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Tuesday
Sep162014

The Marketing Tech That’s Enabling Sales: Personalized Emails, Pitchbooks

My first encounter years ago with John Toepfer of Chicago-based Synthesis Technology triggered some conflicting emotions. 

Naturally, I welcomed him and his technology that promised to free marketing communications from the shackles of the mutual fund performance data quarterly updating process. 

“With this, we’ll have time to do what marketers should be doing,” I remember saying and, as far as I remember, all nodded in agreement. Yep, none of us fully grasped what we were in for. 

John ToepferThings got uncomfortable when it became clear that Synthesis wasn’t just going to help Fund Accounting, Investment and Compliance get their acts togetherToepfer and team intended to impose standardization and processes on Marketing. 

Well, it all turned out just fine in the end. A 45-day all-hands-on-deck updating process (!) was whittled down to 10-ish days. The work helped form my conviction that Marketing benefits from exposure to the structured thinking that technology requires. 

My path has crossed with Toepfer’s a few times since that first gig. The automation of fund performance communications is standard practice at fund companies now. But Synthesis and other vendors continue to find new ways to improve upon the efficiency and accuracy (“wouldn’t it be nice to review that data just once?”) of what can be soul-crushing work for marketers. 

Here’s a quick catch-up with Toepfer. It's difficult to ask any tech provider what's going on without getting the answer framed in the company's latest solutions. I expect that, I appreciate the free peek at what firms are doing, and hope you do, too. Know, though, that I have no business relationship with Synthesis.

For Synthesis’ ongoing views about investment management and technology, by the way, read the firm’s excellent blog.  

Q. So, John, what’s new? What are the smartest mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketers working on lately? 

Marketing for investment management firms these days is all about two things: personalization—making sure that you’re communicating with the client in a highly personalized and relevant manner, and content—showing those clients that both the sales team and the firm are thought leaders in the industry. Any technologies that support these goals are hot. 

Q. Such as…?

For example, we are developing a solution for a client that enables sales teams to construct highly personalized emails to their clients. The benefit of this tool is that it blends the branding, promotion and compliance aspects of a marketing email program with the advanced personalization aspects of a sales email. 

Email marketing trends point to this idea of advanced personalization that goes beyond just first name merge tags and list segmentation. Marketing teams have the tools and expertise to create compelling email campaigns, run tests, analyze and optimize. What they’re lacking is the familiarity that comes with face-to-face exposure to the client. Wholesalers have more qualitative information about their clients’ unique interests, needs and goals.


This solution is a perfect opportunity to combine the qualitative and quantitative expertise of both the marketing and sales teams to deliver valuable content to the recipient. Advanced personalization that leverages the unique talents of the sales team will no doubt increase the effectiveness of these email campaigns.

Q. John, it sounds as if you’re branching outfrom enabling Marketing to enabling Sales. 

That’s right, and there is a lot of buzz about sales enablement right now. 

As another example, smart firms are making room in their budgets for sales enablement technologies like pitchbook automation, if they haven’t already. 

A centralized presentation management system that allows marketing teams to develop a library of presentation slides that automatically update and refresh with the receipt of new data or disclosures can take the chaos out of updating slides. Ideally, this system should be flexible enough to incorporate a firm’s unique business rules and processes for quality control. 

Sales teams should be able to access this system from any geographic location and device to very quickly and easily build presentations that are highly targeted to their audience, while also compliant and on-brand. A system like this saves the marketing team a lot of time and empowers the sales organization to create highly personalized presentations that drive more sales. 

Over the past few months, we’ve seen a surge in pitchbook automation inquiries. I think there are a few reasons for this: 

  • First, there is heightened awareness that this technology exists. More than a handful of technology companies are popping up that focus solely on sales enablement tools. This has brought a lot of healthy competition as well as validity to this business.   
  • Second, the industry expects a mobile aspect to the solution at this point. Although many salespeople (and clients for that matter) still prefer the tangibility of printed documents, the trend is clearly going paperless with the ability to push presentations to a wholesaler’s mobile device.
  • The third trend is that software providers are realizing the value of providing data management services in addition to the content management and publishing solution. Many clients still struggle with getting the data into one clean, consistent form and location.  

Q. Are there any other examples you can talk about? 

One of our pitchbook clients is a private banking group of a major New York-based asset management firm. A three-person marketing team is efficiently managing a very large catalog of sales materials to meet the content needs of 900 users in 20 branch offices.  

With a few clicks of the mouse, financial advisors can access a constantly updated catalog of sales materials and any account-specific data, personalize their presentations, and be assured that the material is compliant from branding, disclosure and data perspectives. 

One of the largest factors in the success of the system is its single sign-on connection with the firm's CRM. The two primary measures of success for systems like this are system adoption rate and efficacy of materials. Both of these are improved when the solution is well connected and aligned with the CRM. 

These screenshots show the capability within SalesForce but similar integrations with other CRMs are possible as long as the platform has a good API and can support single sign-on.


Once the presentation has been created and finalized, it is stored and recorded at the account record level. This is advantageous to the sales professional because it allows him or her to associate a specific presentation with a specific pitch to go back and refer to later without having to access two different systems. (For more on the pitchbook strategy, check out Synthesis' whitepaper.)  

Q. So, what would you identify as the obstacles for marketers eager to deliver both personalization and content? 

No industry is immune to the challenge of aligning Sales and Marketing. In the investment management industry, you add in the compliance aspect, which makes it even more difficult for firms to align their strategies. 

In our experience, the big issue for marketing teams is managing and producing all of their content in a way that satisfies the needs of both Sales and Compliance. Marketing communications need to be highly effective and accurate. Salespeople want the right materials right when they need it and they also want customization. 

Typically, it is a major challenge for marketing teams to provide a high level of customization on sales materials due to time and resource constraints. Thus, we see companies either limiting customization by size of opportunity (only the big deals get custom slide decks) or turning a blind eye to how the sales force might be customizing things in the field. 

The first solution is a bad idea from a sales efficacy standpoint. The second solution is a compliance nightmare. Compliance departments are very conservative, which makes it difficult for Marketing to even mutter the words, “customized” or “automated.” 

The trick to getting these three groups into alignment is to find a way to effectively manage their content (and product data) in a centralized location that allows for controlled, shared, and reusable content. 

Tuesday
Sep092014

Behind The Scenes Of BlackRock's New Advisor Insight Center

It’s been a while since a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) company hosted something new and different.

The trend of the last several years has been to package up content contributions and ship them over piecemeal to digital get-togethers on other sites with more—and more consistent—traffic from financial advisors. Asset managers pay to sponsor Webinars on trade publications’ sites, host LinkedIn discussion groups and use Twitter to share pithy insights and content links.

Taken together, these tactics can be an effective if disjointed means of regularly calling attention to thought leadership. The hope is that at least a few advisors will follow the content trail back to the mutual fund and ETF provider sites, where there will be a continued opportunity to educate about products and capabilities.

Launched five weeks ago, the BlackRock Insight Center appears to be bucking the trend, and a conversation with Rob Nestor, Managing Director and Head of iShares Product Strategy, is a reminder of the benefits of bringing people together on a site you control. BlackRock has built a thought leadership hub where they can control the registrations, keep the focus (it’s all BlackRock/iShares all the time) and gain insights to what’s resonating.


As you can see in the screenshot above, the imagery used on the site suggests that a virtual event is in progress, and note that the first content area is called Featured Sessions. In fact, the insight center is the evolution of a one-day virtual conference BlackRock sponsored for the last two years.

While BlackRock’s advisor site (Advisor Center) contains product information and tools, the center’s focus is on thought leadership, Nestor said.

“Our views on retirement, regulation, the move to fee-based advisory are frequently sought. While advisors told us that they appreciate the virtual conferences and Webinars we offer, they said they want to consume our content on their own time…This is a platform we can use to communicate interactively and personally, at scale,” Nestor explained.

BlackRock’s interest in "getting out there with a clear view about how to use active and passive investing in portfolios" was also a primary driver.

To date, 2,000 advisors have registered, according to Nestor. Of those, 80% have returned for at least one session. Advisors are spending an average of 30 minutes on the site, with 60% of the traffic occurring during the business day (10 a.m. EST and 3 p.m. EST).

While there were no formal projections of usage in the center’s first month, suffice it to say that BlackRock is pleased.

According to Nestor, advisors are remaining engaged with 15-minute and longer videos. Most popular has been the nearly 20-minute video, “The Price of Advice: Where The Industry Is Headed,” watched by one-third of the center’s visitors.

The center supports repeat visits by offering a Briefcase function for the saving of content and a My Personal Map to keep track of visited locations.

Building An Advisor Community

What’s most unique to me is the center’s suggestion of—and enabling of—community. There’s no other firm-sponsored and firm-hosted site that I’m aware of that 1)enables a search of members 2)enables contact saving and message-sending and 3)enables networking in real-time.  

“We wanted to create a community that’s not reliant upon BlackRock being at the center,” said Nestor, which sounded like a bit of an oxymoron on an all-BlackRock site. He went on to explain that BlackRock can’t see which advisors are talking to who or what’s being said. Only aggregate user data is being collected and analyzed.

Although the center has already seen some networking, Nestor soft-pedaled what he called the “modest” networking opportunities. To date, most of the registered advisors have chosen not to make their profiles public (and therefore accessible to others). Nestor said some advisors just want to protect their privacy. I wonder whether some firms' Compliance policies also might be inhibiting participation.

The growth of the community aspect of the site bears watching. What firm wouldn’t like its own forum where it could engage advisors with its own offerings and have exclusive access to what they have to say, for a competitive, including product, advantage? This has been the dream of sponsors of advisor-only sites since back in the day.

Also, if it catches on, this could raise advisors' expectations when they log in to other firms' sites.

Breakneck Launch

Planning for the Insight Center began in late April and the site launched in August.

Just four months for a site like this? That’s breakneck speed at any asset management firm—even at the industry’s largest, I would guess.

Content development is one thing to have to coordinate. In fact, videos with some of the firm’s heaviest hitters were created just for the center.

Technology-wise, what made the launch possible is that the center is hosted on the same platform the firm used for its virtual conferences.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing the development of an ongoing Web asset to a provider using its own proprietary platform.

A key advantage, according to Nestor, was the superior quality of the video and the underlying technology.

But it’s not an integrated experience. The URL clearly goes to a non-BlackRock domain: https://engage.vevent.com/index.jsp?eid=3787&seid=15&code=ishml Content searches are limited to what’s on the Insight Center, not what’s available from all of BlackRock.com. Some of the terminology (referring to registered community members as “visitors,” for example) is more suited to events. The attendee guide goes to a 2012 generic document about virtual environments.

Accessing from Apple devices prompts the download of an app from a publisher called Virtual Environments (BlackRock isn’t mentioned anywhere on the download page), and the Android app itself is devoid of all of the BlackRock branding.


Some of this would be a showstopper at other firms, and certainly BlackRock is no slouch in the branding department.

Yet, sometimes in the tension between “do you want it fast or do you want it perfect?”, fast wins with digital communicating—and it ought to. The fine points that marketers sweat out just don’t matter to most users, certainly not at launch. BlackRock wanted a way this year to showcase what it has to say, and it prioritized fast.

Given that most of the visitors are arriving during the workday, three-quarters are visiting via desktop (the best user experience), with 18% via their smartphones and 9% via a tablet, according to data BlackRock provided.

“It was a debate internally,” Nestor confirmed. “Could we/should we build it just as fast? But we felt [the platform] was best of breed.” And, he added, BlackRock IT is “looking at replicating the center internally.”

Support for live events is one of the platform’s advantages. It’s possible that BlackRock will use the new center to deliver its 2015 outlook live later this year, for example.

“Live events will be more the exception than the rule,” Nestor said. “They can be a little risky, everything has to go right at the same time.”

Promotion of the Insight Center has been via mostly digital means. I first heard of it from the BlackRock Twitter account but it's been mentioned in the firm's email, Facebook and LinkedIn activities. Limited targeted advertising is planned.

Monday
Aug252014

Bandwagon Schmandwagon—Hooray For The Asset Manager Ice Bucket Challenge Videos

The Ice Bucket Challenge videos in support of donations to the ALS Association have been circulating all summer, and plenty of observers have copped a sort of bored-with-it-all attitude.

But I’ve gotten excited about things much less fun and engaging. I’m not going to restrain myself on this, not on the occasion of the investment management industry arriving (if characteristically late) to the ALS challenge to raise money to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and help fund care for those suffering with the disease.

I am a sucker for humans stepping out from behind company logos, taking part in what’s important to others—and on others’ timelines—and specifically supporting worthy causes. Although the challenge was originally presented as an alternative to donating money, I would think that donations accompanying the drenchings would be de rigueur from participants in this industry. 

Over the weekend, I came across a Boston Globe report that tracked mentions of Ice Bucket Challenges on Facebook and Twitter, including the accounts responsible for driving the most attention. It’s quite a comprehensive analysis, but I wish someone would plot the spread from industry to industry.

(If the videos were being posted to LinkedIn, this kind of a network map would be a cinch. LinkedIn is too serious for hijinks, unfortunately.)

As shown to the right, Wikipedia organizes its list of Ice Bucket Challenge participants by industries, but Financial Services let alone Investments have yet to make it on the list.  

The phenomenon, which the Boston Globe traces to starting in earnest in June on Facebook, seems to have been picking up speed in this industry in the last few weeks of August.

The first investment-related challenge video I remember seeing was from LPL CEO Mark Casady on August 8, just a few days prior to the start of the LPL Focus conference. Click through the tweet to see how much people liked it. 

Videos from several advisors, mostly from the LPL conference, followed. Yesterday, Suzanne Siracuse, the publisher of InvestmentNews, published her bucket challenge video.

Are You Listening For Challenges?

Starting on Friday, I spotted the challenges spreading in all directions, just like you’d expect of something, well, viral. With this post, I'm giving in to an urge to try to aggregate the videos created by mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) firms. Together they present a view of you that the rest of us rarely get to see.

First are the people-to-people challenges.

In their videos, MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffe challenged Vanguard’s John Bogle, and ETF Trends’ Tom Lydon challenged BlackRock’s Sue Thompson (see her response below) and Jim Ross from State Street. On Friday, Morningstar CEO Joe Mansueto challenged Ariel Funds' CEO John Rogers, among others.

(Picking up social challenges is just another reason to have a social listening routine in place.)

In addition, a search of the investment manager Twitter accounts I follow (see this post for how to do an advanced search) and scan of the mutual fund and ETF Facebook and YouTube accounts surfaced videos from firms themselves.

When you publish yours (or if you already have and I missed it), shoot me an email and I’ll add it to this page. I should note that even Wikipedia is trying to manage expectations—it starts its list with this line: "This is an incomplete list that may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness." That goes for this list, too.

What's Strategic About This?

“Pat, what are you getting all worked up about? What’s strategic about this?” an exasperated friend asked me yesterday.

OK, that’s a fair question and I don’t have an on-point answer. Just a few thoughts follow.

  • Earlier I took a shot about asset managers being late to the phenomenon. But look at the Boston Globe charts. The tweeting and Facebook posting peaked on August 4 and today is August 25. The firm that’s able to rush through all the approvals, clearances and production issues to get this done is virtually showing off a capability and temperament that not all firms have. Oh and strictly speaking, if your firm or executive is issued a challenge, you have 24 hours to respond.

Related: Producing a fun video suggests that everything else is under control in your domain. If your second quarter factsheets aren’t out yet, you’re not going to make this a priority.

I’m a little late with this post, incidentally, because I’ve been waiting for State Street to post its video, which it did Friday afternoon. Check out how State Street gave early notice—starting on Tuesday that a video response from CEO Joseph Hooley was imminent. When you need to buy time, these kinds of tweets work, don't they? 

  • If your firm’s style is to be buttoned up in its presentation and robotic in its communications, people will like seeing you this way. Unpredictability can be a good thing in a relationship. As a call to action, “donate” is a refreshing break from “download.”
  • When interests align over a piece of online content, sharing usually follows. Investment company videos might expect to see their fair share of sharing from those who spot an investment executive getting drenched online and recognize this kind of activity is against type. It's impossible to resist watching no less than Mario Gabelli taking multiple buckets of water. Already, the sharing of the videos is off to a strong start.
  • Activating one’s employees to amplify the brand messaging has been a focus for many brands for most of 2014. In this space, firms continue to work on developing the policies and procedures to enable key people to create LinkedIn profiles and share firm content, for example.

When it comes to social media and regulation, the fewer words used the easier it is to share—I’d look for a sharing bump from the loved ones and business partners of all the unnamed armies standing behind the speakers in these videos.

  • These videos also give us a peek at investment personalities and brands interacting with one another or other brands. Two years ago, in my Content Highlights of 2012 post, I commented on the playful trash-talking that was taking place between the Oreo and AMC Theater Twitter accounts. At the time, I couldn’t envision how this kind of thing would take place in this industry.

Well…investment firm employees and firms have all kinds of business relationships, and it’s likely that these videos will be created in the context of those. For example, last week's DST video was created in response to a challenge from H&R Block. Again, it’s going to be near-impossible to map but it's fascinating to see the challenges materialize and from where.

Without further ado, here’s who’s throwing ice buckets at themselves as of the morning of August 25.

BlackRock, Sue Thompson (video posted on ETF Trends' YouTube page)

Mario Gabelli, Gabelli Funds 

Legg Mason Dragon Boat Team (video posted on Legg Mason Facebook page—click on image)

Pinebridge Investments 

Schooner Investment Group

With a pledge to donate $100 in the name of an advisor or the advisor’s firm if 1)they pledge to do the challenge 2)have already done the challenge or 3)will make a donation to ALS. The firm is committed to donate up to $10,000. For more see, the MFWire story. Click on the image below to go to the video.

State Street

Voya Investment Management

 

Thursday
Aug212014

A Quick Update On Multiple-Device Users, Cross-Domain Tracking, Tag Management

Measurability is a key difference between digital and traditional marketing.

The possibilities for gaining insights from digital analytics are boundless and ever-expanding—that’s the good and the bad news. There’s a lot to keep up with.

For a quick tune-up this week, I sat in on a Digital Marketing Depot Webinar, “Digital Analytics Checkup: How to evaluate the impact of your web analytics data.” The title was promising but it was the inclusion of Jim Sterne, founder of the Digital Analytics Association and eMetrics Summit, as a co-presenter that most appealed. I’ve heard Sterne speak before and it's always worthwhile. The co-presenter was Jenny Elliott, senior manager of digital analytics for CrossView, a cross-channel commerce solutions provider.

If you’re lucky enough to be a dedicated Web analyst employed by a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) firm, you may be on top of all of this. But if analytics are only part of what you do or if the analytics function reports to you, I recommend that you invest an hour and listen to the full presentation on-demand.

My takeaways follow.

What The 'Insights Consumer' Needs

Sterne set the scene with some comments on the art of analysis. “It’s about asking really good questions. If your job is cranking out reports, you’re doing it wrong,” he said.

“The insights consumer," according to Sterne, "wants an answer to one of these three questions: How do we make more? How do we spend less? How do we increase customer satisfaction?”

He offered this advice for analysts communicating with business managers: “Don’t come to me with data, come to me with stories. If you come to me with numbers, you make me responsible for the numbers and I’m going to ask you questions about how did you get these numbers. But if you come to me with an impression based on the numbers, I can trust you to know the numbers.”

The business manager doesn’t want a report, he or she wants an opinion, Sterne said. “Your informed opinion based on the data is your contribution. That’s why we hire analysts.”

De-duping Visitors

While enabling the collection of more and more data, technology is resulting in a fragmented view of the visitor, Elliott noted.

Specifically, she discussed three issues: 

  • Multiple-device users can confuse things. 

Elliott quoted a Cisco forecast that a single business user will be accessing the Internet via an average of five connected devices (e.g., desktop, smartphone, smart watches, smart TVs, Google glasses) by 2018.

Analyses that focus on session growth alone fail to take into account the effect of visitors visiting from multiple devices. And, Elliott touched upon a few analytics solutions including device mapping, universal visitor cookies and device metrics stored in CRMs, all of which enable an analyst to link views to a single viewer.

Unique visitor metrics will be more important than the session-based metrics that we have come to rely on, according to Elliott.

  • Cross-domain tracking—relevant for even the smallest asset management firms that have a site and blog on separate domains or maintain multiple microsites—is another issue that analysts are gradually returning to. The technology supporting early attempts to track traffic across domains was, as Elliott says, “scary” and complex.

Some analytics tool providers have made significant investments in the last year to enable users to de-dupe visitors. While solutions that include multi-site roll-ups and tracking methods to pass cookies across domains are not yet “a walk in the park,” the technology is not as daunting as it was just two years ago, Elliott said.

“Think about the power you can give your marketing organization if you can give them insights into visitor behavior on not just one domain but on all domains,” she said. “They’d have so much more context to figure out how to market, how to provide good personalized content, all because they have a much more cohesive view.”

  • Finally, Elliott discussed tag management tools, which manage the variety of analytics, ad-serving, affiliate relationship tags that are typically added on an ad hoc basis to Websites. 

 Tag management solutions are more simple to use and can shift the responsibility from IT resources to Marketing, which should improve responsiveness. If you’ve ever waited for IT to add code that you needed on the site yesterday, you understand the value of being able to control tags.

 Several efficiencies can be gained from tag management. A universal tag will reduce a site’s page load time, especially critical to mobile device users (see Will Google Deem Your Mutual Fund, ETF Website Fast Enough For Mobile Users?). Since all data is formatted in the same way, it will result in clean data that can be analyzed on a more timely basis. Once implemented, tag management can help provide a complete picture of visitors across an ecosystem. This, Elliott noted, can enable powerful segmentation opportunities. 

(For an introduction to Google’s approach to tag management, here’s a video from 2012.)

On another matter: At the Morningstar Investment Conference in June, I was interviewed by Stephanie Sammons for her new Wired Advisor podcast series. Steph made the 20-minute podcast available last week. You might want to check out the entire line-up out to hear the thoughts of a few people—including financial advisor/thought leaders Michael Kitces and Roger Wohler—prominent in the investment space and whom I’ve mentioned on this blog.

Thursday
Aug142014

The Gladys Kravitz Guide To Snooping On Your Neighbors

Gladys Kravitz, the Bewitched character who felt it was her duty to keep tabs on her neighbors—I’m hoping you’re familiar with this 1960s sitcom via Nick At Nite or maybe the half-hearted movie—was simply ahead of her time. Today, she might be Director of Competitive Intelligence and Strategic Benchmarking Insights for an asset management firm.

Something was going on over there, Gladys was right, and she was relying on only her keen powers of observation.

If you are equally as passionate about your neighbors/competitors online, today you have many more tools at your disposal. I’ve written previously about SharedCount, SimilarWeb, App Annie and SpyFu, among others. Here’s a quick look at four more that you can use to snoop with.

How Do They Do That?

If you’re wondering how a competitor is working its own brand magic, just use BuiltWith.com to check under the lid.

Information on the enabling technologies running a Website can be valuable to technology solutions salespeople (BuildWith’s target audience) and the pricing packages reflect the value and power available, including SalesForce and LinkedIn integrations.

My needs (e.g., which firms are using WordPress as their blogging platforms?) are simple, and yours may be too. For us, the Chrome extension provides more than enough intelligence on the content management, Web analytics and marketing automation solutions powering mutual fund and exchange-traded (ETF) fund sites.

For example, here’s an excerpt of the American Funds technology profile, showing the analytics and tracking technologies employed.

Banner Bonanza

Are you in need of inspiration for an upcoming digital campaign? Well, you could make a nuisance of yourself on the trade media sites, reloading and reloading hoping to catch different creative. Or you could head on over to Moat.com, where you can search by advertiser and find multiple ad units. Clicking on one of the ads will reveal some information about where it last ran.

Media planners would do much more with this site, and brand analytics are what Moat sells. Here again, I'm appreciating what Moat gives away.  

The screenshot below shows the detail provided on one of 765 Vanguard ads Moat has logged.


Watch This

YouTube success requires standing out from the crowd, because the crowd is adding 100 hours of video each minute of every day.

If you’re not familiar with optimizing for YouTube or if you’re unhappy with your results, VidIQ Vision is a terrific tool that enables you to learn from how others do it. Just add this Chrome extension to your browser and you’ll see detailed publishing information about every video you review on YouTube.

While you could limit your research to just mutual fund and ETF firms, why not learn from what the top brands on YouTube are doing? The screenshot below shows the optimization supporting a GoPro video published a week ago, which now has almost 2 million views. Note that strong social support and a large follower base helped drive views, too.

What’s Working?

As I blogged about last week, content marketers need to focus on what’s working and produce more of that while producing less of what isn’t working. Simple.

Your analytics on your content are central to that analysis, of course. But—since your competitors are also writing for the same audiences—there’s something to be learned from the content that’s taking off on others’ sites.

Use Buzzsumo for this.

Let’s look at the BlackRock blog, which is not just the most prolific but probably the most socially shared. Check out the Total Shares column at the far right. Quality, frequency and social appeal can be a powerful combination.

You could spend hours on this site. Note the advanced filtering and exporting capability. It produces results for Web pages as well as for blog posts. Buzzsumo sells solutions for influencer analysis but you can see a lot with a trial account.

Now let’s go out there and make Gladys proud.