Content marketing isn't that complicated. Just create content, attract customers, close sales. Right?

Not really. Most marketers either miss some of the basics or put too much effort into creating the content itself, according to a pair of Oracle customer success consultants who spoke at Oracle OpenWorld yesterday.

In two presentations, Clayton Stobbs explained the fundamental of content marketing and his colleague, Lee Jorgenson, told how to get better results with less effort.

Marketing Science


Stobbs said content market has evolved into "more of an art, more of a science."

"Smart content delivered in context will make you stand out," he said. The challenge is that your content now competes with about 30 trillion other indexed pages on the Internet, and most marketers fail because they don't create content that will help potential customers at each stage of the customer journey or lack strategies for success.

"People research stuff to death before they buy now," Stobbs said. "That means CMOs need to have more and more and more content."

That may sound like you need to create a lot of content, but a simple solution is to "atomize" larger pieces of existing content to create many nuggets for different people in different situations, he said.

He noted 78 percent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they have before, but added that less than half of them have a content strategy. That strategy needs to focus on customers and their needs, not you or your product, Stobbs said. He suggested marketers should be like an "information concierge" and never intrude on their customer's experience.

Marketers also need to make sure their content is relevant, create success metrics, maximize daily efforts and understand what purpose the content serves. 

Core content teams, he said,  should include a chief who directs the effort, a strategist who creates and manages assets, a social media manager to leverage social networks and a community manager who spreads the word by acting as a sort of "hype machine."

Four metrics are key to gauging effectiveness, he said: brand awareness, which can be measured through social followers, site visitors, links and such; marketing goals, based on leads, names and emails; sales impact, as measured by reducing the number of touches needed to make a sale; and retention, which can be seen in renewals, repeat purchases and increased revenue per customer.

Less is More


Jorgenson looked at the other side of the coin -- the content itself. He said it's fine to create white papers, thought leadership articles, blogs and other "high-value, high-effort" content, but quickly added, "That's not going to get you to success. It's not enough."

He emphasized that people are looking for very specific information. "That's probably not from your e-book and it's probably not from your white paper," he said. "To be honest, that's just not scaleable."

What he means is that if people cannot make instant personal use of your information, it will miss the mark: "We just need to be useful."

The good news is that while high-effort content alone won't do the job, lower-cost approaches will. These medium-effort and low-effort approaches actually deliver higher conversion rates than costly white papers, webinars and ebooks, he said.

"If you can set up a Q&A program, your customers will tell you what they want to know," Jorgenson said. Other approaches include content written by employees or by the customers themselves.

Fishing for Customers

He offered his client, Bass Pro Shops, as an example. Rather than producing expensive footage of deep-sea fishing adventures that may be completely irrelevant to customers in Missouri, Bass asked its employees across the country to share their personal tips in fishing and hunting in their area.

The employees, who tend to be sports enthusiasts themselves, were happy to do so without compensation, creating a popular resource for customers. Some of the higher quality content is also shared through the company's centralized site. Jorgenson said the company generated an average of 187 pieces of content a month at no cost, leading to higher conversion rates.

Another company, Pet Relocation, asked its customers to share their personal stories of moving their pets from one area to another. They responded, often with touching photos and useful tips on the best way to do that. The result was a four-fold increase in customer lifetime value.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 2014-01-October-Hannah.jpg

Here's an example: the story of Hannah (left), whose companion, Emily, moved to South Africa from Texas last year. 

When I moved to South Africa, I knew the most difficult part of the move would be leaving behind my companion of six years, Hannah," Emily wrote.

"I mean, how do you explain to a dog the concept of continents and that you'll see her again someday? Don't get me wrong, this dog is smart enough to eat half of a pizza off the counter and leave the other half for me, but I'm not sure she can grasp global geography."

Title image by Jeremy Kunz  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.