5 Ways to Make Content Marketing a Truly Collaborative Process

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Sometimes content marketers believe that bringing a plan to the rest of marketing and then asking for input is collaboration. But, as Jessica Lavery, Sr. Manager of Content & Corporate Communications at Veracode found, her company’s campaign teams were communicating but not truly collaborating. As an application security solutions and services provider, Veracode took a page from the software development process to build a truly collaborative process.

Speaking at the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit in Las Vegas this week, Jessica shared her company’s content marketing journey. It started by creating campaign teams that would develop their content maps for the upcoming quarter. Three problems arose from the new process:

  1. It was difficult to measure results because different marketing teams were using the content differently. One group might have a huge campaign around content while another was doing a single amplification activity.
  2. The teams were wasting time creating content that wasn’t being used. It would be published on a web page, but it just sat idle.
  3. There was insufficient planning and communication with the marketing operations team when it came to interactive content. When an asset was completed, marketing operations lagged in publishing it, which hindered promotional goals and timelines.

Taking these challenges into account, Veracode built a new content marketing model based on a process it knew well: DevOps. DevOps brings together software development and operations teams at the beginning of the software development lifecycle so they can build better applications faster.

In this new and improved process, Veracode built a marketing DevOps model led by a dedicated content marketing function. Campaign teams now act as content strategists, determining the major themes and supporting stories for each theme plus content maps, timelines and the required resources. Previously, they developed the strategy and simply let everyone else know what they were doing. Now, they have all the marketing teams—and business development—involved from the start.

After a strategy is developed, the content team takes over to actually create the content. Finally, all assets are operationalized by PR, social media, demand gen and nurture teams, as well as business development representatives (BDRs).

How has this new process impacted results?

The Veracode team saw improved social engagement, improved sales engagement with the content and increased use of the awareness-level content. Best of all, content was being used more, which means fewer assets were being left to collect dust.

During her presentation, Jessica illustrated how the new model worked using the company’s latest State of Software Security Report as an example. Rather than release the report and have just one major follow-up strategy, the marketing teams developed support content that included interactive quizzes, infographics, sales content, promotions and additional amplification efforts to maintain engagement throughout the year. By October 2016, marketing had more than 1,000 leads and 40 marketing influenced opportunities in the sales pipeline.

So what were the five best practices that Veracode learned from designing and implementing this new model?

  1. Take a buyer-focused approach. Operationalize personas and build content based on these buyer insights.
  1. Always create content with a purpose. If you don’t have a use for it, don’t create it.
  1. Measure success at the broader campaign level and at the individual asset level, too. You need to understand how your campaigns and individual assets are performing to make adjustments.
  1. Break down the marketing team silos. Don’t stop with marketing; bring your business development/sales people into the process from the outset too.
  1. Be creative with your marketing process. Don’t be content with your current processes.

At the end of her presentation, Jessica shared some fundamental lessons learned.

The first lesson is to involve more people in the process. Don’t just communicate, collaborate. Be sure to ask a lot of questions. Ask your marketing teams how they will use the content. Then listen to what they tell you.

Next, be flexible. Be open to the feedback you get from your teams.

And finally, “iterate like a developer.” That means making small changes in process and content to keep improving.

Can your business benefit from a better content marketing model?

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