86% of B2B marketers say their organization uses content marketing, according to B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America, while other research from ClickZ found that 25% of Fortune 500 B2B companies have adopted marketing automation. Clearly both content marketing and marketing automation are hot topics in digital marketing today, each in its own right, but when used together, you get a high-octane, lead-generating content machine.
As defined earlier, content marketing is the art of corporate storytelling through the publication of content that used to engage a target audience from a thought leadership approach. It’s the creation of a long-term relationship with an audience who is sometimes known, but largely unknown, and it’s a connection with audience that is built upon a businesses’ mission to enlighten, to educate and to motivate. Companies become true content marketers when they begin to publish a regular stream of quality content that people want to read, and that content can come in the form of blog posts, articles, eBooks, infographics, whitepapers, videos, or any other form of consumable content.
So how can you tell your content marketing program is working? Well that’s where marketing automation comes into play.
According to Marketo, “Marketing automation is a category of technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.” It is undoubtedly a tool that can be used to track audience engagement with your content so that at the end of the day, you can answer such questions as:
- How much engagement is my content generating?
- Is my content reaching the correct target audience for my business objectives?
- Which of the people consuming my content is the most likely to make a purchase or engage in the end action that I am trying to promote?
At it’s core, marketing automation is based on the premise of lead scoring. This is the idea of scoring of audience interactions with your content in order to identify the most engaged prospects. For example, if a prospect visits several of your web pages, opens an email, or even watches a video, a unique score that represents the relative value of the engagement is assigned to each of these actions. Once the cumulative score reaches a certain threshold that you’ve set as “engaged,” the prospect becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and is passed on for additional sales qualification and follow up.
Marketing automation allows you to score against a number of important attributes, not just engagements. You can also give a prospect a higher score, for example if they are from a specific type of company that is relevant to your target audience, or if their job role is more likely to be influential is the final purchase category. Basically, marketing automation platforms assess lead scoring opportunities over a wide range of attributes or activities in order to help a business more efficiently maximize sales, and it’s content that fuels the marketing automation machine.