I was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.
In this episode we discuss the goal of content marketing, content platforms, and the most important analytics.
Below are a few highlights from our conversation:
TechnologyAdvice: When should a company start to look at content marketing?
Michael Brenner: It really comes down to any company that’s trying to reach new customers. There are some companies whose niche is tiny and they’re talking to 15 people — they may not really need to reach new people. It’s just that they know the 15 people they need to reach, and they just need to make sure they press the flesh, and get to the right events, and shake people’s hands, and get introductions — those kinds of things.
Every other business, any other business no matter how big or small. I actually love small businesses.I love talking to them about how content marketing, as opposed to advertising, is a way to gain more customers as opposed to spending your way to get there. With advertising it’s about reach and frequency, and you’ve got to pay your way to get there.
With content marketing, I tell people: “If you’re an organization of ten people, you’ve got an amazing amount of collective intelligence inside your company, and you solve someone’s problem. So take those ten people and put them to the task of explaining how you solve someone’s problem.”
That’s content marketing.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, and in many ways I think marketing for small business is at an advantage because they can tap into the customer service rep because he sits right next to you. You can tap into the woman in sales because she’s your colleague, and she’s right across the row.
“Hey, Sally, what are the biggest problems on the minds of the prospects you’re talking to?”
And then tell that story. That’s content marketing, and helping versus selling is really one of the taglines. Small businesses in many ways are in a better position to do that.
TA: What are some of the biggest differences between B2B and B2C?
Brenner: Coming from SAP, a large B2B company, I spent a lot of time talking about this. When we were effective at content marketing as a business trying to reach other business people, we were effective when we were reaching them as people. Some people call that P2P or H2H, human to human, people to people – the bottom line for me is that when you create content that has one person, and helping one person is the sole objective, whether you’re a B2B company or a consumer company, you’re going to be effective.
There’s some great examples on both sides from a business to business or consumer perspective. The only difference – and this is the difference that will always exist – is that there’s more people, there’s a longer time frame, and there’s a lot more riding on a decision in a business to business environment. When you’re spending half a million dollars on a piece of software that runs your whole business and pays your people their paychecks, there’s a lot more riding on that decision than if you buy a pack of gum.
But what’s interesting is – and Google calls it that zero moment of truth – the trigger is often exactly the same. The trigger can be exactly the same kind of thing. It’s an article. It’s a cat picture. It’s an info-graphic. Whatever the case may be, it’s something with self-interest. That trigger in both consumer and B2B environments is the same because we’re people. We’re all the same, right? We all react in the same ways.
That’s why BuzzFeed does a great job. That’s why I think The Onion is doing some really cool things with humor and some of the content that they’re helping create with their studio. There are some obvious differences when it comes to the path that people take from that trigger, but I think the triggers themselves are the same.
TA: Something you mentioned earlier that was interesting to me was analytics and how your platform helps companies determine which content is most effective.
Brenner: As a platform, we help provide answers to the question of what’s working where, and maybe how, or a little bit into why. Content marketing ROI though overall, interestingly enough, is really solved before you even start publishing. I’ll give you a quick example.
When I was at SAP, I was struggling to get budget to build what I thought was important to this content marketing hub that they’d been building. I went to the head of advertising and I said, “Hey, where are you sending people once they’ve seen an ad? You’ve got a URL. What’s behind that decision?” What I found was that there were a couple hundred thousand dollars being spent with an agency on a couple different kinds of landing pages, all of which had 0 percent organic search traffic, no social sharing whatsoever, and a 99.5 percent bounce rate.
The proposal was, “Hey, give me half of that money. Don’t do that for the next campaign. Give me half the money and I’m going to build this corporate hub of helpful content for our customers, and you’re going to see a 20 to 40 percent decrease in the bounce rate, in other words improvement in the bounce rate. And 50 percent of the traffic I’m going to get for you is going to be organic search so you’re not going to have to pay for it. Some of those people are actually going to share the content because we’re going to make sure it’s good.”
Before we even got started, I had 100 percent return on investment. I’d saved the company $100,000 in that decision. ROI, I think people forget. It’s not just like, “Hey, what was my best performing blog this week?” — which we help you answer, and just about any tool out there can help you answer.
The bigger question is, what did you stop doing, and how much did that save the company, number one. Then you get into how was your content performing, and then you get into how well did that convert to some sort of a sale or an action that you can quantify. Those are the three steps for me. And most people just jump right in to, “What was my best article today?” And I’m like, “Stop and think first. What did you stop doing, and how much did that save the company, number one? Then look at content performance, and then look at how well that converts.”
This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.