The industry is seeing a shift away from traditional, antiquated marketing tactics and towards content marketing as an increasing number of c-level executives understand its value for consumer engagement and retention.
We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Ian Truscott, Senior Vice President of Content Strategy at Tahzoo, to discuss this trend, what makes content marketing such a crucial facet of an organization’s long-term objectives and getting started in content marketing. Ian is an active contributor on Future CX, and has spent the last fifteen years in the world of web content management, personalization and marketing technologies.
Here is what he had to say:
RS: A recent inforgraphic by DemandMetric shows that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, while generating three times as many leads. Based on your own experience, is that an accurate metric?
Ian Truscott: Yes, it looks accurate to me – in a previous role where I was leading content marketing for a software vendor we developed a thought leadership blog that was purely based on the needs of the practitioner and the industry. From very early on we discovered that a lead developed through this channel was twice as likely to convert than through the conventional blog and by an even higher factor when compared with “conventional” digital marketing strategies.
RS: So, why are traditional marketing initiatives still far more prevalent? What keeps more companies from embracing content marketing?
I think organizations are sticking with traditional marketing initiatives for three main reasons; the first is about measurement, until organizations change what and how they measure it’s hard to change marketing behavior. The second is that content marketing needs an understanding of the needs of the audience; it requires a level of insight that generic marketing messaging doesn’t need. The third is that any strategy should be a mix – and that’s healthy – but traditional digital marketing tends to be about being generic and high volume for low return, and until you take a look at the first two, the third remains very visible.
What keeps companies from embracing content marketing? I’m not sure and that’s not entirely consistent with my experience with our clients. Although not everyone calls it content marketing (sometime its called content strategy), I see a lot of interest – however the challenge seems to be where to start.
RS: Let’s say a company was looking to implement a content marketing program, where would they start? What considerations do they need to keep in mind?
Ian Truscott: It starts in one place – the audience. Find what’s relevant to them today and then what that audience will find useful from you. Then figure out what you want in return and how to measure it – what we call “the fair exchange.” A content marketing initiative will die if it serves no purpose to you or the audience.
RS: At CM World 2014, prolific actor, director and producer Kevin Spacey highlighted the importance of storytelling when it comes to content marketing. “The story is everything,” he said, “which means it’s our job to tell better stories.” How should story-telling factor in a CMO’s content marketing strategy?
Ian Truscott: I completely agree; telling better stories is content marketing. It’s not about how stories need to factor into a strategy, it’s if you don’t have a story, you don’t have a content marketing strategy. But, it’s not just any story; every organization has a story, even if it’s just “we make the best widgets in New Jersey.” The art of the craft is exactly what Spacey said – it’s the “better stories”.
Todays marketers have all the tools they need for better stories, we are no longer just sitting around Mad Men style dreaming up a vision for the customer, we have data, we can discover who this customer is, what interests them and what is the better story we need to tell them.
RS: Rachel Serpa, content marketing manager at Gigya, recently claimed that silos within marketing departments prevent marketers from having a holistic view of the customer, a point you also made in a recent Future CX post. How does this fragmented view of the customer impact marketing and content marketing campaigns? What role can technology play in combating these issues?
Ian Truscott: This is a frequent experience I have with clients. Organizations are naturally built around business functions, products, departments, regions or silos of past acquisitions, and this is then reflected in a splintered marketing structure with corporate, field, in-market and product marketing fiefdoms with various agencies sprinkled into the mix. However, worse than the potential internal dysfunction that it would seem to create, this leads to the customer getting an experience that is “inside-out,” where the customer is the one aggregating what the story is from all of the experiences they have – and in the process, they’ll find the inconsistencies and you’ve lost control of the story.
In this situation technology helps; it’s the foundation for orchestrating the story, it enables a consistent view of the oh-so important measurement, it quickens the dissemination across all of the customer channels, it brings together remote and disparate teams, it feeds your understanding of the customer and enables you to deliver a carefully crafted personalized story. However… all of this is for naught if you are not telling a better story.