The Content Marketing Engine

17th April 2014

A digest from the recent Marketing finder Sitecore webinar

We looked at where the gaps might be for companies and how content marketing can bridge that gap. Specifically, we looked at the concept of engagement and how to measure it. Many organisations want to apply content marketing techniques but simply haven not matured enough digitally yet. Their digital offering tends to reflect the structure of the organisation itself, a little like the very early websites of the 90s.

Content marketing and content strategy

‘Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing.’ – Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing is not a new concept – it’s been around for years in many guises like inbound marketing… But what is new is how content is sourced and created to bridge a specific gap between company goals and customer needs. And in that way it is being seen as a powerful tool to engage customers as evidenced by the emergence of roles like Chief Content Officer.

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your portfolio, not something separate. So at its heart, content marketing is a marketing strategy — an approach that uses quality content to deepen relationships with customers. In this context content can be anything from text / images / video / white papers / infographics and metadata. Content strategy, on the other hand, goes deeper into creation, publication, and governance of content that users can act upon. It seeks to manage content as a strategic asset across the organisation. Your content is arguably your most valuable business asset so you need to treat it accordingly. This is about giving your content production and marketing a focus so it drives business value. You don’t create content simply to fill up space. You create content to meet a need. Content has to earn its place!

One use for personas is to enable translation of corporate strategy into actionable content. This means it can be created and written for a specific persona with a purpose and need. Personas have value where they can act as stand-ins for real customers. They bring focus, build empathy, encourage consensus, and create efficiency. On the flipside, use of personas relies on reducing behaviour of individuals to predetermined groupings, so prone to stereotyping – It’s built on basic assumptions about the preferences of a group. This can lead to a personalisation bubble where end users are offered only opportunities that reinforce their existing persona.

With a platform like Sitecore CMS there are opportunities to capitalize on targeted content beyond personas. As an object-based CMS, that enables you to score content, it’s possible to build and mine a long tail of categorization.  When there are high volumes of ongoing content and categories, low scoring information can build in importance if it is surfaced often enough. Unexpected trends can emerge from combining seemingly unrelated content.

This approach can work very elegantly in Sitecore when…

  • There is a good volume of scorable content
  • Content is object-based independent of page
  • You use metrics like ‘value per visit’ to measure engagement
  • You connect strategy with content

Are you ready?

Most businesses we speak to know their markets extremely well and understand their segmentation. But even mature businesses sometimes have to take a step back to optimise for digital.

And customers change too… and that’s why we developed the Content First approach. The content first approach – where content has to earn its place – has numerous benefits such as enabling tablet and mobile websites, marketing automation and personalised content. And when you have created specific content for a specific persona and their concerns, it becomes simple to distil and surface that externally, in online advertising for example.

This process combined with the power of Sitecore CMS and Sitecore DMS can turn engagement from a nebulous term into a real metric that can be measured and used as a yardstick for your digital marketing. And so you can track engagement in hard terms to you can measure the effectiveness of your content strategy.

In the same way, we’ve been on a journey as a digital agency – from technical specialists. We realised that successful digital projects and strategies need to have stakeholders and teams aligned – and the website and its content are where they coalesce.

To find out if your company is ready, take the Sitecore digital maturity model for yourself.