Mark Schaefer is a college educator, marketing consultant and author of 5 marketing books including The Content Code. A recent Onalytica report pegs Mark as the #8 content marketing influencer. He was quick to respond to our request for a tête-à-tête. We loved his answers to our questions and think you will find this read very useful.
Scatter: What are (I) some measures to track + (II) final results marketers can expect from (a) early stages of content marketing AND (b) content marketing after having built a community with critical mass?
Mark: Research shows there is a high probability – about 80 percent – that even in the first year of content marketing we can realize a lift in awareness, which is pretty impressive. However, only about 30 percent realize an increase in sales, or other financial measure, in that first year. So, if you’re on track you should be able to measure an improvement in awareness in that first year, which might be expressed by an increase in your audience, mentions, etc. After that first year, you should be able to realize higher-level measures like subscriptions, mentions from influencers and perhaps even some sales leads to show you are making progress. Most companies start to realize financial benefits by year three or four. At this point we should be able to look for financial measures such as sales, cost savings, and customer service benefits.
Scatter: Do brands really need to be publishers – given the new marketing dynamics today?
Mark: I know this idea about being a publisher is common advice. But I think it is a bigger challenge today – you don’t need to simply publish, you need to stand out. So I think a better analogy is the fashion industry. Every year the designers in that industry (essentially the content creators) make something new and conversational that allows them to stand out. Today there is so much content competition that we can’t be satisfied with simply pushing the publish button. The content has to move, to be seen, to be shared to be successful. The economic value of content that does not move is zero.
Scatter: What trends from the future do marketers need to factor in / watch for, according to you? What’s next?
Mark: Obviously virtual reality is the hottest topic in the industry right now and we are starting to see a few experiments here and there. VR will be a very profound trend for nearly every company. I think another trend is in the information density we face. A few years ago, content was still a novelty but today it is very difficult to compete and stand out. Learning how to get our content to stand out and move through the system must be a priority, a new marketing competency really. This is the topic I cover in my new book The Content Code. Finally, true competitive advantage will come through data. The days of lazy marketing and relying on social media dashboards is over. We need to push for true insights from those numbers.
Scatter: How real and important is ‘personalization’ from a marketer’s point of view? We see the value in social platforms, search etc. But do marketers really need to focus hard on it from their digital presence and experience perspective? If yes / no – please explain why?
Mark: This is a very interesting question. Certainly increased personalization has been the trend. But in the last few weeks I have also been reading about a growing awareness among marketers that maybe we have reached a tipping point. At what point does personalization become creepy? I have talked to some people at brands who are holding back with the level of personalization that is possible because it starts to become intrusive and cross a line. So yes, personalization can be a good thing, but I do believe that just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it if it could upset a potential customer.
Scatter: What great read can we expect after your recent book: “The Content Code“
Mark: Well, I am very proud of that book. Perhaps my best work, so a hard act to follow! And I’ll only write a book if I can achieve that kind of level again. I do have a few ideas for a 2017 book that will address some of the biggest problems on the minds of the marketing community. I would say you’ll see a new book from me in early 2017.
Scatter is India’s first content marketplace and helps brands become publishers. Scatter achieves this by bringing together intelligent tools and human expertise on a single platform. Brands using Scatter tell great and ‘share worthy’ stories. This creates meaningful engagement between the brands and their consumers. #EngageUnfoolishly with Scatter. Click here to know how Scatter works with marketers and content creators.
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