Lee Odden

Four Ways CMOs Can Differentiate & Optimize Their Content Marketing Strategy

CMO content marketing

Content isn’t King, it’s the Kingdom

Taking inventory of the content we’ve produced over the past 10+ years, I realized we’ve collectively written 1.6 million words on this blog. There’s also numerous guides, articles, social messages and emails as well as a book and numerous contributions to industry publications.

Looking to the future of our own content marketing strategy and the need for more visually creative, data-informed and cross platform content that’s highly specialized for our audience, it’s clear that simply creating “more” content isn’t the answer.

I’m not alone in that assessment after having the opportunity to discuss pressing content marketing challenges with a group of CMOs and senior marketing executives recently. Thinking about some of these key issues, I think there are 3 key trends in the content marketing world to be aware of:

Understand the information environment. We live in an age of “Content Overload”:

  • 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past 2 years (IBM)
  • Consumers in the U.S. are presented with an average of 63GB of media per day (USC/ICTM)
  • By the year 2020 there will be over 50 billion internet connected devices (Ericsson)

Investments in content marketing continue – but there are challenges:

  • Over 90% of marketers are using content marketing (CMI / MarketingProfs)
  • Budgets for producing content have grown from 12.6% in 2013 to 23.3% in 2015. On track to surpass 33% by 2017 (The Content Council)
  • Only 42% of content marketers believe they are effective with it. (CMI / MarketingProfs)
  • 60-70% of B2B marketing content goes unused. (Sirius Decisions)
  • Only 44% of B2B Marketers have a documented content strategy. (CMI / MarketingProfs)

 While competition is high, so is the opportunity for content marketing:

  • 82% of senior executives say content is a significant driver in their buying decisions.” (Demand Gen Report)
  • 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase (Nielsen/InPowered)
  • 87% of B2B buyers say content has an impact on vendor selection (Social Media Today)

With those trends and statistics as context, I think brand marketers are faced with the need to create more meaningful content for the right audience at the right time and in a relevant, meaningful way. Content needs to be compelling and serve the interests of customers as well as the brand. Reaching that goal requires a focus in strategy and at the same time, in order to stand out, marketers need to differentiate.

Here are 4 ways marketers can do just that:

1. Make content buyer centric: discovery, consumption, action

  • Understand customer segments and the information journey: What is it, how does it work, how does it solve? Not brand, brand, brand
  • How do your customers discover solutions? Search, social, subscriptions, events, influencers?
  • What are your customer preferences for content consumption? Visual, audio, text, interactive, long form, short form
  • What offers compel them to action? Share, subscribe, refer, transact, advocate

2. Connect with influencers to co-create & promote brand content

  • Identify influencers with active communities – action is influence, not popularity
  • Co-create content with influencers for mutual goals – promote to their audiences
  • Help people become influential through community content co-creation UGC

3. Make content marketing investments efficient with modular content & repurposing

  • Create content plans with matrix topics by segment, buying stage
  • Use microcontent (tips, stats, quotes) for social, then compile into blog posts, eBooks, newsletters, presentations
  • Break large content down into microcontent and repurpose: eBook to blog posts, Videos to images, Blog posts to presentations

4. Keep content accountable: attract, engage, convert

  • Ensure all content assets are accountable for some level of performance
  • Attract – top of funnel discovery, search, social, referrals
  • Engage – content consumption and customer experience, social shares, conversations
  • Convert – buyer data captured through forms – registrations, subscriptions, transactions

By empathizing with the customers you’re after in a qualitative and meaningful way, brands can arm themselves with the kinds of insights to deliver differentiated, more relevant and meaningful content experiences.  Working with internal and external influencers will build amplification into the content assets themselves and a modular content approach creates efficiencies and facilitate personalization.

Most importantly, ensuring content is accountable to marketing and business performance goals means everybody wins – customers and the brand.

Photo: Shutterstock

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar minalmewada says

    I love this! This is an awesome article, it really answered a lot of my questions. Thanks.

  2. Avatar Lauren Grace says

    Very informative article. I know your research about content marketing strategies that need to be more visually creative to target highly specialized audiences is right on the money. Now accomplishing that is another story of course. But your article helps me understand more clearly what needs to be done. Kudos to you.

  3. Very helpful! Can I ask you what you recommend for a minimum amount of character or words? I usually try to get like 3000 characters but I see you usually have more