16 Ways To Turn Content Marketing Into Business Value

Ryan Skinner

According to Digiday, current affairs website Slate demands minimum $100,000 from brands to build an “advertising content program”. Forbes asks for $50,000 a month to give brands a platform for publishing content on their site. And many companies are spending as much or more on their own content sites.

Given the mighty spend, the silence around the economics of content is deafening. There’s the high-level question of content marketing ROI­–a topic larger than any blog post. But, at a more basic level, how many marketers plan how and where their content drives business value?

Call this the content impact model:

If marketers create and distribute content to generate value, there are two simultaneous and non-exclusive paths by which value is created:

1.    Intrinsic: Consumption of the content itself brings value to the brand, by making the reader/viewer aware of the brand, its expertise or products.
2.    Extrinsic: All of the value that can be extracted by a reader/viewer arriving at or opening the content (but not the content itself).

This post looks specifically at extrinsic value. This value is created or released by mechanisms that I’ll call catalysts of content marketing value.

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Let's talk content marketing

Ryan Skinner

"What's at the heart of content marketing?"
"Why does content marketing make sense for me?"
"How do I do it well?"

Chances are, you're asking yourself one or, indeed, all of the above questions. And that is why I have decided to join Forrester's Marketing Leadership research team as a senior analyst.

I've been working with content marketing since 1998, well before it was called content marketing, and most recently at an agency that specialized in it, Velocity Partners. Before that, I helped major Scandinavian brands like Kongsberg and ABB understand how to weave content marketing in their marketing strategy and mix.

Every time I discuss content marketing with practitioners, two observations regularly surface:

1. It's very powerful. The idea of doing marketing that customers want, that they even seek out, is enticing. It can create a virtuous cycle that makes everything else (social media, email marketing, events and campaigns) much more effective. Red Bull is the consumer brand poster boy for this, but companies as diverse as GE, Hubspot, American Express, Ford and IBM are also doing it well.

2. It's very difficult. Most brands have very little experience making content that customers want and seek out. Producing great content-driven experiences, repeatedly, over time and with a limited budget, that deliver visible value for customers and prospects, and that drive business outcomes for the brand, is hard. It's particularly hard for marketers accustomed to a product-benefit or brand benefit frame of thinking, and the big bang ad campaigns that go with it.

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Which Comes First: Content Marketing Or Thought Leadership?

Laura Ramos

Once upon a time, there was a little marketer with a big problem. Her sales executives said, "We need more leads." So she bought a big new shiny marketing automation engine . . . .

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but I'm sure we all know the end of the story. The marketing engine didn't live up to expectations because data and content didn't come in the box.

More than ever, marketers view content as the fuel needed to run a powerful revenue generation machine. But the debate over the quality of the content created seems to have reached a fevered pitch. Look no further than posts from SAP's Michael Brenner, Marketo's Jon Miller, UK-based Velocity (the slide show here is a riot!), Dr. Liz Alexander, and SHIFT Communication's Christopher Penn to see the backlash against bad content marketing practices grow.

Why now?  I see four key trends converging on business-to-business marketers that drive interest in, and failure with, content marketing:

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