The Digital and Content Team: Is Splintering a Verb?

In the previous post in this series, I discussed the ideal Demand Generation group structure, and exactly which functions are best centralized there. In this post we explore the organization of a Digital and Content team, which we will call “The Digital Team” and may include the designers and producers of the website and other digital properties.

How you do organize around content and the website at your firm? Is your website appropriately categorized as content and managed out of this group?

Group Charter

The charter of a Digital and Content group might look something like this:

Create compelling content to drive higher customer and prospect engagement resulting in more qualified leads for Sales. In addition, we will create a fluid customer experience, whether it is through inbound or outbound communications, to create one company feel.

Notice the word “engagement” in there? Remember, great companies are spending up to 40% (or more) of the marketing budget on content – and many have no clue if it is actually engaging their prospects and customers! Are you measuring the level of engagement with each piece of content you produce today?

The Digital Content group is the source of the fuel for the Demand Generation engine. They build their roadmap based on input from the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), product marketing, sales, requirements gathered from the Demand Generation team, field marketing, and other marketing teams.

If you agree with my premise that the website is also content, and as such belongs in a group where content in other media is created, then we arrive at an organizational crossroads:

  • Do the search, display, and paid traffic gurus (or agencies) who are traditionally tightly linked to the website designers and producers also belong in this group?
  • Or, since their function is really demand generation, do they splinter from their website production comrades and move into the Demand Generation group?

Suffice to say, most organizations have kept them in the same group…for now. So the organization chart probably looks like this:

As marketing organizations shift toward building omni-channel campaigns to give prospects and customers a consistent multi-channel experience, it forces the inbound team ever closer to the marketing automation team in the Demand Generation group.

If you leave your inbound and social team in the Digital and Content group, ensure they develop a very tight relationship with the Demand Generation team since they will be working together more and more.

THE TRAFFIC MANAGER

I’m going to digress for a minute here, but I assure you this will have implications for the organization of the content group. Let’s talk about the life of an asset – a piece of content. You find a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the firm to write up a nice whitepaper (WP) and you put it on the website and you’re done, right? Not so fast….

Developing the core content, the basis for the subsequent assets, is probably a third of the battle. These days, getting the value from the core content probably looks more like this:

  1. Get the core content developed and produce the first asset (WP for example)
  2. Write a blog post to promote the WP
  3. Write email copy to promote WP with outbound email channel
  4. Write landing page (LP) copy
  5. Write ad copy if you are going to do some display ads or paid search to promote WP
  6. Get a creative designer involved to add graphics and images for all the above

But wait! Now that you have development and creative around pone asset done, there’s more to do!

You have to plan out all the campaigns in all the channels to support this: email, blog, paid search, display ads, and social promoted posts. And we haven’t even begun to talk about splintering this fine piece of core content into tweets, infographics, bylined articles, slideshare, etc. Someone needs to coordinate all these things so the LP is live with the WP, before the blog is published, and the display ad is created and ready right after the LP is live etc.

This is where the role of the traffic coordinator comes in.

There are multiple “campaigns” here through various channels, which may well use project managers for each (one for social, one for outbound, one for the website). It makes sense to have a traffic manager who organizes the development of all assets related to the core content. This person coordinates with all the channel-specific campaign project managers to ensure the promotions and campaigns all go live on time.

Traffic management isn’t just for agencies anymore, and it’s more work around a single piece of core content than you imagine. It is also an area of specialization in which many campaign project managers lack skills.

THE CONTENT STRATEGIST

The Content Strategists engage with sales, field marketing, and the Demand Generation team to understand their needs for customer engagement. The content strategist combines the requirements from the disparate groups, adds their knowledge of the market segments, revenue targets, media trends, and produces a roadmap for content that will result in the greatest business result.

Not only does this person understand personas and buying cycles, their markets, and their products, the content strategist is an expert in determining what message is best delivered through which media; what is the right mix of freemium and premium content on the website; what mix of tools, templates, and research reports should be created? What assets will drive engagement in Korea, but not work so well in France?

The blog is also content. In your mind, is your blog more about content or more about being a channel? How do you leverage that content to greatest effect? Can you leverage a product or tool with helpful automation to help you channel externally-created, relevant content to your prospects through your Sales reps?

My point is, if you don’t already have a content strategist, you need one.

BUDGET

In my ideal world the funding for content development would come from the folks who have a revenue number in their goals: Sales, the Demand Generation group, field marketing, product line managers. This content group would excel at:

  • Knowing how to create compelling content
  • Driving consistent company and product messaging and positioning
  • Engaging personas
  • Knowing which media are best for delivering which message
  • Spending their limited content budget to achieve maximum effect
  • Knowing how to splinter content in one medium into multiple pieces for reuse

But the editorial calendar, the decision on where to spend the budget has to be strongly driven by the people who most need the content: Sales, Demand Gen, and field marketing. These three groups should not be in the position of trying to figure out how to use what the content group in HQ decided to produce. The three groups should be placing orders and getting exactly what they need to engage market segments. After all, they have a revenue number in their goals.

NEXT STEPS

Here are some ideas and priorities for organizing and leading a Digital and Content group for success:

  1. Decide on the charter for the Digital and Content team.
  2. Leave SEO/SEM folks close to the web designers/producers.
  3. Identify SMEs throughout the firm and get core content creation put into their job description and quarterly MBOs (Management By Objective).
  4. Setup systems to measure engagement with your existing content
  5. Define the role of traffic manager.
  6. Define a role for content strategist.
  7. Gather requirements from Sales/Channels, Demand Gen, field marketing.
  8. Be agile. Produce a 3-6 month calendar, not more.
  9. Distribute content to its maximum potential.

Next up in this series? Marketing processes you need to master for any of this to succeed!

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