Content marketing, then and now: Where is it going and what does that mean to you?

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An interview with Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director at Orbit Media, Content marketing guru, Founder of Content Jam

Photo of Andy Crestodina

There are some real synergies between digital asset management and content marketing. As Ian Michiels, Principal and Managing Director at Gleanster Research, points out, “If content is king, it needs a castle.” A good digital asset management solution can be that castle, and not only serve as a home for all the content you create and curate, but a command center from which you control how your content is pushed into the market to connect with others.

Because Widen’s marketing technology solutions power your content, we want to share the perspective of key influencers in the content marketing world. Those who see where it’s been and are helping to shape where it’s going. People like Andy Crestodina.

A little bit about Andy:
“Orbit Media was formed in 2011 by my friend Barrett and I. My role quickly evolved from designing and programming into sales and marketing and now I do mostly marketing. This all converged when content was becoming more effective, thanks to social media, email, and SEO. A lot of people who follow us [Orbit] are looking for in-depth practical information and how-to lessons on search, social, email marketing and analytics.”

1. What is your experience with content today, in the context of marketing, vs. three years ago?
For the specific industries, it’s much more competitive than it was three years ago. Many more companies have adopted content marketing as their focus than even a few years back. We’re in the adoption curve, where people doing it now are the early majority, not the early adopters. 

For content marketing, in general, there are several mega trends. 

  • Social ROI is something people are much better at measuring. 
  • Marketers are getting more aggressive about growing their email marketing lists. Email’s not dead, in fact your email list is one of the few things you really own in your marketing. 
  • Facebook being public makes them more aggressive about pushing ads (since last December when organic search crashed). 
  • Search has changed with a focus on semantics. Google is understanding the meaning of search (phrases and answers), and semantic search is changing a lot in regards to SEO. 
  • Google search results are more likely to show product images, in depth articles, videos and local search carousels. There are more types of listings on search results than there used to be.
  • Marketing automation is also bigger than it used to be. People are using technology in better ways to do lead nurturing, they’re connecting to their CRM tools today. 
  • Infographics were hot three years ago, a new trendy thing, and now we’re seeing that guest blogging has lost some appeal. Tactics rise and fall.

There are thousands more content marketers in the skill sets of people, and as those skill sets get better, there’s new ground being covered by different tactics. 

There’s content, and then there’s content marketing...
The definition of content is the most broad definition in the world. After all, everything is content. I think that there are more people doing content now, so the name of the discipline is edging out. 

Content marketing is a less confusing term than inbound marketing. That term (inbound marketing) has problems. A lot of people still say inbound marketing rather than content marketing. My rant against the term inbound marketing is that it gets confusing when you talk about email marketing and PPC. PPC pulls people toward you (sounds like inbound) but it’s actually advertising. Email is sent out to people (sounds like outbound) but really it’s a permission-based form of content marketing. 

For search, social, and email, content is at the center. Content is searchable (SEO), sharable (social) and subscribed to and opened (email). Those are the channels for content marketing. 

There is a difference between content and content marketing. And that difference is how well it’s promoted. Without a plan to get traffic to your content, you have a problem. You can‘t just hope that people will come to your content. Did you build your email list and reach out at a time of day that works for your audience? Do you have built-in mechanisms for sharing your content?

2. What makes marketing content good? 
Guest blogging, placed content, and earned media all have a built-in plan for traffic because you’re putting your content in front of someone else’s pre-built audience. It’s a deliberate plan to get results, to get opens, shares and rankings

Create a lot of interrelated content. If you write on a tight sets of topics and connect your articles through smart internal linking, you’ll grow your relevance for that set of keywords and give your visitors more to dig into. It’s about structure and persistence. 

I only blog twice a month. You don’t need piles and piles of content, you need good content. If it’s really good, people will share it when it goes live. 

Know who influences your audience, find them, network with them, and collaborate with them. Ask them for quotes to add to your content. Co-create content with them to build your reach. 

3. What are the top three things, in your opinion, that good marketing content can do for a business? 
Really well crafted and well-promoted content is worthy of being referenced and cited and linked to. Those actions help your web domain become more credible and allow you to rank for the buyer related keywords when someone is looking for the solutions to their problems. 

One reason to create and promote content is to build the SEO horsepower of money phrases on your website. For us [at Orbit], it’s “Chicago web design” and “Chicago ecommerce.” 

“Your words are speaking for you when you’re not there.” That’s a quote from Ann Handley. You can’t talk to everyone all the time. At any given time there may be 15 people on my website and 13 of them are reading our blog. Content is a way to be everywhere and to grow awareness. 

Content is also important if you have a product with a longer sales cycle and you didn’t get to talk to everyone involved at a company – the other people might look you up to see what you’re thinking and saying on their own time. 

If you don’t have content, then you don’t have a reason to reach out to people over time. How do you stay top of mind for two years after you met with an organization? You offer something relevant and helpful and you stay on their radar. You offer your content. A website without content, is basically a brochure. It’s more or less like an ad.

4. Where do you see the concept of content marketing going in the next three years? 
For most verticals it will get more difficult and more crowded, live events will become more successful and podcasting will become more popular. They are really the last two channels that haven’t been tapped. 

I don’t know a single marketing event that isn’t crushing it’s attendance record each year. Our annual event, Content Jam, (this is the third year), hosts about 200 people and we almost sold out during early bird registration. I recommend people start and run their own events. Do a monthly event and get great speakers to present. It’s going to get harder, but people will lean more towards long-form content like video and live events. 

We did the 40th Wine and Web last night. That event has sold out every month for the last three years. There are about 20 people attending and it’s all in house. Researching the topics for these events pushes me to meet a deadline and afterwards, I have more content to repurpose into blogs and videos. Content leads to more content. Put an event on your publishing calendar and push your business forward.

5. Where do you see content marketing converging with digital asset management? 
Content strategy includes things that aren’t necessarily related to content marketing. The governance of internal content can be part of a strategy that’s related to content marketing. There are Content Strategists who are more like librarians and their work falls under governance. Content strategy is a very different part of the content world. It’s bigger than, and precedes, content marketing as a topic.

6. What advice do you have for people who are seasoned content marketers vs those just getting the content ball rolling?
For experts:
Be careful not to go too deep into your own expertise. Stay broad. A lot of experts are so focused on one aspect that it’s hard to branch out. Be more of a generalist.

For beginners: 
Be an expert! Go deep into something you know and the analytics that surround it. For example, if you know everything about SEO, then share that awareness, publish all of your best advice and eventually, you’ll become super relevant for that topic.

Content Marketing Tips:

  • Be active within LinkedIn groups that have more comments than posts. Those are the groups where people are talking and networking
  • Promote content that is the Evil twin of your advice posts. If you wrote the “best practices” post, now write the “top mistakes” post. For example, for Widen it would be “this is what happens when you don’t have a DAM system.”
  • Be a t-shaped marketer, so you have a broad base of knowledge across many topics, but also deep expertise in one or two areas.

Special thanks to Andy for his time and expertise. To learn more about how you can use DAM as a castle for your content, contact us.

Topics: Marketing

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