Ancient Wisdom and New Media Content Strategy

Rebecca CarterRebecca Carter of Quicken Loans was the guest speaker at Refresh Detroit’s September meeting.

Utilizing some great examples from her work experience and a dash of ancient Chinese wisdom, Rebecca delivered useful information that we can use in our organization’s content strategy.

Overview
She started with a general overview of content strategy. Paraphrasing Kristina Halvorson she described it as “planning for content creation, delivery and governance.” She reviewed the wide variety of tasks and tools that the field of Content Strategy encompasses including:

  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Content analysis
  • Metadata
  • Taxonomy
  • SEO
  • Editorial strategies
  • Developing new forms of content
  • Information architecture
  • User experience
  • and much more.

A Content Strategist “knows intuitively that everything is content”, says Rebecca.

Why do Content Strategy?
Rebecca had to convince some at her company why it was important to have a Content Strategy department. “So we can get smarter about everything,” she said. Reasons for Content Strategy also include:

  • So content can be repurposed
  • Business can grow strategically
  • To maximize the user experience and comprehension.

Wisdom
Rebecca wanted to give the Refresh Detroit audience some key points that they take action on in their own organizations. She used bits of wisdom from the ancient text The Art of War by Sun Tzu as an interesting way to present her points.

The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing.

Know who you are talking to. Create persona-driven messages. You can use in-house data, market surveys and even your sales force to find out whom you’re developing your content for. Quicken Loans uses personas created by an independent market research company. They find them incredibly useful in crafting their content for their audience.

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but a few calculations beforehand.

Plan and determine your customer lifecycle. Discover the steps your client takes from initial awareness to becoming and advocate for your brand. Rebecca recommends lining up the different steps of your customer lifecycle with the personas you’ve developed. This helps you get “great customized targeted messages and … your conversions can go up.”

If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame.

Provide your writers with the tools they need. Develop style guides, templates, samples, brand guidelines, checklists to help your team with consistent implementation.

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

“Every time you create content you have to think about all the different ways it can be reused”, explained Rebecca. Can it be used in a press release? Used for social media? Can it be shared with a content partner? Plan to reuse and share your content.

He who know when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.

“Identify your key performance indicators and start making testing plans for that.” Its important to find ways to communicate testing results to you team so they know where you need to concentrate you efforts.

Some sites Rebecca recommends following are:
Alistapart.com
Contentini.com
blog.braintraffic.com
Shellybowen.com
Conversationagent.com
Eatmedia.net/blog
Futurelab.net/blogs/marketing-strategy-innovation

Rebecca concluded her talk with a great Q&A session where she shared some of the issues that Quicken Loans has run into with their content strategy and how they’ve worked to improve them.

Below are the slides from Rebecca’s presentation.

DudaMobile: Simply Awesome!

Recently, I tried out DudaMobile. They just launched their new, self-serve platform that lets existing website owners create a mobile version of their website and enable auto redirects when accessed via mobile devices.

This is essentially a boon for small business owners. Ones who don’t have much complexity on their website, but since the mobile phones are now an important channel for bringing in more revenues (or providing a better Quality of Service). DudaMobile instantly creates a mobile version of their existing site. For free. This means a LOT of savings in terms of time, effort and money.

The mobile website can also be customized to add themes and custom colors. They also provide some cool widgets – particularly apt for a mobile site: click to call, SMS sender, maps and directions etc. Still, if you happen to have a developer in the office who wants to improve the look and feel, you can choose to do so as well – simply using CSS and HTML.

Behind the scenes, my guess is that there is a service that detects HTML elements like hyperlinks, image divs, tables etc and applies a relevant jQuery layer on top of it. So the cool mobile-optimized buttons, background colors, resized images etc. Anyone who has a different discovery, feel free to share.

Here are two basic advantages over similar competing products:

  1. Mobstac: relies mainly on rss, cms etc to draw/paint the site (or so it seems). But seems that they generate automatically. But one MAJOR disadvantage: most of the websites I tried couldn’t be converted. Seems they really have to either rethink their choices or log in a ton of man-hours before this could really knock off everyone else.
  2. Moably: asks for email/signup even before previewing. This is SUCH a major turn-off. Totally not done. Also doesn’t appear to automate the process. Seemingly they would offer a quote to develop the website. Hence, not really a true competitor in terms of time/price. Off course, the quality could be fairly different. Haven’t tried, no comments on that.
  3. For the free version, the mobile website will have some ads on every page with a DudaMobile footer. A free site is also limited to 10 pages and 500 MB. The free version URL is also the Duda URL (dudamobile.com/yourcompany) Mobile site analytics are also included in the free version, which in my opinion, is a huge plus.

    For $9.99 a month, DudaMobile offers an ad-free site with customizable footer. Also include cool widgets like SMS sender, maps & directions etc. Also the URL for a paid site is personalized (m.yourcompany.com) EMail support is available for the paid version. Per their website, they are soon bringing in Google Adwords integration too.

    Now thats the way to go Duda!

Recap: May PhoneGap Meeting

For our May meeting, Erik Daniel presented PhoneGap and his experience writing mobile websites how to transition them to native applications.

What is PhoneGap?

PhoneGap is an HTML5 app platform that allows you to author native applications with web technologies and get access to APIs and app stores. PhoneGap leverages web technologies developers already know best… HTML and JavaScript.

Why was it created?

  • Safari html5 offline data has a 5 meg limit. This doesn’t make it viable for a true offline experience.
  • The current mobile market worldwide:
    • 36% Android
    • 27% Symbian
    • 17% Apple
    • 13% Blackberry
    • 4% Windows
    • 3% Palm
  • Not very many people know every single mobile platform
  • Almost anyone knows the web
  • You don’t need anything to write a website except a text editor.
  • PhoneGap is not
    • An IDE
    • A Build Tool
    • A substitute for good code
    • Going to magic your app into a billion sales
  • What is it?
    • HTML5 + CSS3 + JS

Pollyfill

  • Taking a feature set that is not yet developed but taking those features that have not been developed yet and backfill that functionality
  • Examples:
    • Geolocation
    • PhoneGap wrote an iOS extension to expose the GPS location of the phone to JS
  • Cross domain Ajax doesn’t apply on mobile apps
    • They assume if the app is signed it is quality code
  • Works just like an html5 app
  • Some example API calls:
    • network.isReachable
    • notifications.alert
    • console.log(“stuff”)

Why should you use PhoneGap?

  • You don’t know iOS
  • You don’t know Java
  • Offline HTML
  • One app to rule them all
  • You’re on a tight Schedule
  • Looking for Webish Features

Some limitations

  • Building to an iOS device you need Xcode
  • 99% of your app development can be done in Safari or Chrome
  • To publish your app to App Store, you need a $100 license
  • Don’t use PhoneGap for
    • Apps with intense graphics
    • Weak target phone with an intense Google Map app

The future of PhoneGap

  • build.phonegap.com
    • Remote PhoneGap builds, just upload your application and it does all the work
    • Erik still suggests to build your own apps, you don’t want any third parties potentially touching your code
  • Dreamweaver CS5 builds PhoneGap
  • PhoneGap will eventually be unneeded as phones expose more features to the browser