By Robert Rose published June 14, 2013

A Strategic Map of Content Marketing Technologies

content marketing technologyHow is content marketing technology different than other marketing solutions? Does anyone really need yet another segmented view of marketing software solutions? These are questions that, candidly, we at CMI started asking ourselves just after the first Content Marketing World event in 2011. 

At that event, we met with dozens of new technology companies that were either making their debut or would soon formally introduce themselves to the many attendees focused on the practice of content marketing.

As we began to dig into some of these companies, and understand the real-world problems they solved for enterprises big and small, we discovered that they were indeed different. And, as the second Content Marketing World approached in 2012, we saw even more new technologies — and new demand for tools specific to the practice of content marketing. But, we thought, surely this was a space already being covered by someone.

Yet to our surprise, when we looked around, we discovered that no one had really done an adequate job of stratifying the market for enterprise buyers of this technology. And those buyers, along with agencies, interested venture capital firms, and even some of the technology companies themselves, were coming to us and asking, “What’s the difference between X and Y solutions, and what challenges do they really solve?” Not only were we unable to point them to the right answer, we couldn’t even point them to a resonant resource that might have the answer.

So, we decided that we would take the reins, spend the time to research the space, and try to provide a pragmatic map of these technologies.

Starting with traditional technologies

Ultimately, software tools are meant to make it easier to facilitate some part of a process that is difficult to execute by other means. And, in our experience, if you can map your process to the stages outlined below, it becomes easier to identify gaps — and, perhaps, a solution that can help fill those gaps.

In our book, “Managing Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi and I discuss the internal content marketing process. While it’s certainly no revolutionary content map, it’s as good a model as any in describing the major components of a successful content marketing approach.

We speak to four steps:

1. Create, Edit, and Manage: To create content for content marketing, a company needs to assemble a team, develop a work flow that makes sense, establish the rules everyone will play by, and agree to follow a predetermined game plan.

2. Aggregate, Curate, and Optimize: In this step, the company aligns content across a larger narrative; pulls content in from disparate locations and teams; curates it to provide a consolidated, distinct point of view; and optimizes it for various channels.

3. Promote, Converse, and Listen: Here, the company stays focused, managing inbound conversations and publishing outbound content. It understands that it has to promote content through traditional marketing methods, as well as socialize it within communities.

4. Measure, Analyze, and Learn: During this phase, the company measures and analyzes data to understand how the content is changing or enhancing conversion rates, engagement, loyalty, or other KPIs and, ultimately, consumer behavior.

content marketing process

Taking these categories a step further

As an exercise, we took these four steps and started to map existing technology solutions to them. As you might expect, many of the well-known solutions fit neatly into one of the steps.

For example:

  • The Create, Edit, and Manage stage included all of the modern web content management systems (WCMS) and blogging solutions, along with file-sharing technologies such as Dropbox, Box, etc.
  • The Aggregate, Curate, and Optimize stage included classic content optimization, testing, and personalization tools such as Adobe Test & Target, Optimost, and Monetate.
  • The Promote, Converse, and Listen stage included social channels, as well as enterprise listening tools such as Radian6 and Attensity.
  • The Measure, Analyze, and Learn stage included many web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Webtrends, and Adobe SiteCatalyst.

However, we began to notice that some of the newer, disruptive solutions fit somewhere “in between” — in the spaces where the “classic,” enterprise-focused tools (WCMS, content optimization, marketing automation, and analytics tools) weren’t flexible, fast, or robust enough to meet the demands of new, adaptive content marketing processes. Figure 1, below, depicts these “overlap” spaces.

We then took the newer technology solutions, mapped them into the overlap areas, and grouped them as follows:

Content collaboration tools — where Create, Edit, and Manage overlaps with Aggregate, Curate, and Optimize. These tools facilitate content editorial work flow, empower the enterprise to manage teams (either external or internal), and enable collaboration on content for content marketing purposes.

Curation and conversation tools — where Aggregate, Curate, and Optimize overlaps with Promote, Converse, and Listen. These tools help to promote, publish, and aggregate content in meaningful ways; in many cases, they also help manage the content optimization process by using social signals, and can even facilitate some level of unified content conversation.

Social content analytics tools — where Promote, Converse, and Listen meets Measure, Analyze, and Learn. These tools help to maintain relevance in conversation, while also providing insight into what we should be talking about — from specific niche social channel analytics, to semantic processing of social media conversations.

Engagement automation tools — where Measure, Analyze, and Learn comes back around to overlap with Create, Edit, and Manage. Beyond classic marketing automation, many of these tools not only have the ability to manage some form of content, but they can do so from the point of view of helping the marketer “optimize” content for engagement and conversion purposes.

mapping the technology

Figure 1

Is this the right way to map these technologies? Well, the answer is a most definite “maybe.” Given the fast-moving and disruptive nature of this market, and the number of solutions that are actually overlapping one another, this is the best way in which we’ve been able to make sense of the current landscape.

Want to learn more?

To help you better understand content collaboration tools, I recently developed a 49-page guide based on hour-long briefings with key vendors in this space. To get an inside look at this space and these tools, download Content Collaboration Tools: An Analysis of 13 Technology Solutions in a Disruptive Marketplace.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Robert Rose

Robert Rose is the founder and chief strategy officer of The Content Advisory - the consulting and education group of The Content Marketing Institute. As a strategist, Robert has worked with more than 500 companies including global brands such as Capital One, Dell, Ernst & Young, Hewlett Packard, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Robert is the author of three books. His latest, Killing Marketing, with co-author Joe Pulizzi has been said to “rewrite the rules of marketing”. His last book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, was called a “treatise, and a call to arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st century.” Robert is also an early-stage investor and advisor to a number of technology startups, serving on the advisory boards for a number of companies, such as DivvyHQ and Tint. Follow him on Twitter @Robert_Rose.

Other posts by Robert Rose

  • Doug Kessler

    Great map! An entire content marketing ecosystem seems to have developed over night…

  • Scott Frangos

    Great way to take the diagram from the book forward and map it to evolving technology, but I am still unclear on the answer to your lead question? You propose the content marketing technology is different than other marketing technology then show the evolving diagram. My question is, what other marketing technology worth its salt would not have solutions for the same needs of collaboration, conversation, curation, etc.?

    • Robert Rose

      Scott… Great question – and I’d say some do and some don’t. Hence the Venn-like approach to mapping them out. For example – NONE of the classic enterprise WCMS systems (and really none of the blogging platforms) tie into external writer networks and provide the functionality such as internal team/writer analytics etc.. Similarly, the workflow tools presented here are much more focused on the collaborative, editorial nature of content marketing – than the version control, governance nature of most (if not all) CMS systems.

      Now (and I make this point in this first report) the question is – is it the *technology* that is differentiating or the combo with services? The answer is quite mixed for these content collaboration solutions. A good WCMS system can be implemented with many of those features enabled. Why don’t they? Frankly, I don’t know. The point is that these solutions are displacing many of the “classic” systems that are in place today. That, in my mind, (and at least for now) means we should look at them as a disruption — and therefore separate — to the enterprise tools that marketers are using today.

      As for the others that we’ll be covering down the road – I suspect (and have already started to see) the same. For example, our next report will cover some of the content curation/optimization tools. And I can tell you that from what I’ve seen already – there is some amazing tools on the horizon there.

      Finally, from my perspective, this whole series of reports is an exploration with a trail map left behind. As the market matures, it these trails will eventually be paved over by someone smarter than me.

      Thanks for the comment.


      • Scott Frangos

        Hi Robert — thanks for the detailed reply. One of the things I have noticed in work with clients on the WordPress platform is that while there are literally thousands of plugins available, and a good number may be put to Content Marketing use for each of the strategies in your diagram, most have not considered fully what is available in the rapidly evolving tools nor fundamentally how to incorporate them into the concept stage of the design process to address Content Marketing objectives. Just one of many examples goes to the “conversation” part of your diagram where there are a number of promising new plugins that tap into the APIs of the major social networks and gather social components together on what I like to think of as an “interaction wall”. In other words, I can find several plugins that address each strategy on your diagram for WordPress, but I see very few developers, designers, and strategists that seem aware and willing to conceptually deploy them from the get go. Some of this is due to people looking at what is out there now — benchmarking current competitors sites — instead of boldly looking to take a step ahead. Your diagram will help. Thanks.

        • Robert Rose

          Scott… Indeed… Sounds like a report in and of itself… I think that would make for an interesting study… 🙂

      • Stephen Bateman DipM MCIM

        Progress: to make bigger, better, faster.

        I hope the people’s republic of The Internet will sniff out and refute large scale automation, and that alternative algorithms will be developed to index and surface “hand made” content for the people that want to live in a world of authenticity and small scale sustainable business.

  • Stephen Bateman DipM MCIM

    This is a helpful post, with helpful visuals.

    Is there a danger we use technology to over-automate the steps (and spaces in between)?

    I’d be interested in hearing which steps in the process you’d refrain from automating.


    • Robert Rose

      Glad you found it helpful…. Indeed – I think there’s a danger of reducing any kind of content or marketing program to an algorithm. By definition, technology is a tool and only helps us be more efficient. No technology ever made a piece of content more compelling or more creative or more authentic. Anywhere I need efficiency, scale or measurement – technology helps. Anywhere I need creativity I’ll never want to automate or reduce to technology. Ideally I’d integrate both in balance.

  • Pawan Deshpande

    Here’s a deep dive map that I put together a few weeks ago with 70+ content marketing tools:

    • Stephen Bateman DipM MCIM

      I can appreciate the work that went into researching and compiling this.

    • Robert Rose

      Great list – and wonderful writeup….

      And even since you’ve written that there’s a been a few new companies added… So, this report in particular covers off what you label as “collaboration” and “creation sourcing tools” as both have an overlap of workflow and collaboration for content and teams… And we’ve got a few more covered here than you’ve got on your diagram….

      By the way – your space (curation, optimization and aggregation) is next…. You’ll be hearing from us soon!

      Hope you’re well.

  • Matt Fenn

    Interesting read Robert, I hadn’t appreciated how complex Content Marketing can be for large enterprises. At Jumplead we’ve been focused on just the opposite (delivering a lightweight marketing automation app to work with WordPress etc.)

    If you ever decide to look at making content marketing work with a small footprint WordPress / Joomla / Drupal type setup I’d love to hear about it!

    I’m finding the process of working out what functionality we should include based upon its benefit vs the added complicity it introduces an interesting challenge!

    • Stephen Bateman DipM MCIM

      Funny you should say that Matt, we’ve just submitted an itemised project plan to make a Drupal set up CM compliant for a pipeline customer in London, part of a large middle eastern building and electrics group.

      • Matt Fenn

        Sounds good, out of interest what did you suggest using for the lead capture, nurture and scoring etc?

        • Stephen Bateman DipM MCIM

          I haven’t – I’m acquainted with Hubspot and Adobe Business Catalyst but it’s going to depend on cost and ease of integration

  • Chris Fischer

    Very interesting… We are currently very active in content marketing.
    Integrating your message into the content and then distributing it with scale is crucial.
    While all the tools reviewed etc are exciting, if you don’t have compelling content that you can then distribute with scale, then you are not creating value.
    Often in this new world you see companies create content that no one sees and thus has no real value.
    Finally we use Vocus as our measurement tool. It gives us a full report of how and where your content has traveled, how many people had an opportunity to see it(impressions) and finally a rough value of what that impression is worth.
    Our organization has never been in a time where we are evolving and growing so fast. It seems if you are not moving forward at all times, then you are falling behind. That static nature of systems in the past is over.
    Additionally, we finding making sure that there are multiple platforms all integrated and supporting one another with the same messaging is important.
    We use all normal social platforms but have also create the Global Shark Tracker that is integrated with everything to tie them together, create a conversation, and drive scale.
    Love the convo….
    Chris Fischer
    Expedition Leader and Founder