Where is content marketing headed?

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An interview with Paul Roetzer – CEO of PR 20/20, Speaker, Author, Content thought leader

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 as 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 Paul Roetzer.

A little bit about Paul:
“I started in the agency world in 2000 when I graduated from school. I worked at a more traditional PR firm for five and a half years, and started PR 20/20 in November of 2005. We signed on with HubSpot in 2007 as their first agency partner, then started evolving and building out our inbound service from there. 

I wrote my first marketing book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint, in 20ll, and PR 20/20 released the Marketing Score in 2012, which is an online assessment tool for business. In August of this year, my second book was released. 

My agency was born out of wanting to believe there was a better way to do things. I never really set out to be an entrepreneur, but I have a passion for making process better, and business performance better, and helping our employees achieve their goals. I love seeing change and improvement, it motivates me to do what I do.”

1. What is your experience with content today, in the context of marketing, vs. three years ago?
There’s a lot more competition today. In a lot of different industries [outside of marketing] you could be an innovator, but today everyone understands the importance of content and inbound marketing. You need to be more scientific in the conversation. Historically, marketers weren’t big on data. They were focused on telling a story. Now, thought leaders in the space are realizing that you still have to tell a great story, but you also have to connect it to the customer experience and all of the phases of their journey. Content is getting more scientific with data and analytics.

2. What makes marketing content good?
The importance of story never goes away. You have to tell a story that matters to your intended audience. So understanding the persona you’re trying to reach, knowing their pain, and what they need, is critical. That understanding helps you create content that helps them make more informed decisions and solve problems. 

Content quality is also important, but quality is in the eye of the beholder. It has to be helpful to the audience and it needs to be relevant. Your target audience should find the content valuable enough to solve a problem at that moment. That’s what makes it good.

3. What are the top three things that good marketing content can do for a business? 
If you think in terms of performance in your sales funnel, then:

  1. It can draw more people in and broaden your reach and visitors. You need more people exposed to your brand and content draws them in.
  2. You can utilize content to bring prospects into the lead space – lead generation – and work it into the conversion cycle to drive an outcome.
  3. You can use content to convert leads into sales.

At the bottom of the funnel is the loyalty you need to retain customers. 

4. Where do you see the concept of content marketing going in the next three years? How do you see it evolving and why?
I think it will keep getting more scientific. In reality, marketing automation has relatively low adoption – less than 5% overall – and in conservative industries it’s often less than that. 

A lot of people are creating content today, but not many business have built automation around it with things like nurturing campaigns and a lead scoring system. Those things should be built into the marketer’s process, so when a prospect takes the next action, tracking and scoring that action is automatic. I think we’ll see a move to start applying content marketing to drive real business results. 

5. How important are analytics when it comes to content? Why should every organization today be focused on marketing analytics?
In my new book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint, there’s a line that reads “if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” Everything we do can be measured. If you’re not measuring, then you’re wasting time and money. If you have a million dollar budget and you invest a certain amount in content, you won’t know the impact it’s having on your business without some form of measurement in place. If there’s no historical reference point as a benchmark, then it’s difficult to improve your ROI or your content efforts forward. 

It can be so easy to do – simple things like setting up Google Analytics properly to look at website traffic means you don’t even need a separate marketing automation tool. In an ideal world, you would have a marketing tool such as HubSpot or Marketo to dig deeper into analytics, but the free ones are readily available and easy to use.

6. What advice do you have for people who are seasoned content marketers vs. those just getting the content ball rolling?
For those getting started:
Find the right support and the right talent for your content. Content creation is the easy part. Finding writers who can tell stories is easy, you can hire freelancers and there’s an art form to it, but those people are available. It’s harder to find a content strategist who understands buyer personas and the different phases of the customer journey – one who can build content maps and knows what content to get and when (for example, when to implement a paid strategy to gather leads, rather than organic). 

There aren’t that many people out there who are good at that. Do a workshop, bring someone in house, or whatever you need, but get someone in for the strategy part of your content.

For the seasoned content marketer:
Do a gut check on your existing strategy. Do you truly have a well thought out plan for your content? Are you using marketing analytics and your marketing technologies to your full advantage? I would start there. 

For example, many people have a marketing automation tool, but they might not be setting up the workflows or doing A/B testing, or progressive profiling with their lead forms. There are lots of things you can do to have a more intelligent impact with your content. Many people will blog, or do a podcast and that’s it. They think creating the content is it, but it goes far beyond that.

Being successful with your content is all about knowing your benchmarks and did you meet or exceed your goals. You should consistently look at your website traffic and inbound leads, your sales to conversion rate. These are pretty standard. Ideally, you should set monthly or quarterly goals and build your strategy around achieving those goals.

For example, if you’re doing two blog posts a week and have 2,000 subscribers, what would it take to get to a goal of 4,000 subscribers next year? What do we need to hit to double our subscriber base? It gets you thinking about more prominent CTAs, and more strategic ways to drive subscribers. One tactic we see work every time is to give contacts who download content, such as an ebook, an easy option on the same form to subscribe to your blog.

What do you think about content consumption? How important is the right mix of content in seeing good marketing results?
It goes back to knowing your audience. For me, I don’t listen to podcasts. I don’t know why, I have been on them, but I don’t listen because they don’t resonate with me. But I understand that a lot of people like that medium because it’s convenient when they’re out for a run or driving in the car and can consume information that way.

The way you serve up content is based on the consumption patterns you see in your audiences - short form or long form, audio or video, infographics or blog posts. There are lots of ways to share content, you just need to do it.

Topics: Marketing

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