Content Marketing

Content Is the Key to Customer Engagement: How Innovative CMOs Put Content Marketing Solutions First

As content professionals, we’re sold on the critical role content plays in driving brand awareness, customer engagement, and revenue. But what do our peers think? Or, more importantly, our bosses? To find out, we conducted nine interviews with innovative CMOs to understand what role they see content playing in the marketing strategy. The TL;DR? CMOs see content marketing solutions as part of every aspect of audience engagement.

“Content is a red thread that follows through the entire customer journey,” states Amy Heidersbach, a 5-time CMO for organizations like PayPal, Capital One, and Alteryx.

That centrality is crucial for organizations to keep their brands top of mind. But it can also be challenging at times, especially in today’s market with ambitious revenue goals and tight talent resources.

How can content teams ensure they use the right tools and access the right talent to have the biggest impact? Here, we explore what the CMOs have to say and highlight ways that Contently’s platform can help.

From Crafting Quality Content Marketing Solutions…

Content marketers never run out of topics to write about. There’s usually endless potential to break down your content pillars into core topics and subtopics for eBooks, webinars, blogs, social campaigns, and so on.

However, many content teams fall into the trap of thinking content impact depends on constantly tackling new topics. The reality is that most of your target audience does not catch everything you throw. If a message is important, you need to repeat it often on different channels and through different media.

As Cathy McPhillips, the Chief Growth Officer of the Marketing AI Institute, said, “We get sick of our content because we feel like we’re repeating ourselves a lot. But in actuality, when you look at who’s in our database, who are our social followers, and who actually sees it, it’s clear that we have to keep telling our stories and reaching our customers over and over and over again.”

As an example of one way to engage over time on the same topic, Contently’s client, Coast Capital, leverages the creative marketplace and a dedicated managing editor to scale their content programs with a strategic focus on SEO growth. After working with Contently’s talented freelancers, Coast Capital received a massive increase in engagement, now ranging from 7 to 15 minutes per piece on average.

…to Cultivating Meaningful Audience Connections

Rather than thinking about what they do as repeating the same ideas through one-off assets or mini-campaigns, content marketers should reframe what they do as cultivating a conversation with their customers. By that logic, conversations can be long and recursive, revisiting the same topics repeatedly but through new media and with new examples or insights.

“You need to have the same conversation with a client for at least a year before the client even recognizes that they are in a conversation,” said Edmund Gemmell, the CMO of Kantar, a marketing consulting and analytics firm. “Just because I have put out one piece of content, that is not a conversation.”

Content strategy requires strong investment in anchor assets like eBooks, webinars, and podcasts in order to leverage those larger assets for atomized outputs like blogs, social posts, videos, and infographics. Atomizing content in that way—efficiently and at scale— requires you to be intentional about all the content you create by pursuing rich topics that lend themselves to atomization.

“We make sure that if we’re doing a webinar, we want the topic to be something that will lend itself to an eBook for the following quarter. Or vice versa, if we are launching a report or a research asset, we’ll want to have a webinar to promote it and expand on the content for people so that they benefit from one another. It’s making sure these different activities align and work with each other,” asserts Cathy McPhillips.

Atomization also requires teams to supplement their in-house talent with high-quality freelancers who have specialized skills. With over 160,000 creative professionals in the Contently network, we help our clients achieve their content goals and atomize their assets in different mediums. Whether it’s an eBook broken down into infographics, blogs, videos, or social campaigns, we have writers, editors, photographers, videographers, and designers to help you get it done.

From Supporting Demand to Making Connections

The CMOs also pointed to the role content plays in forging stronger connections across the different in-house organizations that engage directly with the customer. This has deep consequences for how to staff a content marketing team and where it sits. Align the content team too closely with the demand generation arm of marketing, and you may get misalignment across various stages in the customer journey. Spread content teams too wide, and they may not have enough bandwidth to address the organization’s full range of needs.

“The more modern thought around content marketing is as a horizontal function that works with corporate marketing, demand generation, customer marketing, and even sales enablement to ensure there is content to meet the needs of every point in the journey,” said Heidersbach.

Heidersbach views are grounded in a deep belief in breaking down the silos that often exist between marketing and sales. Instead, marketing, sales, and go-to-market should be aligned as stakeholders in the customer journey.

“The modern notion of a go-to-market organization is that it’s centered around the customer journey. That’s what content needs to serve. And you have to do the hard work of understanding the different journeys customers take and the individual content pieces that need to be created and measured,” shares Heidersbach.

The consequence of a customer journey view is that it requires crafting content at scale, with significant degrees of personalization, to address variations in the customer journey. That creates a significant demand for content talent and often requires a robust freelance network. It also requires a focused and strategic approach to content creation—one that prioritizes experimentation, revisions, and consistent realignment as markets change and your program grows.

To hear more from the CMOs we interviewed, download your copy of Mastering the Content Matrix: Innovative CMOs Rewrite the Rules of Engagement.

If you’re ready to tap into Contently’s powerful creative marketplace to scale your content production and atomize your big assets, reach out for a discovery call today.

Image by Feodora Chiosea

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