How technology can transform your Content Marketing activities – more latest insights from Dave Chaffey

This outtake focused on content marketing trends 2022 is taken from a live webinar from January 2022 recorded exclusively with Dave Chaffey, the UK’s leading digital marketing expert and tutor on MMC Learning’s MSc in Digital Marketing.

In this video Dave talks about applying the RACE methodology to content marketing, learning from Martech providers and the growing impact of AI and machine learning on the content experience.

Buyer Journey and Decisions

Let’s now look at the buyer journey and go into some practical ways you can use to build out that content strategy.

Now, what we have to acknowledge is we said there’s a lot of competition with all of the competitor activity, but there’s also complexity amongst consumers.

Google has done a lot of work with, I think, with Google researching just how complex the buying decision is. Now, buying a car is a pretty high involvement purchase, but this research showed that the average or this particular person they were monitoring, and they certainly weren’t exceptional, made 900 digital interactions, and I’m sure offline interactions as well when just deciding on six brands. (Stacy’s car buying journey on slides).

Really important to find out what’s effective, thereby going into the details of what those Google searches are, what the YouTube videos, which were effective… hasn’t mentioned social media, but which channels they’re using.

What I’d really recommend, and, again, a practical tool, a mind tool I’ve developed here is to map out the customer journey and how you’ll use media and content together to actually influence someone such as Stacy on a journey like this.

Applying RACE thinking

People don’t necessarily go through the same path. Certainly, that’s what the analytics shows, so many sort of different paths you could go through. But, in terms of managing it, I think it’s still useful to have this top-level, funnel-typed view. In Smart Insights, we’ve developed that as the RACE framework, and it’s very similar to classic branding. You do need to know how many people are aware of your brand that you’ve reached.
You need to know how many are developing brand familiarity, which is Act, so that’s what your content is doing. It’s developing brand preference and then purchase intent, which is the Convert.

Really important to look at content in terms of how it shapes perceptions. I think it’s common with large brands, for example, I was working with 3M, with their both business to business and consumer… I think they’ve got tens of thousands of products from Post-it Notes to various mining equipment, where they originated.

But, they’re really hot on this “brand surveying” and seeing how content and media are affecting both those perceptions of the brand.

You really need to do dedicated research is the takeaway. You can work out so much from the analytics, but like we saw with that GWI report (See link in footer of this post to Content marketing trends 2022 with Dave Chaffey), we can’t really know what’s effective unless we’re doing research to understand how all these different channels here support the channel.

Whether you’re using, in larger brands, we’re seeing more adoption of tools like Qualtrics or Alida, which used to be Vision Critical. One of the trends is we’re seeing more large-scale customer panels being managed, so we can really see which content is effective, and to test that content before it’s integrated into campaigns or Always-on.

Always-on is really what we would call this life cycle, so we’re thinking which of our touch points are we most effective with because it may be that if you’re a more mature business, you’re working on all of these and you’d assess them.

But, actually, one business I was working with, just as an example, they were really strong in these areas. Quite strong in their organic search and social media, not so strong on nurturing the audience through email marketing, just the newsletter involved there, and not really much use of paid online media either.

This is a B2B example, as you can see developed marketing qualified leads, MQLs, but you if you’re working B2C, you can use a similar approach. If you’re wondering on the TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, we’ll come back to that one in a moment.

What are MarTech providers offering?

Okay. One thing I thought would be helpful, and really this is one of the best ways, actually, of reviewing what the latest trends in digital marketing is is to look what the providers, the MarTech providers are offering in terms of their content.

This is one tool we use to show the complexity of this. I’ll give some examples as we’re going through. It may well be that you’re using an integrated solution such as HubSpot or Salesforce. I think, Adobe now have purchased Marketo, and they will provide many of these tools. But, actually, they may not be that strong in, say, content measurement, so sometimes you do need more personalization, although they will have options there.

My point there was, is that, very often, it’s an ideal world, you will choose just one of these 30 categories of technology that we’ve got around the edge, got the lower cost options around the edge, higher, more enterprised versions in the middle. But there may be specific content marketing tools that you need as well as your email marketing and marketing automation or your content management system. That’s what I’m going to look at a few examples of.

Software example: Intercom

One the tools that we actually use at Smart Insights is Intercom. What this allows us to do is to, I’ve just blanked out the names, but this allows you to see in individual companies where someone’s accessing from work, how they’re interacting with your content.

But, more important, it looks at the whole customer journey. You can see that when first saw that person, and then how long ago they signed up, number of level of engagement as well. It’s really powerful, and beyond this, of course, status reports to see which content people are interacting with, which content is most popular and most effective.

There are other tools that will use the IP address to identify people like this, so Lead Forensics, some of you may know.

But what this tool does, in particular, is to really understand how people engage with content, but also allows you to interact with them on the website, which I think is another trending content marketing, rather than having that disconnect with where you might nurture someone through sending out an email or a text message or a mobile push notification or sales.

You actually have the discussion about what you can provide for that person online, so you’ll have seen, perhaps, this in the bottom right on many sites.

Sometimes it will be something quite generic, such as how can we help you, which does have some value. But we found real value in recommending specific content, such as one of our free templates on digital marketing or to request a demo. You can see we’re really on top of this, and we’ll try and reply via our business development guys will try and reply quite quickly.

It’s really a way of surfacing relevant content on the website.

If you compare to the level of engagement compared to email marketing, for example, you can see we’ve got great open and clickthrough rates there. It’s nice to get the sort of softer interim feedback as well. Generally, people are pretty happy with what we’re sending out there, but we can follow up if they’re not.

Then you can test… I think Gartner have called this “conversational marketing”. Some of the other providers in this area if you want to learn more about conversational marketing, both Drift and Intercom, they’ve got a lot of useful resources on this.

Just as with our emails and website, we can test which of these are most effective. I think the A (version) copy here was the one that was most effective.

Other technologies, of course, well, that’s definitely an innovative technology, but it’s quite widely used.

AI, machine learning and content

What you’ll be interested to hear about as well is AI and machine learning.

There are many opportunities, again, to think, how can we use that across the life cycle, and which is going to give us the biggest uplift. I think, really, it’s this area between act and convert, so it’s increasing customer conversion from prospects to customers where there’s the biggest opportunity, particularly where you’ve got very complex companies like 3M, who I mentioned earlier, who’ve got many products offering different sectors.

You just can’t manually set up the targeting for those different audiences.

In terms of career development and the technology, what we’re really talking specifically about is predictive analytics tools. If you want to, rather than just accepting what the vendors say about what their tools can do so you can ask them the right questions, I’d really say it’s worth upskilling in this area of predictive analytics.

You can see on the right here, these are the type of problems or opportunities that your predictive analytics can solve. Very much customer focused, so who are our best customers, which niche audience should we be targeting?

I think one of the problems with AI, though, is that often it’s presented as a black box by the vendor.

One of the trends I’ve picked up on recently is we’re seeing more people talking about explainable AI. It won’t say you need to do this or you need to recommend this content. It will actually explain why it’s working, so that’s definitely going to help us as marketers.

Let’s have a look at how AI can support you from… This is a specialist author who’s written about AI, and really it’s about getting that value from your data, the time to value, trying to reduce that amongst the complexity of how you would maybe currently visualise.

You’re probably thinking, oh, it’s just more complexity with the way this AI is, but I think with the way this AI is. But, I think, if you’re selecting the right types of tools, and there’s a challenge there, these are just dedicated tools for AI to support data analysis and visualisation of data. So, this is just one area.

But, there are tools that will help you with being so time constrained. And an interesting one that I was reading about was this one called Rasa. It’s actually an email marketing tool. And it’s rather than you manually curating the newsletter, as many of us do at the moment, it will use the interaction that the audience has with the newsletter to actually segment to the individual based on what they’re interested with.

And then of course, you would hook this in with your main automation system.

[Watch software demo in video above.]

Okay, so a really nice example of a video testimonial there, which is one of the trends within content marketing. I was interested on this site actually, that’s really the only way they provide videos, so they’re almost forcing you to engage.

You can see it’s a high, well-thought through, high production video. It could well be more effective than a PDF that someone downloads and then never, never gets to, so that’s an interesting strategy they’ve used there.

Another tool for email marketing that this actually tailors subject lines based on the emotions of the user based on analysis. And actually, it’s another bank in this example that’s doing this, but also applying it to Facebook content as well, and really making sure that those Facebook ads, and I’m sure you could use on Instagram as well, really engage more than the other posts in the feed.

And then, Webeo, I think this is part of lead forensics. They’re offering often personalization has been very well established, say in retail, but not so much in B2B. I think it’s a trend that this is getting more sophisticated with targeting different sectors, where you’ve got the complexity of different business sizes, different business sectors, how to get those relevant.

So the one on the left here you can see is like the generic version. The one on the right, it’s got specific testimonials and specific content about the retail sector. If you were in as a B2B sector.

Interactive content – fourth wave of content

You may also, if you want to look at, and this would be an example of what one of the latest trends in content marketing is this idea of interactive content.

As well as the download, what we’ve created on Smart Insights was interactive tools to help you score yourself and then to connect with the most relevant templates and learning to boost yourself up that curve.

You can see here that when I ran this last, the majority of people were just scoring themselves as one or two, and there were relatively few three and above. If you are feeling, oh, we’ve got so far to go, you’re not alone, I guess this shows.

I mentioned there that this is a term from Scott Brinker, who talks… He works at HubSpot on their marketing technology evangelism these days.

But, he talked about this fourth wave of content marketing, where we’re developing more interactive experiences now. That goes beyond the sort of simple personalization.

Then we’re seeing more and more AR and VR. I’m not going to talk much about those because despite any hype you’ve heard about the metaverse, for example, it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference, I think, certainly this year or in future years to you.

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