Expert Insight: Overcoming the Challenges of Implementing a Content Marketing Strategy [Interview]

content marketing

Altimeter recently conducted a report that revealed that although many marketers are dedicated to content marketing as a part of their strategy, they still face a wide array of challenges when implementing this tactic.

Aligning multiple teams around a unified strategy (24 percent) is the largest challenge marketers currently face, followed by hitting the right skills/people (17 percent) and producing relevant content based on customer data (16 percent) – but is this deterring them from utilizing content marketing? How are they working to overcome these barriers?

We spoke to Omar Akhtar, research director at Altimeter, for more insight into the report.

Although 42 percent of marketers say they can create content based on customer data, just 38 percent claim they can deliver it in real-time based on their actions — why do you think this is the case? Do you see this changing in the near future?

Two reasons for this; most marketers aren’t aware of which technology they need to use in order to do real-time personalization. There are so many options, and technical features to understand, that most are afraid of even taking the first step.

Secondly, even if they have the right software, creating the decision trees and logic for real-time personalization is time consuming and complex, and many marketers don’t have the time or resources they need to devote to figuring out these operations.

Ultimately, both there are major improvements coming in both software and skills that lower the barriers to entry for real-time personalization, and we expect adoption to increase exponentially in the next two years.

Statistics indicated that aligning multiple teams around a unified strategy (24 percent) is the largest challenge marketers face when it comes to creating and implementing a content strategy — how can marketers make changes to improve their overall content strategies?

The best way to create, and align teams around a content strategy is to use data from multiple sources. A company’s content strategy should deliver on the needs of a business, and the needs of the customer, not the needs of any single department.

To do that, it has to use customer data from many different departments, in order to create the most holistic strategy. It also becomes easier to socialize and align on such a data-based strategy, because it has a greater chance of buy-in from disparate teams, since their POV and customer data has been included in the process.

content marketing

Visual content (videos, images) are performing better than whitepapers, blog posts and podcasts — why do you think this is the case? Should marketers give up on static content assets altogether? Why or why not?

Images stimulate the brain a lot faster than words, and in a lot of cases, communicate messages in a more efficient way. It’s no surprise then, that visuals perform better than other formats, given that they stand out on social media timelines, and communicate information better on small-screen mobile phones.

That doesn’t mean marketers should give up static assets altogether, some messages are best communicated through text, but they might consider investing more in visuals if that’s not something they did before.

Most companies (41 percent) can directly tie revenue back to content — are you seeing more marketers invest in this area for this reason?

Yes, the fact that more and more marketers are getting better at attributing business impact to content definitely means more investment, and also the fact that content is the single most effective way to build brand equity and customer relationships in the digital space.

content marketing

More companies are measuring content success with KPIs, such as interactions and efficiency/cost savings. Is this the right route to take, or should marketers be looking at other KPIs to measure their success?

KPIs will always change as technology gets better at measuring things we may not have been able to measure before. This isn’t to say brands should shift away from looking at awareness as a metric, only that they should consider additional metrics that they may not have considered before, in their effort to prove impact.

What was the most interesting statistic/finding to you in the report?

Surprisingly, video production and editing skills were the least in-demand skills (16 percent), along with graphic design (22 percent). Given that our survey shows that video and visual content outperformed the written word, it appears most companies aren’t prioritizing the right skills.

However, it’s important to note marketing teams now expect their digital channel operators to already have light editing skills for photo and  video, especially for creating content for websites and social media. It’s also likely that most marketing teams would rather outsource rich media production to agencies or specialized contractors, given the high costs, expertise, and time needed for video production.


content marketingOmar Akhtar is a digital marketing analyst and Research Director at Altimeter, a Prophet Company, where he publishes research and advises companies on digital marketing innovation. His research reports include industry benchmarks, maturity models, and guides for digital marketing strategy, marketing technology and data-driven personalization.

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