5 Key Milestones to Develop and Advance Your Content Marketing Program

The global PR and content development team, which launched Smarter With Gartner, had an opportunity to feed our content marketing assets into the broader Gartner digital marketing programs. Image source: Content Marketing Maturity Model, Gartner for Marketers, (July 2016) In a subsequent interview in preparation for my Content Marketing World session, Kirsten distills the key milestones necessary for organizations to develop and advance their content marketing programs. Use the right tools The content marketing leader can improve the tools necessary to support a fully functioning content development team. “Most commonly it’s between levels 2 and 3 – before you get to the level of pain where you need it. “Promotion,” Kirsten says. We launched Smarter With Gartner in part because the social media team had sizable followings across channels through which we could promote our content. If not, ensure that you’re creating quality content that will earn you search engine authority and credibility, and eventually visibility, over time. Were we still on track to reach Level 4 in the Content Marketing Maturity Model? This is due not only to the efforts of a dedicated content marketing team that works against a clear strategy and uses the right tools, but to our integration with a broader marketing organization learning how to use content to engage an audience for specific goals. What level are you trying to reach next in your content marketing maturity – and how are you doing it?

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A year after launching the brand journalism site Smarter With Gartner, two critical inflection points led us to realize we were ready to advance in the Maturity Model for Content Marketing:

  • The global team of content creators needed more robust tools to produce the steady stream of articles, infographics, video, and interactive content published daily to help IT, marketing, and supply chain leaders stay ahead of technology trends.
  • The global PR and content development team, which launched Smarter With Gartner, had an opportunity to feed our content marketing assets into the broader Gartner digital marketing programs.

When we realized we needed to take our content marketing program to the next level, I had a one-on-one call with Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, research director of Gartner for Marketers. She authored the Gartner report that introduced the Maturity Model for Content Marketing. We made “Leapfrog to Level 4” a slogan for our 2017 content marketing strategy. This was a bold goal because less than a year earlier we were moving from Level 2 to Level 3. What would it take to create a more mature content marketing function for our organization?

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Image source: Content Marketing Maturity Model, Gartner for Marketers, (July 2016)

In a subsequent interview in preparation for my Content Marketing World session, Kirsten distills the key milestones necessary for organizations to develop and advance their content marketing programs. As with most journeys, you must watch out for obstacles that will prevent your progress.

1. Fill the strategy gap

If organizations do one thing to reach Level 2, they should create a strategy. While this sounds like an obvious first step, only 37% of B2B and 40% of B2C marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy, according to CMI research. Notably, most marketers say the strategy is effective at helping them achieve their content marketing goals. Why don’t content marketers think to create a strategy out of the gate?

Often, content marketing starts as an experimental initiative with ad hoc content production and rudimentary metrics. “They may have basic metrics on traffic, some level of engagement, and maybe first order of conversion,” Kirsten says. (That’s where we were when launching the pilot for Smarter with Gartner.)

“As you work to create a strategy,” she says, “do the work around personas, journeys, and understand your analytics.”

To reach Level 2, tap into your organization’s personas to drive content development or create customer personas or journey maps from behavioral, ethnographic, and voice-of-the-customer research. Customer personas and journey maps, when combined with goals and objectives, form the basis of a sound strategy from which to develop content.

2. Designate a leader

Experimental content marketing programs may have developed within an existing group, as ours was in the Gartner PR department. Yet to move to Level 2, you need to designate a content marketing leader who owns and manages all content marketing initiatives, Kirsten says. This type of ownership is necessary to build consistency in content creation, tone, and style.

After serving as a consultant to Gartner during the pilot and launch of Smarter With Gartner, I joined the company to play this leadership role in partnership with Gartner’s Global Head of PR Tom McCall.

J.P. Medved, my CMWorld co-presenter, made a similar transition. He moved into the content director role between levels 1 and 2 at Capterra. “It is important to have dedicated employees for whom content was their primary job,…

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