The slide deck of my presentation at #SMXLMilan 2017.
Going global with content marketing sounds easy (just translate it, right?) but it actually takes a lot more preparation than you might expect. In this post, we’ll have a look at three frameworks with which you’ll be better prepared if you want to conquer a foreign market with your content. Continue reading “Global Content Marketing and Localisation: 3 Business Strategy Frameworks”
Editorial boards are an old tradition at media and newspapers. In today’s digital marketing world, brands’ content editorial boards aren’t quite as influential but still serve a critical role in content marketing strategy. This post will explain why and how to set up central and local editorial boards and is a subset of the Strategy Collection.
It should not come as a surprise that the content marketing strategy has to stand side by side with an internal organizational transformation. In fact, today’s marketing organizations are barely designed to properly support a content marketing strategy. The content editorial board is the core of your transformation. The board has to handle all content-related requests and issues, has to define the distribution/amplification strategy and content measurement framework. In large organizations the editorial board has the key role of alignment and coordination between several division and content sources. Finally it has the task to finalize an internal content communication and distribution plan.
The board has to manage the so called content ecosystem: the combination of internal writers, internal and guest bloggers, agencies and freelances that will support your editorial efforts. External sources have to be educated and in some large firms certified, in order to be part of your ecosystem.
Without a plan, an editorial board and editorial calendar, nothing will happen.
The choice of content editorial board members depends on the central marketing organization, which can be complex or lean. In general, I suggest the following macro-areas of expertise:
- content & persona owners: they are responsible for content and personas. Functionally, the domain could be represented by strategic marketing reps, product managers or technology leads;
- channel/content distribution owners: they are expert of content and content distribution via different channels – email, social media, SEO, paid promotion, etc.
- geographies: it’s always interesting to invite one of more geographies to the content meetings. Advantage is two fold: getting early inputs from geos and learning about new content created at local level which might be “elevated” at global level
The editorial calendar is the tool of the content editorial board. It is much more than just a calendar with content assigned to dates. A good editorial calendar maps content production to the audience persona and the phases of the buyer journey. Ultimately, the editorial calendar is your most powerful tool as a content marketer. Without a plan, an editorial board and editorial calendar, nothing will happen.
Fact is, there should be two calendars in place: the (content) production and the distribution calendar. Here is where software like Content Marketing Platforms (CMPs) can make the difference and increase the board’s effectiveness. In absence of a proper CMP, production and distribution could be unified under the same spreadsheet.
While the central editorial team will lead content strategy at a global level, a local editorial board should be in place in each major country or geography to manage proper local content planning and distribution. The choice of editorial board members depends one more time on the local marketing organization. In general, I suggest the following members:
- A field marketer responsible for operations in that specific country;
- A digital marketing lead (or individual channel distribution leads – social media, web, newsletter, SEO – in larger organizations);
- A content lead (assuming that the country has a content lead);
- A strategic marketing lead (or a local product marketer)
- Members of the local content agency – if an agency is supporting local operations
The local editorial board will agree with the central team on target personas, lead the decision for adopting content created centrally, contract with local vendors, and engage members of the central team to secure a strong, continuous dialogue.
I wrote this post less than one year ago. It was November 2016, exactly twelve months after launching a global content marketing program for the IT Business Unit of Schneider Electric.
The same month I presented my experience at NewsCred’s ThinkContent 2016 Conference in London. Today, less than one year later, I have revised and updated the original post, with examples and experiences coming from other companies where I contributed to implement global content marketing programs. I added three paragraphs too (“Definitions”, “Localisation” and “Metrics”), to touch relevant topics that in my view were not properly covered on the original post. The original post was mainly focused on B2B best practices – which is natural if you come, as I did, from 15 years of experience in B2B enterprises. This time it includes B2C examples and considerations. Also, this post partially reflects what I presented at CMWorld 2017, the largest global Content Marketing Conference.
Since last year, my passion for traveling has not changed. In fact, I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not travelling. In a way, it has been a constant whether I was on the road for business or pleasure. My travels have given me a better understanding of the world. But I never knew how much I had to learn until I was tasked to launch a brand new global content marketing program for Schneider Electric. In short: I thought I knew the world, but when you have to develop content for different geographies, well, it feels like you never stepped outside your front door.
My first global content marketing journey started in three years ago, when my team and I began defining Schneider Electric IT Division’s content strategy and the processes that would sustain it. Our goals were twofold: increase leads and marketing opportunities, which were flat and stagnating at that time (marketing opportunities had to count at least for 20% of overall opportunities), and increase brand awareness. After defining our strategy, we spent one full year preparing for the global launch through multiple pilots. We learned an incredible amount from our successes and mistakes. One year later I replicated the same model with global clients once I moved to NewsCred at the beginning of 2017.
What follows is a series of valuable considerations from all these experiences, which should prove helpful to other marketers who are establishing and launching their own global content marketing strategy.
It happens, more and more. When I write or talk about content marketing strategy, I am used to get the following question – among others: OK, but what exactly is “Big Rock’ content? And what is the difference between Big Rocks and eBooks?
Let me try to answer here, publicly. Big Rock is nothing more than highly valuable content.
The Big Rock content concept was popularized by Jason Miller when he ran social media strategy for Marketo. Jason defines a big rock content asset as a substantial piece of content such as “the definitive guide to a problem you solve”. Jason is quoted as saying, “A big rock content asset can be 20, 30 or more pages long. It should be visually compelling of course. It can be gated for lead capture. Then, you “slice” up the big rock content asset into blog posts, infographics, Slideshare decks, webinars, etc.”
In a nutshell: Big Rock is a substantial piece of content based on the idea of becoming the definitive guide to a conversation that you want to own.
The current trend in content marketing is to develop an all-encompassing guide to whatever our keywords or topics are which is written strategically instead of instructionally. This type of content is very top of funnel and can serve many purposes such as SEO, fuel for social and lead generation, sales enablement, and event collateral to name a few.
Big Rocks should be launched with the same emphasis of new products.
A great example of Big Rock content is Marketo’s definitive guide series. Guys at Marketo have created a series of eBooks clocking in at close to 100 pages each. This Big Rock piece of content is something that was repurposed using the turkey analogy mentioned in a previous post. Out of this one Big Rock piece of content Marketo had carved out 15 blogs, two infographics, two webinars, two videos, two SlideShare presentations, a number of cheat sheets and much more. Imagine the pieces and parts you can pull out of a Big Rock piece of content and remember that this is the foundation that is going to fuel your campaigns for quite some time.
A good example of Big Rock in the Data Center/Cloud space – which is where my company leads the way – is VMWare’s Virtualization 2.0 for Dummies. Same concept, same approach (not sure about VMWare’s launching capabilities, but the book/Big Rock is superb).
Before closing, let’s go with the second piece of the question: what’s the difference between Big Rocks and eBooks?
An eBook can be a Big Rock if it matches the definition given above: an all-encompassing guide to whatever your keywords or topics are which is written strategically instead of instructionally. Also, eBooks can be considered a Big Rock if sliced up into “turkey slices” and not just considered as a single piece of content. EBooks of course could also be just an individual repurposed pieces of a Big Rock.
Some super-useful resources:
- Video Jason Miller & Kapost explain what a Big Rock is
- Creating Your First Big Rock: A Step by Step Guide for Marquee Content
- LinkedIn Rocks Content Power Chords with New Content Strategy Guide
- Content for leads – Social Media Examiner/Jason Miller
- What’s the Difference Between an E-Book and a White Paper
I have been designing content marketing strategy in large B2B enterprises for the last few years. If I have to list the top challenges I have had with its implementation there is no doubt that the first was a missing Content Marketing Software Platform. Other major challenges were, in order: 1) setting up proper analytic and 2) moving our content strategy from central pilots to global deployment (see my post on NewsCred Insights).
Our complex marketing technology stack, heritage of endless company acquisitions and integration, miss in fact this critical piece: we had to invest a relevant amount of time thinking at how to replace all processes and functions that a content marketing platform could offer: content creation, content curation, planning, editorial calendar, workflow management, publishing, internal and external content distribution, analytics, and last but not least, intelligence.
There has been a mind-numbing proliferation of technology vendors and solutions to address the needs of content and digital marketers in the last few years. For instance, Curata’s content marketing tools map has increased from 40 to over 130 vendors in its most recent version. NewsCred too has helped navigating across the ocean of marketing technologies with one of its latest posts. Mergers and acquisitions have contributed to make things even more complex.
Now, let’s go back to the basics for a moment, and let’s define what a content marketing platform is. The latest Forrester’s Wave report on Content Marketing Platforms (end of 2015) provides some clarity (note: the report has restricted access).
To address this challenge (the challenge of the enterprise’s content chaos), several technology vendors have developed a single software platform for all involved parties to collaborate on the strategy behind the content and its planning, creation, and distribution; these are called content marketing platforms (CMPs):
[Definition] Content marketing platforms are 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, and optimize downstream cross-channel distribution to key audiences.
Forrester Wave’s report further clarifies the need for a CMP: CMPs, the report affirms, are a “nascent category of marketing technology stack”, and are quickly growing to provide:
- A single environment for teams to collaborate on content for all phases of customer life cycle
- A replacement for Excel and email and facilitate collaboration across organizational silos
- A place to aggregate data, content, and metrics from many sources
A Content Marketing Platform is this, and much more. CMPs act as a glue among several enterprise technologies managing content, distribution, analytics, pipeline (which is in general the primary goals of all B2B marketers) and insights, one of the new frontiers for such kind of software platforms. It is clear why CMPs have a central role and integrate several pieces of the marketing technology stack.
Where a CMP is supposed to be located within a full marketing stack? Curata introduces the “Emergence of the Content Marketing Platform”:
Sales Force Automation platforms fuel revenue by tracking and supplying sales opportunities and leads. Marketing Automation Platforms drive Sales Force Automation by supplying marketing qualified leads. But what drives the marketing activities and leads of Marketing Automation Platforms? Content. Like a car without gas, marketing automation can’t get very far without content. Content is needed for everything from a website (which is tracked by marketing automation), to email campaigns, to even pay-per-click landing page offers.
Many of today’s content marketers have little accountability and transparency in terms of how their content is performing. Their content is often warehoused and stored in multiple disparate systems and spreadsheets. That’s why a CMP is required.
Now, regardless the market studies you will look at and the marketing domain you belong to (business or consumer) content marketers have common evergreen challenges (source: Curata):
- Limited budget for staff and program spend;
- Creating enough quality content on a regular basis, whether in-house or externally sourced;
- Distributing content across multiple channels, including publication and promotion;
- Measuring the impact of content, i.e., what works and what doesn’t work to drive awareness, leads and sales enablement.
CMPs help marketers addressing all of them.
Back to my past experience and projects, as soon as we recognized the need for a CMP for our organization, we started to list all requirements for the “perfect CMP”. We segmented the requirements in six main categories, which I list here below. Using this simple and repeatable methodology, we evaluated several vendors.
(Download the CMP requirements in table format)
1) Content Development and Workflow Management
- Workflow management capabilities
- Ability to create different workflows based on content type and link those worklows to campaigns
- Ability to view all assets & status of assets related to a specific campaign
- Attach to asset and campaign name additional information such as persona, asset type, brand attribute
- Ability to send emails to content owners, content requestor or project managers about changing status of developed asset
- Ability to send emails to task owners informing them of task and work assigned
- Ability to provide workflow capabilities for translation and associate workflow to master assets, campaigns etc.
2) Editorial Calendar
- Editorial calendar management
- Capability to view content development requests by content type, campaign and persona, where contributors can view tasks assigned
- Ability to share internally the editorial calendar
- Ability to view production and publication calendars
3) Content Management
- WYSIWYG editor for direct publishing, meeting requirements to publish to blogs and major social media platforms
- Ability to manage all content development requests: ebook, infographic, whitepapers, rich media content
4) Integration with existing stack and Distribution functionality
- Ideally connect to company’s DAM to pick up imagery and post content
- Ability to integrate with blog platforms (e.g. WordPress)
- Ability to connect to existing email platforms for content to be emailed as part of newsletter
- Ability to integrate with corporate web CMS
- Ability to connect to Marketing Automation platforms (e.g. Marketo, Eloqua, etc.) for reporting information as well as to send content to be distributed via email or on landing page
- Ability to connect to CRMs (e.g. SalesForce)
- Ability to connect to social media publishing tools (e.g. Sprinklr)
- Sales enablement: ability to provide shared content to sales
5) Analytics and Insights
- Content Performance – Content Pipeline contribution
- Top performing content list by persona, by campaign , by brand attribute
- Amplification and engagement rate on content whether or not we use the CMP platform for distribution
- Internal consumption: which content assets are most used by sales and in which part of the buying process
- Localization rate: how many content assets have been internally consumed and localized
- External consumption: which content are customers consuming in which part of the buying cycle
- Insights and recommendations
6) Mobile app
- Availability as app for Smartphones and Tablets
There is not a single way to evaluate the best fit for your organization. All starts with your company/division objectives. In our case support for our content marketing strategy and in addition integration with the existing stack, support to existing internal processes and analytics were the main goals and then main criteria for selection.
A few months ago I created a comprehensive post outlining an twelve-step Content Marketing strategy. That’s exactly what the implementation of a CMP will support.
Step 1: The Case for Change
Step 2: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 3: Editorial Process- the Content Editorial Board and the Content Ecosystem
Step 4: Global and local audience persona, buyer journey and content map
Step 5: Alignment with your company’s Brand story
Step 6: Selecting a Content Hub and Content Marketing Platform
Step 7: Distribution channel strategy – distribution and amplification
Step 8: The POEM Model -Paid drives Owned which drives Earned Media (aka: How to integrate Public Relations with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy)
Step 9: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 10: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 11: Measurement and Optimization
Step 12: Finally, Going Global
A CMP will definitely address and support most of the points above, and as a consequence, the overall content strategy.