FOUND Friday

A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.


Topic: Making Visual Content Findable and Measurable. Getting the most out of your visual assets for content marketing campaigns.

Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics

Karen Scates, Marketing, PR Manager, GinzaMetrics


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Karen: Hi, and welcome to this week’s edition of FOUND Friday. Today I have Erin Robbins O’Brien, our COO and our marketing strategist. I’m Karen Scates, your host.

How are you doing, Erin?

Erin: I’m doing good. How are you?

Karen: I’m building an ark out in California. We asked for rain and we asked for rain. We begged for rain and we got rain. Now we’re like, “Oh my God, it’s raining!”

Erin: I remember living out there and the idea of rain was always more exciting than the actuality. There’s no good middle ground there in terms of handling even the light drizzle. I just remember the highway is coming to a complete standstill.

Karen: Nobody knows how to drive in the rain. But that is another topic. We can have a whole FOUND Friday on how Californians don’t know how to drive in the weather.

Actually, this week we’re going to be talking about making visual content more findable and measurable. We’ve been trying to do some things to help content marketers be a little bit more strategic and effective in what they’re doing. One of the things is measuring content, finding the value of it, deciding what’s working and what’s not working.

Let’s talk about how you would measure the popularity and effectiveness of visual content and what you can do to make it more findable and measurable. Before we do that, I want to define what we mean by visual content. Can you define that for us?

Erin: Sure. Visual content can mean a variety of things. I think there are two different categorizations and I want to be clear, so we set the bar for today.

The first is that content is meant to convey its messaging via some sort of visual mode. That means things like pictures, videos, slide decks, animations, infographics, etc.

The second idea would be that visual content may be written, but utilizes graphic or visual elements to help explain areas of the text. This way, pretty much all content is visual content, especially when talking about digital marketing as it’s fairly unlikely that a marketer would put out “War and Peace” on a blank page as some sort of marketing content.

For the purposes of today’s discussion, we’ll stick to the first which means content deck conveys its messaging via some sort of visual imagery.

Karen: I think people understand how things like blog posts and those kinds of things are captured and measured, but what about visual content? It’s not found in the same way. How do you measure that?

Erin: We want to measure all content regardless of its form for a number of reasons.

The first is we want to know what’s working. We want to know how spending our time the things that we’re doing to reach our audience, like do they work or do they not work?

Secondly, we want to know what is about it that’s working or not working. Is it the medium? Is it the message or is it the method?

What I mean by each of those things is this:

The medium is the type of content. Is it a video or is it a picture? Is it a slide deck? Is it an infographic?

The message is what is the content trying to convey? Is it a picture of Miley Cyrus? Is it a clever quote over a [3:325 inaudible] image? Is it a funny cat video? What are you trying to say with this? Are you trying to inspire someone? Are you trying to get them to click on a link to download an e-book? What is it that you’re trying to do here?

The method is the way that you’re sending out your content. Is it an e-mail? Is it posted to YouTube? Is it on Vine? Is it on Instagram? Or is it on Pinterest or SlideShare, etc.?

The reason it’s really important to make these distinctions is too often people will claim that something is working or not working and they don’t know whether it’s the medium, the message, or the method. When we’re saying, “Video is great,” is all video great or are videos on YouTube great? Or are videos on Vine great? Are all pictures great or is it Pinterest as a channel that’s great? Even with Pinterest – is it Pinterest that’s great or is it the specific images that are there and would they work on other mediums? It’s important to start to understand these differences.

Karen: How do you create visual content that’s measurable? Let’s break that down a little bit and start with video. How do you make your video content findable?

Erin: We actually did a whole series on video SEO that I thought was really interesting with Kieran Farr from Vidcaster. I’d love for a [4:53 inaudible] reference in the follow-up blog to let people know a little bit more about video SEO because that’s really a big topic. I think that there are a lot of things in terms of measuring and creating better stuff.

One, to measure something effectively, you do need to have buckets for measurement of these different areas. What is the specific item? Group all videos together and be able to say, “This is how videos perform versus another particular type of thing.” Group all things for a campaign together. If your campaign is around customer education, if your campaign is around what’s a Black Friday Sale because that’s topical holiday trends, whatever it is that all content with that messaging can then be measured as a message strategy.

Measure things based on channel – everything that went to YouTube, everything that went to Pinterest, everything that was sent via e-mail. What happens is you can actually measure individually, is the video a good channel? Is video a good medium for us or are infographics better? So we can see how video performs versus other mediums.

Is the messaging working? How does one campaign perform versus another? How does the actual method work? Is Instagram better than Pinterest for our particular brand?

Karen: I think that’s where people get a little confused because maybe they’ll send out one message on video, a different message on a SlideShare, a different message on the blog, and then they go, “Oh, the video doesn’t work for us.” You have to be careful to make sure that what you’re measuring is the channel – the medium – and not the message.

Erin: Right. The idea would be to be able to measure everything. This is where business intelligence really comes in and we talk a lot about sharing data across a number of different places. But this is why it’s really hard if your data is siloed. So if you’re running e-mail marketing and you only really have a glimpse into how e-mail itself performs and not the actual content of the e-mail and you don’t understand all the other drivers. Or let’s say you’re working in content creation and so you’re creating these e-books, you’re creating these things but you don’t understand if an e-book doesn’t perform well, is it the messaging that somebody wrote in the traffic driver? Did somebody write bad ad copy that did not match up with what people are really looking for? Were e-mail subject lines not really motivating people to click and open?

There are so many different reasons for something to not perform as expected or to over perform, that not really breaking down the measurement into these three very distinct categories will make people think that either something works really well or doesn’t work. What will happen too is people will make knee-jerk decisions and will drop different mediums, different messages, and different methods.

Another thing we talk about a lot that’s really chewing it when it comes to visual content is understanding that this is a place where you need to try out and say, “This message actually works really well when conveyed with an infographic or when conveyed with a single picture,” or, “This is actually something that a single picture doesn’t work very well for and we need an actual video because we need to be able to add more context or what’s more compelling.” That really has a huge impact. Which is why when we’re talking about building campaigns, don’t just build a campaign around one particular channel and send it out. Try a number of different things because that’s the only real way to compare and contrast.

Karen: I think it’s important to not just say, “We’re only going to use video at this point in the funnel for this persona with this particular message,” and then never see if that’s the right fit.

Erin: Right. That’s a really good point. We talked a little bit about it with Joe last week, which is how we’re having this conversation now, which is assuming that different methods and different mediums have a place in a funnel and that they can’t move around or be included at multiple different points.

I know that a lot of times you go, “Okay, a case study for B2B is maybe more bottom-of-the-funnel type of thing right before you close.” But who’s to say that that’s actually true for every company everywhere? Have you ever tried to send the case study to a cold lead? Maybe it works top of the funnel. Have you ever tried to do a video case study and put that out and let people get into it that way?

I think there are so many misconceptions with what visual content itself can do. If people assume infographics are very top of the funnel and they’re like, “This is a way to get a lot of people to know about our brand and then maybe a big publication will pick it up.” People look at it as very awareness-driving. But I actually think infographics are really a great way to explain complex parts of your product and really hard to understand systems that you have like a large enterprise technology. Infographic might be a good way to include in customer success or customer support answers to questions. People really like that.

The reason all that furniture from IKEA has basically 100% visual instructions is because people understand when they have a question or don’t know how to do something – they really understand visuals. You have to think about the visual content being something beyond this top-of-funnel awareness and try to really incorporate it everywhere.

Karen: That goes back to the old adage: “Tell me and I know. Show me and I understand.” That’s my education background coming out.

We’re talking a lot right now about video, but what about SlideShare? I know that if you publish through SlideShare, it isn’t really driving traffic for you to measure. How can you increase effectiveness of SlideShares and be able to measure it more effectively?

Erin: I think that SlideShare is a really interesting situation and it’s great for a lot of things. I really love SlideShare. They do give you a lot of analytics and I think one of the things that’s interesting about the SlideShare Analytics as they continue to grow is you get some demographic data, you get some kind of click and interest data. But right now, one of the things that I would say for B2B companies is there’s this idea of “get in touch” and you can embed this “get in touch” button throughout your SlideShares to get people to actually follow up as leads.

But what you have to be careful of is that depending on what your intent is for this particular piece of content that you are not trying to force a salesy tone onto something that is not at that place yet. And that if you are actually are using SlideShare for case studies, which I think is a really great way to use it by the way for white papers, for case studies, for product overviews, and for things like these, SlideShare does a really good job. But what you have to be careful of is if you do create this content, you do need to give somebody a place to follow up.

That’s actually how you manage to lose a lot of potentially really good leads and conversations – you don’t give them a next step. They end your SlideShare. And SlideShare, because it’s a company, is suggesting more SlideShares for them to read. So if you don’t direct them to your content, then you’ve messed up.

Another thing that SlideShare does really well – and that depends on your domain authority as to how valuable driving this is – you can embed your SlideShares onto your own website (same thing with YouTube videos and all this other stuff). So if you’re going to send out a SlideShare via e-mail, why not send them to your site with the SlideShare embedded as opposed to sending them to SlideShare’s site who’s then going to recommend other SlideShares from potential competitors or other people who are just going to get web traffic?

Karen: Is that whole idea of cutting through the clutter and getting your content out there and to your audience without a lot of other noise around your content?

Erin: Yeah. There is so much noise when we’re talking. Because visual content has become such a big thing like this idea of being findable when it comes to visual is difficult. I think a lot of people miss out on opportunities to make visual content resonate more. And one of the things that Joe was talking about last week that was really interesting was this idea of print media coming back and having a place because, you know what, it’s less noisy there. You could create really interesting, impactful, tactile marketing pieces in a less cluttered space.

That’s one of the reasons that while YouTube, SlideShare, and all these places like Pinterest and Instagram have a really great way of surfacing content that people would like and driving some organic growth. You also need to be building up those things on your properties and figuring out ways to get that content to people when they’re not actually surrounded by 10 million things.

It’s like having a flashy light neon sign in Vegas would be awesome if you were the only flashy neon sign. But there are 10 million other ones, so everybody is just building a bigger flashy neon sign. Sometimes the answer is to not need that. Sometimes the answer is to be a street performer or to do something else. When it comes to visual content, I actually think that driving people to visual content from non-traditional sources is another option that people could consider.

Karen: Earlier we touched a little bit on the infographic and how sometimes infographic is just more easily conveyed and that gained in popularity. But it’s not particularly easy. Especially maybe if you’re a content person, you’re not really a design-oriented person, getting that infographic done might be a little bit more difficult. I’ve seen some infographics that are just so noisy themselves. They’re so cluttered and difficult to read that I give up on them. I’d rather read it. I don’t know if I’m alone in that. But sometimes they just feel like they cram too much graphic information to one place.

Erin: That’s another good example of measuring something. Saying that the infographic doesn’t work but having an infographic that is either created poorly or has bad design production is hard to read, these are all things that really affect drop-off rates. So somebody might say, “Infographics don’t work for us.” Is it the infographic? Is it the quality of the actual product? Is it the distribution? How are you getting it out there?

This is what I think is interesting with infographics and with a lot of other visual types of content or content in general. Is the messaging that you’re using to drive somebody to this particular thing – does it actually match the output? There’s nothing worse than feeling let down after you open an e-mail or see a link in an article and you’re like, “I really do want to see that,” or, “I want to check this infographic out,” only to find out that it’s completely off-topic or it’s really, really salesy and centered around showcasing just the brand’s products and ideas as opposed to a real knowledge share.

When we’re talking about creating that – you specifically mention not being design-oriented – this is one of those things where I really don’t think that you can do this slap shot job of creating an infographic. It is a really difficult thing to do. I would actually say that it’s one of the hardest things for someone to do well because there’s a lot of competition and infographics are judged fairly harshly by viewers. So if you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it.

This is different with SlideShare. People have seen ugly slide decks, and while that is a personal pet peeve of mine, it’s probably still going to be informative even if it’s not necessarily pretty. With an infographic, you’re trying to be informative and pretty. That’s the whole freaking point. If you just want ugly information or just information, put it in a SlideShare. That’s actually fine. It’s not great, but it’s fine. Putting your ugly information in an ugly infographic is really bad.

The other thing when we’re talking about infographic is, is there a next step after the infographic? Putting the infographic together, I actually think it’s good to have, if it’s possible, to do interactive infographics. Imagine your infographic almost like digital Candy Land. It’s visually appealing, but you want to be able to pop in places and dig in deeper and get more information about something. Or are you led to a next step where you can go somewhere interesting afterwards and keep that visual stimulation alive?

Karen: You keep coming back to this not being too salesy, providing content that has nothing to do maybe directly with your product or service, but creating something that your audience is going to want to read and is going to bring them ultimately to you but it’s not necessarily saying, “Here’s our product. Buy, buy, buy!” That’s what needs to happen now in content marketing.

Erin: Don’t get me wrong. There is a place to be salesy. There is a place to ask for the “buy.” There is a time to actually say, “Let’s sign this contract,” or, “Do you want to purchase this?” I think that knowing where that place is and making it available to people and pushing it when we need to push it, but making it available to people at the appropriate time is really what we’re saying here.

Not everything that you create needs to have a “Do you want to buy right now?” option to it. A lot of it can say, “If you would like to learn more,” or, “Check out this next thing,” will lead them to your site or to other content that they can learn from. But an over attempt to sell something all the time as opposed to educating people about the market or about their issues, specifically in B2B places is really important because a lot of times what happens is what people are really looking for is a solution to a problem, like they’re looking for an answer, and if your company, if your product, if your service happens to be the solution, great. If not, you’re the trusted advisor. There is intrinsic value in this regardless because it’s a relationship.

Karen: Let’s wrap this up. I’m just thinking in terms of the content marketer who’s juggling all these pieces and you have a YouTube site that’s gathering certain information like how many people have viewed each video and you have slide decks on SlideShare, and that side is telling you how many people are viewing your slide decks, how are those views entered into the sales funnel for follow-up marketing efforts? How can brands bring those views back into their own websites? I think we touched on that a little bit.

Erin: There are a couple of questions in here to address. The first is: understanding the value of views and understanding that it’s not just, “We got a million views – this worked.” It’s is a million views great? Is it on par with how many views you expected to get? Is it on par with other campaign materials? Or how does it compare to other campaigns?

I think this goes back to this idea of do you really need to be measuring these three separate things to say what exactly is it that is winning or losing about this particular piece of content? Is it the medium? Is it the method? Is it the message?

For every campaign you did a video, a SlideShare, an infographic and these types of content, and then you distribute all of them via YouTube, SlideShare, e-mail, advertising, blog post, and landing page, what you’re really trying to build over time is a baseline understanding – we talked about this last week – of campaign performance so that what you eventually understand is when a campaign is performing above or below average and then what you’re trying to dig into when a campaign is performing above or below average is, is it the medium? Is it the method? Is it the message? Is it that your messaging is off target?

The message includes both these physical words and the design. The message is what you’re trying to convey. Is it the people don’t want a 10% coupon? Is it the people don’t want a specific type of Black Friday deal? This messaging – are you trying to inspire? Are you using fear? What is it that you’re doing? Is that message not working? Is it the actual method of communication? Do people not want an e-mail? Do they want a landing page? Do they want something else? Do they want to be able to go to a micro site and interact? What does that method look like? Like we talked about earlier, is it that a video would’ve been better than a picture here or what a simple image actually had explained whatever this message was concisely enough without having to play the video? There are all these different things.

In terms of getting people into the funnel, this is interesting because you’re not going to be able to directly take views from YouTube or from SlideShare and get all these people’s information. That’s there to protect the ability for people to surf around for information and freely watch things.

Now that goes back to us saying, you need to give people the next step. Don’t just end your video and leave them with nowhere to go. Don’t just end your SlideShare with no way for somebody to get in touch with you if they have questions. It doesn’t have to be an over sales call to action. It can just say, “Hey, do you want to learn more? Do you want to see more content from us?” and it can even go to a micro site that has similar videos, instead of having them just surf away to other SlideShare content, other YouTube content.

What we’re really looking for here is awareness. A way to actually capture leads, as you were mentioning here, is put that content on your site. Embed that SlideShare on your site. Embed those videos on your site. Create a resource center and bucket out these sources by a couple of different things. Bucket it out by content type, by SlideShare, by e-book, by video, whatever that is. Also try to bucket it out by campaign or solution set. All the content that’s around holiday stuff – put it in one place. For B2B organization, maybe all the things that specifically answer. It’s called solution selling rate. It’s the traditional word for it. People will create these lines of solutions and there’s a bunch of different things that are housed there. When you have a resource center that houses everything like that, that’s a way to measure specifically solution versus solution, what’s going on, and content versus content. This goes back to that three-prong methodology.

Karen: Also, most B2B companies have several personas that they’re marketing to. Do you think that bucketing that information by the persona that they created, maybe by the role that the person has within their own company would be helpful as well?

Erin: I think it’s helpful if your persona knows that they’re a persona. For instance on our site, we have a section that does particular features. We also have it by role. That’s because an agency person versus a contractor versus an SEO professional or a marketing strategist, these are all different roles that have different needs. So we have to explain our product, our platform in relationship to how each one of those specific people would need to utilize it. For that purpose, it works out really well because you can create content that specifically addresses their needs.

Of course, there are a lot of organizations who have multiple personas. Joe and I were talking about it – even 18 to 20 different…

Karen: Twenty?

Erin: But those people won’t know that they’re a persona. When we were talking about doing that messaging, I think that that’s actually there when you’re creating persona messaging. What you’re really looking at then is: message versus message and channel versus channel. So that’s method versus method because we’re saying maybe one person is on Pinterest and maybe another persona is more e-mail based.

We’re really talking about knowing each of the personas well enough to understand the medium, the method, and the message that works well for each of those personas. I would say that if you have persona groups and you don’t know the answers to those three things, that should be a goal for you in the coming year.

Karen: I always like to think of things in terms of a handful of pitfalls to avoid and a handful of things to make sure you do. Can you think of four or five mistakes that marketers make when they’re creating, distributing, and measuring visual content?

Erin: I can think of probably a lot more than that but I’m not going to share them. The first is this idea of not setting up the visual content with an understanding that it’s more than just a video or it’s more than just an infographic. It’s something that supposedly has a purpose. So why did you create a video? Why did you create an infographic? Do you understand why you chose that? Did you literally just create a video because your boss said, “I think we should have a video”? Ask why. Understand why.

Pitfall number one is: not understanding why you made what you made. Once you understand why you made what you made, understand what is it that I would determine as success? Then what are some other metrics that maybe I’m not thinking of that would tell me whether or not this resonates with people across medium, method, and message? So you should be measuring those things.

“How good is good and how do you get from good to great?” is always a question. Just saying that something did well, could it have done better? And how do you know the answer to that? That’s by measuring these things and settings and baselines. That’s a really big thing.

I think that not doing repeat visual content over time is a really problem. If you find something that works, I’m not saying you should beat that horse until it’s dead. It’s that you need to build up a portfolio doing these things because one, that’s how you get a better, more accurate average count of how well something like this performs. But it will also give you insight into: was this a one-time fluke? Was it just a one-time message that performed really well? Or does this particular medium really work well for us as an organization?

The last is, if you find a message that works, don’t just let it die or just put it on the video if that’s how the message is originally disseminated. Now take that message and try it in some other mediums. See if that message actually resonates really well with your target audience through other vehicles and see how it goes. Maybe it doesn’t but it’s good to know because if you find something that really sticks…

We see this a lot in agency partners, and this continues to be a problem. The way that this works out is one agency is responsible for TV, another agency may be responsible for print, another agency may be responsible for digital, and so they’ll have variations of campaigns. But the problem is, if something worked really well for TV or if something worked really well in digital, why not take that messaging and populate it across everywhere? This is actually, to me, one of the pitfalls of having multiple agency partners for a large business if you can’t get everybody into a room together to talk regularly without all of them trying to take the other one’s business.

Karen: I think Joe talked about this a little bit also – just within companies. Like if a company or corporation is so siloed, they may actually be creating the same content from department to department to department, and duplicating those efforts where they really don’t need to. Somebody else has already done the work.

Erin: That continues to be a struggle. I know that Joe is talking a lot about that last week. He and I were both ranting and raving a little bit when it comes to this idea that we’re not sharing information, we’re not sharing the correct information when we are sharing information, or we don’t know which information to share. Also, getting lost in this endless cyclone of conversations and nonsense amongst our peers, not knowing who is doing what because we’re all so focused on our little place in the world or are hoarding our wins, hoarding our ideas, hoarding our campaigns. Unfortunately, who really loses out here is the brand doesn’t do the great marketing that it could be doing. Then consumers lose out on a better experience. Nobody really wins this game.

Karen: Is there one thing you’d like to tell people to remember when making visual content part of the marketing mix, maybe one or two last parting comments?

Erin: Yeah. The same thing that Joe and I said last week and that I just said now is really the most important thing which is, why are you creating it? That is the fundamental first starting block for everything. If you’re getting ready to spend time creating any content, understand why you’re creating it. Who are you creating it for? What’s the goal of the content? Why this type of content versus another type of content?

If you don’t know the answer, ask. Ask yourself, ask your team, ask your employer, whoever. If they don’t have an answer, figure it out before you do it. Blindly agreeing to doing something like this is signing on for potential failure that you could be responsible for. So don’t sign yourself up for failure. Know why you’re creating what you’re creating.

Karen: Good advice. Thanks for joining me. I’m going to go continue building my ark and complaining about the weather that we begged for all this time.

Erin: Stay safe out there. I’ll see you next time.

Karen: Okay, bye-bye.

Erin: Bye.

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