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Econsultancy’s recent Digital Transformation in the Financial Services Sector report found that “customer experience” was a recurring priority for senior executives from firms such as BlackRock and JP Morgan Asset Management.
Personalised and relevant content was seen to be key for delivering against this priority.
Over the past five years, marketing automation has ballooned into a billion pound industry.
Many businesses of all shapes and sizes have been drawn in by the potential upside of lead nurturing, lead scoring and triggered responses to critical prospect activities.
Marketing automation has promised the ability to bring efficiency and scale to marketing programs in a way that has, up until now, been impossible.
As marketers, our actions have always been integral to not just driving business but capturing customer and prospect insight.
This is particularly the case in B2B, where everything from simple lead capture forms to more sophisticated marketing automation platforms have been a boon for enabling our colleagues in sales to understand the contexts of each lead that comes their way.
Yet despite all the advances in lead acquisition, nurturing and management, there is trouble in the camp.
Unused content in B2B digital marketing will soon be a $50bn problem for the industry and for CMOs keen to prove ROI.
Last week I found myself in Cleveland for Content Marketing World 2014, a huge event with 2,500 attendees and around 50 sponsors.
Joe Pulizzi and his team have grown this conference year on year, riding (and contributing to) the ever-growing content marketing wave.
Kevin Spacey gave the final keynote, capping a fascinating few days with what was a pretty interesting discussion of media disruption and associated Q&A.
Anyone involved in digital marketing will be acutely aware of native advertising’s meteoric ascendance over the past year or so.
According to Hexagram’s 2013 research, 62% of publishers are currently offering native advertising opportunities, followed by 41% of brands and 34% of agencies.
Furthermore, 66% of brands say they create their own content for native ads and the most popular forms of native advertising are blog posts, accounting for 65%, with articles at 63% and Facebook at 56%.
Native advertising presents a hugely exciting opportunity for brands to access new (and qualified) audiences that - through continual exposure to brand content - are increasingly likely to ‘convert’.
Furthermore, it is hoped native advertising will become digital advertising’s great saviour - particularly as the efficacy of online banner ads occupying similar spaces continues to diminish.
That said as the collective euphoria around native advertising grows, so too will the demands from brand CMOs that it be measurable, sustainable and profitable.
To that effect, all of us involved in the content marketing/native advertising space (whether you’re a technology-provider, as well, or a publisher or a content creator), would do well to start tackling these uncomfortable truths about our industry head-on:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be hard-pressed to have avoided the promotional carpet-bombing that surrounded the release of Anchorman 2 last month.
In the four months that preceded the Anchorman sequel’s December release, Ron Burgundy and his ridiculous Channel 4 News Team friends were everywhere.
Ron Burgundy appeared on various local news stations, opined on the Australian elections and sold cars in a cross-promotional campaign that lead to a 40% increase in Dodge sales.
Not only that but Ron ‘released’ an autobiography, exhorted viewers to contribute filmed auditions for his news team and even had his own mobile app.
With content marketing being so hot right now – you’d think that we’d know everything there is about how to do it properly.
Turns out Anchorman 2 still has some things to teach us...
As we draw closer to the end of 2013, not a day goes by without someone committing a feverish 'future of content marketing' post into the marketing blogosphere.
According to these digital soothsayers, next year we are destined (doomed?) to see more native advertising, more video content, more renewed commitment to ‘story first’ strategies, and so forth.
These are all strategies and techniques you could have read about in 2012, 2011 and 2010. The truth is content marketing has been around for over a hundred years, but there are many who would be happy for it to remain in its predictable, boring and samey infancy.
To be quite blunt, content marketing in 2014 needs to grow up.
Here’s how I’d like see content marketing mature over the next year...
A lot has been said about the purchase funnel.
In fact so much has been said about it that many feel it has been exhausted to death. In its wake, a smorgasbord of geometric configurations have been posited: cylinder, concentric circles, orbits, spindles, dodecahedrons (ok, I added that one).
Type 'purchase process' into Google Images and scroll away: everything from crazy path diagrams, the old funnel, cartoons and one that suggests it’s now a pretzel! Personally, I prefer the poetic variety such as the 'consumer journey'.
It suggests a Tolkien-esque epic requiring consumers to circumvent mythical creatures and fiery environs. Which is a typical experience for any of you that have hazarded Bluewater on a Saturday!
But whether it’s a funnel, a journey or a cycle the one thing that is generally the same is that it has a recognized objective beginning and end. That is to say, one of the chief goals of any marketer is to create awareness of their product or service and ultimately keep people interested enough to drive them to purchase.
Who doesn’t enjoy that feeling of walking into a shop and being recognized, welcomed and treated as an individual?
We appreciate the familiarity when the sommelier remembers our favourite grape or a regular supplier unexpectedly sends a little extra on our birthday.
We all relish the personal touch, and this is no less the case when it comes to the marketing we are subjected to online.
"Targeted marketing" is often anything but and, worse still, reveals the way we view and think about our customers, as dehumanised objects within a segmentation bucket waiting to be hit with a marketing message.
I know it’s just semantics, but terminology is a real giveaway to underlying perspectives and intentions.
One that really grates with me is “targeting customers”. We are in a pull not push world, where customers are empowered, connected, and knowledgable, yet old-world marketers continue to target.
As marketers, we are becoming increasingly data-focused. It is likely that the next generation of CMOs will not just be creatives, but also data scientists standing in the control room of their organisation, with dashboards of live data flowing in from sales, marketing, and customer service activity.
This goes beyond transaction and conversion data, to include details of interactions with brand-authored content, as well as user-generated content and sharing of content on social networks.
So how can content analytics allow you to build detailed customer profiles, analyse customer feedback for trends, and personalise content and product propositions?