Investing in Content Tools? Get Out the Vote!

Lately I’ve been doing a ton of work around the content marketing vendor landscape: conducting research, as well as helping clients ascertain what their technology needs are and pinpoint the vendors that can solve their problems.

Again and again, one step arises in this process that’s absolutely essential and mission-critical both for the short and long term success of any content marketing technology investment, yet it’s also one too often overlooked by stakeholders: soliciting shareholder input into the decision making process.

Gathering cross-functional input goes far beyond getting stakeholder requirements – though requirements are, of course, critical.

After identifying the broad outlines of your organization’s content needs, the next step is to identify stakeholders and end-users both within and outside of the marketing organization and solicit them for their requirements, input, and collaboration. It’s important to gather requirements across teams: cross-functionally as well as across workflows.

Some brands actually submit mini-internal RFPs or surveys to stakeholders to help gain very specific documented input on needs, pain points, and feature requests. Not only does this step help identify needs that may have been overlooked, but collaboration also creates a sense of ownership and goes far to facilitate end-user adoption.

The alternative? Tools are foisted upon the teams that will use them. The very human reaction is – almost universally – pushback. Not a very desirable scenario.

Another reason to solicit stakeholder feedback when selecting content tools is integration concerns, and integration almost always goes far beyond marketing. Content marketing tools can easily require integration with enterprise systems ranging from HR to data, storage platforms to customer service, even finance.

What’s the Big Idea?

When circulating the feedback request, including the purpose of the exercise and vision and is critical. Carlos Abler, 3M’s Online Content Strategy lead puts it this way,“Never lose and opportunity to ‘sell’ the idea to stakeholders in order to gain the deepest and must useful stakeholder input, and to rally their support for the long haul and how departments are benefited. Note that there are cross-functional benefits that can be highlighted, such as optimized asset sharing, customer/audience knowledge sharing, economy of effort, and long term reduced redundancy and effort.”

Compiling stakeholder feedback to glean insights, ideas, ideas you may have overlooked and pattern recognition is essential. Getting out the vote is obviously not a democratic process. A person or committee is charged with leading the selection process, and lead they will. But the input of the people who will be using the technology informs not only better decisions, but also better, smoother adoption once that final decision has been reached and investment is made.

We like to end of questionnaire to stakeholders with a single, vital question to distill the process to its essence:

If this new tool could accomplish just One Thing, what would that thing be?

Food for thought – and invaluable input for decision making.

This column originally published on iMedia.

 

 

Quick! What’s a Digital Newsroom?

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What’s a digital newsroom?

Seems like such a simple question, until you start pondering the potential answers.

The question arose the other day in discussion with an agency client. We were discussing the competitive landscape; how a variety of digital agencies, PR agencies, and the brands they serve are all beginning to establish digital newsrooms.

But what does that even mean?

Do these entities create news? Media relations? Branded content? Social media? Advertising? Native advertising? Brand journalism? Native advertising? Some, or all, of the above?

“Real” newsrooms aside (à la New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other news outlets), the term “newsroom,” like so many digital marketing terms, means many things to many people.

Conduct a search on Google and some media relations sites rank high, such as the  Intel Newsroom. So does Red Bull’s Content Pool, constantly updated with a rich variety of extreme sports material, much of it premium and available for license to commercial media companies for a fee.

The Cisco Newsroom also ranks high for the term newsroom – it’s a hybrid technology news and company news site.

Other tech brands run what you’d consider more traditional newsrooms.  Dell’s Tech Page One is branded content – but also the only branded content site that has passed Google News’ rigorous hurdles for qualifying as “real” news and making it into that feed.

Marketers at one major brand I know of were touring digital news publications last year, studying how their operations worked, in advance of setting up their own newsroom operations, while a direct competitor was hiring seasoned journalists to do exactly that in-house.

Those same journalists are also decamping to PR firms, which are setting up their own newsroom operations. Weber Shandwick’s mediaco and Edelman’s Creative Newsroom, which both launched last year, are newsrooms staffed by former newspaper, television and magazine staffers, as well as digital and content strategists, planners, analysts and syndicators. They’re creating not just “news,” but also content for owned and social media, as well as multimedia production.

Agencies can get hyper-specific with the definition and focus of a newsroom. Deep Focus’ social media newsroom Moment Studio creates Facebook content for Pepsi and Purina.

Adidas recently announced it will establish video “digital newsrooms around the world” for its shoe brands to tap into trending topics and real-time marketing.

Clearly, there’s no one definition of a digital newsroom, there’s not even a single defined purpose or function. Unless you’re an actual news organization, the purpose – even the reason for being – of a newsroom is governed by one principal only: content strategy.

This post originally published on iMedia

Photo Credit: The Front Page

No, Social Advertising Isn’t “Over”

Murky research collided with lazy journalism last week to create a torrent of #socialmedia + #advertising = #fail link bait. Headlines in publications generally deemed respectable, and journalistically responsible, heralded the end of social media marketing.

“Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype” trumpeted The Wall Street Journal. “This Is the New Stat Facebook Should Be Worrying About,” tsk-tsked Time. “Tweets, Likes, and Shares Don’t Make Us Buy Stuff, Americans Say,” echoed Bloomberg Businessweek. “Advertising On Facebook And Twitter Barely Even Works” came from Business Insider, and most pithily, Valleywag added, “Social Media Ads Don’t Do Shit.”

The root of this social-media-don’t-work brouhaha was a Gallup report entitled “The State of the American Consumer.” It professed that 62 percent of U.S. consumers do not believe the major social networking platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, affect their purchase decisions. Additionally, Gallup claims 48 percent of Millennial shoppers are uninfluenced by social media when it comes to buying stuff.

So much for the $5.1 billion advertisers spent on social advertising last year (not to mention billions more on social media marketing programs).

The lone voice of sanity in the media was a well-reported piece in Adweek, pointing out that not only is Gallup using data from late 2012 to make this dubious point, but worse, the data are self reported. No brand or agency would ever in a million years rely on self-reported data to assess or measure ad effectiveness. Self-reported data are near-worthless.

Google the term, in fact, and you’ll come up with results such as: “Self-reported studies have validity problems” and “notoriously unreliable.”

Moreover, as Adweek pointed out in a long voice-of-reason article on the topic (disclosure: I’m quoted), Gallup’s data were collected close to two years ago — a near eternity in internet time, and to top that, some respondents were polled by snail mail, a strange channel indeed to select for research on digital influence.

Looking beyond the dubious self-reported data, the digital equivalent of saying, “Sure, I saw a commercial on TV but didn’t buy the product so advertising doesn’t work,” some of the questions Gallup posed are strong indicators that social channels are indeed powerful platforms for persuasion and influence. The questions below indicate, aside from the obvious social connections, consumers spend time on social sites to share knowledge, research companies (and by extension, products), find and/or create reviews and product info, etc.

Even Gallup admits as much:

“However, companies can use social media to engage and boost their customer base. Consumers appreciate the highly personal and conversational nature of social media sites, and they prefer interacting in an open dialogue as opposed to receiving a hard sell. And companies’ use of social media to provide timely responses to questions and complaints accelerates brand loyalty and, eventually, sales. When it comes to social media efforts, businesses stand to benefit when they utilize a more service-focused approach rather than one dedicated to simply pushing their products.”

Yet this statement from Gallup seems not to be tied to any specific data from the survey.

Murky research conclusions and methodologies aside, Gallup’s deeply flawed research, and the editorial properties that piled on with link bait headlines, really did do a disservice.

We know that social platforms influence consumer buying decisions. The problem is, headlines in The Wall Street Journal, even erroneous ones, influence CEO decisions, too.

This post originally published on iMedia.

A Major Executive Move In Content Marketing — Q&A With Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner, SAP.Michael Brenner has long been a recognized leader in content marketing in his role as VP marketing at SAP.

Very recently, he joined content marketing technology vendor NewsCred to head strategy for that company. NewsCred is a rapidly growing content marketing technology platform that also offers licensed and original content. Clients include Bank of America, Time Inc. and P&G.

This is a rare moment when an executive from the brand side of content marketing has decamped to the vendor side of the industry.  In light of this, I decided to interview him to hear his motives for the move and to look back at his accomplishments at SAP.

What’s the new role?

Head of strategy. Basically, my main area of responsibility is to help each client build out a content marketing model, which obviously then get supported by the technology by the content marketing cloud platform.

This is the first time, to my knowledge, that an executive has moved from the client to the vendor side in content marketing. What prompted the decision?

At SAP, I was building content marketing as a practice, and I had tremendous support from the CMO. We built a blog presence for thought leadership, not only creating an effective platform butdoing so on a very limited budget. It wasn’t a significant investment; if anything, it was a reduction in some other expenditures — for example, on the advertising landing page side.

So when I was looking at what to do next, the options were to continue to mature that model in the brand that I was working with, or to take a leadership/CMO type role within a small company.

I jokingly define content marketing as the gap between what businesses generally do when they market and what customers are actually looking for. So I made the decision to help other brands take the journey to close that gap.

Most marketing sucks — or at least most marketing is highly ineffective. This move will allow me to help other brands be more effective, to reach more customers and generate more sales.

I hear education will be part of the new job?

The first step when I talk to marketing leaders is to explain the value of content marketing — or, more specifically, to arm them with the knowledge to help them obtain buy-in from higher-ups.

CEOs (and even some of the older-school, traditional marketing professionals) still see marketing largely as promotional activity: the email blasts, the ads, the logos all over everything, etc. That’’s why most marketing is still in the stage that it’s in. But as consumers, the digital/social/mobile world has changed the way we expect to interact with brands.

We’re not going to put up with cold calls at dinnertime, or with emails we don’t want, or with banners that interrupt the content experience we’re looking for online. So if we, as marketers, are not going to be doing those things anymore, what do we need to do instead?

That’s the educational part. It took me some time, but I’ve slowly come to realize that ineffective marketing is not really the fault of the majority of marketers — they’re just doing what they’ve been asked to do. So we’re arming them with the information to educate those who are asking them to execute.

Most organizations don’t have infrastructure, roles, or even a documented content strategy. Where will you start?

After education, the next step is to identify the problem. When I worked at SAP, we helped the organization understand there was a definite content problem.

Part of that process included highlighting all of the customer conversations we weren’t a part of. For example, we looked at our analytics to estimate how much of our website traffic was coming from people who are in the early stages of the buying process — and we realized we weren’t getting any traffic from early-stage search terms.

None of the people who were in the early stages of the buying process for products related to SAP were being exposed to the brand through search. That’s a massive content problem.

We then did an inventory and found that we were already creating content and targeting the people talking to our sales guys. So we identified that budget and that content and asked, “How much of that content is actually being used?”

To this day, I’m shocked. We looked at all the content repositories we had — I think there were 62 — and noted the content that was either viewed or downloaded by the intended recipient. Something like 60 percent of the content uploaded to these repositories was never looked at or downloaded by a single person.

That’s why often I tell people, “You don’t need any more budget. Just look inside your organization at the places that are creating content and see if it’s used at all.”

That’s the most rudimentary type of content audit you can perform.

Exactly. So if we took 40 or 50 percent of this budget, we would have more than we would ever need to build an effective content marketing platform.

So the first step is education. The second step, as you said, is the most rudimentary type of content audit.

Then it’s building the new thing. That starts with understanding search, understanding content requirements by stage. Personas can be helpful here, but only when done correctly. When creating personas, a lot of companies stop short of understanding the types of content each persona is looking for, the channels through which they can be reached, and their stage in the buying process. Yet that’s where a persona actually becomes effective — you can implement an activity against a persona when you know what they’re looking for, where they’re looking, and when they need it.

Once you know that, that’s where the infrastructure, tools and the technology come in.

Looking back at your SAP achievements, what are you proudest of?

In my seven years at SAP, the first three and a half years were specifically online lead generation. An inbound marketing project turned into a content marketing role. My legacy is building the thought leadership blog. I’m proud of it because it was really up against the tide and flow of the organization. I really had to fight every step of the way to get it done.

There were detractors, and it was surprisingly easy to prove them somewhat wrong — and to do so with very little budget. I had to find the resources around the organization… but with 60,000 employees, you’re going to trip over a few smart people who understand the context of online marketing.

A lot of the interaction we had was with external thought leaders. We were looking at Klout scores, we were looking at bloggers we already knew in big data and cloud computing and analytics. We didn’t have the budget to create our own positions, despite the fact that that it was what my boss wanted, so we decided to “curate” the position from thought leaders. I was proud not just that we built it, but that ROI was so clear from Day One.

What are your new success metrics?

We’re going to figure that out as we go. The main objective is to make sure they’re not walking around with a hammer so that every problem looks like a nail. We truly want to help the entire discipline of marketing get better and improve. It’s not just technology that can do that. Our mission is to help marketers evolve to the changing world.

That involves three different things:

One, there’s going to be a services business helping customers build an effective content marketing platform.

Two, we’re going to work on pipeline acceleration — helping customers get onboard quickly and effectively and generate a return from their investment.

Three, we’re going to focus on retention. That means going back to the happy customers and making sure they’re stretching themselves to think about what the next thing is. It also means helping with the product pipeline and make sure the product is staying up to pace with the needs of the marketplace.

Where do you see the content marketing vendor landscape going?

In the last six months, this industry has changed so rapidly. Some early players are starting to relegate themselves to the position of niche players. Folks like Contently and Percolate and NewsCred almost came out of the blue. At SAP, we were talking to Percolate two years ago and thought they were an interesting sort of CMS — it’s unbelievable what they’ve built in such a short period of time. You’re starting to see these new horses in the race.

This conversation was edited for brevity.

Originally published in MarketingLand

Three Ways to Integrate Content Marketing Tools

No content marketing solution is an island. As we wait for the evolution of true end-to-end content marketing stacks, each individual solution acquired for creating, publishing, targeting, or optimizing content (just to mention a few of the use case scenarios) needs to plug into and play with the other tools in the content marketing toolbox.

And that’s just the beginning of integration needs. We’ve just published research on the content marketing vendor landscape (free download here). We asked marketers questions about their integration needs for content marketing solutions beyond content itself.

Integration considerations are essential when considering content solutions. Obviously, there’s enormous consolidation and convergence of paid, owned, and earned media, as well as the evolution of content stacks. Each of the eight content marketing use cases we identified come with a host of potential integration issues, yet only 10 percent of the marketers we surveyed say their content marketing technologies are “fully integrated across people, processes, and platforms.”

Identifying essential integrations can help refine a final list of prospective content marketing vendors. We found integration is tripartite.

Integration with systems

This includes legacy as well as future platforms, such as data and analytics, CRM, and inbound marketing. Petco’s former chief content officer, Greg Seremetis, emphasized his group’s voice is only one of many at the table when new content tools are discussed and vetted inside the company.

Integration with the organization, such as internal communications, corporate intelligence, and internal networks

“Why shouldn’t our call center agents have access to same information that guests have?” asks Marriott International’s senior director of digital strategy and distribution, Meg Walsh. An agency I’m currently working with would love if someday the content production process were linked to finance so clients could be appropriately (and less manually) invoiced.

Integration with processes, including workflow and organizational structure

This may include taking outside partners and/or agencies into account. “You can’t retrofit activities to the tool; you have to align the tool with your activities,” observes to Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic. Our research found there are common integration points marketers leverage across each use case. While not universal to all marketers’ use case scenarios, these integrations fall into eight primary categories.

The figure below charts how these common points of integration typically map against use cases.

Did we leave anything out? In an ideal world, what would you connect to the content marketing tools suite?


This post originally published on iMedia 

The New Anything/Anyone Goes Competitive Landscape For Content Marketing Firms

Recently, I was chatting with the CEO of one of the leading digital agencies. Talk turned to competitors, and I asked what firms his firm found itself bidding against most frequently.

Usual-suspect names cropped up (Digitas, Sapient Nitro). But so did PwC, a name that would have never cropped up in the same discussion five years ago.

Neither would Cap Gemini, or other old-school consulting firms. But they’re increasingly common today. Even IBM is an agency now!

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Recently we, at the research-based advisory firm I work for, were in the consideration set for a project and asked to submit a proposal. Some of the other organizations the client was considering for the project included an independent content marketing agency, a holding-company owned PR firm, and one of the world’s largest advertising agencies.

Who ya gonna call? These days, clients honestly seem to have no idea. Strategy? Execution? Advertising? Social media? Content? Digital experiences?

This new up-for-grabs state of the competitive landscape is a byproduct of converged media. When advertising marries content marketing and becomes native advertising, or social media merges with media buys, or user-generated content and community become essential to an owned-media presence, then who’s driving? Who’s riding shotgun?

Media Convergence Drives Stack Evolution

Not long ago, I asked close to 70 very high-level marketers, most at Fortune 100 companies, where they outsourced content marketing responsibilities. Did they engage ad agencies, PR agencies, social media agencies, the new breed or storytelling agencies, the custom content divisions of media companies, or “other” to handle content creation?

Interestingly, their answers were spread entirely equally across the board (with one verynotable exception: every single one of them said they would not entrust content duties to a social media shop).

A Tough And Transitional Time

This is a tough and transitional time for clients and agencies alike. More and more, we’re seeing clients who are asking for execution before strategy. Who are uncertain of desired outcomes. Who often look to agency partners with one field of expertise to assist them in areas in which they have little or no experience. Who remain looped in an RFP process that lasts much longer than expected because they’re uncertain which type of candidates to vet.

Then, they find themselves making apples-to-oranges comparisons when they receive responses from a wide variety of candidates, ranging from agencies to consultancies to PR, search and social media firms.

Marketing professionals, too, are challenged to respond to RFPs from prospects unsure of what they want or need, much less who might be qualified to supply it. Arguably, there’s been an education gap in needs vs. wants for as long as there’s been digital marketing, but never more so than now.

In the meantime, RFP processes are too often leading nowhere — or alternately, all over the map, as clients so often learn how much they don’t know from the process. (Often, they learn that they’re asking the wrong service of the wrong provider!)

This will shake out. Agencies are aligning and partnering (you do the strategy, we’ll do the execution). Clients will gradually gain a deeper understanding of what types of organizations have expertise in which types of work.

But at present, it’s a competitive free-for-all out there, a world in which it’s hard to understand who — or what — you’re up against.

This post originally published on MarketingLand

The Davids and Goliaths of Content Marketing

The content marketing vendor landscape is big, complex, growing, and sharply bifurcated. It’s a David vs. Goliath game in which enterprise giants are pitted against much smaller (sometimes downright tiny) startups.

Research we recently published on the content marketing software landscape (available for download at no cost here) reveals some interesting findings around where this developing market is, as well as where it’s headed in the near future.

content marketing competitors

Bigger doesn’t mean better (and vice versa)

Zoomforth is a two-year-old San Francisco startup you’ve probably never heard of, and one that definitely falls in the “downright tiny” category. Yet with a mere three employees, it already serves enterprise clients such as Deloitte, AT&T, and adidas.

The Goliaths on the scene are, of course, Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce.com. In addition to enterprise clients, they all service small and medium-size businesses alike. They are striving to buy, partner, and integrate their way into the sector, but these intentions and long-term visions are far from realized.

Who will dominate by being first-to-market with a content marketing stack? At this point in time, it’s clearly Adobe’s battle to lose, given its robust and well-established Creative Cloud. However, that family of products is geared far more towards publishing than marketing. Many essential content marketing use cases reside in the company’s Marketing Cloud products. While Adobe recently announced its intention to integrate the two clouds, that’s easier — and much more quickly — said than done.

The Goliaths are also partnering with smaller companies to cover capabilities they lack. For example, Adobe has also aligned with startups such as Thismoment that offer needed capabilities around legal, compliance, and UGC. Salesforce.com recently partnered with Kontera for better audience targeting capabilities.

The above reasons account for the fact that when vendors are questioned about their competitors, Adobe’s name trails after more marketing-oriented solutions. The other giants, Oracle and Salesforce.com, are aggressively acquiring capabilities, while IBM is a laggard.

Of the Davids in the space, our research reveals that Percolate, NewsCred, and Contently are viewed by their peers as their primary competitors. Each has recently attracted additional rounds of investment and boosted capabilities around image-based content. It’s also worth noting the trio is focused on content creation and thus poised to reap the benefits of marketers planned investment in the short term. Others simply have unique capabilities not available anywhere else, such as Mass Relevance’s access to Twitter’s firehose.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

 

 

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Why Net Neutrality is Integral to Content Marketing

It really didn’t seem possible, but net neutrality, the promise of a free and open internet, is as threatened today as it was when I started writing about the issue over eight years ago.

Back then, a junior senator from Illinois was promising that, if elected president, a net neutrality guarantee would be a year one priority in the White House.

Yet after all this time, and not very successful efforts to stir up national conversation around this critical issue, the FCC is saying that a pay-to-play fast lane doesn’t compromise net neutrality. This despite the fact that as far back as 2007, Barack Obama went on record rejecting any possibility that “gatekeepers” would someday “charge different rates to different websites.” Such a system, he averred, “destroys one of the best things about the internet, which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

What’s all this got to do with content marketing? Plenty.

If the current FCC plan goes ahead, gatekeepers will indeed charge different rates to different websites. The result won’t be that those websites are “faster,” but rather all other properties will be “too slow” (and this in a country that already ranks No. 29 in global broadband speed, trailing even Estonia and the Czech Republic).

And because content marketing is defined as owned media (i.e., content a brand creates and distributes on channels it owns or largely controls), this makes net neutrality a big deal indeed.

The initial impact on content marketing will be two-pronged.

First, the channels that brands own will drag. When a few well-feathered, deep-pocketed properties can afford to pay for the fast lane, it’s not so much going to seem like they’re going fast as much as everyone else is going too slowly. Just as we know impatient users don’t sit around waiting for ads, images, and videos to load but (as stats bear out) bail on sites that are slow to load, so too will this effect chill the reach and efficacy of owned media.

Saving the internet means equal access to the means of distribution, not just to the ability to own property there.

The second chilling effect a non-neutral internet will have on content marketing is on those other channels — the ones brands don’t own but rather control (i.e., social media). There is, of course, no social media marketing without content, and already there’s a hue and cry from some quarters around the fact that Facebook, for one, is beginning to charge for content distribution. (You guys expected…what, exactly?)

Those pay-to-play fees for Promoted Posts and such, not to mention ad rates, certainly won’t be going down when web properties are burdened with the additional fixed overhead of getting into the fast lane.

This, of course, applies only to the deep-pocketed properties that will pay. Some won’t pay and may not survive as a result. Other up-and-comers will never have a chance. The next Facebook, or Google, or who-knows-what may never make it unless it is able to pony up, early and often.

The prospect of an internet that isn’t free and equally open to all comers has kept me up at night since 2007. The issue may be a new one to you. If you’re in content marketing, or any type of digital marketing at all, the time to take action has never been more important or more urgent.

Sign petitions. Write to congressmen. Lobby the FCC. Or risk major discontentment.

This post originally published on iMedia

 

Say Hello to the Content Marketing Stack

You know about ad stacks, right?

Get ready to say hello to the next big thing in content marketing technology: the content marketing stack.

Content stacks aren’t here yet, but they’re coming. In the next couple of years, I expect we’ll see offerings from the big enterprise players: Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.com. (IBM has a lot of catching up to do if it’s to become a player in this space.)

There are many factors driving this latest phase in content marketing evolution, not the least of which is a tangled and complex content marketing vendor landscape. There are well in excess of 110 content marketing tools on the market today, with more appearing all the time. Most are point solutions.

Acquisitions Everywhere

M&A activity is rapid and accelerating. Content marketing vendors (as well as adjacent companies, such as email marketing, social media marketing software and marketing automation software providers) are being acquired by the three large enterprise players that all hope to integrate them with their larger marketing clouds. Already, they’re beginning to use terms such as “content alignment” and “converged media” in sales collateral and value propositions.

Converged media, the blending of paid, owned and earned media, is also contributing to this trend. With content at the core of advertising, social media and PR, as well as a brand’s owned media channels, content must be unified with the ad stack, as well as with social media software.

Content stacks are necessary to consolidate the eight content marketing use cases identified in research we’ve just published on the content software landscape. No use case is an island. As organizations mature and become more strategic in their content marketing initiatives, it becomes imperative to seamlessly link execution to analytics, or optimization, or targeting, for example.

Media Convergence Drives Stack Evolution

Because content feeds paid and earned media, so, too, do use cases bleed into converged media. This is why content stacks will link with ad stacks and form the core of what we’re today beginning to call marketing clouds.

Content Tool Stack Hierarchy

Who will win the race to build the first content stack? Currently, it’s Adobe’s battle to lose. With their Creative Cloud, they’re far ahead of the game, and they have announced long-anticipated plans to integrate the Creative Cloud with the Marketing Cloud.

The Integration Challenge

But integration is easier (and faster) said than done. It must be noted that the Creative Cloud today is comprised of tools for publishers, decidedly not for marketers. Competitors Oracle and Salesforce.com are aggressively acquiring marketing-oriented software. Meanwhile, smaller, more vertical players such as Percolate, Content.ly, Kontera and ThisMoment (to name but a very few) are attracting partnerships and investment.

It’s going to be a very interesting couple of years to sit back and watch how the content marketing software vendors stack up.

This post originally published on MarketingLand

The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions

Our new research report, The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions, published today to help marketers navigate the tangled and complex content marketing software landscape.

It used to be so easy. You wrote content and posted it to your web site or blog.   Perhaps you did a little keyword research, or looked at web analytics for inspiration or refinement.

The content marketing vendor landscape may not be quite as vast as your programing choices, but it’s pretty darn big with well over 100 vendors offering a variety of solutions, and it’s growing exponentially as investment and M&A activity reach a crescendo in the sector. This leaves content marketers at a loss.

Content marketing has grown exponentially in complexity, and that’s before the fact that it’s beginning to also converge with paid and earned media. We’re far beyond the sign up for a WordPress account and hire a blogger phase of content marketing. In fact, Altimeter Group has identified three overarching scenarios and eight broad content marketing use cases.

To add to this complexity, each individual use case comes with a host of more granular sub-categories that must each be addressed with technology.

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Yet selecting content marketing tools doesn’t end with content marketing needs.  Integration and interoperability are major factors that cannot be omitted from any technology consideration.

Fig6b

Marketers’ questions are manifold:

  •  What content marketing tools and technologies are right for my enterprise?
  • What vendors should we consider?
  • Will our choice scale with future needs?
  • Are integration concerns being addressed?
  • What tools can help us achieve strategic goals, such as measurement and targeting?
  • How can technology help integrated owned media with paid and earned initiatives?

These are the concerns our research hopes to address.  Our new research report, The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions, isn’t a scorecard  of vendor capabilities. Rather, it provides a framework, as well as a pragmatic checklist, to help marketers determine their actual needs, then to pinpoint those vendors offering the solutions that match their requirements. It won’t tell you which vendor to pick (obviously, that would be presumptuous without a much deeper, more personalized dive). But it will help narrow and define a highly mutable and complex marketplace.

As with all Altimeter Group research, The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions is available at no charge under our Open Research model. Please use it, share it, and let us know what you think of it.

Crossed-posted with the Altimeter Group blog.