By John Houghton on January 15, 2014
In 2005, I founded MobileCast Media in order to focus on mobile content marketing. We’ve developed a lot of expertise on the subject since then, and I’d like to share some of it with you. What can you expect from a content marketing app? If the app and content are done properly, you can expect a lot of buzz. If you’re the one publishing, you can also expect to become a thought leader, which will also carry over to your organization’s brand. A lot of companies are blogging these days, and that’s a good use of time since it increases search rankings, builds followers, and demonstrates your expertise. But since everyone is doing it, blogging has become less effective at punching through the clutter and getting people talking.
When you publish a blog post and include it in your email newsletter, I find the response is not especially significant. When you commit to a video series and distribute it via a well-designed content marketing app, this generates a good response. If you email the content marketing app, in my experience the response is 10x greater than what results from a regular email. Customers and prospects download the app, watch the video, and a significant minority will write back and tell you they liked it, or they’ll just say “hi” and want to have lunch. Often these interactions lead to customer meetings and generate new opportunities. For companies with outside sales, this is the type of interaction sales reps crave, and can lead to new opportunities. For consumer companies, the desired buzz comes from the consumers, who tend to do more buying, and express their loyalty through social channels.
We’ve been producing mobile video since 2007, and it took a while for the value to sink in, because video is more expensive, than, say, an audio program (podcast), which is more expensive than a text blog. At my company we’ve turned the knob on all of the variables affecting cost versus making a video compelling, and we’ve found that a webcam video doesn’t generate much buzz – you need professional audio, lighting, and a decent camera operator. The editor needs to adjust audio levels, and be able to show b-roll that explains and illustrates what is being discussed. When the recession hit in 2008, a lot of folks cut their budgets and produced low-quality videos under the guise of being social. It didn’t work. Low-quality content is annoying and hard to sit through, and you shouldn’t be showing it to your customers and prospects.
I used to think that video was best for illustrating procedural tasks or end results. For example, you would be hard-pressed to explain a dance maneuver with words alone, but a few seconds of video would demonstrate it clearly. Therefore, you can show prospects how something works – very helpful in selling. You can also show them any final outcomes that are visual. For example, the infomercial that shows how effective Oxiclean is uses a simple “before” and “after” shot – after all, seeing is believing. I used to think video was ideal for these things, but in reality, video can “up the game” of just about any product or service in the via of content marketing (bearing in mind that content marketing is not direct selling). By hearing other people talk about “the best practice” or how to do a certain thing, it gets your audience excited and they see your point of view. They align with you internally on the subject matter that is pertinent to your company, and this makes it easier to later sell your product or service. They’re already onboard with you.
Televison has been the traditional way of delivering video, and although people still watch it, it’s becoming outdated. People like to see you marketing in new ways, and they like it when they can watch your material on the latest iPhone, Android Phone, or iPad. That’s the new way of doing things, and to position your products and services as new, fresh, exciting, and cutting-edge. Plus, by showing up on an Apple device, you associate yourself with the world’s current #1 brand, Apple.
Probably the hardest part about content marketing is affordability. To create a cheap app that breaks three months down the road and shows low-quality content simply won’t do it. This is a sales activity, and something that’s tied to revenue like this needs the proper funding. If you can’t afford video, you can resort to audio only. A lot of busy executives like to listen while driving or working out.
The second hardest part is having the discipline to do it regularly. It requires your time and participation. Interview videos are popular, and if you were to do one on a monthly basis, somebody needs to be on the phone pitching the show to guests to get the next interviewee lined up. There are a lot of things that can hold the program back, such as shooting too much material, which then needs to be sorted through and edited as you produce the video.
Regular episodic content that is delivered over time can be life-changing. Imagine reading a book on time management and then trying to implement the tips. After a few weeks, some of what you learned from that book will slip, and in a few months you might have forgotten most of it and will be working on something else. However, if you set up 10 weekly meetings with a time management coach, you might have a transformative experience. It’s the same with a prospect reading your marketing material. It fades from their mind after a while; however, if they watch your weekly video or listen to your weekly audio podcast in your app, you can really reinforce a message so that it sticks. Most importantly, you stay in their awareness so that when an opportunity comes up, they call your company.
I remember reading a good book on user experience called “Don’t Make Me Think.” The point of the book was to make things simple and increase usability. People don’t like to think, nor do they like to tap around on their phone and dig for content. If they want to watch a video, but it’s 8 taps and a search away, that’s a lot of work and people typically won’t do it; however, if the video has an icon on their home screen (because it’s in an app), you’ve made it very easy to access your content (no text search – just a few taps away), and they are much more likely to watch it. Therefore, having a piece of real estate on the user’s home screen is very powerful.
These are some of my thoughts on content marketing using apps and video. I have a lot more content on the way, so feel free to use the share buttons and check back tomorrow!