Big Data Is Driving Content Marketing Strategy

Big Data diagram with woman holding the clouds in the skyAccording to a new report by Gartner, one-third of companies will face an information crisis within the next 3 years.

Direct Marketer News reports that big data, social media and the proliferation across customer touch points due to the today’s social-mobile consumer is causing huge headaches for businesses across every industry

And because there is a massive amount of technologies in the marketplace and more coming online every day, there is a total “lack of maturity” within the enterprise on how to manage and govern all this information. They claim that more than 75% of information management projects within organizations are isolated from one another.

3 Steps To Avoid The Information Crisis

Gartner prescribes that in order to gain competitive advantage and turn information into actionable insights that companies need to follow 3 steps:

  1. Identify business outcomes that can be influenced by data
  2. Work with the leaders of the highest impact processes across the business
  3. Create a strategic EIM (Enterprise Information Management) program to achieve the business goals

According to Gartner Vice President, “In a digital economy, information is becoming the competitive asset to drive business advantage, and it’s the critical connection that links the value chain of organizations.”

This puts Marketing in the driver’s seat for helping the business get ahead with strategic customer insights.

CMOs Shift Budget To Content Marketing

My last article made a direct connection between Big Data and Content Marketing. And I’m not alone. Data is a core element to the success of any content marketing effort.

So in another report released last week, Mass relevance reports that Chief Marketing Officers are shifting their budgets to content marketing. Some of the key findings:

  • 95% of CMOs report that content marketing is important to their business
  • 87% say that social media is an effective medium for delivering real-time content
  • 66% of CMOs expect a positive ROI from their content marketing efforts

According to the report, CMOs “are committed to investing in and exploring content marketing this year, and measuring the impact from doing so.”

But I’m not so sure…

Most Marketers Aren’t Ready For Content Marketing

In a couple of posts from some of the top influencers in our industry, many CMOs just aren’t ready for content marketing.

Gilad De Vries, head of strategy at Outbrain talked about this last year. He cited the common practice from the big agency pitching the “big idea” and with the marketing “campaign brain.”

He also talks about the different and isolated objectives of the search, the display, and the social teams separately driving conversion, awareness and amplification.

He likens campaigns to sprints but content marketing is more like a marathon that requires new skills, continuous slow-and-steady performance and a long term approach.

Newscred released this article last week on Digiday titled “You’re Not Ready For Content Marketing.” I was honored to be quoted as encouraging brands to thing and act like publishers creating content that our customers actually want.

The best way to do that?

Aside from the publisher or customer-centric mindset, brands need data and insights to create effective content. This includes social listening, data integration and reporting that defines where customers are consuming content, which content works and what topics are interesting to your customers.

And this is how the looming information crisis leads us right back to content marketing!

Big Data drives both the need and the practice of content marketing.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

15 thoughts on “Big Data Is Driving Content Marketing Strategy

  1. Yes, marketing lacks credibility, and not just with CEOs (have you ever paused as you introduced yourself as a marketer?). Yet some very successful companies are driven by marketing.

    What seems to set these companies apart is investments made in becoming better marketers, both in measurement and in creating marketing opportunities.

    Consider soap operas, decades before marketers becoming media companies was a standard marketing topic. Or the early investments made in media mix modeling in the same category.

    Today, most marketers are not making similar investments to make marketing a better business within the business they support. And with it, they are losing credibility.

    It is a great post, and it makes me sad to say it. Thanks for sharing.

    — @wittlake

    1. Thanks Eric,

      There’s a lot of treading water out there unfortunately. I like your point about investing in becoming better marketers. I shared this study because I agree with the findings as well but believe we can turn it around if we focus on metrics, customer experiences but also to your point in creating the focus around the skill set of being able to relate to CEOs and speak like a business person.


  2. Marketing tends to have even less credibility with Buyers.

    Marketing is a triangle funnel and buyers are a circle. To Eric’s point companies that make investments in becoming better marketers both in measurement and in creating marketing opportunities will win. I work with 1.6 Million business tech buyers every day and the ironic thing is. They will actually HELP the IT vendor sell and market to them. Unfortunately, the IT vendor has to do it on their terms and not the other way around.

    A great post and i have to agree unfortunately.

  3. Another great post, Michael. This is a topic I’ve noticed and been interested in for awhile. An oldie but goodie on the topic (and a bit academic) is Marketing As Strategy: Understanding the CEO’s Agenda for Driving Growth and Innovation by Nirmalya Kumar.

    I think there is an attitude about marketers that is similar to Congress, people dislike them, they have a low approval rating, but how do you get rid of them?? 🙂

    1. Ha. Now if we can figure that out, we would be famous (and maybe rich). But you are right, “Marketing as Strategy” is close to the point I was making about owning the customer and representing their needs to the business – the goal of any enterprise.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi Michael:

    I can’t remember if we met years ago when I was teaching the Integrated Marketing Strategies workshop at SAP (2004 – 2008).

    You’re so incredibly right about the problem, and the opportunity, for marketers to get strategic.

    I’m optimistic that we can solve this problem (albeit gradually) by giving marketers new tools and skills to discover real insights about how their prospective buyers make decisions . . . and then show them how to leverage those insights to make better choices about everything from segmentation to messaging and marketing mix.

    My understanding of the problem has evolved significantly since I was working with the SAP product marketers. I’ve had the chance to see these ideas implemented in other large companies, and developed an entirely new curriculum based on my findings.

    I’ve also published an ebook explaining my proposal — The Buyer Persona Manifesto — available for free on my website. I’d love to hear your feedback.

    1. Hi Adele,

      I don’t think I had the pleasure of taking your course but wish I had.

      Thanks for your support of my argument. It sounds like you have some pretty detailed views on this whole subject based on your incredible experience. I promise to check it out and wlecome all of my readers to do the same.

      Best, Michael

  5. Hi Michael,

    I came over from a link on Twitter. I have one question for you and that is of the companies that were surveyed did the marketers have responsibility for the P & L? The reason for the question is and I can only speak of my past experience as a marketer in the corporate world if you have the responsibility then every decision you make ties back to the financials and you are held accountable. This is common practice in consumer companies and marketing is seen as a business discipline affecting all areas of the business. I actually can’t see how a marketer can set objectives,select strategies and choose tactics if they are not tied to financial objectives.

    If they are only given responsibility for the tactics and that is their only experience then I would imagine it would be difficult unless they were taught the financial side and how it all ties in.

    1. Hi Susan,

      You know it’s a good question that the group who ran the survey should add the next time they run it.

      And a really great point. Having had P&L responsibility as a product marketer at a former company, I can tell you that I think you are abailsutely right. Classic product marketers own the P&L and run their businesses like a CEO so they already know the language, understand how to carry that responsibility and make better decisions as a result.

      Unfortunately, many businesses do not respect marketing at such a high-level and so do not trust marketers to carry P&L responsibility. This can then lead marketing down a path toward essentially tactical order-taking for the business. And this can start a vicious cycle whereby marketers cannot seem to escape the credibility gap this survey references.

      That’s why I think marketing needs to do more than just “speak the language” of the CEO and the business but needs to claim the “high ground” of leadership and ownership of the customer.

      Thanks for adding your valuable thoughts!
      Best, Michael

  6. Isn’t part of the problem that many people confuse marketing with just advertising, pretty pictures and tradeshow giveaways? It’s an internal perception problem. And marketing needs to be the department to change that perception.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said that marketing is all about the customer experience. Marketing is about a conversation with the marketplace. If, as a marketer, you know how your intended audience uses your product, how much it likes (and more importantly, dislikes) your product, and what it wishes were in your product, you know what to say when communicating with them.

    Unfortunately, it’s sales that tends to reap the most public benefits from marketing, and in B2B especially, those benefits are far removed from the first “marketing touch.” That’s why it’s hard to talk in terms of P&L when we spend x thousands of dollars on a corporate branding campaign.

    CEO’s should know this better than most: you cannot discount the value of polish, good communication, and coherent message when talking to the market. It will translate into sales – it’s just not instantaneous.

    1. Well said Rob! I think you are correct that marketing is more about strategy and customer experience as opposed to just advertising. And I am so happy that you did not place the burden of changing that perception with anyone but us. I also believe we need to show some leadership in making this case every chance we get.


  7. The final bullet you reference is interesting.

    67% believe marketers don’t think enough like business people by focusing too much on the “arty” or “fluffy” creative side of marketing.

    It’s ironic, that the job of marketing is to “speak the language of the audience” and it seems the perception is that we fail horribly at this.

    Focusing on the arty side of creative results in frogs that can say budweiser. Sadly as memorable as that might be, it’s not a message that resonates with business owners internally, nor does it really tell customers anything about what you do.

    I think being able to speak P&L and ROI internally and externally having the balls to just tell customers what it is you do, are the hallmarks of what good marketing will look like tomorrow.

    1. Hi Jason,

      I could not agree more. I had never heard of the firm that conducted the survey but I do thnk they did a great job with the questions and with hitting on a really important issue for marketers: figuring out what it is we really should be doing. I see so many media “ego buys” and there are lots of “speaking frogs” out there.

      But it takes balls to tell our internal customers that we’re just not gonna be order-takers any more as well. I see it every day and rare is the leader who can stand up to an internal exec and say “NO. that is not helping to move our business forward.”

      I continue to believe that accountability is going to be harder and harder for marketers to escape!

      Best, Michael

  8. Great thread (thank you all for sharing) and initial post Michael…sorry to have missed the height of the discussion. It’s an area of major interest having worked in different industries and across different functions (sales, services, marketing/strategy.

    One thought: do CEO’s get the marketing they deserve? If the Board doesn’t include marketers and hold them as equals in the business planning and execution (have them lead the strategy development given they should know the market) then how can marketing deliver against full range of capabilities of their profession?
    On the otherhand, if marketers are not acquiring the full range of skills and taking an education/develoment path for strategic marketing (points made about knowledge of the business, finance, P&L, revenue etc) then the marketing community has only itself to blame.

    As was pointed out earlier, many CEO’s have limited appreciation of the true value or impact of strategic marketing something that the marketing community itself has continued to perpetuate. It used to be advertising (probably because it was where the bulk of the (B2C) marketing mix went) that CEO’s linked marketing to. Now it appears that marketers have found a new love: social media! (although it’s not such an awesome line item investment on the books).

    Both Adele and Susan mentioned the word strategy which is an alien term to some of our marketers whereby, in my view, it should be the backbone to our actions and possibly the key to bridging the gap between the CEO and marketing. Is this not the role of the CMO?

    If I may throw out an associated question: will this debate ever be concluded so long as we have businesses driven by sales (deal driven, short term vision) and served by marketing (building loyalty/relationships with customers to maximise revenues)? In some industries this is definitely a “master(sales)-slave(marketing)” relationship. Sir Terry Leahy, outgoing CEO of Tesco (retailer) seemed to have got the formula right but there again he was their CMO before taking up the job in the big chair. Perhaps thats the secret, more CMO’s as CEO’s?

    Welcome your thoughts….

    1. Oh I agree we need more CMOs to ascend as CEOs but then in a typical chicken and egg dilemma, we need more CMOs capable of being CEOs. So round and round we go. I think in the end, we need to focus on marketing as the chief advocates for the customer and marketers as business people and all the skills required to do those 2 separate things.

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