Content: The Last Untamed Frontier in Marketing
Content is what marketing does. In every role—from content marketers to field and product marketers—everyone creates it. But does it work? Is any of it aligned? Most companies have a glut of content, but most of that content creates a disjointed buyer experience, and makes your company look like no one is talking to one other.
This problem is becoming a major issue for CMOs because content impact is one of the last “black boxes” in marketing. While everyone touches or creates content, there are few true insights into what works. When things go wrong—when sales or marketing misses their numbers—how often do you hear that bad messaging or lack of good content is to blame? Often, your executive team gets stuck on this as a root cause until you provide evidence to the contrary.
You’re not alone in that challenge. In fact, the art of managing content has become such a hot topic that analyst firms have initiated significant coverage of this market.
Forrester Research, a leading analyst firm, just released The Forrester Wave™: Content Marketing Platforms, Q2 2015 a new report evaluating nine providers of content marketing platforms (CMPs) used by marketing professionals to organize, create, distribute, and analyze marketing content.
The report names Kapost a strong performer and the “strongest current content marketing platform offering for the B2B marketer, with analytics capabilities unparalleled among its peers.”
Overcoming Content Chaos
One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that marketers—across B2B and B2C functions—are stuck in “content chaos.” Not only is there minimal visibility into the content that’s already been produced and how it’s performing, but there’s little to no process behind the tactical and strategic execution and distribution of marketing content.
In fact, of the companies surveyed by Forrester, three of the top five content marketing challenges reported by both B2C and B2B brands relate to content production.
“The upshot of every marketing team being a de facto publisher is colloquially known as ‘content chaos’ — a scenario of overlapping, invisible, and underused brand assets and collaterals.” —The Forrester Wave™: Content Marketing Platforms, Q3 2015
Kapost has a unique perspective here. We believe that B2B marketing teams have a double whammy of a challenge. For B2B marketers, not only must you invest in high-performing content for digital channels, you also need to provide your sales teams and partners with best-in-class content. Practically speaking, that means you arm the Web content team with a tool for content and you have to align the content that every member of marketing creates.
If you serve one team at the expense of another, you simply pass the buck. Content chaos just moves from the top of the funnel to mid-funnel. You might have slick Web content, but your sales team is still using last year’s messaging and that one slide from three years ago they just love. Talk about brand confusion.
Compared with B2C companies, B2B marketers must solve this content chaos challenge both to digital channels for direct customer reach and through sales and channel partners. For Kapost, this means that the product must serve both cases, and the right solution must support the content being created by your experts, from content and product marketers to outbound product managers and experienced sales engineering specialists. Why? Because a true content management solution must serve every stage of your sales cycle, not just top-of-funnel social and blogging needs.
“Content marketing—when managed well—gives brand teams the possibility to organize and streamline activity across channels and the organization against shared, enterprise-wide objectives.” —The Forrester Wave™: Content Marketing Platforms, Q3 2015
The Impact of Content Marketing Platforms
Companies with an organized process supported by content marketing platforms feel the impact, and Forrester found that 77% of CMP customers are likely or extremely likely to recommend them to peers.
For high impact, full lifecycle content, each step in content delivery—from planning through optimization—needs to be supported by an end-to-end solution. For B2B marketers, that means choosing software that supports team alignment, workflow management, streamlined collaboration, the ability to reuse and repurposing current content, and the analysis of content performance.
At Kapost, we help customers tackle this content chaos by focusing on the four pillars of content management success: planning, execution, distribution, and optimization.
To minimize content waste and to ensure relevance to the B2B buyer, content needs to be aligned with the broader marketing strategy and target specific personas and sales stages. Forrester reports that nine out of ten marketers complain of difficulty producing engaging content. And when content doesn’t stick, it won’t drive return for the business.
To solve this, marketing leaders need visibility into topics, objectives, and timelines across marketing teams. As Forrester notes, “CMPs help marketing leaders drive awareness and collaboration across these teams by sharing calendars, driving greater visibility, organizing around shared personas and audiences, and enabling greater collaboration and discussion.”
These strategic elements lay the foundation for effective marketing content across channels, personas, and teams.
Once a strategy for content is established, there needs to be a process for streamlined execution across stakeholders. To fuel efficiency and effectiveness, CMPs must “provide a shared, user-friendly platform to plan, collaborate on, edit, approve, deliver, and distribute content across channels.”
Easier said then done. Forrester found that “a single piece of editorial content may involve hundreds of minor interactions between a dozen stakeholders.” Thus, the rise of CMPs. “Many CMP users describe a past of spreadsheets and email hell, necessitating a shared and common fit-for purpose environment to plug into all the marketing process tools.”
Distribution and Reuse of Content
Content chaos doesn’t just exist in the messy execution of new content—it also comes from a lack of visibility into existing content and its performance. Without a central repository for content, marketers waste time and resources creating duplicate and, occasionally, contradictory assets that confuse buyers with off-brand or outdated messaging. For CMPs to provide real value to marketers, the focus needs “to move from making more content to surfacing the right content.”
This is both true for the marketing team as well as across the organization. If content isn’t findable or being used by the right teams, such as sales, support, and other marketing divisions, it may as well not exist at all.
Even at the high levels, this chaos is apparent. Forrester found that “CMOs will want their platforms to drive discovery, reformatting, and reuse of existing content assets.” With technology in place that supports these needs, marketers can get the most out of current content and focus on filling content gaps, instead of creating more unused, ineffective assets.
“CMOs will want their platforms to drive discovery, reformatting, and reuse of existing content assets.”
But to truly prove the impact of content—and where the real quantifiable value of CMPs lies—marketers need to be able to show the results. This is where metrics come in.
Without insight into how content drives engagement, conversions, and revenue, B2B marketers won’t be able to build a data-driven content strategy based on historical performance. Content analytics allow marketers to get rid of the guesswork. They can see what actually works for their business, then build more successful and strategic marketing campaigns based on those results.
A “Laser-Like” Focus on B2B Marketing
Marketing content—and the technologies supporting every step of the content lifecycle—is top of mind in both B2B and B2C organizations. But there are key differences in the types of content and the analysis of content in B2B and B2C organizations.
For example, B2Bs tend to focus on long-form content, such as “white papers, case studies, user manuals, and sales decks.” These assets often require longer production timelines, specific workflows and contributors, and alignment across teams to ensure each asset it on-message and contributes to a consistent narrative for the buyer.
Also, these content assets are often used throughout the marketing and sales pipeline, from awareness, to lead, to conversion within the sales funnel, and to post-sales customer engagement. B2B marketers need to see the revenue impact of content, and need to understand how well content supports conversions across each of these stages.
Kapost is built to support these B2B-specific needs, and delivers on that promise through innovative technology and expert services. But don’t just take our word for it. Our customers agree.
Forrester found that “Kapost’s laser-like focus on B2B marketers led to the highest user experience scores among the CMPs evaluated.”
Get out of content chaos. And if you’re a B2B marketer, Kapost is ready to help you. Check out the product tour to find out how.