B2B Content Marketing is evolving at a rapid pace. Here’s what Pamela Muldoon, the lead content strategist at The Pedowitz Group feels about these dynamics.
Key Takeaways from the episode:
- I would say over the past 05 to 10 years the consumer has become the one in charge and more so now than ever before. And for organizations, especially B2B organizations this is a really big shift.
Historically even if you look at content marketing as an industry it really became an industry I want to say probably 12 or 13 years ago. But even before that we were using content as marketers to reach our audience…we just didn’t necessarily call it that and then it didn’t have its own industry like it does now or a niche area within the marketing spectrum.
The real challenge is getting the right content in front of the right person at the right time. And that’s the challenge because the audience continues to shift and move.
Here’s the complete transcription:
Paroma: (00:37) I think our audience would be interested in knowing what you do and what your past experience was all about, and how it led you to your current role as content strategist at The Pedowitz Group.
Pamela: (00:47) Absolutely. Yes and as you mentioned I’m currently a campaign and content strategist with The Pedowitz Group and we’re a marketing consulting agency that works with enterprise organizations on setting up their digital marketing campaigns both inbound and outbound. That includes also the tools as well as the strategy. So I’m one of the key strategists on this team working with multiple clients. But before I came to TPG (I’ve been with TPG now for about two and a half years) before that I worked in various roles from Social Media Director for an education network to working as a content strategist both independently and within organizations. I’ve actually been in marketing for over 25 years. I can’t believe the party has been that long but I’ve been very focused on the content and digital side for the past 12-13 years and kind of been a veteran in the content marketing space in terms of doing content marketing…that’s even before it was called content marketing. So lots of experiences in all aspects of digital.
Paroma: (01:50) Can you tell us a little bit about the major changes you’ve noticed over the last couple of years ever since this entire digital experience has taken over and also the changing consumer behavior and the change in consumer consumption patterns when it comes to content.
Pamela: (02:08) Yeah. You really hit the nail on the head with the consumer concept… like obviously the biggest change that’s taken place I would say over the past five to 10 years just as a general rule is that the consumer is in charge and more so now than ever before. And for organizations especially B2B organizations this is a really big shift. More so in terms of content. We not only have to really understand how our prospects become our customers but how we can align our content information, what we share with them as well as how we distribute it and where we distribute it to them…we have to take all of that into consideration because at the end of the day our customer is in charge of their own buying process and their own journey.
And we’re just here to help fill in the gaps and connect the dots per se so that they consider what we have to sell if they’re looking for that in the market. Its important to tell them that what we have is something that they not only need but we’re the only option and that’s not easy in a world where they can pretty much look up things themselves at any given time on the Internet.
Paroma: (03:18) What I wanted to ask you next is your thoughts on content marketing and the fact that every B2B marketer relies on it as a strategic way to drive conversion, to get more leads, and to reach out to their audience base effectively. So according to you and The Pedowitz Group, what is the core driving factor for content marketing, why is it still so important considering there is so much content out there already?
Pamela: (03:44) It’s a really great question and historically even if you look at content marketing as an industry it really became an industry I want to say probably 12 or 13 years ago. But even before that we were using content as marketers to reach our audience we just didn’t necessarily call it that and then it didn’t have its own industry like it does now or a niche area within the marketing spectrum. It really has become quite important and continues to be, I don’t see that’s actually going away at all. In essence I see it not only continuing to expand but forcing us as marketers to just get better and better. And what I mean by that is because we as consumers can go onto any given platform on the Internet via our mobile device our phones our iPad’s our tablets whatever the case may be, we really want to be able to provide information that our audience is seeking at any given moment.
And I think that’s where the real challenge is today, the real challenge is getting the right content in front of the right person at the right time. And that’s the challenge because the audience continues to shift and move. And we can only make certain assumptions. So we want to make sure that we’re using our technology and the content that we share with them in a smart way that can also track their behavior patterns so that we’re able to kind of meet them where they’re at at any given moment. And I think that’s where we’re going to see more and more of our content conversation moving towards. You’re absolutely right when you say there’s so much out there and the conversation of quality versus quantity is one that’s been in discussion for a couple of years. I think we’re also going to see that continue to play out, putting forth the best content for our audience versus the most content is still very much in play when it comes to the content marketing that we do.
Paroma: (05:32) Let me ask you- when you plan a content strategy, how important is gating some of your content assets? How important is it to you specifically. And how important should it be for a B2B marketer who’s just starting up.
Pamela: (05:45) Yeah that’s a great question. It’s also one that’s starting to really gain some ground in terms of a discussion point in the content industry. It’s a paradox right, where you want your audience, especially your target audience to be able to consume content, to be able to find and consume the content you are giving them because that’s how you introduce your style.
That’s how you show the world what you’re talking about, that you’re there to be of support and help and add value. Yet at the same time as I mentioned we need to build in these elements of behavioral tendencies, right? Behavioral elements that allow us to track whether or not the person that’s consuming our content is truly qualified in terms of the proper prospects and will it lead to a marketing qualified lead or to a sales qualified lead and then eventually the customer…that kind of takes away some of the relationship piece but it really allows us to put data to this process. And I think in the long run when we’re able to do that, we can actually have happier clients because they are truly where they want to be. Now in terms of gated content, that is a very specific tactic that is used by a lot of us in content marketing to be able to get information from our audience to bring them into our database and then move them through a nurture process to actually purchase a product and/or service. And it still is an important part. I think we’re seeing a shift in that with the ever increasing ways that we can reach audiences through social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn for example. We’re seeing that we can pick them and move them through a behavior process when we bring them through social into our website and into our database. But at the end of the day we still use a lot of data opportunities to have value driven gated opportunities where the audience can start to kind of select this for themselves by either joining or not joining. The creative process is still very important, but you want to be very cautious in how you’re building your content and distributing your content when it comes to gated, so that it doesn’t feel forced and it doesn’t feel too ‘salesy’ …it should feel like it’s actually a part of a conversation and not something that you feel like you’re forcing your audience to do.
Paroma: (07:56) So what kind of content would you choose to share freely and what would you chose to gate?
Pamela: (08:01) I really shifted over the past probably 18 to 24 months in how this works. When gated content became a very common way of gathering information from the audience, a lot of the choices were made based on size of content. Right. Like white papers, really robust pieces of content and really now, the way I look at this in today’s world (because we have so many different mediums in which we can reach our audience) is different. To me the word that constantly comes to mind when I needed to decide what to gate is value, and so I look to what is that I want my content to do. Do I want them to engage with it easily and start to welcome the information, learn from us, accept us as a thought leader in a certain topic…if that is what I want my content to do in terms of value, I don’t want to gate that. So there’s a lot of video content, podcast content falls into this category quite often, visual content like infographics that are easy-to-digest content just in terms of different tactics.
But at the end of the day it’s about value. So if you’re asking your content to simply be there as a resource then you probably don’t want to gate it. At the same time, if you’re asking- Do I want my content to start to select specific members of my audience, then you can start to to create value driven pieces that will do that. And again robustness of content is not necessarily the answer. Something like a checklist of all the things you need to know before you start a project or whatever the product or services that you sell could be something of value to your audience. Get a nice visual one page that could require a gated piece because people are willing to what I call spend money which is their email address right? Spend money on that piece of content… so that’s really how I approach this conversation in today’s content world. What is that I want my content actually accomplish as part of this campaign or as part of the process of moving our audience through their customer journey. And then in terms of value, will my audience pay for this with their email address. And those are the two main questions I ask. It’s not necessarily the largest or biggest piece right.
Paroma: (10:25) So at this point, you’re probably using a lot of registration forms to collect all this information from your target audience. So we’ve been noticing that that it’s easy to get a lot of bogus information when we do that. So how do you sort of suggest ways to minimize this bogus this information from entering your database?
Pamela: (10:44) It is a tough part of the process right there’s a lot of sandbox out there. A lot of black hat techniques are still right in terms of individuals. And then there’s those that are trying to get the content to working executives so they only allow a business address and things like that. And I don’t know if you’ll ever truly get away from some of those natural characteristics of just human nature. But I think from a content perspective what I like to do is look at the value of the audience and really understand your persona or the folks that you’re actually going after. It’s been discussed probably at length right that your buying journey and your personas are key and are very critical to building out the proper campaign. But I think sometimes we talk about something so much that we forget to just kind of stop, take take a step back, and really assess how well do I know this audience. The more that we truly understand the individual, the less chance we have of having bogus information. Right. Because at the end of the day our goal is if you are interested in my product and service I really want you to come in. And want you to come into my database and if you’re really interested you want to be there and that’s what we want our sales staff to have…that qualified person who’s excited and interested to talk about the product and service. So it does always take a little bit of scrubbing right. We always have to make sure we are doing a routine cleaning of our database to make sure that we don’t have junk accounts or inactive accounts or accounts that just don’t follow suit. But this is where content, the ungated content can be critical, to ensure that by the time you ask for information they’re almost waiting for it. They’re willing and waiting to be able to come into your database because you’ve provided so much value to them already.
Paroma: (12:36) What do you think of the future of this content marketing game in the context of the content gating game especially with all these new tools and all these technologies out there. Its technology that has changed the way they consume what we have to offer them, they prefer video today, they probably use their phone a lot more often to read blogs, to consume video content, podcasts. So where do you see all of this going? Where is it headed?
Pamela: (13:02) Yeah! That they are in control, that they’re getting smarter and they know when it’s coming is true. So I think we may actually see less of gating as we move forward because the audience is almost demanding more of value that they can achieve in one click. Right? At some point there won’t be any clicks perhaps but they really are demanding. I think what our job is as content creators and developers is to be able to do as much as we can in content development that spans different mediums and different types of content for our audience to digest. And what I mean by that is we mentioned video we mentioned audio visual text all of those elements are important and we need to look ahead and and really consider content development not only an important part of the marketing process but a key part when it comes to importance because your audience wants to be able to see something for a couple of minutes and then they want to pop over and read another blog post and then they see that you’re also a podcast host and then they maybe listen to a couple of those episodes and think- if I like it I’ll subscribe. And so that’s what it really is, we’ve heard the word bingeing on content similar to the way we like to binge on Netflix right. We need to be able to start using more technologies that develop content hubs and through those behaviors we can easily or more easily bring them in. Let them stay with us for a longer time frame. And then of course bring them into our database. So I think we’re going to see more free content as we continue to evolve but we’re going to see multiple mediums in play so that our audience can digest that content the way they really want to at any given moment. Right. I have a good friend who works in the B2B marketing space and I spoke with her some time ago and she said the average person when they start to research do up to 20 minutes of research at any given time. And if that’s the case then why aren’t we developing content that gives them the opportunity to do that. Does that make sense?
Paroma: (15:14) What are your biggest takeaways after all these years in content, you’ve seen the game change. You’ve seen a lot of technology coming in and you’ve seen the consumption patterns change so what are your biggest takeaways and what are the few secret steps that you would want to share with our listeners?
Pamela: (15:30) One of the biggest takeaways I have is that I have seen marketing evolve quite a bit. I mean I started my marketing career in traditional broadcasting as a radio copywriter and copy director back when all I had was a newspaper clipping and I had to write a 30 second ad based on that newspaper clipping right. And I’ve seen it evolve from this push marketing all the way to now where there’s a whole marketing that’s inbound to where we are today with digital and multiple tools and a couple of things just never seem to change… one is the understanding of your customer, that’s truly critical. I think now we have opportunities more than ever to be able to collect information on behavior and data on those that are interested and what they’re consuming. So let’s take advantage of that as much as we can as marketers so that we’re fulfilling the promise of what our content needs to deliver.
And another piece that I see is with technology we in marketing sometimes have what I call S.O.S- shiny object syndrome right. We see a new tool and we want to go play with it and test it out and that’s all fine. I think it is important for us as marketers to really understand as many of the tools that we have available to us so we can get them, demo them, that type of thing but at the end of the day the tool is only as good as the information you’re putting into the tool right? And so I believe that content is still going to be the most critical part of everything you do even if you’re doing a marketing automation campaign through a Marketo or Eloqua for example. You still have to provide a message and a content offer to get your audience to do something to fulfill on on an action. Right. And so all of those tools are fantastic but the most important is still the information that you’re sharing with your audience which you have to know extremely well.
Paroma: (17:28) Absolutely agree with you. And I think this was a very interesting conversation. And there’s a lot that our listeners can learn from this. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up for the day ?
Pamela: (17:38) I think just one last piece is- if you are in marketing today, whether you’re just joining the industry or you’ve been in the industry for a couple of decades, it is one of the most exciting times to be in marketing. We have an opportunity to really make change happen inside of organizations because content is touch marketing, it touches customer service, it touches the product development, Human Resources, Sales. We have the opportunity to really work within the inside of organizations like never before and then externally to be able to work with our customers. This ultimately is an unheard of opportunity. So I’d just like to remind our fellow marketers that it’s an exciting time. I can feel overwhelming but we have the opportunity to do some really interesting and fun projects. And I just really think it’s a really wonderful time to join the marketing industry if you’re just joining us.
Pamela Muldoon is a Revenue Marketing Coach with The Pedowitz Group and comes to TPG with over two decades of traditional and digital marketing experience. She specializes in campaign and content strategy with a passion for helping clients develop a content marketing culture across the organization.
About the podcast
Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.