In the Game of Corporate Thrones, Content Marketing Should be the Next Silo Slayer

This article was originally published in MarTech Advisor.

Adam Weinroth, CMO of OneSpot looks at the growth of content marketing as a corporate imperative, and how it can, in uniting various disciplines, break down corporate silos.

“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it, fail, and never get to try again — the fall breaks them.”
– Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish, Game of Thrones

Some leaders encourage conflict.  Why?  The thinking is it can foster innovation, weed out the wheat from the chaff and make a workplace more dynamic. Maybe. For brands focused on the omnichannel consumer experience, a battle of metrics and goals misalignment has been brewing between CMOs and CTOs—some 63 percent see this as a root cause of conflict, according to a LeapFrog Marketing Institute study. And yet, with the proliferation and convergence of digital channels that consumers access for information, news, entertainment, community, and purchasing products, it has never been more important for brands to build collaborative relationships with their customers to ensure it’s their brand that’s being pursued.  To do this, warriors on all sides of the corporate kingdom need to be on the same side.

Why Content Marketing Could (Peacefully) Rule

Content marketing may be the hero to forge a truce in the corporate castle. Content marketing has emerged as an increasingly significant corporate initiative.  In the age of ad blocking, it enables brands to develop meaningful, lasting connections with consumers – ones that foster loyalty, high levels of engagement and lead to sales. As this shift to customer-centric strategies continues to gain ground, IDC projects that by 2017 CMOs will spend more on content marketing assets than they do on those related to product marketing. Content marketing melds creativity, social media, technology, analytics, direct marketing, experiential activities, demand generation and sales, and it is a vehicle through which every one of these areas can shine. Brands that place customers at the heart of all they do are centralizing content marketing, integrating it across disciplines and breaking down organizational silos to deliver on a strategy that holistically solidifies deeper audience relationships.

Put Down Your Swords or Die

As the role of the brand changes, so must the roles within the brand. And nothing fosters change like necessity. With ads being replaced by contextual search and experiences, brands recognize that technology expertise is mission-critical to extracting insights into the effectiveness of their brand communications from the underlying data. Previously viewed as an add-on or campaign-based initiative, content marketing is now rightfully expected to generate essential business outcomes such as brand lift, site traffic, repeat site visits, online purchases and even retail sales. And it can’t do this without an important comrade—technology.

The rise of branded editorial content also means companies are not only becoming content publishers and producers, but they’re also competing with true media companies for consumers’ attention. Writers, graphic designers and artists are feeding the content engines of brands and powering more than websites. And with the pervasiveness of social media, it is no longer the stepchild of the castle and merely relegated to social media specialists. The expectation for any viable brand is to have an active social media presence, and here’s where content marketing once again spurs inclusiveness. Social media channels by their very nature are opt-in forums where authentic and transparent branded content is a currency that invites engagement among brands, communities, and individual consumers based on their interests. The most successful companies are also connecting social with experiential events that live both on and offline—initiatives fueled by content.

There is still work to be done if the fortresses between departments are to truly disappear. Content teams need to collaborate with social teams to get input on what audiences want in the moment—today!  Since social teams have their finger on the pulse of what is “hot” (and what is not), new content ideas from them can help the content team to fulfill the actual needs of the audience. Conversely, social teams can tap content teams for engaging social content.

Direct marketing now conducted widely via email and accessed on mobile devices also benefits from the personalized approach of content marketing. Recent Aberdeen studies show email messages customized to individual curiosities and pursuits improve click-through rates by an average of 14 percent and conversions by 10 percent. Since consumers now constantly toggle back and forth from mobile devices to multiple other channels, this logically fuses once disparate corporate departments in organic ways. Leveraging technology, companies can connect interactions to individual consumers across all devices and channels to achieve a higher level of personalization that ties to business results.

The Battle Ahead

Though the battle lines are far from disappearing within organizations, a chief marketing technologist role is emerging in some organizations concurrent with the growth of content marketing. However, there’s still a need for buy-in from critical domain experts across an organization. Though IDC projects that by next year, 60 percent of CMOs will lag in implementing recommended benchmarks for marketing technology staff investment, increasing the rift between the CMO and CIO, content marketing should propel the collaboration necessary to ultimately defuse cross-company friction and usher in a new era of cross-company alliances. Working together through content marketing, these groups can slay the real dragon—the competition.

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