As content marketers evolve their programs, one decision they often face is whether to invest in a content marketing platform.
That leads to many questions, including: What is a content marketing platform? I already have WordPress and Google Analytics; why do I need an additional platform? How will a content marketing platform help my team? I’ll need to carve out space in my budget – will it be worth my investment?
With a new year beginning, these questions may be top of mind. Forrester recently released the report “Explore Content Marketing Platforms for B2B Marketing.” It gives an overview of the current content marketing space and the role content marketing platforms play in the overall marketing mix. The report touches upon the different needs that B2B marketers have, compared to their B2C counterparts. In addition, Forrester evaluates a number of content marketing platforms (including NewsCred’s).
The report answers some fundamental questions for B2B marketers who are considering a content marketing platform. Here’s a rundown:
What is a content marketing platform?
For those unsure of what, exactly, content marketing platforms are, Forrester defines them as solutions that help marketing teams:
- Collaborate on a content strategy.
- Orchestrate the numerous, concurrent streams of activity by content creators, curators, and distributors inside and outside of the company.
- Optimize downstream cross-channel distribution to key audiences.
This definition resonated with me. High-performing content marketing programs require cross-functional collaboration among many teams. Content marketers need to be able to manage multiple workflows with different stakeholders, at the same time. Most importantly, they need analytics and insights into how content is performing so they can optimize their strategies accordingly.
A content marketing platform should, at a minimum, facilitate those activities. The software should help content marketers manage editorial planning and production, social and email distribution (both paid and organic), and track analytics. In doing so, content marketing platforms can help teams lay the foundations for scalable, omnichannel, global programs.
Do B2B content marketers have different needs from B2C content marketers?
Forrester found that B2B content marketers have a few specific needs that diverge from B2C marketers.
Most B2B marketers have very specific target audiences and defined buyer journeys. They often manage a larger variety of content assets, including whitepapers, infographics, videos, podcasts, and ebooks, in addition to long- and short-form articles.
Plus, B2B marketers are often tasked with measuring content effectiveness at every stage of the funnel. They often have to take a more DIY approach, rather than working with agencies or internal analyst teams who frequently provide that data for B2C marketers.
Can a content marketing platform help me measure ROI?
As a marketing leader, my main objective is to drive marketing-influenced revenue and know how each channel is performing – including content. It’s no different for any CMO. I hear this, daily, from my peers and from NewsCred’s customers. Proving marketing ROI is no longer a “nice-to-have.” It’s a requirement.
Marketers need ROI analytics that are specific to content – namely, how content, content campaigns, and content journeys contribute to leads, opportunities, and deals. Plus, marketers require insights into the performance of specific authors, topics, sources, tags, and categories. This help marketers iterate on their strategies to drive more ROI. A content marketing platform can help exponentially by providing that data.
(At NewsCred, we’ve invested in creating an analytics suite that measures content performance at every stage of the funnel, from pageviews, unique visitors, and engagement, to conversions, leads generated, and revenue influenced. I’m proud that Forrester recognized our efforts in the report.)
In addition, my key takeaways from the Forrester report, and considerations for any marketer evaluating a content marketing platform, include:
- Content marketing platforms are creating significant value to B2B marketing teams and are here to stay. One in two B2B marketing organizations are using, expanding, or planning to get a content marketing platform.
- No two marketing organizations are identical. B2B marketers should seek out technology flexibility to easily support multiple use cases, lines of businesses, and content strategies.
- Performance is the future of B2B content marketing, and the future is now. Content marketing platforms that accurately measure and attribute marketing contribution to revenue will become indispensable to growth-centric B2B marketing organizations.
The Forrester report reflects what we’re hearing from our B2B customers on where content marketing platforms fit within their marketing strategies. I’m looking forward to 2018 and the value of content marketing platforms becoming even more apparent for all marketers.
Lisa Kalscheur is NewsCred’s SVP of Marketing.