Marketing has become an increasingly technology-saturated discipline. There are tools for managing contacts and campaigns, testing and sending emails, managing social media design, project management, A/B testing, and much more. While innovative software is making marketers more successful, prolific, efficient and effective, can any one product deliver on the promise of helping you create higher quality content?
This is like asking whether the camera makes the photographer. While increasingly sophisticated smartphone cameras can give amateurs a leg up, they don’t turn everyone into a great photographer — or prevent anyone from taking more selfies.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the world’s most influential photographers, used black and white film and available light, often catching subjects in motion, occasionally in dark silhouette against a brighter background. His distinct style was about timing and composition — sensing a moment that was worth capturing, and framing it just so.
Vision, timing and knowing how to present an idea is strictly human, and that’s not likely to change. But there are ways that software can address some major content challenges for marketers.
Can Software Help You ...
Create More Content?
Computers now write content. It’s a brave new world. If you’ve read a financial earnings report from the Associated Press recently, you’re reading content generated by a computer. And for some topics, it works.
Content that strikes an emotional chord with readers and resonates with potential buyers requires humanity, finesse and a deep understanding of customer needs. As the demand for content increases, along with the competition for credibility and visibility, some marketers struggle to keep up the pace.
There are SEO-friendly blog post title generators that spit out titles based on supplied keywords. Content curation and discovery platforms can help serve up relevant content your team does not have to create. But these only supply output based on your input. You won’t get any real insight or original ideas from the bunch, and they won’t tell you what’s worth writing about.
Where software falls short: While you can use software to do some signal boosting and topic research, there’s still no substitute for hiring the right people to drive content creation.
Create Better Content?
A factually accurate and grammatically sound sentence can still fail to be interesting or persuasive.
Software can help with readability scores, SEO, measurement, mobile optimization. It can also help you test what’s working, whether by collecting extensive data and providing analytics dashboards, or by enabling multivariate and A/B testing. This is where the right application can really shine. Even experienced marketers with good instincts are savvy enough to test their assumptions.
Where software falls short: Software can help optimize and measure how readers engage with content, but try as some solutions might, it still can’t tell you if your content is genuinely interesting, valuable or pleasurable to read.
Create Content More Consistently?
Creating enough quality content, and doing so consistently, challenges many B2B marketers. The 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report for North America, produced by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, listed content output ahead of all other concerns, with 60 percent marketers claiming it was a major concern.
Why is developing a regular publishing cadence so challenging? This varies from one team to the next, but it’s usually a matter of resources — not enough content creators, or too many content contributors and too few resources for managing and editing all of their contributions. The more managing, editing and optimizing a content manager has to do, the less time remains for planning and writing new content.
And even though the most effective marketers have a documented strategy, marketing often serves a highly tactical function within organizations. Creating content that grows in value over time sometimes takes a back seat to short-term campaigns promising more immediate returns.
The right platform can help streamline the processes and workflows that are part of running a well-oiled content marketing machine, freeing content managers from wrangling people and software so they spend more time on content creation.
Where software falls short: Motivating people to write, encouraging nervous contributors, and generating ideas for new content is still more about people skills and creativity than technology.
Where Should Marketing Software Fit in Your Content Strategy?
Content marketing tools can help with your content marketing strategy, but they can’t be your content marketing strategy.
Push the usefulness of software to its maximum capacity to increase efficiency, decrease errors, boost reach and measure effectiveness. Beyond that, marketers still need to understand their audience, formalize strategy and hire skilled content producers who can tell compelling stories. For now, there’s no app for that.