5 key steps for scaling your content marketing

17th Jul 2017

The Route to Customer Engagement Starts with Intelligent Content Marketing

Have you ever stayed on a webpage that didn’t have engaging content for more than two seconds? Probably not. It’s no surprise, there isn’t engagement without content.

Content is the essence of marketing, but content alone isn’t enough. Marketers need an intelligent, structured strategy in place to engage their audiences. To better describe the best strategies and tactics to instilling a forward looking content strategy, I reached out to Noz Urbina, Founder of Urbina Consulting and to Cruce Saunders, Principal and Founder of [A], and we had a chat about what intelligent content marketing means to them.

Content scaling does not have to come on the expense of putting in more resources

In order to scale content without using additional resources, you need to include customer journey mapping into your usual editorial planning and prioritization process.

Rather than the usual brand-out marketing focus on demographics and spreadsheet segments across a buying lifecycle, start with a persona-in view. Analyze how that persona goes about achieving a goal, and what implications result for your brand.

Work out their narrative, and discover what content fits into it. To be specific, marketers need to know exactly what collateral to leverage when interacting with a particular customer. Then, as you cover all the journeys that are important to your brand and personas, start to reverse the lens and say, “What can I leverage better by reusing it across deliverables” and then, “Now what’s left that I can kill?”

In our view, the process of content scaling includes five key steps:

1. identify desired content assets and appropriate channels.

2. put shape and structure to the content assets in the form of a content model.

3. add targeting categories or tags to the content following a taxonomy.

4. add standardized micro data (like open graph or schema.org mark-up) that match your target channels.

5. build rules for personalization starting by segmenting audiences and their behaviors.

Noz explained, “There’s almost always ways you could model your source content to allow some reuse. Do you have term definitions, concept overviews, product overviews of different lengths, reference tables, etc. that could be reused rather than being re-created over and over for each deliverable and channel? Reuse with intelligent content and automation wherever possible.”

Bots and AI shape the future of content marketing

“We’re working with chatbots and personalization systems that work as artificial librarian curators to connect the right users and messages,” said Noz. “It’s fascinating. AI has brought us new abilities to analyze quantities of content and data never before imagined.”

Quality checkers are one application of natural language processing and artificial learning systems that keep marketers on-brand, on-style, properly meta-tagged, and keyworded-up across teams and channels.

Is it a good time to be in content marketing?

On this specific question, Noz and Cruce didn’t to agree. Noz stated, “now is a great time to be in content marketing because it’s a discipline that is time-tested and proven effective – it’s not a buzzword – but it’s now being discovered and rapidly adopted by a mass market audience.”

This means we’re at a critical stage where “industrialization” is happening, but we’re innovating around a core of rock-solid best practices. Content marketing can happen on any new channel, and has many incarnations depending on business size and industry. Despite its narrow focus, it’s universal. That makes it one of the few areas in this fast-changing world where if you’re developing your skills, name and network, it will last you for years.

At the same time, Cruce thinks it’s a terrible time to be in this industry. Content marketers try to keep up with SEO, social, robots, AI, microcopy, microdata, schema, taxonomy, and marketing automation, while keeping creative juices flowing for compelling, original, high-value, long-form content assets. All these items need to be orchestrated across distributed teams and cleared by legal...it's exhausting.

“What an awful time to be trying to market effectively to a dizzy customer base, move content around, and keep up as a content marketer.” said Cruce.

There’s no magic

When I asked Cruce about his favorite content marketing tech, his first answer was: “There's no magic. None of the tools replace the need for leadership, process management, and engineering. So, my favorite tech: human vision. The people always matter more than the machines.”

This is also why even with all the wealth of knowledge that we can find online today, we still go to marketing conferences. There is no substitute to human interaction. But since we're in tech-driven era, we might as well get busy engineering the change around intelligent content marketing.

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