Content’s Growing Pains Look A Lot Like Social Media Marketing’s

by , September 8, 2014, 11:31 AM<

Tracking and analyzing content marketing performance looks a lot like the trials and tribulations marketers went through with earned media in Facebook and Twitter. Performance is tracked based on “eyeballs.” Many executives look for the same impact they gain from lead generation, rather than some of the metrics known today in content marketing. Should the brand build original, licensed third-party content or curate the content? Here are some thoughts on how to build a strategy and track performance.

Known for its enterprise software, SAP began branching out — similar to Adobe, IBM, and Oracle — to support content marketing and audience marketing, trying the media with applications like enterprise resource management and inventory replenishment systems. It’s one reason that Oracle set out to acquire BlueKai. I caught up with Gurdeep Dhillion, global vice president of audience marketing and content Strategy at SAP, to talk about content marketing strategies and best practices.

Content marketing sees similar growing pains to experiments done in social campaigns that built awareness for brands or products, admits Dhillion. How do marketers put a price on investment returns from content? It’s a little easier with content because content remains something that brands will treat as a strategic asset. As brands evolve content strategies, it will become easier through analytics and the ability to follow visitors through a Web site. He said it’s more difficult to determine what people will do after a tweet. Content marketing is easier then social media, he said, because social media is a channel in which content marketing scales.

Set expectations. Building a demand generation engine will not become the key performance indicator for success that SAP provides. The company’s strategy will, however, lead brands down a clear path with specific calls to action that will eventually build a lead generation strategy. Initial return on investment measures rely on unique page views, time on site, form factors, country specific, and how many pages they view, and source traffic to the site.

Build demand for information. SAP’s fairly new content marketing offering began around May 30, 2014, when the company launched the Customer Edge platform and sponsored Web site to provide the company’s view of content marketing. More than 50% of traffic comes from LinkedIn. The company does some paid media on the social site, but mostly people posting content and linking back and readers clicking through. “I want to show how many eyeballs see our message on the Customer Edge,” Dhillion said. “I think our leadership team admits we have an awareness problem, but I can show that a certain number of people have been on the site that would have normally gone to a competitor’s blog.”

Analyics tools will show returns. As analytics tools evolve, SAP will have the means to show specific financial gains for content behind the gated walls. By the end of 2014, marketing will have moved past strategy and into execution, per Dhillion. He believes there’s a lot of planning going on but not a lot of doing. Marketers need to step-up and implement content marketing principals   identify an audience and topic and produce a piece of content that answers questions.

Google — and to some extent, Bing — made it oblivious last decade that advertising would become content that answers questions.

Technology will help consumers find answers to questions in content. Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri, Google Now, and other voice-assistant technology will change content marketing. It becomes amplified by some of these technologies. “If it’s true that a buyer’s journey is complete before they interact with a brand, than it becomes more important for the brand to make sure they have the correct content available in channels consumers most frequent,” Dhillion said.

Wearable devices like Apple’s iWatch and other Samsung, Google and Microsoft products will change content marketing. Dhillion believes short-form snackable, micro content will become more important. Form factors and attention spans are shrinking. Rather than a full infographic, turn one data point or specific piece into a smaller size of content that hammers home one key point that is helpful in a Twitter tweet or embedded in a landing page.

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