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How to benchmark your content marketing ecosystem

If you want to benchmark your content marketing ecosystem, measurement and operating model, this is a must-read. We detail the four phases to embed a content strategy you can scale and monetise.

The most common challenge we see brands of all sizes struggling with is how to progress from simply ‘doing’ content to embedding a sophisticated content marketing ecosystem they can scale and monetise – ideally, as quickly as possible.

 

Larger brands, in particular, are impatient to move from experimentation to sophistication. They aspire to emulate marketing behemoths such as one of our content crushes Santander (more on them below), but often lack a clear blueprint on how to fast-track their maturity.

 

This is understandable because unless you’ve lived and breathed the experience of building a content operation, plotting the granularity to transition from one maturity phase to the next can be somewhat opaque.

 

And too often, the pivotal – yet unsexy – foundations such as strategic alignment, organisational integration, technology and measurement are underestimated.

 

This conundrum is particularly relevant right now, given that 59% of B2C marketers and 46% of B2B marketers expected their content marketing budget to increase in 2020, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 B2C and B2B benchmarks.

 

According to a recent NewsCred study, this sentiment has accelerated since COVID-19, with 72% of US marketing leaders expecting to notably increase their online content budget.

However, extra budget alone won’t solve the content and brand marketing puzzle. Instead, organisations need a clear strategy and maturation roadmap to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality.

Accelerating your content marketing maturity: A blueprint for success

Ubiquity Lab has developed a four-phase roadmap to help organisations evolve towards unlocking the true power of content marketing: walk, jog, run, sprint.
Ubiquity-lab-benchmark-content-marketing-strategy-ecosystem-measurement-operating-model
Each stage is interdependent, and the journey isn’t necessarily linear – you can straddle several stages at once.
We developed these steps to help organisations benchmark their strategic and operational capability, and to plot the journey forward.

Our content marketing benchmark provides an unbiased assessment of your maturity based on 16 questions.

It’s important to note that there’s only a handful of organisations in Australia that can say, hand on heart, that they’ve reached ‘sprint’.

 

And in many instances, this stage may only be aspirational, or it may not make commercial sense for an organisations to reach it.

 

However, large corporates that are investing heavily in content production, social, search, performance marketing, EDM, owned communities and other core elements that work in unison with content should unequivocally be operating at ‘run’.

Walk: Grappling with the difference between content marketing and content production

It may surprise you to know that when you dig deeper, many big corporates are only at the walking stage – or at best, they’re straddling ‘walk’ and ‘jog’.

 

‘Walk’ is typified by:

If this sounds eerily familiar, the good news is that ‘walk’ is the easiest and fastest stage to progress from, and it’s largely underpinned by strategy and buy-in.
Don't walk-embed-data-led content marketing strategy
'Walk’ is the easiest and fastest stage to progress from.

Jog: Embedding a data-led content marketing strategy

You haven’t reached ‘jog’ until you have a sophisticated content marketing strategy.

 

Our free ebook How to build a sophisticated content marketing strategy details a 20-step methodology to achieving content utopia, which we won’t rehash here, but there are two points, in particular, that are worth reaffirming when it comes to nailing this stage.

 

Firstly, your strategy must be integrated across the customer journey, and the various marketing disciplines that touch it.

Your ability to monetise and scale is ultimately determined by integration, both with teams and systems.

Similarly, embedding a content strategy often requires a cultural change within the business, whereby customer intent and content marketing start to power a cohesive marketing ecosystem.

To that end, the internal change agent must embrace the fact their role is now as much about evangelism as it is delivering content marketing.

‘Jog’ is typified by:

Run: Integrating a content-led paid, owned and earned marketing ecosystem

This is where life gets fun. Paid, owned and earned channels truly start to converge, enabling an organisation to start nurturing and influencing customer journeys across multiple touchpoints in a far more effective manner.

 

Content marketing is now a living, breathing organism that delivers substantial value to the business.

A core component of this stage is earned media (people talking about you, and sharing your content) becomes increasingly important – something that can only be achieved consistently off the back of exceptional owned content, amplified through paid distribution.

The other key advancement at this stage is being more focused on the ever-increasing importance of data and technology.

 

‘Run’ is typified by:

Sprint-is-part-of-content-marketing-dna
When it comes to a content-led marketing ecosystem, why run when you can sprint?

Sprint: Achieving content marketing nirvana

This is the sacrosanct content ground, where only the best of the best can play.

 

Very few Australian organisations have nailed it yet, though there are several on the precipice.

In short, the ‘sprint’ stage is typified by content being ingrained in organisational culture through lived experience. It’s part of its DNA, not a department.

Equally, content and the data it generates is leveraged to make data-based decisions at scale, and ultimately, to monetise the marketing ecosystem.

 

‘Sprint’ is typified by:

Santander is one of the best global content marketing examples

Santander, a global financial services company, typifies an organisation that’s reached the ‘sprint’ phase.

 

Its Denmark team won the Content Marketing ROI/Measurement Program prize at the recent 2020 Content Marketing Awards (CMA), and is a finalist in its soon-to-be-decided Project of the Year category. (Full disclosure, Matt is a judge for the CMA awards, but isn’t judging the Project of the Year).

 

We’d need an article at least this long to profile their activity and results, particularly given that their UK, USA and Spanish teams are all market leading.

However, here’s a snapshot of some of the drivers of our content crush on Santander:

We can’t all become like Santander overnight. However, you have to start the journey somewhere, ideally with a clear roadmap and maturation plan.

 

The most important first step is to benchmark your capability and pinpoint exactly where you sit on the road to achieving content marketing utopia.

 

Once you’re clear on the direction you need to take and the marketing potholes that have been hindering your progress, the road to content domination becomes a lot smoother.