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Yesterday at the Brand Innovators Content Marketing #bisummit, we got to hear leading brand marketers from Visa, The North Face, Eventbrite, Bank of America, and GE Digital discuss how a strong content marketing strategy can drive an iconic brand strategy. This panel was led by Origami Logic CMO, Steven Wastie, and the contributors included:

Two key facts that were used to frame the discussion were findings from the Content Marketing Institute and IAB about B2C content:

Everyone’s doing content marketing – last year, 76% of B2C marketers say that they use content marketing to drive profitable customer action

Investment continue to grow – 32% of their total budget, on average, vs. 25% last year & Mobile spend grew 66%

But there’s an execution gap – companies are struggling to build strategies and processes to support the growth:

  • Only 38% of B2C marketers said they are effective in accomplishing their overall goals and objectives using content marketing
  • Only 37% of organizations have a documented content marketing strategy and may be struggling with setting shared goals and collaboration

So with that in mind, the topic of the day focused on Content/Brand relationship…

TL;DR – The 4 key takeaways for building a content marketing strategy for your brand are:

  • Address your customers’ biggest pain points to gain credibility and genuine interest

  • Create content that resonates on a specific platform — not all platforms are equal

    Reach your audience where they are already engaging, don’t assume they will come to you

  • Measurement is key — have the right tools to know what assets are driving sales

The Panel
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Steven:
Let’s start with a question for Amy. Bank of America is an enormously complex business with multiple lines of business and multiple audiences. You’ve been building out a  Content Marketing COE to serve all these business’. How did you get started and how have you been able to execute against your Brand Objectives with all those internal stakeholders?

Amy:
It’s been a huge challenge, as you can image, since we have a ton of brands to manage. We started with building the Content Marketing Center of Excellence by interviewing 28 different groups within the organization. We found out that there are 24 marketers that truly embody a content marketing role within our organization, and from them we deduced that there are 18 different audiences we strive to reach. With that, we focused on this theme or shift from content marketing to “audience marketing”, and that is how we organized our Content Marketing Center of Excellence. It is comprised of content developers that focus by topic therefore audience. That is how we create the most meaningful content. And now the new challenge is building the right tool to manage content and track the right engagement metrics going forward. It’s a lot of work but very exciting, especially since we have exec support.


Steven: This is a question for Corey on how to approach content strategy. GE is obviously is an iconic brand that everyone knows, but GE Digital perhaps less so. When you think about how to support the Brand Objectives for GE Digital specifically, what’s your approach as it relates to longer term themes? And how do you go about measuring performance for content investments?

Corey:
First, it’s important to define content marketing – there is “marketing-content”, marketing something physical, and there is “content-marketing”, which is selling ideas. Good marketing starts with the audience and especially the customer who will be purchasing. GE Digital is only one year old and people are just starting to understand what it is. It’s really focused around the digital industrial revolution. The way to reach people is identifying their key pain points; for our industry it’s technical, regulatory, etc. We pick 4 themes to address these pain points and develop campaigns, content… everything around those themes – don’t deviate. It keeps things streamlined.

At my previous company, Avanade, we knew that digital is transforming the way people work. We hired a third-party company to do some research on key pain points that resonated with customers. Not only was it widely spread when we released it, but it was also relevant one month, even two years later.

Steven: Building on the notion of themes — Don, how is Visa using content marketing to drive the Innovation thought leadership agenda? Do you have a great anecdote of what you learned about engaging the developer audience – can you also share what you learned?

Don:
Developers hate to be marketed to. This is a huge challenge that has taught us to engage in non-traditional ways. For example, a while back we had a huge lunch targeting banks. We had press and analysts there, and that’s where we were focused. Meanwhile, we got a note from our CTO that said there were 250 comments on the Hacker News community — and we (Visa) weren’t present in that conversation — that was a huge lesson learned. We needed to be in the dev communities, interact with people who would be implementing our product. Now we have hired community managers to engage in these communities and respond to developers who have questions. We needed to come to them, where they engage with their peers daily, not not assume they would come to us. So at social level, we are reporting on engagement, impressions, comments and mentions. In fact, we have to report every negative comment to our CTO accompanied with a solution.

Steven: Shifting gears completely for a moment with a question for Courtney. I think you said North Face has been doing content marketing for 60 years! …Since the first climbing footage was released.  Your Brand sits at this interesting intersection of Brand/Lifestyle/Culture where the Athletes are and also create the content. We are envious that you have, in your words, ‘too much’ content’! How do you go about curating all this content and determining the most effective distribution and channel activation strategy.

Courtney:
For North Face, it’s as if the world has caught up with us. We have been capturing the stories of our athletes for decades. The web, video, and now social channels are only just becoming available to share content. We’ve had camera crews following our athletes the whole time, and now we can actually share it!

The challenge now is figuring out the most meaningful way to repackage and distribute to different channels. For example, using a still image from an expedition on Instagram, or a quick video clip on Twitter. To further complicate things, things like Snapchat and virtual reality (VR) are gaining in popularity, and we want to be on the forefront of engaging with our customers and telling our story in these new mediums.

Steven: Micha, Eventbrite is obviously in a different business, and has the dynamic of a supply and demand marketplace to contend with. How do you approach Content Marketing as a strategy to drive top of funnel brand objectives but also connect that to activation choices you may make further down the funnel to drive conversion?

Micha: The content strategy at Eventbrite does cover B2B and B2C. We tend to think of it in 3 objectives: 1) help control costs, 2) help differentiate ourselves from 150 competitors, and 3) help drive growth for the business. There are 4 threads that permeate our content marketing strategy:

  • Brand
  • Customer
  • Technology
  • Narrative and storytelling

Each of those elements come into play from top of funnel all they way down to decision stage. We tend to start at the top of the funnel, outbound,z all of which leverages storytelling. From there we engage in mid-funnel, where we use value, customer focused, problem solving type content. Then rely on content architecture to improve customer experience and deliver relevant content at the right time. And lastly we lead score to see what works and what is meaningful to the customer.

Steven: A couple of shorter questions for the panel…Corey and Amy, what are the key KPIs you look at to determine campaign performance and how frequently do you measure?

Amy: Bank of America is building its own tool that focuses on 3 key components: engagement, time spent with an asset, and how many people saw or interacted with the piece. The challenge is figuring out which pieces of content lead to a customer opening a new account.

Corey: Since GE Digital is fairly new, we have a brand new website that just started to track behavior. So in a year from now we are going to be looking back at what content people interacted with, did it lead to conversion or where did it drop off. And of the content that drives the most engagement, we want to figure out how to decrease touches and speed the buyer journey — so someone only needs to read 6 pieces of content vs. 10 in order to convert. 

Steven: Courtney and Don, activation channels and media continues to splinter – what are you experimenting with now and what’s your advice for others?

Don: The key insight is platform first. For example, 85% of Facebook users watch videos with no sound. So with that in mind, the video content we create on Facebook needs to resonate even if the sound is turned off. 

Courtney: I agree with Don. And like I mentioned earlier, The North Face is starting to explore VR, so we need to know how consumers are engaging with it before we can create meaningful content. We also are thinking about strategic partnerships, like with Google and YouTube, to convey our story on a platform that people are already using.

Steven: Final question is for Micha. For anyone just coming into a content marketing role – new or existing – whats your first 100 days checklist look like?

Micha: Its’ really really simple. Crush your ego.  It should be learning about your customers, key platforms, and competitors.

Speaking of Brand Content…

Brands of all kinds are gearing up for the Rio Olympics by putting out some pretty incredible content. Follow the Twitter feed @BrandOlympics to see the latest brand-related Olympic content from Nike, Under Amour, Gillette, Coca-Cola, and more!