Content is King. Again. Still.

  |  January 14, 2014   |  Comments

The key to success in 2014 and beyond is coordinating and synchronizing your content marketing with your marketing automation and marketing analytics.

king-crownIt seems crazy to say that "content is king" in 2014, when it's been our true sovereign for decades. While we can't survive in modern marketing without campaign management, database platforms and marketing automation, none of those technological solutions are going to build the business if we don't have amazing content to power the automation engine.

The key to success in 2014 and beyond is coordinating and synchronizing your content marketing with your marketing automation and marketing analytics.

Content is what ultimately connects you with customers and prospects. It is what builds trust, especially as some data-driven marketing pushes consumers into very personal and customized experiences. All the data -- big or small -- we use just comes down to creating those precious moments of truth for a customer. And what is it that makes a moment of truth come alive? The content that resonates in that moment, that channel and that stage in the lifecycle.

This is not simple or easy. It takes a commitment to understanding the customer attitude, how lifestages evolve and how different channels work together. It takes a new mindset around moving from content creation to content curation -- a method that must permit creative genius and brand imagery, while at the same time embracing a modular approach. It's hard to balance those, particularly if you have a tightly controlled visual brand.

It also takes a village of your marketing team to produce and manage great, relevant content. The good news is that many disciplines in the group are already really good at producing content and creative variations that can be automated. Tap into that expertise and experience for your automation and optimization projects this year.

Consider that already:

  • You have search experts who are good at setting up content for programmatic buys. 
  • Your digital content teams who manage blogs and social communities are producing content that contributes to SEO, demand generation and thought leadership. 
  • Your email marketing team is adept at "modularizing" content for segmentation, and in producing lifestage messaging for triggered, automated messages. 
  • Your direct marketing teams already know how to optimize segments, write copy that sells and predict both response rates and the impact of time and place on conversion.

Many marketers don't realize they are doing content marketing; they think of it as segmentation or audience development or drip marketing or even campaign management. It's usually a fascinating and insightful conversation to ask people to step back and articulate how they are sourcing and creating and managing content (I'm sure you will find many untapped best practices around your department today). Just this simple conversation can be a great exercise in ideation.

The key is to be purposeful in your content marketing. It's so integrated into our marketing processes that we often neglect to optimize or even consider efficiencies or opportunities. Every business is a publisher of some sort, through blogs and social media, email marketing, the website, whitepapers, customer presentation, internal and client training, executive summaries... all of this and more can be a strong foundation for a more purposeful content approach.

A benefit today is that the marketing team does not have to create all the content -- it's everywhere. Tap your colleagues in other departments, your partners, your customers and even the media and outside bloggers and influencers. Just as social marketing is the job of every employee who has a Twitter account, so too is content marketing a responsibility of anyone who is good at what they do in your organization. Most business outputs involve content of some sort and sure, lots of it is proprietary and confidential, but a lot of it can be repurposed.

When you put content at the center of your automation and marketing, you start to realize a lot of synergies across the various marketing teams. It can be a great way to rally and synergize when the business culture allows. Couple a content marketing strategy with marketing analytics to strengthen your understanding of your customers, improve conversion rates, gain business insights that move the needle and nurture all your various audience segments.

How are you celebrating and optimizing your content marketing to innovate marketing practices, processes and customer experience? Please share in the comments section below.

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Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association ( Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.

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