5 Key Milestones to Develop and Advance Your Content Marketing Program


A year after launching the brand journalism site Smarter With Gartner, two critical inflection points led us to realize we were ready to advance in the Maturity Model for Content Marketing:

  • The global team of content creators needed more robust tools to produce the steady stream of articles, infographics, video, and interactive content published daily to help IT, marketing, and supply chain leaders stay ahead of technology trends.
  • The global PR and content development team, which launched Smarter With Gartner, had an opportunity to feed our content marketing assets into the broader Gartner digital marketing programs.

When we realized we needed to take our content marketing program to the next level, I had a one-on-one call with Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, research director of Gartner for Marketers. She authored the Gartner report that introduced the Maturity Model for Content Marketing. We made “Leapfrog to Level 4” a slogan for our 2017 content marketing strategy. This was a bold goal because less than a year earlier we were moving from Level 2 to Level 3. What would it take to create a more mature content marketing function for our organization?


Image source: Content Marketing Maturity Model, Gartner for Marketers, (July 2016)

In a subsequent interview in preparation for my Content Marketing World session, Kirsten distills the key milestones necessary for organizations to develop and advance their content marketing programs. As with most journeys, you must watch out for obstacles that will prevent your progress.

1. Fill the strategy gap

If organizations do one thing to reach Level 2, they should create a strategy. While this sounds like an obvious first step, only 37% of B2B and 40% of B2C marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy, according to CMI research. Notably, most marketers say the strategy is effective at helping them achieve their content marketing goals. Why don’t content marketers think to create a strategy out of the gate?

Only 37% of B2B & 40% of B2C marketers say they have a documented #contentmarketing strategy. @cmicontent
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Often, content marketing starts as an experimental initiative with ad hoc content production and rudimentary metrics. “They may have basic metrics on traffic, some level of engagement, and maybe first order of conversion,” Kirsten says. (That’s where we were when launching the pilot for Smarter with Gartner.)

“As you work to create a strategy,” she says, “do the work around personas, journeys, and understand your analytics.”

To create a #contentmarketing strategy, do work around personas, journeys, & analytics, says @kirstenpetra.
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To reach Level 2, tap into your organization’s personas to drive content development or create customer personas or journey maps from behavioral, ethnographic, and voice-of-the-customer research. Customer personas and journey maps, when combined with goals and objectives, form the basis of a sound strategy from which to develop content.

2. Designate a leader

Experimental content marketing programs may have developed within an existing group, as ours was in the Gartner PR department. Yet to move to Level 2, you need to designate a content marketing leader who owns and manages all content marketing initiatives, Kirsten says. This type of ownership is necessary to build consistency in content creation, tone, and style.

After serving as a consultant to Gartner during the pilot and launch of Smarter With Gartner, I joined the company to play this leadership role in partnership with Gartner’s Global Head of PR Tom McCall.

J.P. Medved, my CMWorld co-presenter, made a similar transition. He moved into the content director role between levels 1 and 2 at Capterra. “It is important to have dedicated employees for whom content was their primary job, not just something that got done after their other ‘real’ work was finished,” J.P. says.

It is important to have dedicated employees for whom content is their primary job, says @rizzlejpizzle.
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3. Use the right tools

The content marketing leader can improve the tools necessary to support a fully functioning content development team. When to use a dedicated content marketing platform depends on the size and complexity of the team, Kirsten says. “Most commonly it’s between levels 2 and 3 – before you get to the level of pain where you need it. A small company could survive until Level 4.

“I’ve observed that when brands have five full-time employees working on content marketing, that’s where the pain gets acute enough to warrant investments in process refinement and tooling.”

In Smarter With Gartner’s second year, the team shifted from spreadsheet editorial calendars and Word docs to a collaborative editorial calendar and workflow management tool, paired with collaborative, cloud-based content creation. At first, the team was hesitant about changing. But the shared tools added enough efficiency and ease to win over the team and improve productivity. This took us to Level 3 and a fully operational content marketing program.

Similarly, the team at Capterra used an ad hoc collection of spreadsheets, calendars, and project management tools to track content production and performance. When it reached 10 people, they really felt the pain of trying to make these systems work together. Content was falling through the cracks, causing frustration and slowing growth. That’s when the team began a robust search for the right content marketing tool.

“Though the process of finding and implementing a new, centralized content marketing software was long and involved, there was significant buy-in from the team because everyone was acutely familiar with the pain caused by our existing process and separate tools,” J.P. says.

4. Pay attention to promotion

What do content marketing teams ignore the most?

“Promotion,” Kirsten says. “Content marketers still think, ‘If you write it, they will come.’” Yes, she acknowledges, wonderful content over time eventually may get SEO results. Yet the most successful content marketing programs rely on a combination of owned, earned, and paid strategies and media to support a bigger reach.

We launched Smarter With Gartner in part because the social media team had sizable followings across channels through which we could promote our content. Over time, we added SEO, selected paid and social promotions, and backlinks on media channels to grow the audience.

As you invest in the right mix of promotion, consider your balance of quantity vs. quality content. “There’s no set answer on frequency,” Kirsten says. “Defining a quantity goal out of the gate is the wrong approach.”

Defining a #content quantity goal out of the gate is the wrong approach, says @kirstenpetra.
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The best approach to promotion is to test, evaluate, and refine your mix over time to understand the right quality-quantity mix based on your competitive set. If your competitors publish a high volume of content, you’ll need to increase content production – ensuring that it’s of as good or better quality – to compete in a noisy content marketplace. If not, ensure that you’re creating quality content that will earn you search engine authority and credibility, and eventually visibility, over time.

The best approach to content promotion is to test, evaluate, & refine your mix over time @heathrpemberton.
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These steady paid, earned, and owned content contributions to brand revenue and identity are a key attribute of Level 4 content marketing maturity.

5. Define the right metrics

Also at Level 4, content marketers employ customer insights and closed-loop analytics from integrated systems (CRM, point-of-sale, and other tools) to drive content. By Level 5, data-driven innovation is central to the content ecosystem.

We’ve seen this shift firsthand in the evolution of Smarter With Gartner. At first, we measured success based on metrics such as page views, click-throughs, time on site, newsletter subscribers, etc. As we integrated the content marketing program with the corporate marketing function and content was delivered as part of a marketing automation platform, we tracked acquisition to conversion. This closed-loop system allows us to see how our top content acquires visitors from their top searches and this audience generates the most conversions. The result? We create more content of this type.

Kirsten points out that each organization must determine its specific type of conversion event and develop a relevant strategy. “For a denim brand’s e-commerce site, historical data may show that visitors who see a model in the brand’s jeans are at least six times more likely to become a customer,” she says. “Determine how many pieces of content to serve to meet that hurdle. For another retailer, clicking on the ‘find a store’ button may be the conversion goal. Use that to define what becomes the strategy.”


Recently, the Smarter With Gartner leadership team met to assess our mid-year progress. Were we still on track to reach Level 4 in the Content Marketing Maturity Model? For the most part, yes. This is due not only to the efforts of a dedicated content marketing team that works against a clear strategy and uses the right tools, but to our integration with a broader marketing organization learning how to use content to engage an audience for specific goals.

What level are you trying to reach next in your content marketing maturity – and how are you doing it?

Join Heather Pemberton Levy and J.P. Medved in their Content Marketing 101 session, as well as attend hundreds of other sessions to grow your content marketing program, at Content Marketing World Sept. 5-8. Register today and use code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post 5 Key Milestones to Develop and Advance Your Content Marketing Program appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

From http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/08/content-marketing-maturity/

This Week in Content Marketing: Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Disney Begin War Over Content


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher. If you enjoy our show, we would love it if you would rate it or post a review on iTunes.

In this week’s episode

Robert ponders whether to learn to be big or accept that you’d rather stay small. In the news, Facebook launches YouTube competitor Watch, while Netflix begins a buying spree for content brands. Meanwhile, Disney decides to pull its films off Netflix, and Google may still buy Snap. We dive into discussions on how Quartz is delivering real results for branded content and why email subscription has never been more important. Rants and raves include Deadpool and Time Inc.; then we wrap up the show with an example of the week on J. Walter Thompson.

Download this week’s PNR: This Old Marketing podcast


Content love from our sponsor: Smartling (40:45)

Translation: A reliable recipe for business growth – According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. And any company pursuing them with English-only content is likely limiting its revenue potential. According to Common Sense Advisory, more than 70% of consumers are more likely to buy a product with information listed in their native language than a comparable product without. These realities haven’t been lost on the world’s leading brands.

Digital innovation may have flattened the world, but human language is still the key to forming authentic connections. As a result, any company limiting the conversation to a single language is also severely limiting its own growth potential. To be successful on a global scale, brands need to consider localization strategies that suit their audience and elevate their brand presence. And whether your company is big or small, the road to translation success always follows a similar path.

Before you can translate a single character of content, there are several basic points of strategy to address. Some of these factors include understanding revenue potential, gathering your content requirements, assembling the right team, planning the process for localization and translation, and using technology as a competitive advantage. With thoughtful plans, empowered teammates, and the right tools behind you, the barriers to publishing compelling global content will be lower than you think. And there is little doubt that tomorrow’s leading brands will be those that grasped today’s unparalleled opportunities. Download the e-book, Translation: A Reliable Recipe for Business Growth.


Show details

  • (00:01): An advertising blast from the past: “Volkswagen: Think Small”
  • (00:25): Robert muses on this week’s theme: Do you know how to be big?
  • (05:50): Welcome to Episode 196: Recorded live on August 14, 2017 (Running time: 1:07:24)
  • (10:00): Content Marketing World 2017 – The largest content marketing event in the world will return to Cleveland on September 5–8, with closing keynoter Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Register today, and don’t forget to use coupon code PNR100 to save $100 on the cost of registration.


The quick hits – Notable news and trends

  • (11:33): Facebook courts video makers for its YouTube killer, “Watch.” (Sources: The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch)
  • (17:40): Netflix moves to conquer comics content, while Disney moves off the service to branch out on its own. (Sources: The Beat, CNBC)
  • (25:12): Google reportedly offered $30B to acquire Snapchat. (Source: TechCrunch)

The deep dive – Industry analysis

  • (31:00): How Quartz achieved a 90% renewal rate for branded content. (Source: Digiday)
  • (37:07): Turning audience development into a profit machine. (Source: Publishing Executive)

Rants and raves

  • (43:12): Robert’s rave No. 1: This story made Robert’s heart sing, as it speaks directly to two of his favorite topics: audiences and pets. According to Digiday, Time Inc. has launched a new subscription service, PetHero – the company’s first venture under a new business model that focuses on mining audience data to uncover revenue opportunities that go beyond ad-supported content.
  • (47:06): Robert’s rave No. 2: Robert also offered some brief but glowing praise for Howard Rauch, whose new book, Get Serious About Editorial Management, should be considered the owner’s manual for successfully operating and maintaining a content marketing program. (Source: Folio).
  • (49:38): Joe’s rave: I wanted to send a shout-out to our good friend Robert Sacks, founder of the BoSacks daily news digest, for his thoughtful missive on the hateful events that took place last weekend in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. While content marketing and political issues can make for strange bedfellows, I admire his courage in sharing his feelings.
  • (52:10): Joe’s commentary: I recently noticed that my youngest son, a long-time fan of the comic Deadpool, seemed to have abandoned his interest in the character of late. When he expressed his frustration that the character had been toned down to appeal to a broader audience, it brought to mind the unintended consequences that can be involved when you try to scale content marketing success.

This Old Marketing example of the week

(58:10): J. Walter Thompson: First hired as a bookkeeper for the Carlton & Smith ad agency, James Walter Thompson (JWT) quickly discovered that his true talent was for soliciting ad sales for publications. In fact, his skills were in such high demand that by 1889 JWT was responsible for placing 80% of advertising in the U.S.; 10 years later, his agency became the first in America to expand internationally. Through the years, the milestones just kept coming; but among its most notable content-related accomplishments were the JWT Blue and Red books (a copy of the Red Book is seen here), which the company published from about 1897 to 1912. Produced annually, the books featured educational content that helped teach business owners how to better handle the advertising process, as well as a complete directory on every ad-supported publication in the U.S., including their circulation numbers, demographics, and ad rates. By creating these comprehensive resources that promoted and advanced the concept of advertising while establishing JWT as a key thought leader in its practice, the man and his agency cemented their place in the This Old Marketing annals of advertising and content marketing history, simultaneously.


Image source

For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The post This Week in Content Marketing: Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Disney Begin War Over Content appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

From http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/08/war-over-content/