Even though 71 percent of organizations are increasing their spend on content marketing this year, few marketers will achieve content enlightenment due to a lack of strategy, content marketing technology and alignment between them. A recent study by Altimeter, The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions, supports this view, while also providing eight marketing use cases mapped to the existing content marketing software landscape.
The findings in the study support the notion that many marketers are jumping on the content bandwagon too quickly – pumping out as much content as possible without a strategic workflow and, not to mention, hastily employing tools that don’t meet their requirements. Only 10 percent of marketers use content tools that integrate into existing processes such as CRM, inbound marketing platforms and business intelligence – according to the study.
Content marketing success requires the right tools. Organizations need to consider use cases and scenarios appropriate to their own needs in order to best identify, deploy and use software that will enable them to stand out as a thought leader and drive leads.
Selecting the Right Content Marketing Tool(s)
The content marketing tools universe is vast – and it’s only a piece of the marketing technology landscape. This makes it incredibly difficult for marketers to understand what’s available and which tools are the right fit for their needs.
And the content software universe is not done expanding. The vendor landscape offers many solutions – creation, curation, management and analytics to name a few. Altimeter reports that the evolution and competition within the space is driving consolidation with content software. Companies are just starting to offer solutions that allow marketers to create, optimize and distribute content using the same tool. This creates more pressure for competitors in the space to meet this demand as well as adding to the tangle of existing offerings for marketers.
Though the content software landscape of today is fragmented and difficult to navigate, based on their findings, Altimeter believes that by 2016 “content stack” offerings will be available. These are end-to-end, all-encompassing content solutions for marketers. It is clear that vendors in the industry are moving in this direction, especially with the recognized need and existing abilities of vendors to create a fluid owned content process for users. But it doesn’t change the fact that content marketers need solutions today.
The fact that a majority of organizations lack a coherent strategy only adds to the disarray. Altimeter found that the pressure of content creation often places blinders on organizations, where marketers are focusing on getting enough content out for individual campaigns instead of looking at content marketing as a larger initiative. Lack of well-planned strategy and organizational integration were also found to lead to ad hoc tools that don’t align with existing marketing operations such as CRM or other inbound platforms.
Our latest research supports this notion. Many marketers are increasing their budgets and content output, yet few are allocating their spend in the right direction. A considerable piece of this budget should be allotted to technology. An ad hoc system of Post-It notes, whiteboards and Word docs isn’t going to cut it in today’s online publishing industry.
8 Content Marketing Use Cases for Tool Selection
Many marketers are spending their content budget before figuring out the most effective way to allocate it, especially when it comes to content software. Altimeter finds, “67% percent of marketers identify audience identification and targeting as a top need — pointing to the trend of content aligning with advertising and other marketing initiatives. Yet only 25 percent are actively investing in this area in 2014. The need to scale up content creation is a tactical distraction from deeper strategic needs.”
Improving quality, not quantity, is what’s going to drive success. As Altimeter also points out in their report, decisions on which content technologies to purchase must be made based on company use cases. What is it that you need? Their use cases are as follows:
Feed the Beast: For organizations who are struggling to publish enough content through created, curated and aggregated content. (Our latest research found that best-in-class content marketers are creating 65 percent of content and curating 25 percent.)
Refine: For organizations who are able to publish enough content, but now must work on optimizing, measuring, targeting and distributing it efficiently.
Govern: For organizations who publish high quality, refined content, but need a hand organizing, streamlining and ensuring compliance/legal approvals.
Understanding your organization’s use cases is crucial to choosing the right content technology. Software choices should be based on your needs. Don’t try and adjust your strategy to fit tools – instead find out what will work for you before you invest.
Take a look at what these tools must integrate with – existing systems, workflows and internal communications. Once you determine what it is you need(creation, curation, targeting, analytics, etc.), then identify and prioritize content vendors that will best suit your needs.
Assessing Individual Vendor Capabilities
Altimeter’s study surveyed over 50 content marketing software vendors on their available solutions and ability to meet marketer’s needs across the use cases of: workflow, curation, creation, distribution, targeting, analytics, optimization and legal & compliance. Below is a description of each use case to better help you identify the content tools that best meet your needs.
Workflow: Tools that support content workflow help provide organization and structure to the content process, through planning to ideation to creation to publishing, distributing and analyzing – all in one location.
Curation: Content curation tools help marketers publish content consistently, saving them time and money, and providing information on a variety of topics from diverse sources.
Creation: Tools that support content creation help marketers publish their posts with the ability to adjust formatting, original content & images.
Distribution: Content distribution tools help marketers publish their content on multiple channels to extend the reach of their content and drive awareness.
Audience & Targeting: Content tools that support audience targeting support marketers’ needs to store information on, publish to and share content with a specific audience.
Analytics: Analytics help marketers evaluate the impact of their content so they are better prepared to continuously adjust their content marketing strategy for improvement.
Optimization: Content tools that support optimization help marketers drive brand awareness and traffic by optimizing their content for search.
Legal & Compliance: Legal and compliance software helps marketers ensure their content meets legal & ethical standards and helps with maintenance of outdated content.
We were honored to be included in this survey – ranking highest in Curation, Optimization and Distribution. Curata’s content marketing platform gives users the ability to find and discover reliable sources, create/curate, organize, publish and analyze content all within the same platform.
Using Curata, marketers can consistently publish their created or curated content to their blogs, social media channels, microsites and newsletters – all with one click. Curated content is a great way to drive engagement; for example, curation helped to drive social referral traffic by 291% in one year for IBM. The ability to annotate with additional insights and create new titles increases SEO as well as recognition as a thought leader.
It’s also important to take content marketing ethics seriously. Curata’s content marketing platform allows for marketers to create new titles, upload new images, add their own insights and automatically link back to the original article. This ensures that the curated piece doesn’t compete with the original post.
Your Content Technology To-Do List
Your organization can start sprucing up your content marketing strategy and technology workflow today. To start, evaluate your current software situation and budget. What are you already using, what is helpful and what can you get rid of?
Determine your use case and where you need the most help. Where is your bottleneck? Maybe it’s distributing content efficiently or maybe it’s getting the proper analytics. Use Altimeter’s Content Marketing Needs Checklist (Figure 7 in report) to help clarify your needs and priorities.
Some additional considerations when choosing content software include how quickly and efficiently you can hire and train your staff, if it’s going to overlap any existing tools or processes, if the vendor is going to continuously improve their software (like the “content stack” solutions mentioned previously) and how much marketing IT support is either provided by the vendor or available in house.
The faster your staff can be trained on software, the faster you’re going to see results. If the training process is too extensive to meet your deadlines, see if there are other software options that might be able to produce results quicker. If tools you’re considering overlap with existing software or have little potential to evolve within the market, perform a cost-benefit analysis before you spend your budget. Take into consideration how your needs will change and how long your contract is for. When starting with unfamiliar tools, make sure you’re prepared with enough IT support from the vendor if your company lacks an IT department or in-house expert.
There’s a lot to sort through and consider when choosing the right content marketing tools. It’s crucial to understand your needs before spending and implementing tools that may not work for your organization. Take the necessary steps of evaluating your current strategy & budget, and pinpointing your needs before diving in too fast.
Want more information on how to create an enlightened content marketing strategy by aligning strategy and technology? Download our latest eBook, The 4 Steps to Content Marketing Enlightenment.