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Agency Content Innovators


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Over the last year, Skyword interviewed top agency marketers to learn how they were tackling the content marketing challenge. “Agency Content Innovators,” collects the best moments and most valuable lessons from our interview series.

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Agency Content Innovators

  2. 2. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Introduction Introductionby John T. Shea Vice President of Agency Sales and Development at Skyword Boston, Massachusetts The agency land grab for Content Marketing went into full force in 2013. We saw all types of agencies get into the content marketing game by hiring editorial talent, assembling scalable workflows and adopting various approaches to crowd-sourced content creation. 1 Creative Agencies Brand-Building Online Content Marketing Media Agencies Public Relations Agencies Digital Agencies Storytelling Real-Time Marketing Native Advertising CRM Customer Acquisition “ Connect with John:
  3. 3. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Introduction Here at Skyword, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be successful in content marketing by working directly with brands and by supporting content innovation and execution at many leading agencies. Throughout 2013, we conducted interviews with several agency executives who focused on driving innovation in content services. The interviews revealed several common obstacles as well as some helpful insights on how to overcome them. The interviews confirmed that agency marketers face 7 critical imperatives when building a content marketing practice that require them to: 1. EXPLORE NEW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES 2. FIND NEW WAYS TO REACH AND ENGAGE THE ALWAYS-ON CONSUMER 3. INSPIRE CREATIVE STORYTELLING 4. EXPLORE NEW MODELS TO SOURCE CREATIVE TALENT 5. BUILD SCALABLE PROCESSES FOR CONTENT CREATION 6. LEVERAGE DATA TO DRIVE CONTENT STRATEGY 7. QUANTIFY THE ROI OF CONTENT MARKETING The overall content marketing opportunity is now at 44 billion dollars. How much of that will be reserved for agencies rests with their ability to develop compelling content services that unlock enterprise value. Content is being embraced by B2B and B2C marketers alike because of its ability to build brand equity in the digital space. As a result, all agencies must be versed in the digital content marketing process in order to succeed. Included in this eBook are highlights from our interview series, which delved deeper into these imperatives. I hope you enjoy our eBook on Agency Innovation. I invite you to continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #agencyinnovators as well as by connecting with me directly. We hope to power Content Marketing Execution at many more agencies in 2014. 2 “
  4. 4. EXPLORE NEW MODELS TO SOURCE Creative Talent Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Table Of Contents Table of CONTENTS EXPLORE NEW Organizational Structures BUILD SCALABLE PROCESSES FOR Content Creation Leverage Data TO DRIVE CONTENT STRATEGY QUANTIFY THE ROI OF Content Marketing FIND NEW WAYS TO REACH AND ENGAGE THE Always-on Consumer 07. 16. 19. 21. 09. 11. 14. INSPIRE Creative Storytelling 3
  5. 5. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Contributors CONTRIBUTORS Follow Anjali: Follow PHD UK: Follow Craig: Follow Barefoot Proximity: Head of Innovation at PhD London, United Kingdom Senior Content Strategist at BareFoot Proximity Cincinnati, Ohio Anjali Ramachandran Craig Heimbuch 4
  6. 6. Follow Kiersten: Follow Waggener Edstrom: Content Strategy Director at Waggener Edstrom Portland, Oregon Kiersten Lawson Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Contributors Follow Lisa: Follow Overit: Vice President of Strategy at Overit Media Albany, New York Lisa Barone Follow Michael: Follow WCG: Group Director at WCG, a W2O Company San Francisco, California Michael Brito 5
  7. 7. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Contributors Follow Scott: Follow Ruder Finn: Follow Ruben: Follow Skyword: Follow Steve: Follow MXM: Chief Digital Officer at Ruder Finn New York City, New York Director of Marketing at Skyword Boston, Massachusetts Chief Strategy Officer at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing Los Angeles, California Scott Schneider Ruben Sanchez Steve Kerho 6
  8. 8. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 7 1 Chapter Explore New ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES “ Just like agencies struggled to integrate digital operations through every aspect of the organization, the same commitment needs to take place around content creation. The change will call for new roles in every department, the education of traditional agency people, and the retooling of production processes. Like all big industry shifts, the vision needs to start with the senior management team. Phil Johnson, CEO, PJA Advertising + Marketing
  9. 9. “ “ “ Chapter 1: Explore New Organizational Structures Being as steeped in the brand as possible is key, and also being as connected to the cultural happenings around the brand’s demographic. Often enough brands are unintentionally so close to their own brand and brand experiences that they only anecdotally see what their competitors are doing. An agency can often help bring that moment of opportunity clarity. Depending on the type of content that [a client] is missing, it may take more than one agency to create, curate, and distribute it. The clients will also be heavily involved, more so than advertising development. The better agencies are open to such outcomes and are more interested in doing the right thing for their client than always keeping work in-house. We are organized along practices such as CRM, mobile, or analytics, and around business verticals such as CPG and automotive. Clients have a single point of contact, the group director. Our internal processes and supporting deliverables are key to our solutions. For example, most agencies rely on a creative brief, instead we use an engagement brief, which is designed around consumer insights, and content catalysts to ensure relevancy. I think most digital agencies and divisions were inherently created to address two things: to capture market share of the obvious (and ever growing) digital business opportunity, and to look toward the future of communications. While most PR agencies do not have a major focus on emerging technologies, their digital arms do. The technology will come first, and that will drive the new ways people communicate. The agencies that understand what the technical trends are and how they could marry cultural trends will be on top of their game. Scott Schneider of Ruder Finn Steve Kerho of MXM Scott Schneider of Ruder Finn 8
  10. 10. “ Great content marketing is about connecting with people by telling compelling stories. When it’s done right, it doesn’t feel like marketing and will engage even the busiest consumer. Great content engages people, creates experiences, helps people find answers and valuable, relevant information. At AMP, we shifted the mindset from selling to storytelling. Our content strategies are consumer centric – rooted in an understanding of how the customer consumes - and shares - content and the type of preferred content. Gary Colen, CEO, AMP Agency Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 9 2 Chapter Find New Ways To Reach And Engage The ALWAYS-ON CONSUMER
  11. 11. Chapter 2: Find New Ways To Reach And Engage The Always-On Consumer “ “ “ The average brand must keep content fresh across an average of 178 online properties. Each of us as consumers must decide which content to peruse or more deeply explore among an average of 3,000 brand impressions we encounter per day... Release and finesse [content], because you can no longer command and control [it]. The idea is to create feedback loops to constantly improve the health of the content libraries on our clients’ sites. For a person like me, it’s the perfect fusion of left and right brains. I’m focused on driving and understanding user participation - from UGC to social sharing - and establishing a means to understand the value of each step. The notion of a hash tag fascinates me. In my mind, it’s the new frontier of personalization - having your brand so strongly represent something that users incorporate it into self-identification. Completely fascinating. This is about a fundamental shift from content that is campaign based to content that is designed for an always-on environment... We have fully transitioned to a consumer-controlled pull environment. Consequently, the biggest challenge marketers face today is how to populate their ever-growing ecosystems with content that engages. It is less about the delivery mechanism and more about the content that is being delivered. Kiersten Lawson of Waggener Edstrom Craig Heimbuch of Barefoot Proximity Steve Kerho of MXM 10
  12. 12. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 11 3 Chapter Inspire CREATIVE STORYTELLING
  13. 13. Chapter 3: Inspire Creative Storytelling “ “ “ I look toward film/TV/commercial directors. I find that they are at a great intersection of creativity and discipline. Someone who can tell a beautiful story in 30 or 15 seconds. With media consumption what it is today (and where it is going), the short form storytellers of our time will be inherently great marketers. I’m a big believer that too much time spent online or consuming other marketing is counterproductive to your own creativity and output. For inspiration and ideas, I get offline. I just bought a house in the country and I’ve found that spending a lot of time on my back deck, thinking and observing, really helps me stay creative and fuel new ideas. Also, consuming information and projects completely outside of the marketing world is something that I’ve felt has helped me. It’s not about finding or contriving ways for brands to inject themselves into a content category; it’s about focusing on what’s driving the most meaningful results. That has spilled over into my personal life as well and will probably continue to be a big influence. I have a note stuck to the wall next to my desk that reads: “Content, even great content, is dead until it’s found, consumed, shared, and acted upon.” It’s sort of our motto. Content can’t be done in a silo; it has to be the connective tissue for a brand’s digital ecosystem. Scott Schneider of Ruder Finn Lisa Barone of Overit Craig Heimbuch of Barefoot Proximity 12
  14. 14. Chapter 3: Inspire Creative Storytelling “ “ “ I have been able to consistently carve out or seize new opportunities to drive the evolution of how the agency helps clients tell and elevate stories that deliver breakthrough results. Curiosity is a core value of WE, and one I share with passion... I’m a firm believer that creativity, innovation, and contentment are best fueled by an eclectic and tireless consumption of art and information. Agency innovators are, people who filter and make sense of information with a business hat firmly on (and then use that to speak to people in ways that are useful, entertaining, or informative) and are champions of creativity... In a typical agency structure, there are multiple specialists - digital, SEO, social, client services, planning, design, and so on - who are extremely talented at their specific roles. But what stands out for clients is the impact of the agency’s willingness and ability to defend creative ideas on creativity itself. We always joke that good digital content takes a village. Well, so does innovative problem solving. I have seen creative teams develop groundbreaking ideas about measurement. And analytics teams that have created brilliant campaign ideas. This is only possible when teams work in an environment where this type of problem solving is not only respected but also encouraged and rewarded. Kiersten Lawson of Waggener Edstrom Anjali Ramachandran of PHD UK Steve Kerho of MXM 13
  15. 15. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 14 4 Chapter Explore New Models To SOURCE CREATIVE TALENT
  16. 16. Chapter 4: Explore New Models To Source Creative Talent “ “ We rely on our local office practice heads to dictate who and what we need. We try to drive our digital standards from our HQ in NYC, but the local offices build on top of that. The most difficult challenges are the obvious ones: bridging the cultural and logistic barriers, and understanding how one piece of web content plays in one market and how it needs to be adjusted in another. The local platforms are not as relevant as the web content. Also, everyone talks about the time difference often being an advantage because one team can work while the other sleeps, but that never really works well. Collaborating humans need as many real-time touch points as possible. Waiting eight hours to ask a colleague a quick question just slows things down. I came to the agency while doing what every journalist does out of habit: googling job opportunities. Barefoot Proximity was getting set to launch and had a listing for a “Men’s Magazine Editor.” Since I was one of only two people in Cincinnati who could make that claim, it seemed like a natural fit. The work has evolved over the course of time. It was, in a way, kismet that a person of my background could suddenly have access to such knowledge and tools and has been a real boost to my career, let alone my enthusiasm. Scott Schneider of Ruder Finn Craig Heimbuch of Barefoot Proximity 15
  17. 17. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 16 5 Chapter Build SCALABLE PROCESSES For Content Creation “ The biggest problem organizations face around content is how to deliver a meaningful and relevant content experience for their users. This means starting with a strategy that clearly defines which content is necessary, identifying the mechanisms to support it, and providing up-to-date and timely content for the many channel outputs to which their users engage. Now and in the future, the largest challenge will be how to support the content required to deliver meaningful, relevant and timely experiences. Or succinctly put, getting the right content to the right user at the right time. Kevin P Nichols, Director and Global Practice Lead, Content Strategy, Sapient
  18. 18. Chapter 5: Build Scalable Processes For Content Creation “ “ “ The technology that interests me the most is around governance and workflow. As a marketer, you’d think it would be technology for automation, customer acquisition, contests, or sweepstakes. Content and marketing governance is a huge challenge today and many brands struggle with it. Having a workflow that has built in controls from content ideation to creation to curation to approval to distribution and then optimization are much more important in my mind.” I’m particularly excited about a product we’ll be launching soon that will provide customizable packages of content marketing techniques for companies to implement to boost their bottom line. Our solution will suggest precise, easily implementable and scalable content marketing components based on the business priorities, budget parameters, and unmet opportunity areas unique to each organization that engages with us. What needs to change at traditional agencies is the pace at which they work. A lot has been said about agile planning... but being flexible and quick to listen and respond to the needs of people is more important than ever before, whether this is through product or communication. Michael Brito of WCG, a W2O Company Kiersten Lawson of Waggener Edstrom Anjali Ramachandran of of PHD UK 17
  19. 19. Chapter 5: Build Scalable Processes For Content Creation “ “ We have several custom products and services including customer engagement measures, a mobile readiness score, and a highly refined customer journey and content audit methodology. We jointly leverage consumer insights, through syndicated and custom research, to better understand our target. And we jointly work on various content, media, and engagement assignments. The media and marketing services arena is only coming closer together. First off, we have as many face-to-face meetings as possible. While the time difference is tricky, we have regular weekly Skype calls with Asia and the UK. We also make sure to use rigorous project management software. It is the soft (people centered) and hard (tools) approach that works best. We also ensure our business benchmarks are setup at all times, so we can always see how profitable a project is in real-time. Steve Kerho of MXM Scott Schneider of Ruder Finn 18
  20. 20. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 19 6 Chapter To Drive Content Startegy LEVERAGE DATA
  21. 21. Chapter 6: Leverage Data To Drive Content Strategy “ “ The human race now produces over 800 exabytes of information a year. To put that in perspective - and I always find it fascinating when I see this bit of information - we created only five exabytes of information between the dawn of civilization and 2003. We are now a data-obese generation, as Google’s chief economist Hal Varian says. To make sense of all this data, we need filters in agencies as much as we do in our daily lives - and that information needs to be distilled and translated into a usable form. I’ve worked really closely with our measurement and optimization team on two key innovations. The first is called Content Efficacy, which is a proprietary algorithm that measures content value to specific stages of the path to purchase - discovery, engagement, and conversion. It helps us identify what content is working hardest to drive specific business results and helps us understand the relationships between individual pieces of content as it relates to overall effectiveness. We use this data to drive optimization - which we call Content Darwinism - soup-to-nuts, everything from headline treatment to individual authors, content partners, topics, formats, and lengths.” Anjali Ramachandran of PHD UK Craig Heimbuch of Barefoot Proximity 20
  22. 22. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators 21 7 Chapter Quantify The ROI Of CONTENT MARKETING
  23. 23. Chapter 7: Quantify The ROI Of Content Marketing “ “ “ “ Success in general can be measured in innumerable ways. To us, the key is to ensure each campaign’s discovery process takes bottom-line business objectives into consideration and that some form of KPIs have been identified so the value of the effort can be later measured, and future content efforts can be informed by those findings. The payoff of content strategy thus multiplies over time. A content audit is the ideal tool to identify and prioritize content gaps. Content gaps that are aligned with ROI opportunities along the customer journey should be the first priority. Savvy clients are able to model the lost revenue for these ROI focused content gaps. How do you identify the opportunity for ROI with content... ...Working with an agency that offers content marketing services can help you get your ducks in a row and get that process and strategy down so you can focus on the content. But many agencies will start creating content without that initial planning. And that’s where bad things can happen - like lost dollars. The key to measuring content performance is through engagement measures. We create custom engagement measures for our clients. We incorporate the unique features of each client and their ecosystems into our engagement scoring process. In general, engagement is based on a combination of recency, frequency, and depth of interaction for each channel, both individually and in aggregate. Kiersten Lawson of Waggener Edstrom Steve Kerho of MXM Lisa Barone of Overit Steve Kerho of MXM 22
  24. 24. Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Conclusion Conclusionby Ruben Sanchez Director of Marketing at Skyword Boston, Massachusetts Each interview confirmed that more clients are explicitly asking their marketing agencies for content. Built into these requests for content is a desire to transform the way brands relate to people. In order to begin to genuinely engage audiences and form lasting relationships, brands have to translate their value into digital experiences and digital content. Since 2010, Skyword has built software and a services team committed exclusively to helping agencies create original quality content for their clients. We’ve done this because we believe that now is the time for agencies to illuminate a clear path for clients invested in building brands online. In order to help leading agencies shine a light on effective solutions for publishing content, Skyword has developed a number of content marketing frameworks that align to the marketing goals and objectives that matter most. In addition, we work with our agency partners to clarify their own perspective and approach to delivering content services. This is because - beyond providing the infrastructure for successful content publishing - agencies must also provide a vision for content marketing success. 23 “ Connect with Ruben: Follow Skyword:
  25. 25. Agency content marketing is an exciting area that shows huge promise. Each new #agencyinnovators interview confirms this for me. As a former agency marketer, I’m energized to learn about the unique value and powerful delivery that agencies are bringing to their clients. As a marketer at a technology company, I’m thrilled to pass our collective learning on to you. Thank you for reading. You can find the original agency interviews in their entirety here: Contact Skyword +1.855.SKYWORD +1.855.759.9673 “ Skyword - Agency Content Innovators - Conclusion 24