“Content marketing” was the hot word during OpenWorld last month. We wanted to dive into this topic during the month of November, so we reached out to our own content marketing expert in the Oracle family: Steve Olenski, Senior Content Strategist with Oracle Marketing Cloud, Forbes contributor and well-respected industry influencer. In the first part of this series, Steve breaks it down for Maggie Schneider Huston, Senior Content Manager with Oracle Social Cloud.
Maggie Schneider Huston: Let’s start with the basics. What is “content marketing?”
Steve Olenski: Like so many other phrases and words in the world, there are no shortage of definitions for ‘what is content marketing?’ I love how my friend Michael Brenner defines it. Imagine two overlapping circles which create three distinct areas. On one side is What Brands Publish. On the other side is What Consumers Want. And in the middle is Content Marketing.
I happen to believe content marketing was around long before it was called content marketing. What I mean by that is marketers have a tendency to do two basic things:
1. Overcomplicate things.
2. Slap a fancy name or label on something.
Think about it. Marketers are notorious for acronyms or labels that then become in vogue and then it’s a dog pile onto the bandwagon du jour, if you will. The fact is marketers AND advertisers have always generated content. Of course they have. What do you think TV and radio ads were and are? They are content, of course. The difference now is A) there’s a fancy name for it and B) the consumer/person on the other end of the line is in charge. The latter is unquestionably the single biggest difference between then and now. Give the people what they want, right? Well, isn’t that what this is all about, when you get right to the heart of the matter? And now with the technology available today, there is no reason not to give them what they want AND when and where they want it, too.
MSH: How is content marketing different than traditional marketing techniques?
SO: I touched on the main difference in my previous answer, but to expand on that a little. I saw this explanation once regarding the difference between traditional marketing and content marketing and have never forgotten it. Traditional marketing talks at people, Content Marketing talks with them. So when it comes to the technique differences it is just that: Involving people in the process; including them in the conversation; asking them for their input, and then put it in practical application, where appropriate.
Not long ago I penned a piece for Forbes entitled A Sports Brand Goes Back To The Beginning. The piece was about my hometown Philadelphia 76’ers basketball team and the recent changes they made to everything from their court to their uniforms and many, many other places. In speaking with CMO Tim McDermott for the article, he told me flat out: "I have always felt that if brands are just willing to listen to their customers, their customers will tell them the answers.”
MSH: Do I really need this?
SO: In a word: Yes. Forrester recently conducted a survey of marketers on their use of content marketing and the benefits therein and their results showed 75% of marketers said they saw an increase in their bottom lines as a result of content marketing. The benefits included increased loyalty and a decrease in marketing and media costs. Moreover, nearly 60% of respondents said they saw positive top line results via increased revenue and sales. There are numerous studies out there touting the benefits of content marketing.
That was merely one. But at the end of the day marketers need be “doing content marketing” — and doing it correctly of course — for the simple reason that their competition is more than likely already doing it. Here’s a link to a great article that just ran on Marketing Land entitled How A Content Marketing Strategy Drives Your Bottom Line. One of the last lines of the piece says it all. "In order for you to maximize the bottom-line benefits of an on- and off-site content strategy, your content needs to provide a value-added link between your customers’ needs and your business goals."
MSH: Can you give me a few examples of companies who are implementing content marketing well?
SO: I would be remiss if I did not first mention the incredible work being done by the Oracle Marketing Cloud content marketing team. I am extremely fortunate to work with the likes of Chris Moody, Jeff Cohen, Lauren Harper and Cami Winding — who at the end of the day “get it” when it comes to content marketing. As for other brands who “get it” when it comes to content marketing, this past August I wrote a piece for Forbes highlighting three: HP, Honest Tea and the World Wildlife Fund. Each of these brands are doing fantastic things in content marketing. More recently, NewsCred released a list of the The Top 32 Most Influential Content Marketing Brands. The list included Red Bull and Coke, two brands who appear on many such lists for they have been “killing it in content” for some time now. Every brand that does it right when it comes to content all share similar traits. Be it humor to storytelling to problem-solving - all of these brands do one or all and do them exceptionally well. Oh yeah, one last, teeny, tiny minor thing: They ALL do not try and sell something via every single, solitary piece of content they produce. I refer to it as the N.A.S. Doctrine - Not Always Selling. You can read all about it right here.
MSH: OK, this sounds great, but really complicated. How do I get started?
SO: The first thing you need to do is identify are your goals. What do you hope to gain from content marketing? Is it adding names to your email list? Is it raising the level of awareness of your brand? Is it retention? Conversion? Nurturing? And yes, it can absolutely be the proverbial “all of the above.” Next is the classic Marketing 101: Who is your target customer? Who is your audience? Then there are the KPIs or metrics; what you will want to track specifically when it comes to your content marketing strategy. The folks at Curata produced a great piece of content, an infographic which highlights the 29 Content Marketing Essential Metrics. It is important to keep in mind that not all metrics are for every piece of content and there are different metrics for what you’re trying to measure in the first place. For example, there are “consumption” metrics, which track if people are actually seeing and reading your content, such as page views and unique visitors. Or “sharing” metrics, where you track how much your content is shared via social media for example.
To keep up with Steve, follow him on Twitter.