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Inventions and Reinventions That Are Changing Content Marketing

crowd photo-adobe digital marketing summit Last week, while many members of the Content Marketing Institute team traveled Down Under for Content Marketing World Sydney, I stayed stateside to take advantage of an amazing opportunity to spend three days at Adobe’s 12th annual Digital Marketing Summit.

The star power was impressive, to say the least, as well as highly relevant to attendees — in our marketing roles and beyond: Robert Redford talked about taking risks and creating change; Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman discussed personal branding strategies; and Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet brilliantly co-hosted Adobe’s “Sneaks” — a sneak preview of potential Adobe products to be rolled out in the next 12 months.

With another year under its belt, Adobe held a captivating event showing its most recent advances in marketing technology — including significant breakthroughs made in the Adobe Marketing Cloud suite, such as real-time audience profiling and seamless multi-device and multi-platform content management.

For content marketers, and marketers in general, here are three important takeaways I gathered from my experience at the event:

Marketers want — and expect — to reinvent themselves

According to Adobe research released last week, two in five marketers say they want to reinvent themselves, and 64 percent of marketers expect their role to change in the next year. This is exciting news; however, only 14 percent of those marketers actually said they know how to go about making such a transformation. (The study, Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. marketing professionals.)

In today’s dynamic business landscape, why does marketing reinvention pose such a challenge? Lack of training in new marketing skills (30 percent) and organizational ability to adapt (30 percent) were just a couple of the top obstacles cited by survey respondents.

One key area where change is imperative — and likely inevitable — is in how marketers leverage data. Data-centric roles are already critically important, yet many marketers in the survey felt that data doesn’t always get utilized as well as it could be. While making a big leap in our industry’s data practices might seem risky in the short term, it could turn out to be the smartest move of all, over the long term:

“The shift to digital requires new technology, new approaches and, in many cases, entirely new roles for marketers,” said Ann Lewnes, CMO of Adobe. “The good news is that marketers see the change in front of them, and understand they need to embrace data, focus on creating personalized experiences, and work across their social, web and mobile channels. They just need to take the plunge.”

Why content marketers should care: As both enterprise brands and small businesses increasingly adopt content marketing, the need for marketing departments to sharpen their approach to content and take greater ownership of processes that affect their roles is growing exponentially. We’re already seeing marketing departments make technology decisions and monitor analytics on a day-to-basis, rather than leaving these tasks to their IT counterparts; and content directors are spending time in Google Analytics reviewing blog posts and web traffic and making decisions on editorial calendars.

Reinvention can be a great thing, with plenty of opportunity on the horizon. Marketers looking to prepare themselves for a future in content marketing would be wise to take a look at Joe Pulizzi’s post on 12 roles that will be essential to our industry’s future.  

Real-time personalization is here

Speaking of change, presentations at the Adobe conference also covered the progress that digital marketing has been making on the customization front. For example, predictive technology and personalization solutions are unlocking new and valuable insights on customers, and automated campaigns are driving greater consumer engagement, conversions, and revenue.

“When it comes to our marketing efforts, there can’t be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach,” said Siping Roussin, Senior Manager of Optimization and Personalization at Lenovo. “The challenge is determining the right activities to deliver the most optimized experiences possible.

Why content marketers should care: The focus on delivering the right content to the right audiences is more important than ever. It is not enough to simply push out a large amount of content; we must create compelling content and experiences that can deliver on our customers’ personalized needs — even as those needs shift and change over time. And because relevance is such a key part of the personalization equation, now is a great time for organizations to hire experienced content marketers who can help make the most of the customization programs in which they are investing.

Big data is a dead issue if it can’t be connected to experience

Dr. Vishal Sikka, member of the executive board of SAP AG, Products & Innovation, explained this to event attendees in his discussion on customer engagement intelligence solutions. Efforts to deepen customer relationships across communities have become so commonplace that, quite frankly, they are now expected by customers.

In their joint session on making the most of social customer insight, Adobe’s Director of Social Product Management, Craig Stoe, and Social Media Product Manager Andrew Boylan discussed the need for marketers to learn more about customers through social data — including engagement data, listening data (keywords, sentiment, influencers), and personal attribution data (reading Twitter bios and context clues in posts/tweets).

Going through discovery and exploration phases to learn more about customers and their engagement, companies can set themselves up for success by learning to recognize buying signals or identifiers at various stages of the sales funnel. Relevant data and better insights can lead to greater understanding of your customers’ needs — which ultimately can result in better engagement rates.

Why content marketers should care: We define content marketing as a strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

In his presentation, Boylan shared five steps of social data, which we can apply to our content marketing strategies:

  1. Listen — To help create valuable content
  2. Prioritize — To distribute relevant content
  3. Engage properly — To be useful and consistent
  4. Gather insights — To be strategic
  5. Share insights — To include your entire team

If you weren’t able to attend the Adobe Summit, you can find more information, including recordings of sessions, here. And if you did make it to the conference, let me know if there were other key insights I may have missed.

Want more inspiration on what it will take to succeed in the future of content marketing? Read Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi.