Business communicators these days are in a wild-eyed frenzy to master the seemingly new concept of content marketing. Some are dizzy with confusion over what it is. Others hope it’s a magical antidote to a long-suffering marketing program.
But content marketing isn’t new, and it can’t single-handedly save a business from a faulty product, poor financial management or other fatal business problem. Rather, when companies pay attention to their customers and focus on meeting their needs, the most valuable aspects of what’s known as content marketing just come naturally.
The hard part, especially for many global enterprise businesses, is aligning different teams across multiple geographies on a customer-focused strategic approach. That’s why today’s most successful marketing leaders, including Christy Uher Ferguson, Director of Applications Communication Strategy at Teradata, are working so hard to connect the dots among internal teams and deliver more cohesive and meaningful messages to target audiences at specific points in their buying journey.
She’s referring to an often-overlooked strategy for content marketing which centers on purposefully interacting with customers in relevant ways at pivotal stages of the sales funnel. After recently consolidating the various content-development teams under a single umbrella, Teradata is putting this concept into action.
“When we looked at how we were managing our content creation across the organization, we found that a number of different marketing teams were creating content, and oftentimes overlapping or, worse yet, confusing the market with our messaging,” Ferguson explains. “So we eliminated these internal silos and developed a unified global content marketing team that now offers thought leadership content at the awareness level as well as solutions and product content for prospects later in the sales cycle.”
The idea is to provide an appropriate type and level of information for the audience when they need it. Achieving this strategy depends on lock-step content that keeps pace with prospects through the sales funnel as well as stage-appropriate KPIs. For example:
Teradata began this initiative by revamping its website to ensure that users seeking insight about its offerings find up-to-date information that’s delivered in everyday language—instead of complex industry jargon. Increased website traffic was a primary KPI for improving the website architecture and updating the on-page content.
The company developed thought-leadership content, including “Be a Big Data Marketing Hero,” to help marketing executives better understand big data marketing and make it easier for them to train their teams to implement data-sharing processes and collaborative work habits. This initiative was intended to generate a higher volume of qualified traffic to the domain and also motivate marketing leaders to download the content in exchange for their contact information to support lead-generation goals.
The company consolidated its resources by topic for specific audience groups and developed toolkits for quick reference. Toolkits, case studies and other types of consideration-stage content are designed to aid in the buyer’s decision-making process when they’re preparing to purchase one of the several alternatives. KPI’s for this stage center on volume of downloads and requests for more information from a company representative.
To close sales, the company’s front-line representatives interact with prospects and reference solution-specific resources to develop packages based on their specific needs and circumstances. This function requires compelling content to be available for the field team. Ensuring that this bottom-of-the-funnel content is aligned with other brand messages that got the prospect to this point can be powerfully reassuring.
With all of the marketers in the company working together, Ferguson and other company leaders can streamline resources and evaluate the impact of content based on what it was designed to achieve. They’re finding that a unified content team makes it much easier to serve the range of internal stakeholders as well as relate with external audiences.
“We are a data-driven business,” Ferguson emphasizes, “and we’re paying close attention to how we communicate with the market—how information gets to the market and how we manage it internally. A unified global content team allows us to work closely with the demand-gen team, our product marketing and field teams, PR, social and other internal teams to make sure that the right content is getting into the market at the right time and on the right channels. You know, it’s not about being on every channel; it’s about strategically getting your content out on the channels where your audience spends their time. So we’re testing constantly through our internal teams to know how content is performing, and we make changes as needed.”