Overcoming the Challenges of Content, Relevance, Timing and Data

by Jenna Sindle

OMM-KellyJoHortonCHS_345x470There’s no question that today’s modern marketer faces a handful of new (and continually) emerging challenges and non-traditional methods to reach their target audience, causing them to take on new and developing roles. It is one thing to understand the opportunities that lie in these social platforms, but it is another to understand how to really successfully utilize what they have to offer.

We had the privilege of speaking with Kelly Jo Horton of Marketo (one of the biggest marketing automation software providers on the market) to discuss the current pain points corporate marketers are facing, as well as a few insights as to how to face these challenges head on, in ways that will benefit your customers and your business.

 Can you provide a little background on your role at Marketo?
I came to Marketo by way of the Crowd Factory acquisition in April of 2012. I am a Principal Consultant at Marketo, with a focus on the Marketo Social Marketing suite. I’m not only responsible for being a subject matter expert on the product itself, but also responsible for being an expert on the various social networks and the social marketing trends that seem to change on a daily basis. It’s a cross-functional global role that keeps me on my toes!

What are some of the biggest pain points and challenges that you see corporate marketers currently having to battle?
So many things come to mind when I think about this, but I would say the challenges fall into four main buckets: content, relevance, timing and data. Whether you’re trying to reach businesses or consumers, marketers need to put the right content in front of the right prospects at the right time, which is extremely difficult to coordinate across every potential prospect touch point.

It is a struggle to produce quality and relevant content on an ongoing basis, even with a staff of full-time writers. Most clients I work with have taken the approach of providing a combination of homegrown content with additional content sourced from thought leaders in their industry. And while most marketers are perfectly comfortable churning out traditional long-form copy, they often struggle when having to distil that same message into a compelling 140 characters on a platform like Twitter. Writing compelling micro-copy is an art form that some marketers continue to struggle with.

And then there’s the mountain of social CRM data that you collect with every successful marketing campaign. You have to get really good at interpreting that data and learning from it so you can continue to optimize your marketing efforts.

Can you speak to the importance of inbound marketing practices in relation to prospect nurturing?
I think the most important thing you have to remember is that it’s a 2-way conversation. There is no such thing as static content if you think about it. Everything we put out there can now be shared and commented on by networks of consumers we never had access to before.

The content has to be compelling, relevant and engaging in order to develop a level of trust that will turn a brand stranger into a brand advocate and possibly a customer. I’m a big fan of peer-to-peer content marketing because there is a high level of trust built into a message from a friend as opposed to a message from a brand.

Nurturing a prospect takes a certain level of logic and psychology. You’ll never be successful if you can’t put yourself into the shoes of your consumer.

 How do you see the digital landscape evolving? And what does that mean for corporate marketers?
The last decade has proven that in a digital world, there will always be a new way to connect or communicate with prospects. It takes a lot of time and energy to stay on top of it all. Marketers need to realize they can’t be everything to everyone on every channel. The more cluttered the social landscape gets, the more a marketer has to evaluate which channels they need to focus on. You have to take a look at your target audience and engage with them on their terms and their turf.

Long gone is the era of broadcast-to-consumer marketing. Consumers expect you to engage with them anytime, anyplace, 24/7. You can’t do this successfully without some automation, scheduling and listening tools, and a great marketing team to execute around the clock in every time zone.

If you could give companies out there one piece of marketing advice what would it be?
Don’t hire an intern to “do” your social marketing. Would you hand a 16-year old teenager the keys to a brand new Ferrari and feel confident that he/she would know how to drive that high-performance car safely and responsibly? No. So, why would you hand your brand over to someone without years of experience in the industry?  Don’t do it. We’ve all seen the social media meltdowns and disasters by brands that had inexperienced people at the helm of their social media accounts. Hire experience.

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