As expected, this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit didn’t disappoint. It was three days packed with seventeen tracks, countless sessions, and more than 3,500 attendees. Themed Together: Achieving High-performance by Aligning the B2B Revenue Engine, the conference reinforced how critical a customer-centric approach and seamless alignment between strategy and execution across an organization are to success.
It also offered reassurance that it’s easier said than done and that even the most advanced operations are struggling to keep up.
In many ways, the summit was marketing therapy: sitting with peers and confronting—with excitement and a touch of trepidation—the reality of our ever-more challenging job in the Age of the Customer.
Digitally oriented, committee-based buying groups increasingly demand high-value, consistent, personalized interactions across an exploding number of touchpoints. And the importance of harmony across functions to create a truly connected customer experience is paramount. In my cathartic conversations, I found that we’re all wrestling with the how of facilitating alignment across so many internal silos (regions across the globe, diverse BUs and divisions, sales, product, and marketing teams, channels, to name a few) to drive a strategy and optimally run the revenue engine.
The Common Denominator: Content Operations
Luckily, there was an entire track dedicated to content operations (the set of people, processes, and technology that allows teams to know what’s happening with their content, collaborate cross-functionally, and trust that what they create is right) and strategy, stacked with sessions offering solace.
The biggest takeaway? Just how powerful a content operation is to shattering silos and enabling revenue teams to work together to activate customer-centric strategies and efficiently plan, produce, distribute, and analyze content that meets customer needs and gains relevance.
1. Don’t Overlook Taxonomy
It probably comes as no surprise that building comprehensive metadata is one of the most important ways marketers can make content findable and easily conduct content-gap analysis to quickly understand possible content deficiencies to running effective demand gen programs. But it’s also key to driving personalization and advanced analytics.
Despite these benefits, only 40% of B2B marketing organizations have a taxonomy in place.
Without taxonomy, your content repository can quickly become the wild west. In my marketing team at Kapost, no content is created without first filling out our custom fields. Tagging content allows creators to understand the intended audience for each asset, the theme(s) it addresses, and what stage of the buying cycle it targets, while simultaneously helping sales teams locate the pieces they need to move a conversation with a prospect along.
2. Analytics Segmentation Makes for Better Measurement
A universal taxonomy is key to governing metric segmentation, and no two approaches will be the same. When you develop and apply a taxonomy that tells stakeholders across your team—and organization at large—what they need to know, you can pull metrics that map to their specific use cases.
A well-maintained taxonomy is a boon for content planning. At Kapost, we often see the strongest content strategists using metadata to assess gaps in their content coverage across key strategic contexts (persona, region, etc.) to understand where they should prioritize creation.
3. Content ROI Hasn’t Been Solved—But it Will Be
Ah, ROI, the perpetual thorn in the side of marketers everywhere.
Proving the value of content isn’t easy, especially for B2B organizations. With so many touchpoints and the length of the buying cycle, producing a simple number is more or less impossible.
But the folks at SiriusDecisions feel that the time may soon be approaching. According to the analysts, true content ROI will be a major competitive differentiator before we know it—and will be a mandate within the next five years.
Want to learn more about content ROI? Check out this report from Aberdeen on the business value of creating exceptional customer experiences through content.
4. The Due Date for a Calendar Was Yesterday
A content calendar is one of the most basic—yet effective—ways to break down silos between marketing teams and within the organization as a whole.
Content calendars allow customer-facing teams and creators alike to see what’s in the pipeline so they can avoid overloading audiences with too much (or simply conflicting) messaging, and identify opportunities for collaboration and reuse/repurposing.
While a manual calendar can work in a pinch, SiriusDecisions recommends using content marketing software for the long haul. Why? It’s not just to lighten the load (though that’s certainly a plus!), it’s also to make sure you can develop specific saved-views personalized for different internal audiences and ensure that your ever-important taxonomy is reflected there.
5. SLAs Are the MVPs
Service-level agreements (SLAs) are no-brainers if you want to optimize your production and keep work on track.
SiriusDecisions recommends building your SLAs based on actual workflow data rather than an idealistic (read: unrealistic) goal that’s practically toast before you even begin. You should also make sure to factor in technology and third-party constraints, and other dependencies like budget and approvals.
In our experience, the best workflows don’t happen overnight. Instead, they’re built and iterated on over time.
6. Atomized Content Eases Creation
Customers expect meaningful experiences everywhere, every time. That’s why today’s companies need to support niche audiences and hyper-personalization both pre- and post-sale.
Reuse is a huge value of a content operation—and essential to scaling personalization. When your content lives in a single place and is findable (that pesky metadata again!), key pieces can be repurposed by teams across geographies, product lines, personas, and more. This strategic, less-is-more approach allows creators to stop reinventing the wheel and get to market faster with content that already exists.
7. It’s Time to Make Way for AI
It’s coming whether we’re ready or not. SiriusDecisions says machine learning and AI will play a ubiquitous, significant, and active role in every phase of the end-to-end content lifecycle.
While many marketers think of AI as writing robots and recommendation machines, there are a ton of applications that will transform the way marketers do their jobs. For example, Kapost’s new MessageAI feature allows marketers to measure the consistency of their messaging across everything they do. With technology like this already off the ground, there’s no telling what’s next.
So how do I feel after this three-day marketing therapy session? Overwhelmed, sure, but mostly, it’s fulfilling and gratifying to be a part of the answer to the challenges we’re up against: content operations.
Ready to join the movement? Get the Definitive Guide to Building a Content Operation, an actionable guide designed to help you build a new operating model in your organization and fuel valuable, end-to-end CX.