Customer Engagement

Have you ever stayed for more than 2 seconds on a webpage that didn’t have engaging content?

Probably not.

There is no engagement without content. And when I say content, I mean stories, visuals, videos – anything that tells a story.

Content is the essence of marketing. But content alone is not enough. Marketers need to have an intelligent, structured, content strategy in place in order to truly engage their audience.

In a few days I am about to host the Advanced Planning track at the Intelligent Content Marketing Conference in Las Vegas. I cannot be more excited to have this opportunity to host top speakers as they share their insights and how content should be managed intelligently and how marketing technology, such as a customer engagement platform, can help you scale your content efforts.
To better get to know the people that will be speaking at the advanced planning track at the event, I reached out to Noz Urbina, Founder of Urbina Consulting and to Cruce Saunders, Principal and Founder of [A], and we had a good chat about what intelligent content marketing means to them.

Content scaling does not have to come on the expense of putting in more resources

In order to scale your content without using more resources, you need to slip-stream customer journey mapping in to your usual editorial planning and prioritization process, says Noz Urbina - a globally recognized content strategist and co-author of the book “Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits“.This means rather than the usual brand-out marketing focus on demographics and spreadsheet segments across a buying lifecycle, start with a persona-in view. Analyze how that persona goes about achieving a goal (aka going on a journey) – that’s relevant to them, and has implications for your brand of course. Something like making a big purchase or life decision, or participating in an event, or resolving a problem (big or small).Work out their narrative, and figure out what content fits into that narrative. Be specific! I don’t mean “emails are important at the awareness stage”. I mean what content exactly, e.g., “thought-leadership pieces around the financial benefits of fundamental tech concepts are important during due diligence”.Then, as you cover all the journeys that are important to your brand and personas, start to reverse the lens and say, “What can I leverage better by reusing it across deliverables” and then, “Now what’s left that can I just kill?”

Slip-stream customer journey mapping into your editorial planning and prioritization process to scale your #content - @nozurbina
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Noz Urbina

Noz Urbina: “Work out the narrative, and figure out what content fits into that narrative”

According to Cruce Saunders, Founder and principal at [A] and author of Content Engineering for a Multi-Channel World, the process of content scaling includes 5 key steps:

  • 1. Identify desired content assets and appropriate channels.
  • 2. Put shape and structure to the content assets in the form of a content model.
  • 3. Add targeting categories or tags to the content following a taxonomy.
  • 4. Add standardized micro data (like Open Graph or mark-up) that match your target channels.
  • 5. Build rules for personalization starting by segmenting audiences and their behaviours.

None of this requires large capital budget: but does require time and focus. Noz recommends marketers to look at their various deliverables side-by-side. “There’s almost always ways you could model your source content to allow some reuse. Do you have term definitions, concept overviews, product overviews of different lengths, reference tables, etc. that could be reused from a single source rather than being re-created over and over for each deliverable and channel? Reuse across deliverables, journeys and personas – with intelligent content and automation wherever possible! – to get more ROI from the same assets. “

#Content scaling does not require large capital budget, but does require time and focus - @mrcruce
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Cruce Saunders

Cruce Saunders: “a strongly matched content platform helps make all the intelligent content investments worthwhile”

Bots and AIs are shaping the future of content marketing

Noz loves working with artificial intelligence: “we’re working with chatbots and personalization systems that can work as artificial librarians curators for helping connect the right users and messages. It’s fascinating. AI is the dream of having an army preposterously fast interns who you can order around to leaf through millions of pages doing mind-numbing tasks which add up to amazing and unparalleled value. At the same time as this age has brought us quantities of content and data never imagined, it’s brought us the technology to handle such quantities in business-significant ways.”Quality checkers are one application of natural language processing and artificial learning systems that can do things like keep us on-brand, on-style, properly meta-tagged, and keyworded-up across teams, channels and deliverables that could be producing hundreds of pages of textual content a day. If that weren’t enough it provides central analytics specifically to calculate ROI of content quality.

Is it a good time to be in content marketing?

On this specific question, Noz and Cruce do not seem to agree.Noz replied that “now is a great time to be in Content Marketing because it’s a discipline that is time-tested and proven effective – it’s not a buzzword – but it’s now being discovered and rapidly adopted by a mass market audience.”This means we’re at a critical stage where “industrialization” is happening (development of the standards and practices that enable scale), innovation is welcome and necessary, but we’re doing it all around a core of rock-solid best practices.Content Marketing can, and often must, happen on any channel or format that comes out, and has multitude of incarnations depending on business size and industry. That means despite its narrow focus, it is also universal. That makes it one of the few areas in this fast-changing world where if you’re developing your skills, name and network, it will last you for years and decades to come.At the same time, Cruce thinks it is actually a terrible time to be involved in content a period of tremendous, tumultuous shifts. From unstructured to structured content. From one static channel to many dynamic channels. From one-audience content to many personalized variants across many interaction states. From attention spans that were measured in minutes to ones measured in milliseconds.Content marketers try to keep up with SEO, social, robots, AI, microcopy, microdata, schema, taxonomy, marketing automation while keeping creative juices flowing for compelling, original, high-value, long-form content asset development that needs to be orchestrated across distributed teams and cleared by's exhausting stuff to do well once, let alone day in and day out.”Cruce adds: “What an awful time to be trying to market effectively to a dizzy customer base, move content around, and keep up as a content marketer.But since we're here, we might as well get busy engineering the change! Because the future's not going to wait for us to catch up. We can get there and out of the woods a single step at a time.”

There’s no magic

When I asked Cruce Saunders what is his favorite content marketing tech, his first answer was: “There's no magic. None of the tools replace the need for leadership, process management, and engineering. So, my favorite tech: human vision. The people always matter more than the machines.”This is also why even with all the wealth of knowledge that we can find online today, we still go to marketing conferences. There is no substitute to human interaction.I personally am truly looking forward to learn more about intelligent content marketing from the amazing speakers at the event. If you happen to be there, I’d love to connect.