If you are in the market for, or recently purchased a content marketing solution, you’re probably wondering how you can make the most out of that investment. The irony of software selection is that, despite the importance of the tool’s features and capabilities, success is not guaranteed by the software. Rather, success is determined by the organization’s ability to embrace and improve processes, leveraging software to drive operational efficiency and empowerment.
In Altimeter Group’s latest research report, The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions, Analyst Rebecca Lieb outlines the top five best practices marketers should employ when investing in solutions. Let’s take a close look at each one.
1. Train Staff
It sounds basic, and it is. Yet, in the real world, training is often limited to an initial playbook distributed or a one-off vendor workshop. Yet training on both the technology and the larger content strategy is crucial for adoption, efficiency, and ongoing optimization. Our research found only 24% of marketers say employees are formally trained and empowered to publish on behalf of the brand. Training should be ongoing, distributed regularly, and collaborative. Creating a central knowledge base where employees can share tips, best practices, and ideas is critical to efficiency and empowerment.
2. Avoid redundancies
Marketers often invest in tools for their primary feature without realizing there are secondary and tertiary features they already have in place. This overlap in functionality creates redundancies in processes, reporting, and management, nevermind the financial costs of duplication. Forty percent of content marketers surveyed report the lack of inter-departmental coordination is leading to disparate tools being used. Companies combat redundancies and overlapping feature sets is by integrating systems, which also drives “one version of the truth” (instead of “multiple realities that don’t align when viewed in aggregate”).
3. Consider IT support (or lack thereof)
Although many of today’s solutions are SaaS/cloud-based, it’s key to consider the role of IT for both initial and ongoing support. Many solutions now enable marketers to bypass IT for regular content publication (e.g. updating a website), but that does not mean marketers should bypass IT for everything. Adhering to traditional silos is a common blunder when it comes to streamlined deployment of software solutions: our survey found just 14% of content marketers work closely with IT. Instead, collaborate with IT on systems support and requirements gathering, especially accounting for incumbent systems and implementation needs.
4. Build for speed
Building for speed and efficiency is critical, from implementation to adoption to rapid content deployment. In a world of constant media, rapid personalization, delivery, and the ability to build content based on buzz is a key consideration. In fact, our research found that investment in tools to aid in rapid deployment of content—particularly those used for real-time marketing— topped the list of priorities.
5. Scale towards the future
“Can it scale?” is a difficult but essential question when considering content marketing software investments. Channels and tactics that marketers aren’t using today— e.g. mobile, real-time marketing, beacons, native marketing, other enterprise technology investments— can quickly become urgent necessities that require immediate integration. Furthermore, internationalization and localization (e.g. local languages, platforms, channels, etc.) are often overlooked, but are critical for reaching international audiences effectively and quickly. Our research found that some marketers adopt a ‘test-and-learn’/piloting approach to ascertain a product’s general ‘fit,’ including its ability to scale quickly to meet unforeseen needs.
Regardless of your organization’s existing sophistication in content marketing, the above best practices are universally applicable. Following these best practices while assessing, buying, and introducing content marketing software will help mitigate risks of low adoption, inadequate support, [process and cost] inefficiencies, redundancies in capabilities, and obsolescence over time.