What Keeps Salesforce’s Dave Thomas Up at Night? Headlines Like This One.

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Upland Admin

Content Marketing Is Dead

Mind-Blowing Proof You’ve Been Eating Ketchup Cups Wrong Your Whole Life

What do these two headlines have in common? They’re part of a content marketing trend to capture clicks instead of provide value. And Dave Thomas, Salesforce’s Senior Director of Content and Engagement, is over it.

At yesterday’s Content.SF event, Bay Area marketers came together to discuss all things content marketing, from storytelling to analytics to influencers to globalization to (oddly enough) ketchup references. Across all conversations, one thing was clear: marketers are struggling to get this whole content thing down and, sometimes, resort to gimmicky tactics—such as the headlines above—to elicit short-term results.

But, as Thomas pointed out during his keynote, these headlines are nothing more than click-bait, and it only takes a few disappointing clicks for readers to stop trusting your brand and move on for good.

“Those kinds of headlines work!” you might think. “Why wouldn’t we take advantage?”

Well, that depends. Are you trying to build a committed audience that trusts your brand, or are you simply trying to “trick” your audience into increasing your “engagement” numbers?

An important question to consider, because if your best marketing strategy is to hoodwink prospects and customers, you’re thinking short-term.

To build a sustainable, long-term strategy, here’s what yesterday’s speakers recommend. 

Better Content

“Interactions should be personal, valuable, and engaging,” said Original9’s Jesse Odell. The brands that make an impact on their audiences and see the results in revenue numbers (not just clicks) are the ones that know how to tell stories. Creating stories, Odell explained, is about insight (teaching people) and inspiration (connecting to emotions).

Enter content marketing.

However, it takes more than click-bait and the same old content to reach the right people. After all, there’s some stiff competition out there. Pierre-Loic Assayag of Traackr points out that 90% of content online today was generated in past 24 months, which means there’s a lot of content chaos to break through.

The key, then, is to create educational, quality content (not fluff) and distribute that content effectively—through building meaningful relationships with trusted influencers, strategic social media efforts, segmented email marketing, and other channels that work for your organization.

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Good stories and meaningful relationships build trust and empathy between brand and buyer. But without process—and this is especially true at big, global organizations—content ideas wither and die before they ever hit production.

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CMO of Cloudwords, Heidi Lorenzen, shared that 60% of global marketers don’t have a strategy in place for global content marketing. On top of that, 56% of respondents report that reading information in their own language is more important than price when making a purchase decision.

Pair these two things together, and you have a lot of lost opportunity. But to implement a localization and translation strategy, process must come first. “Operations are key to efficiency,” said Lorenzen. Companies need to plan ahead and bring important stakeholders into the conversation earlier, instead of thinking about translation as an after-thought. 

But before you expect immediate, seamless processes, remember, these things take a little time.

ReadyTalk’s Bo Bandy explained that the first quarter of implementing processes can be painful. For example, the idea behind the content pillar approach is to create a major asset like a webinar or eBook, then break those pieces down into smaller content assets that get distributed across paid, earned, and owned channels. But while you’re creating that content pillar for the first time, you’re going to have to scramble to produce daily content for all those channels that will, eventually, be filled with assets from this pillar.

Take it from Bandy: Once you get to the second quarter, your operation will be up-and-running, and you’ll have plenty of content to sustain those channels while working on your next major piece.


How are you going to succeed unless you know what’s working? Easy. You won’t. 

When asked what keeps him up at night, Thomas said that showing real ROI for every piece of content produced is a constant push. And, judging by the tweets and nodding heads in the crowd, most revenue marketers are struggling with that same challenge. 

Marketers today are held accountable for more than traffic numbers, for more than “clicks.” If we weren’t, we might not be so hard on that click-bait strategy.

But the reality is that marketing teams have to tie content to revenue. They need to map lead, MQL, SQL, and closed-won deals back to content. And those analytics are what will make your boss and your boss’ boss understand the value you’re providing.

Content scoring, explained Jesse Noyes, Kapost’s Senior Director of Content Marketing, makes finding that number possible. Start by working backwards, by taking a look at a closed-won deal and reviewing all of the content they consumed over the course of their journey.

Completing this exercise once is enough to show you the value of content. And when you can use content scoring at scale across all assets, that’s when you get a real picture of what’s working.

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When it comes down to it, marketing technology and channels are changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. And it’s in those overwhelming moments—when pressure to deliver is high and uncertainty rears its ugly head—that marketers go for the easy wins, the click-bait headlines.

But taking the easy way out won’t make the pressure go away. It just delays the hard work, the building of solid strategies, which will ultimately make your operation successful.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the whole “content marketing is dead” thing…

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