are and tick a box and then receive that information, but I think we’re a disposable population now, so when information comes to us we want to see whether it’s right or wrong, we’re going to swipe left if we like and right if we don’t like, and I think that will have to happen and I think we’re influenced by all sorts of apps now. A lot of people are on Tinder, so the swiping left and right is really interesting for them, and I think people are going to have to learn to offer content in a way that is new and relevant and going to hit the right audiences, and whether you’re liked or you’re not liked is really important.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, that’s an interesting concept. All of this is really interesting, because I want as many diverse ways to choose from, to choose where my content is seeded for a client, all this is very, very exciting.
Danny Denhard: I think people need to move away from just putting their horse blinkers on and just consider if their content is consumed on a desktop or a mobile, they have to really consider where, when and how, and I think that’s how people engage with it, people really have to take the learnings from it. I don’t just think that if it’s happened once, twice or three times that is a success or a failure, it’s how you constantly evolve your product and your offering. So BuzzFeed has had to evolve their offering, The Mirror have had to evolve, Kraft and big companies like that, Coca Cola, are always doing new and interesting things on different platforms, and I think regardless of your size you have to be where people want you to be now and you have to be across those trust signals, whether it’s a mobile app, a desktop app, a browser plug-in, multiple sites, Facebook, Twitter, you have to be there and you have to be offering the right content for them, otherwise you’re just irrelevant.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, brands have a lot of work cut out for them.
Danny Denhard: But also a lot of opportunity as well.
Jon Buchan: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s actually really creative, interesting, exciting work as well, so it’s going to be a fun year.
Danny Denhard: Definitely.
Jon Buchan: I read in your presentation about anchoring effect, could you tell me a little bit about that?
Danny Denhard: Sure. I think it’s something that we all need to learn, especially from SEO background like I’ve had, I think we all crave to be number one, we always crave to be the highest position that we can possible, and it’s something in behavioural economics, it’s something that’s always had an interest with me is anchoring bias, because we always seem to trust the information we’re given first and I think that’s instilled in us from birth as well, you know, when our parents tell us some information we always think it’s right or wrong, so whether the tooth fairy does exist or Father Christmas does, you learn as you go along. I think as humans we always tend to take the information first, and I think that’s really important now; if you’re the first person to market, people tend to listen to you a little bit more, I think if you’re ranking number one in Google people tend to trust you a little bit more because an algorithm has decided you’re most relevant. If you’re the first thing in someone’s feed or someone that likes you, you tend to take that away with you and take that as gospel.
Jon Buchan: So all the more important on doing good content marketing, to get links, to get you those top positions.
Danny Denhard: Definitely, and also it’s being right and giving people the right entertaining or give the correct answer to people first or being seen as the authority or the expert.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, being helpful. Google’s guidelines have said this for 15 years, finally we’re catching up.
Danny Denhard: We’re hearing it, yeah.
Jon Buchan: Excellent, okay. Excuse me if I pronounce this wrong, but the Von Restorff Effect, could you tell me a little bit about that?
Danny Denhard: Sure. Basically how I explain it to myself is that information that stands out for other people and that stands out from the competitors or stands out from being dull and boring tends to be consumed better. I think that’s essential in content, especially content marketing, because at the moment or in the last couple of years there was a real surge towards creating creative content, but whether that was creative enough or not. I think digital marketing is often a copycat industry and we often copy what other people have done and we’re scared to be unique and individual, and I think what we could take away from this theory, and it completely rings true for me, is that if something is bigger, grander and more interesting, more compelling, you do take that information in and you do understand it a lot more than you would other people. So I think it’s vital that people understand that standing out is essential.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, definitely, even back in old school ad days, if you’d seen a thousand ad messages a day the one that stands out is the one that’s going to actually get more business, so it’s still relevant today.
Danny Denhard: I think one of the previous podcasters before, he was really interesting because he said how many messages we see and how we interact with it, and I think it’s almost how we view it and then what we do with it, the message is sometimes secondary to how we actually view it, so I think that’s really important.
Jon Buchan: So what is the Gold Gradient Effect?
Danny Denhard: So it’s when you’re prompted already or you’re further down the journey than you would be if you’d just started from scratch, so essentially it’s when, for me, and saying it layman terms again, someone has started an influential purchase journey, so they might have offered you an example of a holiday or they might have something saved for you and you can go across and buy it. What a lot of people have now is decision fatigue, I know it’s spoken about quite a bit but I completely think it’s true online, is that people go online to find an answer or to be inspired to do something, and I think the Gold Gradient Effect is a really good example of this because online you can start a journey through interactive content. So if you’re a holidaymaker or a holiday client and then you want it to influence peoples’ journeys or their purchase journey you can offer something really interactive and then you can move the lever around to say you want to fly four hours.
Jon Buchan: This is something I’m pitching to a client right now, so I’m going to send this link to him.
Danny Denhard: And I think the other thing that it allows you to do is it allows you to give people options as well, but also make it really easy for someone to make a decision.
Jon Buchan: So it’s marketing but also functional as well.
Danny Denhard: Definitely. I think if marketing isn’t functional it doesn’t work, so I think you have to make it, that makes it easier for people.
Jon Buchan: Rory Sutherland said he always opts for branded utility before branded entertainment.
Danny Denhard: Definitely.
Jon Buchan: Okay, so the big one that’s always going to be asked at the end of the presentation, what’s the ROI, how do we work out the ROI of this content stuff?
Danny Denhard: Content stuff? For me it is breaking it down and working out where it applies and who it applies to. So for me, if you’re doing a bigger piece of content marketing and it applies for SEO and you’re doing it for SEO and social media you break it down into what goals are relevant to that team. So for me it’s breaking down the goals for: is it generating links, has it generated you traffic, has it become relevant, has it created social shares, how many, has it created comments, for PR has it got you onto a unique publication, have people started to talk about you, is it a relevant piece of news and is it newsworthy, so has it hit their targets and taken off their targets as well? Then also associating the costs, so internal costs and external costs, so as an agency how much does it cost the client, you know, and you break it down into line items, and how much internal time has it taken as well, so is it the management of the project, so if they’ve had to do some PM work, how much should they attribute to that? Is it how much seed in an email, maybe if they sent an email out, how much that’s cost them, how much maybe that’s impacted their open rates or deletion rates, and then also if they put any paid media in themselves, so how much does that cost? So personally I would say if your content is not good enough for you to pay for promotion or you wouldn’t pay to promote it it’s probably not good enough. So I think you have to really understand how much, break it down into every area and then break down the costs.
Jon Buchan: Do you think it’s likely bespoke per client, what you report on?
Danny Denhard: Personally I think as long as you’ve got a good tick sheet or worksheet to work from the basics are the same, but I think to make it actionable for people it’s what box does it tick, what it’s applicable to, and then what goals do they hit or don’t hit, and the cost that they hit, the costing at the end of it.
Jon Buchan: That is the one thing that I like most about the content marketing that we do, is that there’s so much you can report on, there’s just so many benefits, that’s one thing I really love about content marketing. So with that in mind, that you can track ROI, do you see bigger budgets for content marketing in 2015?
Danny Denhard: I think companies would be silly if they don’t increase the budgets. I think as long as they’ve got proof that it does work, proof of concept, I think that they have to make it bigger. I think to make people interested in what you’re doing, especially in 2015, you’ve got to have the right promotional budget, you have to have the right creation budget, whether that’s in-house or through an agency like yourselves. I think people have to have bigger budgets to make it work, and it’s only going to get more aggressive the more that content marketing is used as an outlet or as a channel for people. One thing I would say is don’t increase the budget for budget sake, actually increase it because you’re going to get the right output and also the right entertaining or utility at the end, especially something that’s interactive.
Jon Buchan: I agree, in this world of social media and content marketing and the younger generation, just pure brochure sites are not going to cut it at some point.
Danny Denhard: I honestly can’t see with the way the industry’s going and how creative you have to be in a lot of other disciplines, and especially social media and SEO now, I can’t see people not having to increase their spending on content marketing and doing it right is essential, so spending a little bit more to get the right output.
Jon Buchan: I mean, even just for SEO if you need to do content marketing, so I hope it eventually gets rid of these SEO agencies that just offer you advice on ‘Edit on alt tag and edit that mega tag’ that does nothing of real value, I hope it kills them off, if I’m honest.
Danny Denhard: No, I think from experience and something like you guys have done and seeing what other people are doing, I think that certain agencies are really going to have to up their game to catch up and also to give their clients what they need, and a lot of people I work with and have worked with really need someone to work out the holistic marketing element and how to intertwine content into social and into SEO, and I think that can only increase this year.
Jon Buchan: Yeah. It’s like there’s a management consultant element to it, isn’t it, because changes within the organisation need to be made for this to happen.
Danny Denhard: But I think your processes, your touch on process is essential. Myself, I’ve got 18 steps that I tell people they should follow and that’s from working with a lot of different companies, it’s not the perfect process for everyone but I think people need to integrate and understand that they need to involve everyone and involve especially the right people, to get the right people.
Jon Buchan: We have holistic rules of thumb and then some concrete rules that make things work. So for 2015 lots of exciting things that may happen, hopefully creative budgets for content marketing, which will mean better content on the internet, which is good for everyone.
Danny Denhard: Raising the status quo I think is what we have to do in content marketing.
Jon Buchan: Yeah, well I’m sure we can do that. So thank you for your time, Danny.
Danny Denhard: Thanks for having me.
Jon Buchan: And thank you for watching Positive Chats. We’ll see you soon.
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