At Skyword’s Content Rising event, which was held in Boston’s Seaport District this week, enterprise marketers gathered to discuss strategies and practices in content creation.
Unsurprisingly, challenges persist across industries. Most marketers know that content is important, but then what? Once a preliminary strategy is in place, how do you scale, earn media attention, and amplify your thought leadership?
Senior executives from Conductor, Outbrain, Traackr, the Content Marketing Institute, and Skyword led a panel on how marketing technology is helping strategists wrap their heads around the complexity of the digital space (Click here to see the presentation by Tom Gerace, Skyword’s CEO).
But even with newfound insight and the savviest of teams, moderator Clare McDermott, editor of Chief Content Officer Magazine, said it is important to feel comfortable in the confusion because even today’s top executives are often “making it up.”
Seventy percent of surveyed executives say marketing will look different in the near future, but none are able to articulate what this change might look like. Even some of today’s prominent influencers say they struggle to scale content creation and overcome marketing silos.
What’s a marketer to do, then—make it up? Patricia Travaline, vice president of marketing at Skyword, kicked off the discussion by bringing attendees back to the basics with storytelling.
Storytelling is an age-old art that is used to connect people with moments in life.
In the past, brands would connect with their audience through interruption. Television ads would break up the content people loved to consume, but with today’s technology, people have learned how to tune out that disruption. Travaline urged attendees to shift their approach from invasive marketing to creating content that people actually love to see.
But doing that is easier said than done, especially if you lack a technology component to make this entire process simpler to manage. That includes finding the right contributors to help fuel content strategies, a Web presence management solution to understand behavioral shifts in search, a content marketing platform to streamline content creation, and an amplification solution to get your great content out into the world.
We’re all already doing some form of influencer marketing, Traackr founder and CEO Pierre-Loic Assayag said in the beginning of his presentation.
We have all joined a group on LinkedIn, added people to lists on Twitter, and broken down brand advocates into spreadsheets. This is the foundation of influencer marketing. What has changed is the scale at which we go about this process, because the number of online conversations has boomed.
Today, 3 percent of the people who participate in online conversations create 90 percent of market impact. But that 3 percent is never the same—those people reside in different groups online, and their influence is completely contextual.
Assayag’s main point was that we must change how we think of influencer strategies. It’s not about asking people what they can do for you, nor is it entirely about thinking of ways to court these people with gifts. Instead, marketers must look at these folks as momentum drivers for the industry and use their knowledge to better understand the changes in the marketplace through natural interaction. Through shared knowledge, a mutually beneficial program evolves—one that not only points you in the right direction for content marketing, but also aligns you with advocates in your space.
Marketers are addicted to buying online traffic—$100 billion was spent on the paid Web last year alone.
Seth Dotterer, Conductor’s vice president of marketing, argues that this trend exists partly because marketers are stuck in old SEO mindsets. They think of search optimization as a technical skillset.
My favorite quote from the night was, “SEO used to be the janitor—someone would come in at the end and clean up the back end of the content.”
That’s changing, albeit slowly. Consumers strongly prefer the unpaid Web. Sixty-five percent of consumers click on unpaid links in search, while only 6 percent click on paid links.
There is a necessary shift from technical SEO to a strategic approach. Because content has dual identities, it lives on a brand’s site. But more often, it lives off of the site in other locations, out of the control of marketers or publishers.
By bringing a search-focused analyst into the planning stages of content creation, marketers get the guidance they need on how and where to inject their messaging into high-traffic areas of the Web. Technology like Conductor gives you the ability to uncover which areas you should focus on in your content writing.
Most marketers understand the differences between paid, earned, and owned media, but few recognize how to build a content amplification strategy that balances all three.
Brands are creating a growing volume of content, some of which isn’t that good. Outbrain reportedly rejects between 30 percent and 40 percent of content submissions to its network.
Now, we must ask how good marketers get their great content to break through the noise. Through storytelling, brands can connect people with moments, but those stories only matter if they’re heard or read.
Content distribution is the natural last step in content marketing, and as such, it’s largely unexplored and complex. Gregg Freishtat, Outbrain’s senior vice president of strategic services, concluded the panel by pointing out that his company’s network reaches 83 percent of the United States through top publishers.
Outbrain is one way brands can get their content in front of new audiences, but Freishtat confirms that there must be a strategic element to using his service. You just don’t put content out there and hope it’s found, even on discovery platforms. You should know now how you will measure your success before you begin to pay for eyes—otherwise, you have no benchmark to judge your efforts.
We thank everyone for joining us this week at Content Rising. If you have any questions for one of our partners, email us for more information.