Feb 18, 2016

CMO Essentials for Optimizing Your Content Marketing Program

CMO Essentials to Optimize Content Marketing Strategy

Marketing executives and their teams are being held to higher expectations than ever before. More content is competing for attention, buyer behaviors have shifted, and economic dynamics have placed more pressure on demonstrating ROI.

Accurately tying business value back to content is a constant struggle. In fact, according to a study by Forrester, while almost all senior marketers say that content marketing is important, an overwhelming 85% admit that it is only somewhat effective — or less so — at moving the needle on generating revenue, retaining customers, or winning customers’ long-term loyalty*.

As I write in Meeting Demand: A Guide to Becoming a Data-Driven CMO, we have to dramatically adjust our way of thinking and adopt a multichannel, data-driven, buyer-focused approach to marketing.

With the right mindset and tools, it is possible to prove marketing’s power as a revenue driver, not a cost center. Maximize your content marketing’s impact by following these five steps.

1. Get hyper-targeted with market research.

Before you publish a single piece of content, you need to know whom you’re creating it for and what their informational needs are along the buyer lifecycle.

On average, there are 7-10 key decision makers and influencers in a B2B buying decision. While you may have a general idea as to who these contacts are, your content won’t convert unless you compile comprehensive personas and journey maps detailing decision makers’ different roles, informational needs, and content preferences.

Conduct external market research to define purchase triggers based on key buyer segments, personas, and stages of the buying cycle. This research can be a combination of focus groups, surveys, ethnographic research, etc.

Including existing clients in this research will be useful; however, interviewing prospects and key influencers will help you uncover new opportunities where current content fails to connect.

2. Map content to buyer journeys.

With market research in hand, identify specific topics that will guide your audience step-by-step through the buying cycle.

The content you and your team create can’t stand alone. Each piece needs to fulfill a purpose and fit within a cohesive story based on your brand vision. Unfortunately, most marketers still create content piecemeal. According to Forrester, 62% of marketers admit to producing content on a campaign by campaign basis. Content that is siloed and doesn’t fit into a continuous narrative runs the risk of disrupting and deterring prospects and customers.

Once you have determined the sequence of topics and aligned it with buyer journeys, pinpoint the most credible voices and relevant formats to deliver your message.

Consider using components of specific content offers in different formats based on the unique needs of your core buying groups. Different buyer segments have different preferences for how they consume content. For example, while interactive, how-to videos tend to work better for practitioners, executives may be more likely to read content focused on strategy in a whitepaper or ebook.

Determining the most effective authors is also critical. At PR Newswire, we leverage expertise across our business as well as the industry. From marketing and sales to product managers and executives, a wide variety of subject matter experts create content within our organization. We also leverage highly respected industry experts with broad appeal to expand our perspective. This ensures that our messages are authoritative and authentic.

In summary, to effectively convert buyers, you must deliver content in the right context.


3. Build out a scalable marketing infrastructure.

While your focus should be on creating high-quality content, a sustainable marketing program is impossible if you don’t invest in the right technology, processes, and people.

Today’s audiences expect a seamless experience from your brand, one in which they can interact with your content without interruption no matter what channel they are in.

Marketing automation is key to providing this seamless experience; however, many marketers aren’t using automation in the right way. Your automation tools need to be integrated across all of your platforms as part of an integrated technology stack, informed by analytics on where and when you place your content based specific audience needs.  This requires quite a bit of investment to be sure, but it is well worth the effort to create connected interactions.

Another aspect to consider are your processes. It isn’t just a matter of putting content on your website with a lead generation form. Today’s marketing dynamic requires a flexible yet coordinated strategy executed through standardized processes that accelerate responsiveness. A content calendar should be developed and utilized by all teams that changes weekly based on content and channel performance.

The final, yet most critical pieces of your marketing infrastructure are your people.  Create a buyer focused team with strong content marketing and analytics skills who embrace technology. I look for people who are “marketing athletes,” who have the flexibility to change roles. Each team member should have a clearly defined understanding as to what they’re delivering and how it supports the buyer’s overall journey. United by a market-focused vision, you will create a team of people with diverse but complementary skillsets.

4. Promote content with an integrated channel approach.

When it comes to your content promotion, it’s important to balance the quality and quantity of audience touchpoints across paid, earned, and owned channels.

Buyers are exhibiting a high degree of cross-channel behavior – typically consuming content via 8-12 different sources during the buying process.

However, it is critical to remain focused on where you promote your brand. Despite the buzz about omnichannel, it’s impossible to simultaneously and successfully manage your brand on every single channel. Based on the budgetary and resource constraints you are facing, you need to determine where you can maximize the impact of your content vs the investments required.

Go back to the research you conducted in step one and gather insights on the channels your buyers and influencers frequent. With these factors in mind, run an integrated multichannel test to understand how your channels work together to drive pipeline.

For instance, by testing the single channel promotion of a white paper vs. a coordinated, multichannel approach, we were able to determine that multichannel promotion not only increased content downloads fivefold, but our conversion rate by over 48%.

This data showed us that promoting content over more channels within a short period of time – typically within a few days – achieves exponentially better results. Our buyers can interact with our content when and where they choose, boosting the number of overall qualified leads and closed deals.

5. Utilize advanced analytics to optimize your marketing program.

Once your content is in market, dive into your analytics to capitalize on new opportunities and demonstrate success. Push your team to look beyond the raw data and gather the insights you need to improve effectiveness.

At the end of the day, your primary responsibility is showing how efficiently you generate revenue on a cost-adjusted basis. To do this, you need to make sure you’re measuring the right KPIs.

Traditional metrics like page views and click-throughs, while still important, continue to decrease in utility and don’t offer clear insight into ROI. While you still need to measure them, you need to view them as directional and in context with other buyer behaviors.

Shift your focus to build analytics on the elasticity of content performance (how content converts vs number of views it gets), velocity (when and how it is consumed, along with next steps taken), and contribution to pipeline and revenue. This will validate what topics are resonating the most, how buyer behaviors are evolving, and what you may need to do differently in your marketing strategy.

Ultimately, you need to be able to track who is consuming what, where, and when they’re consuming it, and how it’s impacting the buying process. You can then optimize your approach to enhance results. Do this and your marketing will nurture buyers across all channels in a compelling, consistent way.

Download our executive whitepaper Meeting Demand: A Guide to Becoming a Data-Driven CMO for more insight into the metrics that will transform your marketing leadership.

Author Ken Wincko is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at PR Newswire, where he manages the company’s global marketing strategy and serves on the Executive Management Committee. He has more than 20 years of marketing, product, and business development experience in bringing innovative marketing programs and solutions to market for both B2B and B2C organizations.  Ken is an advisory board member at the CMO Council and has been covered in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Tech Target, Alister & Payne, The Demand Gen Report, and Marketing Sherpa. 

*Compare Your B2B Content Marketing Maturity, Forrester Research, Inc.

1 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Ruth 08:35 EST on Feb 22, 2016

It’s really helpful the way you have explained about the content promotion. I found a great series of videos, It explains how to target the right audience to the blog and such like.

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