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Posts Tagged ‘white papers’

Is BYOD dead?

Thursday April 25, 2013

 

 

Smart Phone With Mobile Security Button Stock Photos - Image: 29874633

 

It’s an interesting question we were asked to address in developing a recent white paper on behalf of our client AppSense .

While first-generation solutions to the BYOD problem have focused on locking down personal and corporate-owned devices, it’s become increasingly clear that IT departments have been mostly unprepared for the explosion of mobile computing and the avalanche of apps coinciding with the mobile revolution.

Recent studies estimate that 200 million workers are using mobile apps for business today. This strongly suggests that the consumer mobile experience has paved the way for the mobile workforce not only to expect, but demand access to data and apps from anywhere.

What does this all mean in the grand scheme of things?  Forward-looking organizations are moving from a lock-down approach to providing users access to apps and data they demand and require, anytime and anywhere.

AppSense dubs this new approach “BYOX” –  providing security and control anywhere they’re needed, regardless of device, without adversely affecting the user experience.

Check out our “nine big ideas” that will be instrumental in driving the next generation of mobility management solutions.

The only things you need to know about writing for websites

Tuesday February 12, 2013

Humming Bird Royalty Free Stock Images - Image: 3345519

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You’ll notice that there’s no shortage of “best practices” tips online today. And the guidelines for how to write/create content for websites that real people (as opposed to web-crawlers) actually read is no exception: today on Google there were nearly 78 million results. So, why are we weighing-in?  To briefly enunciate our philosophy: when it comes to what should go up your site, there is a deceptively simple tried-and-true golden rule. Less is More.

“Deceptively simple” because anyone charged with web content knows the burden on the gatekeepers who do the vetting.

The point is, whatever makes your cut must be better than ever. More compelling, more readable, more useful and stickier. Because your visitors insist. The most recent studies reveal a sharp decrease in the amount of time spent by website visitors.  It’s now less than half a minute. Not a lot of time to drone on about your product-as-hero. Or wax eloquent about your leadership and heritage. With this kind of attention deficit, everything a visiting skim-reader sees must be ultra high-return. It must instantly attract, impress and hook.

With this in mind and with so much recycled stuff out there, here is our condensed list of must-do’s as commonly practiced by the best-seller vendors:

1.  Know your reader. Exactly the same as the ancient marketing tenet of “knowing your customer” to the greatest extent possible. What do your buyers want to know about your value proposition? What were they really buying when they cut a check? Why do they turn away from one thing and lean toward another? What are those things? We are constantly amazed at how many marketers are still in the dark when it comes to reader familiarity.  It all begins right here.

2.  Put yourself where they are.
See #1 above. Chances are you lean toward video and everything visual when it comes to learning and gathering information. Ditto your prospects. The national and regional news sites figured this out long ago.  Try to find one today worth its pixels that has no video or streaming on their home page, or every section  That intriguing screen capture with the arrow inviting the click is irresistible.  Use video to showcase brief product descriptions, short clips of your people sharing insights, and/or a customer or two (or five) endorsing you with a brief problem/solution testimonial. Caveat:  ALL video has the shortest shelf life of anything on your site. You have to be committed to this. Which reminds us to tell you to…

3.  Think like a baker. It’s all about freshness.  You don’t see the same, stale stuff in the pastry case while your barrista is putting the cap on your low-fat mocha every morning.  Maybe not exactly the same thing but the underlying principle is, absolutely. You make your site a destination for a larger audience when you respect the value those folks put on fresh (AKA new) information, tidbits, tips, and news they can use: precisely what people are looking for and the best way for you to rise through the rankings. Last but not least: give something away, like a free sample at a bakery.

4.  Write in chunks.  There’s a bit of controversy today about “linear” writing styles vs. the “chunky” approaches.  Linear = feature stories, magazine articles, novels.  Chunky = headline news, wire-service dispatches and police blotters.  Which category do you think a stressed-out, short-attention span customer falls into?  Chunking does three things to improve your site content: more efficient conveyance of information, helps readers speed things up to find what they’re looking for, and it presents page-to-page information more consistently which makes your site easier to navigate

5.  Ask for the order.  More honored in the breach than in the observance. What do you want your reader to do, think, say to peers, or act upon? Your call to action is right up there with your contact page as the key element(s) of your site.  Make it clear, compelling and memorable.  Above all, make it brief.

Attention early-stage tech companies: Tear down that wall!

Tuesday October 30, 2012

Breaking Brick Wall
© | Dreamstime.com

 

So now that you’ve written that white paper, what do you do with it — do you put it up on your site and make it immediately available with one click?  Or do you put it behind a wall (AKA “gate”) and ask for the requester’s contact information?  “Gated” or walled-off content asks for various levels of contact information from the requester. It enables you to build a database. But does this hinder your efforts to build a large audience quickly?  Turns out there are no clear-cut rules for free-form vs. gated.  You’ll have to decide the relative merits of the tradeoff.  To our way of thinking, it boils down to this:  if you’re an early stage outfit, you likely want to build an audience. This means you want to make your content easily available.  Anything that slows down the acquisition of your material impedes this process.  If, on the other hand, you’re at the point in your audience volume where you want to start filtering out the tire-kickers and place greater focus on sales-ready leads, a gate that extracts some profile or contact information is appropriate.

Still, we concur with Dayna Rothmanof marketing software developer Marketo, who says that you have to formulate your own policy. “You have to find your own balance to meet your own audience and lead goals”.  This is why Write Angle  advises against putting your early-stage content in front of a gate.  In the early going, it’s more important to have a wide funnel.   As the brand is being built, then you can start making decisions about adding the filters.  If you need a rule, consider the one offered by CMO.com:  If you are out to position your company or brand as a thought leader, offering insights into the issues and challenges of the day, then free-form (un-gated) is the way to go. If you are more interested in driving leads to conversion quickly, then gating the content makes more sense.

The secret ingredient in sticky websites and great content

Saturday February 11, 2012

Magnet With Nails.

New study on web sites reveals what engages and retains the visitors you want

Results of a study on web sites made recently by an independent group on behalf of Facebook are now in — and they re-confirm what we preach repeatedly here: that sites having content which visitors can most easily identify with, and relate to on a personal level, are the most effective in engaging those visitors, holding their attention, achieving their recall and motivating them to return.

In other words, the mission we all want our sites to accomplish.

We’re delighted that these findings are so consistent with our own religious belief that marketing content of all kinds, online or off, must speak clearly and directly to the real-world issues of customer problems, ambitions and aspirations.  And it must be carefully framed in customer terminology–their vernacular, not yours–spotlighting the problems and challenges that real customers grapple with in their world every day.  This means taking your content a step beyond product descriptions, case studies, whitepapers and technical briefs that dissect the problems besetting the kind of customers you’re pursuing — and letting buyers describe exactly how your offering delivered real, measurable solutions in the circumstances your visitors (readers) can easily identify with.  The more personal and identifiable your content is, the more engaging and harder working your site can be.

In an era of incredible info overload, AKA “big data”, it’s encouraging to see research findings confirm that some content really does find its way into human memory.  The caveat: to know all you must about whom you’re targeting to the point that the topics you select and the way you present them are memorable. Another word for personal.

Are you satisfied with your site analytics and metrics today?  Your conversion rate?  How do you keep your content consistent with customer preferences and interest?  How can you make it more personal?

What Sumo Logic’s splashy debut reminds us about creating great content

Tuesday January 31, 2012

The Big Black Microphone

 

Jerry Della Femina, legendary ad executive from the “Mad Men” era, insisted his copywriters gather seven times the amount of source information needed on any subject prior to penning one word of marketing material.  A half-century later, we can’t argue.

The time-honored approach paid off again this week in the splashy debut of our client Sumo Logic, a next-generation log management and analytics service competing in the red hot Big Data revolution.  What we generated on their behalf, starting from scratch, amounted to a full menu of short- and long-form content, from web copy to FAQs, datasheets, use cases, case studies and whitepapers.

Sumo Logic made its directive crystal clear: develop compelling content that drives web traffic and craft a story that positions the company as highly differentiated, innovative and above all else, relevant and believable.   To the client’s credit, they demanded high-value content that stands up to the pushing, shoving and “prove it” probes from devil’s advocates: customers, media and analysts alike.

So what’s the key lesson learned? It begins with gathering as much relevant secondary and background material as possible.  Then comes a layer of deep sourcing sessions or interviews with all the key people. Kudos to our client for their enthusiastic collaboration providing direct and extensive access to the CEO, CTO, co-founder and director of biz dev, and the executive sales liaison. It’s here where we extract the primary material.  In these sessions we want to come away with the “ore” that can be processed into high-grade ingots:  the specific, real-world examples of customer struggles and challenges.  We probe for as many viable use-cases as possible.

What we’ve learned over the years is that the stronger the reader identification with these use cases, the deeper the impression and the more compelling the read. Only when we’ve extracted all relevant details do we prepare a tight outline as the storyboard or blueprint of the final product. Each piece — web pages, case studies, whitepapers and more — is a specific chapter in the company story.

The Sumo Logic intro reminded us, again, how perspiration trumps inspiration when it comes to crafting really great marketing content. Content drives marketing and sales today as in no other time.  And somewhere, Jerry D. is smiling.

What’s your content-development process?  How do your mobilize for intros and product launches?

Three steps to great B2B content

Monday January 9, 2012

Hot  Stamp

What is it about content, either online or off, that makes it great? More readable? Sometimes even viral? More specifically, how do you define these things in the B2B world?  We asked a number of associates who are rarely at a loss for words or opinions.  They were hard pressed to come up with a simple answer.  Generally, their responses were variations of “I know it when I see it”.  You know it when something grabs and keeps your attention.  Maybe even inspires you to pass it along and share it with like-minded colleagues.

Here are the must-haves as we see them:

First and foremost, it has to be reader-friendly. Which means more like USA Today and less like package inserts of medical prescriptions. It also helps to use lively, vivid and engaging language. No business subject is boring by definition.  It’s up to the content creator to find and articulate the hooks and angle(s) that make the ideas come alive and speak to readers on their terms. Hint: B2B subject matter inevitably deals with dollars-and-cents matters that matter to business practitioners at any level.  And the use of real-world examples is indispensable.  Readers want to read about people just like them enduring the same challenges, frustrations and triumphs.

It’s tailored to appeal to the hottest interests of people you want to reach. In other words, the interests that are trending from the standpoint of your customers.  This is where much B2B content falls short due to a natural urge to tout your offerings and ideas from your perspective rather than the audience’s. Resist this temptation because the reader’s POV is all that matters here.  Doff your ego and don the mantle of empathy with your audience. What’s your readers’ most current persona?  What are their aspirations, concerns, fears of the moment?  How do these values vary by customer segment?  What is customer service saying about the latest trends based on the most recent inquiries and issues — and how can you cast the idea you want to convey in the light that best addresses them?

It advocates on the reader’s behalf.
Great content reads the way the reader would have it written.  It presents tips, guidelines, examples of do’s and don’t's, and generally enlarges the understanding of all issues and subject matter useful to the readers’ ability to do their jobs. Ideally, it answers important questions before they even arise.  But always from the standpoint of the reader.

What is your team doing to create content that grabs and holds attention? How are you reconciling your marketing content with the current “temperature” of your readership?  Is it in or out of phase with the hot issues of the moment?   What are your plans in the new year for making your case studies, white papers and overall web site content more compelling and consistent with sales objectives?

The measurable way to make marketing contribute to sales

Friday January 6, 2012

Website Sales Funnel

The good folks over at Marketo published some stunning numbers this week that should be a wake-up call for anybody running marketing today.  Boiled down, the findings revealed that most marketing leaders have little or no confidence in their ability to drive revenue. Nine out of ten senior marketers surveyed “do not feel confident in their ability to impact the sales forecast of their programs”.  And 20 percent of them don’t measure what they do at all.

Isn’t driving sales one of the fundamental purposes of the marketing function? There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for closing deals and making the quarterly numbers.  But this much is known for certain about today’s in-bound marketing world: those companies who keep their web site content fresher and publish it more frequently draw the most sales-validated leads.  They consistently realize the highest conversion rates and apply measurement tools to clearly demonstrate the results of programs that contribute to bottom line revenue.  Can’t blame them.

Yes, Marketo is in the business of measurement software, but the connection of quality traffic volume to SEO rankings is driven by nothing more or less than the content sought by customers constantly on the lookout for fresh information relative to their specific needs.  Recognizing these needs and publishing relevant and engaging content is what separates the “10-percenters” who are successfully driving revenue generation from the other 90 percent who aren’t.  Those in the tip-of-the-pyramid ten percent club have figured out the correlation between publishing engaging content with regularity and making it count on the bottom line.

Are you in the 10-percent? What are you doing to stay there, or get there?  How do you keep your marketing content fresh and relevant?

Ten tips for better result$ from your content in 2012

Tuesday December 6, 2011

Thinking Heads



Case studies, white papers, solutions briefs, web content and blogging aren’t ends in themselves but the means to productive ends: more site visits, inquiries, trials, orders and revenue.  To help prepare you for the new year,  we’ve compiled a Top Ten list of representative tips for results-driven writing that we published here in 2011.  We hope they can contribute to your marketing mission as much they have stood the test of time in our own practice.  And here’s to a happy, prosperous New Year from Write Angle!

1.  More site traffic might make you feel good, but upping the number of visitors who actually make decisions about purchases is the metric the CEO will look for.  Here are five ways to make web content attract the right visitors to your site.

2.  There are a lot of wrong ways to produce content and the snake oil of SEO is more widespread than ever today. Beware. Here are some guidelines intended to help you avoid the three biggest mistakes in content marketing.

3.  If your case studies aren’t lead generators, is the time you’re taking to produce them really worth it?  Make the most of your time by applying these three things that make your case studies drive quality leads.

4.  Ninjas, gurus and wizards belong in video games, not on your content team.  The Web site metrics your content must drive are achievable by regular folks doing the right things.

5.  Making the most of your resources will be no less important in the coming year, if not more so. To create quality content on time and on budget, it’s incumbent upon the internal team to know how to get the most out of your writing consultants.

6.  “Ready, fire, aim” has never been a winning sequence when it comes to marketing and selling.  Carefully consider and answer our five questions to ask BEFORE embarking on a content-creation effort.

7.  Too many marketers undertake a writing project with an objective of getting it approved rather than making it effective. The objective of any content is to be consumed.  It must be read and passed along.  At Write Angle, we call it market-alism: how to write copy that customers want to read.

8.  It’s essential to see the world through customers’ eyes and to not look at customers through the lens of your offerings. Here’s an insider’s guide to outside-in writing.

9.  You want readers to heed your calls to action. To do so, those readers must relate to the story you tell. So it’s no mystery that citing examples that speak to customers makes your content hard to ignore.

10. McAfee, a brand that aims to protect itself as zealously as it strives to safeguard its customers’ digital assets, shares our views on why guarding the brand is Job One for technology writers.

What are your New Year’s resolutions on improving your marketing content?  What did you learn in 2011 that you intend to practice in 2012?

Citing examples that speak to customers makes your content hard to ignore

Monday November 28, 2011

Products And Customers



It’s a given that domain expertise is required to create content that’s technically accurate. What makes the content compelling and gets readers to click-through, call, request a demo or take the next steps toward a purchase or trial is the ability to tell a great story. And a key component of any white paper, solution brief, application note or case study calls for representative, real-world examples that get the reader to think, “Hey, that’s me.”

Today’s information-overloaded customers are as short on time as they are on attention.

In a matter of seconds you must convey that your product or service is tailor made to solve immediately recognizable problems.

This means spotlighting real-world examples just as prominently as the features and corresponding benefits of your product. Technical “tutorials” mean little to a customer/reader without a clear, concise description of the real-world benefits your technology delivers.

Consider a security company whose technology detects anomalous conditions from log files.  Readers need context to better understand what this means.  By adding key examples of anomalous conditions, such as “knowing what systems were accessed by an unauthorized user, what data they touched and where they sent it”, provides readers with an immediately identifiable problem they are on the hook to address.  By putting your domain expertise in context, you stand a much better chance of resonating with your readers.

In the case of the security company cited above, use cases can take on immediacy and drama when compelling examples are woven into the narrative.  Take technologies designed for intrusion detection and Advanced Persistent Threats.  Plugging in a real world example to orient readers to a specific problem is a magnet for further investigation:  “Being alerted to a user who typically logs into one or two corporate systems between the hours of 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and suddenly attempts to log into multiple systems at odd hours of the day, including weekends, is a strong indication of a potentially hacked or compromised account.” Suddenly, your benefit — the critical role your product played in determining the violation and making the process so much simpler and faster for security teams – now takes on a new, compelling dimension.

Always be articulating or alluding to the tangible benefit of your offering with examples that speak directly to your buyer. Your domain expertise is essential.  You can make it pay off even more by showing your equally expert appreciation of the practical problem your customer is trying to solve.

What’s your view of domain-expertise as criteria for content creators? How do you do “reality-checks” on your content?  How do you select writers? On a 10-point scale, how do your rate your content for customer-relevance?

Market-alism: How to write copy that customers want to read

Monday October 10, 2011

 

Modern Journalist Illustration
At Write Angle we are unabashed fans of Hubspot, the marketing-software people and evangelists of all things “Inbound”, marketing-wise.  And we feel compelled to say that their counsel, summarized here, is remarkably consistent with our own creed:  the need for good marketing in the digital culture to adhere to the best practices of journalism.  A recent post alluded to this.

Understanding your audience/readership is central to the success of any commercial publication.  Ever hear of a thriving news organization oblivious to what its audience of readers or viewers want?  In the same vein, marketers tone-deaf to the proclivities of their own market, the content that customers will pay attention to, are short-lived.  In marketing today, more than ever, quality content is defined as the kind of material to which your buyer relates and identifies with:

1.  It’s about them, not you.

2.  It describes their situations, not yours.

3.  It makes them, not your brand, most prominent in the story.

4.  It’s eminently readable and compelling: the terminology is theirs, the style is engaging, the language vivid.

5.  It informs, educates, provokes thought–and it inspires sharing.

The above, by the way, could describe the best and most shared content on the web, on any given day.  Which is exactly what we mean by the term market-alism.

What are you doing to instill these practices in your own content: web copy, white papers, case studies, etc.?   How does your team ensure that your “out-bound” efforts maximize “in-bound” inquiries and high conversions?