The One Thing You Need to Choose the Right Content Technology
“Really? Start with strategy, not technology.”
That was the epiphany from an attendee I overheard during a conference on CRM technology a few years ago. With a heavy sigh of relief, he added, “That makes so much sense.”
Not much has changed. Flashy new technologies catch our eye — as they should — but sometimes they become the proverbial cart pulling the horse. This situation applies to all types of technologies, including those that help to create, host, and distribute branded content, as well as those that help to measure its impact.
So, although the easy answer to “What’s the one thing you need to choose the right content technology?” is “Strategy,” you’re not getting off that easy. Along with that branded content strategy, you need to be clear on the goal it supports, establish the objectives and metrics you’ll use to plan for and measure success, and set the tactics to carry it out. And be just as firm about what you shouldn’t be doing. Of course, you’ll also have to set a realistic budget.
Only then will you know what tools will best support your plan.
But it doesn’t end there. You should conduct a technology audit to determine whether you need new tools or can use existing technologies. For example, if you use marketing automation, does it include functionality for tracking engagement with content you’re using for inbound marketing?
And, then, before you should commit to purchasing a new technology to support your branded content strategy, you’ll need to determine whether your staff has the time and skill to use it. If they lack the latter, will the level of training needed to use the new tools be worth the investment?
You also want to ensure that the technology will be able to support potential changes as your strategy evolves.
What’s the Point?
Sure, content marketing is hot, hot, hotter than ever before. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 76 percent of B-to-C companies and 88 percent of B-to-B companies use content marketing. But only 38 percent of B-to-C and 30 percent of B-to-B executives polled consider their organizations to be effective at content marketing. Even so, about half plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2017. Certainly, some of that budget will be earmarked for supporting technologies.
Ensuring that your technology investments pay off starts with purchasing the right tools from the outset. So, it bears repeating: Don’t rush into a technology purchase unless you have a strategy in place that it’s intended to support. As the adage goes: Start with the end in mind.
Here’s an outline to guide your planning:
Goal: Why use branded content?
Perhaps it’s to position your staff as thought leaders in the market, to keep customers engaged between purchases, to educate them so they think of you as a trusted resource. Any or all these goals are likely tied to “selling more stuff,” which is where the metrics will come in.
Cite what you aim to achieve:
Strategy: What is your master plan for achieving that goal?
Your strategy might be, “Use a humorous and highly visual approach to engaging customers across channels” to support a goal of expanding your reach by using shareable content that also communicates your brand image. This might translate into using videos and memes on your website, social channels, and in email.
Cite your master plan:
Objectives: What steps will you take to reach your goal?
Here’s where you need to get specific. You may decide to use branded content to move prospects into and through the funnel. There should be an objective for each phase of that journey that all tie together.
Ginger Conlon is Group Special Events Advisor for the Target Marketing Group, as well as chief content strategist at CustomerAlchemy.net. She has covered marketing, sales, and customer service strategies and technologies for more than 25 years. She has served as chief editor of Direct Marketing News, 1to1, and CRM magazines. Ginger was honored with a Silver Apple lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the marketing industry, and was cited as a “Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter” and a “Top 25 CRM Influencers You Should Be Following.”