Editor\u2019s note:\u00a0Technology is essential for content marketing success. But the complexity around tech selection and use often leaves businesses struggling to keep pace with innovation. To bring clarity and understanding, we\u2019re embarking on a series of conversations with thought leaders in this space.
Generating demand for your products and services is what great content marketing is about. But it\u2019s not necessarily easy. Delivering high-quality content that drives action takes a lot of time and a consistent effort. With so much competition around, promising leads can suddenly drop off your radar \u2013\u00a0and out of your purchase funnel \u2013\u00a0at any given moment for a zillion reasons.
Demand generation and audience engagement solutions can streamline the journey from awareness to intent to conversion. Recently, I asked a demand gen thought leader to share his views on applying these tech solutions to key tasks like crafting an inviting content experience, reaching marketing-averse audiences, and keeping the conversation focused and flowing over the long term.
Meet the expert
Mark Bornstein, public speaker, marketing futurist, and vice president of content marketing at webinar platform provider ON24
Background:\u00a0Content marketing strategy, brand strategy, sales management, and content creation
Productivity playlists:\u00a0When writing, Mark prefers down-tempo electronica or \u201czen\u201d stations on Pandora. But when he looks to get energized, he cranks up Black Flag\u2019s Rise Above: \u201cIf that doesn\u2019t get you ready to take on the world,\u201d he says, \u201cyou may not have a pulse.\u201d\u00a0(Check out Mark\u2019s ode to the inspirational power of Henry Rollins on the #CMWorld blog.)
On the need to create multifunctional content channels
I get a ton of questions about building effective on-demand content strategies. The reality is finally sinking in that the way our audiences are taking in content is changing dramatically. We need to get away from giant resource centers of aggregated content and move to a model where we are curating specific content channels for specific audiences at specific stages of their journey.
We need to create programmatic content that can be served up both as a live experience and then as an on-demand experience. It\u2019s time to stop thinking of yourself as a content syndicator and start thinking of yourself as a producer of programs and channels. That is the future of great content marketing.
On the role engagement plays in driving business results
I don\u2019t think that marketers realize just how much audience engagement can drive actions. With webinars, people think of their engagement opportunities as just a little Q&A at the end of a presentation; but today we are seeing companies engaging their webinar audiences in a variety of ways \u2013 including polling, surveys, chat features, social media integrations, and gamification. All of these activities can make audiences more receptive to taking truly valuable actions, like clicking on a CTA to receive a free trial, view a demo, or take advantage of other content offers. You simply have to get your audience engaged and active.
On how to attract skeptical, distracted young consumers
Change the format and tonality of your communication. Younger audiences don\u2019t want stuffy, boring experiences. They\u2019re looking for content formats that are approachable and authentically human, formats that speak their language.
For example, in the world of webinars, we see companies moving towards creating serialized programming that is nothing like the \u201ctalking PowerPoints\u201d that we\u2019re used to. These are fun interview shows, coffee talks, and chat shows, where people act like people. Webinars are starting to feel more like TV talk shows than boring tutorials, and millennials are driving this innovation. They want a better experience \u2013\u00a0and who can blame them? I do, too.
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On creative that takes demand to the next-level
One of our customers did a really cool thing that I found very inspiring. They had an initiative called Flip the Funnel, where they invited new prospects to attend a Coffee Break Demo Webinar (completely counterintuitive as a first touch). Then, based on the company\u2019s industry, they moved them to a three-webinar nurture campaign of content across the buying cycle specific to their industry.
It was a great lesson: The conversation with your prospects can start anywhere in the buying cycle. The key is to engage people where they are and don\u2019t remain too attached to traditional notions of how they might want to engage.
I also love when brands surprise you with awesome content you don\u2019t expect. For example, I recently saw an amazing Retailer Insight\u00a0webinar series from Autotrader in the United Kingdom. They use an established host, guest panels, different segments, and lots of audience interactivity to keep the conversations flowing. The episodes focus on the automotive industry, but it\u2019s so approachable and fun that anyone could enjoy them. It\u2019s truly kick-ass content.
On keeping marketing technology in its rightful place
I am a giant fan of marketing automation, it has allowed us to scale like never before. But in some cases, I think that the technology that was created to get us to our marketing has become our marketing.
Today, we look at metrics like clicks, opens, downloads, and views as critical metrics to analyze prospects. My belief is that it is only through direct engagement that we can truly learn where our best opportunities are. Whether that is engagement through physical events, webinars, chatbots, or other technologies, the only way to truly know your prospects is by engaging with them and analyzing their digital body language.
In my world, when someone attends a webinar, we can place a value on a lead, not just based on their form fill but on what they did in the webinar. How long did they view? Did they respond to polls? Ask questions? Click on CTAs? Those are the metrics that help us convert names into customers.
Continue your tech-enhanced content journey
In our next TechTalk interview, we\u2019ll dive deep into the roles analytics and marketing automation play in content marketing.
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If you\u2019re looking for guidance on selecting, implementing, or applying marketing technology to your content marketing challenges, tweet your questions, tagging @cmicontent using #ContentTECH. We might feature your question (and provide some answers) in a future TechTalk post.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute