Earlier this year, Colleen Jones presented at Content Marketing World in Sydney. In her speech, Jones delved into how to scale your content marketing success. Jones’ Three Es of Content Scaling (Engineering, Evaluation, and Empowerment) will help you combine the right tools, teams, and techniques for scaling success. Today, we bring you a round up of Jones’ speech, but first, a Q&A with Jones herself.
Q&A with Colleen Jones
Author of Clout and Does Your Content Work?, Colleen Jones is the Principal of Content Science, and the Co-Founder of ContentWRX. A veteran of the interactive industry, Jones has led strategic initiatives for Fortune 50 companies, government agencies, boutique brands, and savvy start-ups.
1. How has the value of content changed over the last 10 years?
When it comes to the value of content to marketing, content has changed from being a nice-to-have, such as leaving a potential customer with a brochure, to being an essential. In just about every industry, most customers start their journey by researching their need and possible products or solutions online. Content does much of the sales or sales lead generation work today.
Beyond sales, content can help boost your reputation, overall customer satisfaction, and reduce support or service costs. I think that’s the next great opportunity for content marketers to tackle.
2. What is the most important factor for content marketing success?
It’s hard to pick one because there are SO many factors. That’s what keeps content fascinating. But you can’t go wrong if you give your customers genuinely useful and relevant content. Yes, you can work in some unique brand messaging. Yes, you can do cool, creative, fascinating stuff with content and design. But, at the end of the day, if your content isn’t helping your customers, it won’t have lasting impact on your goals. Imagine your customers approaching all of your content with this question, “What’s in it for me?” If your content answers that question well, it will work for your customers and achieve your goals.
3. What do you think are some of the most effective uses of content marketing? What is it that makes these examples effective?
I love American Express Open Forum for small businesses. American Express started doing content marketing early and well, and Open Forum now rivals other business media properties in terms of reach.
Dell’s Tech Page One offers a handy digest of useful articles, videos, and other content for tech enthusiasts. I also like GE’s visual and video content across Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media platforms. GE taps into the delightful emotion of wonder with content that is both beautiful and educational.
Caterpillar is doing fascinating international content marketing. For their market in Africa, they’re offering content in Chinese. Surprising, eh? Alan Porter shared some brilliant insights about approaching global markets in our recent blog interview: http://content-science.com/expertise/content-insights/international-content-strategy/
Colleen Jones’ Three Es of Content Scaling
Devising the best approach to content marketing is a problem keeping many a marketing manager awake at night. Off the back of successful content marketing campaigns, many marketing managers are now on the hunt for ways to expand and extend content marketing programs. They are searching for ways to implement content marketing programs across more products, more regions, more brands. With limited and time and resources, this can almost seem like an impossibility.
Unless, of course, you execute content scaling.
Like any fruitful marketing activity, content scaling begins with a vision and a strategy. Not confusion and chaos and panic. According to Jones, “If you don’t plan your approach to scaling your content efforts carefully, you risk wasting time and resources, losing sales, and losing competitive advantage.” No one wants that.
To help avoid these risks, there is what Jones refers to as the Three Es of Scaling: Engineering, Evaluation, and Empowerment.
Engineering is all about technology. You need to invest in the right technology, technology that will support the implementation of your content strategy. “A content strategy that you cannot implement is just a nice idea,” says Jones.
According to Jones, you need to determine which technology is capable of delivering the right content, at the right time, to the right people, on the right device. That technology must be appropriate for your brand, your audience, and your product or services.
The sheer volume and variety of technologies that is now available to content marketers is enormous. There are content management systems, social media, blogging platforms, direct mail, podcasting, corporate websites, webinars, direct mail, display advertising, print publications, and more. And the number of vendors and software platforms within each of these technology categories is almost infinite. There are new vendors springing up every day.
The main thing to remember is: pick the combination of technologies and vendors that best meets your needs, and that best integrates with one another, and with any of your existing technology.
Jones suggests that there are four main factors to consider when picking your combination of technologies:
- Presentation: if you use a particular technology, how will your content look? Is the end product how you want to present your brand to existing and potential customers?
- Authoring: does the technology improve or enable the authoring and editing process? Does it streamline workflows? Is usability likely to be an issue for you, for your staff, or for other stakeholders?
- Governance: does the technology embed the right templates and controls? While technology should promote a consistent approach, it should also give you the flexibility to adapt your content to different markets, and for different customers and programs.
Another key consideration when it comes to selecting content marketing technology is its ability to automate the personalization of content. “Personalization is all about delivering extremely relevant, targeted content to customers,” says Jones. Amazon is extremely effective at personalization, up-selling books, music and movies based on customers’ previous purchase history.
However, personalization can backfire if it is not thought through. If, for instance, I purchase The Encyclopaedia of Fly Fishing from Amazon, it does not necessarily mean that I wish to be greeted by cod and trout every time I log into my account. The purchase could simply have been a one-off Father’s Day gift. In this instance, personalization has assumed too much.
Evaluation of marketing programs in general can be difficult and time consuming. So, it comes as no surprise that evaluation of content marketing is equally as challenging.
“Evaluation is the constant ongoing assessment of whether your content works,” says Jones. “If you don’t have a solid understanding of whether your content is effective and why, you miss out on opportunities to refine your strategy. You also miss out on opportunities to apply lessons learned from one set of content or one type of content effort to another type of content effort. Basically you risk making uninformed decisions about your content.”
Content marketing evaluation tools can be extremely helpful in this regard. They can streamline the data mining process, and reduce expenditure of both time and money. Jones’ company, Content Science, has launched a comprehensive content marketing evaluation tool: ContentWRX. This tool provides a reliable, useful way to evaluate the effectiveness of your content.
The most important aspect of evaluation is ensuring that you ask the right questions. And, as Jones puts it, the right questions are those that align with your overarching goals and objectives. The two must always be linked. For example, if your objective was to reach a particular demographic, then your evaluation should include questions such as: Did we reach that demographic? Did that demographic share our content? Did our content change the way they view us? Evaluation questions should not be limited to Did our content increase sales? (unless, of course, this was one of your objectives to begin with).
Empowerment is about “enabling your team to make effective decisions that align with your content strategy,” says Jones.
According to Jones, the companies that are most successful at content marketing are those that have a conversant, empowered, content culture. A range of employees, from a range of departments, is involved in the creation of content. Employees are able to confidently speak about the content marketing program, and to each other, using the same vocabulary. Evaluation and the sharing of results is commonplace. Collaboration is vital to successful content marketing.
- Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content (Voices That Matter)
- Does Your Content Work?: Why Evaluate Your Content and How to Start
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