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Content Matters – An Exclusive Conversation with Amber Erickson Gabbey

Amber Erickson Gabbey is a content marketer, strategist, and a master storyteller as well, with a knack for providing high-value information specific to the needs of the audience being addressed. Amber is also extremely effective in areas such as project management, campaign development, and strategic thinking.

As the sole editor and writer for Epsilon, she was successful in projecting the Epsilon point of view with amazing clarity with her incredible eye for detail. Her team has been commended for their astounding output volume.

Amber also loves to freelance as a writer and is happy to write on topics related to healthy and happy living. As a freelancer, she has been contributing regularly to Boulder Magazine and Boulder County Home and Garden. She is also an expert in writing web content, blogs, press releases, articles, white papers, technical documents, newsletters, and brochures and has showcased her skills in these areas while being part of the marketing department in a leading organization.

Amber Erickson contributes regularly to the nonprofit journal Wiley & Sons, The Volunteer Management Report, Boulder Magazine, and Boulder County Home & Garden. Amber serves on the boards of several nonprofits.

During her leisure time and to unwind, she teaches yoga, goes hiking, and does weightlifting and other similar activities.

Read on to learn more about Amber Erickson Gabbey.

Interview

What do you do at Epsilon? What does Epsilon do?  How will content marketing help your organization achieve its objectives?

I do content marketing at Epsilon. It has been a slow progression to get to where we are now so a lot of it has been marketing the content not truly content marketing.   Epsilon is a Fortune 500, we are owned by a Fortune 500 called Alliance Data and there are offices all over the world and we focus on verticals and what we call practices.  We have I think 7 practices. We have an email platform that competes with Adobe and other email service provides.  Then we have a loyalty solution, then there is the data side of the business and sometimes that is quick sell and sometimes that is catalog development and sometimes it is really robust consumer data that could also be fed into email or loyalty, so related but not always.  Then there is an automotive practice that works with most of the biggest car manufacturers in the world.  Then there is the agency business.  So each of those practices kind of run as their own business.  So they want content to support that and then there is also the need provide content to support the brand level. So we’re very large and very convoluted on how we figure out what to produce. Brands who have one core product or one core thing that they do they have one key word and then build around it. We have 8 key words.

Not 8 key words, 8 groups of key words.  I would say 8 big pools of key words.

Yes, so trying to figure where to focus attention has been a really big challenge on how we staff the teams that are already working on demand generation or lead generation or product marketing in each of those where content fits in. So it’s still as most companies would say, a total work in progress.  Trying to figure what that solution looks like, trying to figure where we can reduce redundancy and start to be more strategic with what were creating and why; and from there being able to build audiences to deal with it.  It’s trying to figure all of these really large problems kind of as part of one big problem of how do we create content and get it to the people who want it.

How do you manage all of your different roles?

That is a good question.  I feel not very well, because I feel like I don’t have many answers other than tests and experiments.   If I worked at a smaller place I feel I would have a more focused purview.

Content marketing is all about story telling.  How do you tell stories about 8 different channels, 8 completely different streams of products and tell them effectively and efficiently on a consist ant basis?

I get that question a lot.  Now that we are reorganizing and are creating more of a solid content marketing team for the first time, we are going to be able to support much better.  But to your question, that is what it really comes down to.  If we can’t say who we are in one sentence with a couple of big words, it’s really hard to tell that brand story.  That is something we are starting to work with an agency to figure out what brand story we can tell that doesn’t say, we do email, we do loyalty, we do auto.  And we also have a sister company that does something kind of similar and we have to figure out how to integrate their brand as well. 

There has been a lot of discussion on AI. How is AI going to shape up the content creation, content distribution, content monitoring the analytics part of it?  How do you see your organization taking note of these things using them as a tool?  Do you see your organization using them?

For our own internal content process, maybe.  I think that tools and technology and innovations like AI are only as good as the information that you put into them or the process that you already have.  They don’t take the place of having a solid team structure, process, roles and responsibilities. On the flip side as a company, we do AI for clients.  It is built into our email platforms. We have the data to make it be done well and right.

The next big thing that is coming up and catching up is Alexa enabled voice searches. So, are you getting your content to be compliant with those kinds of searches?

I think there is lower hanging fruit we feel like we need to catch up on first. Part of the challenge is that there are all these other ways people are finding information and looking for information.  We are trying to make sure the older ways are taken care of before we can move into the newer. As we are starting to build out our team and move forward and start to be more strategic and hopefully innovative, then those are the types of things that we definitely have to consider.  For now, I have blinders on, I am ignoring those things.

Lastly, what tools are you using on a daily basis for content creation, content distribution, analytics, monitoring, etc.?

Yes, so that is one of the things that we are looking for at the show, to figure out what tools we need as we build the team out.  But we use Workbrunt as a project management tool, it’s what our creative team is using. We are looking for tools to add at at the beginning for the planning and preparation and organization.  So mostly we use content and editorial calendar types of tools at this point. And then for marking automation we use Eliqua for log in website we use HubSpot.

Hubspot is great.  We used HubSpot when were an agency, it is a wonderful tool to have.  We move to Antraboard.  Where do you see this industry?  Everyone is talking about content marketing.  Initially content marketing was kind of an area from the conventional marketing now it has become the main stream marketing.  So how do you see it shaping up and how do you see yourself in content marketing differently from what you are doing now?

The thing that I love about content marketing is that content is the first word but we can’t forget about the second word, marketing.  I came from journalism. I freelanced for a long time, writing magazine articles, and the focus of what I was always doing was creating content that people would want to read.  Working at Epsilon allows me to keep on that lens.  I get to care about the audience first and the marketing comes second and I think it is going to keep shifting towards that.  All of the keynotes here have been examples that are not really marketing, but are emotional and engaging. 

How do you bring that kind of emotional connect, the curiosity factor, the shock factor into your industry which is a very B2B?

That is the challenge.  It doesn’t always work.  There is a lot of content that we create that is one of those things.  Its kind of like the pick three thing, it is emotional or helpful or whatever the third would be and sometimes you have to be ok with one or two of them being satisfied.  And I think in industries that are traditionally less sexy you have to choose what the two are and if you stumble across an idea that covers all three you run with it and do what you can to make that be a showcase kind of thing.  I think having access to really large amounts of data helps us.

Do you actively seek feedback from your audience on whether or not they are consuming your content?

Currently we use a lot of the opens and clicks and downloads to see if there are people consuming, I don’t want to say engaging with because opening doesn’t mean their engaged it just means their email client said they opened it.  I would love to get to a place where I interact with them more and maybe ask them what they are interested in and start building that into the frame work. Especially since we have so many topics, being able to offer them what they want opposed to trying to figure out how to give them one thing that they may or may not like. 

For more on Amber Erickson Gabbey, you can keep up with her on LinkedIn. Let us know in the comments who you’d like to see us interview next!

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