Top Insights on the CMO’s Best Allies, Content Marketing, and the Art of Story-Telling for Brands

The Second Part of  the Predictions Series for 2018 Covers Insights on Content Marketing, Audience Engagement, Social Media Platforms and the CMO’s New Allies That Would Transform An Organization’s Digital Identity

Top martech CMOs and marketing executives feel that 2018 would be the most challenging year to deal with. However, the path to success would witness unprecedented developments in content marketing, employee advocacy and the growing inclination towards AI/ML technologies. We would see many significant disruptions in content automation.

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The Rise of a New CMO Allies – the CFO, the CISO, and Marketing Ops

Trust in Artificial Intelligence Buoyed by Procurement and Finance Chiefs

David Brown, Chief Strategy Officer at OneSpot
David Brown, Chief Strategy Officer at OneSpot

David Brown, Chief Strategy Officer at OneSpot, predicts, “As content marketing leaders rise to the forefront of brands and have documented responsibility for contributing to the bottom line, the ability to clearly show how AI-driven platforms support revenue goals will secure a stamp of approval from procurement and finance chiefs.”

The Rise of a New CMO Ally – the CFO

#RunMarketer and CMO of Allocadia, Sam Melnick confides in his ally, the chief finance officer (CFO). Sam predicts, “2018 will see a closer relationship between Marketing and Finance as budgets decrease overall. Allocadia research found companies that expect larger budgets are 3X more likely to align the CMO and CFO – those that haven’t figured out this critical relationship will need to do so in 2018, or likely be shown the door.” Sam adds, “What we’re seeing from customers (like Microsoft, Red Hat, GE Digital, and many more) is a renewed focus on better managing their budgets to optimize the impact of every dollar spent.”

Marketing Operations Will Become the Next Chief of Staff to the CMO

Thanks to the synergistic CMO-CFO relationship, the focus would shift to back-office marketing technologies, prioritization of foundational capabilities, and changing accountability to the business – nobody is more important to a marketing team in 2018 than the marketing operations professional. Sam predicts, “Responsibilities related to data cleanliness, Marketing Resource Management, and Marketing Performance Management will continue to become top priorities, as marketing teams look to set the long-term stage for their success.”

The CMO and CISO Will Forge a Unique Alliance in 2018

Sara Ayoub, Senior Director of Marketing ZeroFOX
Sara Ayoub, Senior Director of Marketing,

Sara Ayoub, Senior Director of Marketing at ZeroFOX, predicts, “Departments within the modern enterprise can no longer work separately from one another when it comes to dealing with cybersecurity issues. Cybersecurity must be addressed holistically as it’s no longer a matter of “if” a company will be breached, but rather a question of “when”.” Sara adds, “While it’s up to the CISO to be employing a company-wide defense plan, the CMO has just as much responsibility to develop an outward-facing response in the event that their organization is breached. We’ve seen firsthand that when a cyber attack occurs, brand reputation incurs one of the biggest fallouts. The CMO and CISO must work collaboratively in 2018 to both protect the company and prepare for an inevitable fate.”

Premium Content: The High-Value B2B Currency for Relevant Engagements

Tear Down this Wall

Andy Zimmerman, Chief Marketing Officer at Evergage
Andy Zimmerman, Chief Marketing Officer at Evergage

Andy Zimmerman, CMO of Evergage, predicts, “With a seemingly unending supply of technology choices and vendors competing for buyers’ attention, B2B marketers will continue to seek new ways to cut through the noise. One technique that’s beginning to gain traction and that I expect will continue to accelerate is the un-gating of “premium” content.” Andy added, “B2B marketers have long relied on the practice of placing forms in front of their eBooks, white papers, webinars, etc. to gather leads for sales. This can be a major turnoff for buyers, though, especially when they encounter them early in their research process. With a plethora of choices, they’ll often bounce off your site and satisfy their need for information with an alternate resource (perhaps from one of your competitors) that isn’t gated. And if they do fill out your form, there’s a good chance they’ll provide false data or, if you’re lucky, a personal email address which isn’t particularly helpful for sales qualification and follow up.”

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Andy further explained, “If B2B marketers do un-gate more and more of their best content, the implication is that they’ll have to find more creative and less intrusive ways of engaging prospects for sales follow up — such as advanced behavioral tracking and implicit progressive profiling driven by machine learning.”

Brand Advocacy Engined by Powerful Automation and the Art of Story-Telling

Justin Shriber, Vice President of Marketing, LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions
Justin Shriber,
Vice President of Marketing, LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions

Justin Shriber, Vice President of Marketing for LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions, predicts that brands will prioritize trust, re-evaluating where they post content. Justin feels, “More companies will realize that where they advertise is a part of their overarching brand identity.” Also, sharing and advocating employee stories would become a ubiquitous activity to do in 2018 for better content engagements.

“Employee stories will drive marketing content in 2018. With consumers valuing authenticity more than ever, companies will tap into employees to build their brand and tell a diverse range of authentic stories,” says Justin.

However, relevance would remain the crux of any content story-telling. Justin advocates, “Marketers will need to have an eye for good stories. As automation became more powerful, the analytical skill set became more important. But the pendulum is swinging back to favor marketers who can tell succinct, powerful stories.”

Personalization: Hyper or Not, Marketers Have to Deliver High-Quality Experiences

Behavior-based Custom Experiences

Nick Bonfiglio, CEO and Founder, Aptrinsic
Nick Bonfiglio, CEO and Founder, Aptrinsic

Nick Bonfiglio, CEO and Founder at Aptrinsic, predicts, “In 2018 we will see more activities happening within the products of SaaS businesses.   Starting with better onboarding, companies like Aptrinsic are enabling zero-coding, custom experiences driven by usage behaviors and segments.”

“Second, we see adoption improvements in the form of increased in-product engagement. We also see more personalized and relevant customer marketing emails and personalized emails that aid in the resurrection of inactive customers,” added Nick. Recollecting his ideas from the product analytics trends of 2017, Nick predicts, “Moving us from complicated BI type tools to more friendly, easy-to-use and easy-to-instrument capabilities, including simpler and more robust cohort analyses, all these practices will further increase focus on retention as the number one metric for SaaS businesses. Essentially, (the focus would be on) driving the adoption as the most effective cure for reducing the customer churn.”

Hyper-Personalization of Content Based on Data

Ashley Walsh, VP of Marketing, Formstack
Ashley Walsh, VP of Marketing, Formstack

Ashley Walsh, VP of Marketing at Formstack, feels that new-age marketers have to dig deeper into their data to deliver the relevant content experience. Ashely predicts, “The internet is already over-saturated with content so the marketers who can leverage data to offer a more relevant experience will have the edge. Services that make video and animation easy and distributable will certainly trend upward, but the big shift I see disrupting the industry will be hyper-personalization of content based on specific data attributes. For instance, when a new visitor lands on your website, they may see one of 15 different versions of your homepage. I also envision the ability to personalize 1:1 advertising messaging based on CRM data, without leveraging designers to create multiple iterations of the same design. Think old-school mail merge for your ads. If you’re not getting personal in the next 3-5 years, you’ll likely be providing a generic experience for your users and losing out on conversions.” For mobile content experiences, Ashely feels that form-filling would be a game-changer. She says, “As far as form fills are concerned, mobile users will be able to fill a form with their fingerprint or retina, getting that basic contact information fast and reducing friction.”

Branded Content Studios Flourish but Experience Growing Pains

OneSpot’s David Brown adds that 2018 shall witness the rise of the first-generation content leaders. David predicts, “In the next year as content marketing drives an increasing amount of valuable brand traffic, budgets grow and the discipline moves from pilot to core business driver, first-generation content marketers will rise to the top of marketing organizations alongside the CMO and require bigger roles in decision-making.” “The branded content studio model will be caught in a tug-of-war as their missions evolve from producers of content in quantity — why they were established in the first place — to strategists focused on content quality — how they are now judged,” adds David.

Shifting Gears to Achieve an Unprecedented Rate of Content Activation 

Elle Woulfe
Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing at LookBookHQ

Elle Woulfe, Vice President of Marketing at LookBookHQ, feels that we’ve seen unprecedented levels of content production over the last five years, but “marketers will shift gears toward content activation in 2018.” Elle crystal-gazes into 2018, and tells, “Now that we have all this content, it’s time to put it to work beyond the passive, dead-end, one-and-done content experiences we’ve become accustomed to running. Performant marketers will turn their passive content into dynamic, personalized journeys for buyers and measure purchase intent based on content consumption instead of old-school metrics like clicks and form fills.”

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Pressures to Deliver Better Content and Personalization would Grow Stronger

As we move into 2018, the pressures and demands to deliver better customer experiences will only continue to grow stronger. Sitecore CMO, Scott Anderson, predicts, “According to recent research, up to 86 percent of customers see personalization as a critical factor when making a purchase, yet a third of brands admit they lack the skills and tools needed to properly provide the experience customers desire. As we look to 2018 and beyond, these pressures and demands will only continue to grow stronger.”

Scott Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore
Scott Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore

Scott adds, “Research also finds that consumers see value in providing personal information so that marketers and brands can use it to interact with them when and where they want. By establishing a closer relationship via all the digital channels at our customers’ fingertips, changing our mindset and processes, and implementing the right technology and tools to build those relationships, brands will quickly find themselves in a better position to provide exceptional, personalized customer experiences.”

Social Media Publishing, A Potent Alternative to Email Marketing

Aseem Badshah, CEO and Founder, Socedo
Aseem Badshah, CEO and Founder, Socedo

Aseem Badshah, Founder and CEO at Socedo, predicts, “In 2018 B2B marketers will stop gating their content to collect contact info. Instead, they will prioritize total audience engagement with their content. Competing for customers’ attention is harder than ever and marketers need to remove friction from getting the value to their audience. Contact info is cheap and content MQLs perform much worse than leads who have indicated they are ready to talk to a salesperson. Retargeting and social media publishing is becoming a more effective way to nurture an audience than email. 2018 will be the year where B2B marketers prioritize audience engagement over collecting email addresses!” Earlier in 2017, Socedo had announced that it raised $1 Million from Angel Investors, Divergent Ventures, Vulcan Capital and Techstars Ventures. Currently, the company provides behavioral data from the social web to help B2B marketers improve all types of marketing activities and get more leads to their sales team.

Content Marketers are Hungry for More Knowledge in 2018

Courtesy Marketo, we could identify a strong inclination among content marketers to contribute more to B2B engagements across channels. CMOs themselves are the pilots in serving top-end content to their customers and partners, churning most readily consumable ideas and thoughts on a regular basis.

As CMOs grow closer to adopting AI/ML capabilities for content personalization and automation, we shall the battlefield for “Customer Experience” models hotting up in 2018.

Read More: Marketers Are Hungry for Content Marketing Knowledge, Marketo Reveals

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