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If there ever was a time when you could ignore the old adages ... this isn't it.
People don't care about your business – they care what your business can do for them. Know your customer. Audience first.
You've heard variations on these themes since the day you got serious about a career in content marketing. That doesn't make them any less true.
But they've gotten harder to apply. People's behavior and preferences are changing quickly as the world changes around them. It's harder than ever to figure out what audiences want.
Sure, we're awash in data. But we struggle to unlock its full potential, as our 2021 Content Management and Strategy Survey showed (see the chart on this page and more findings here).
Slightly more than half (56%) of respondents in the 2021 Content Management and Strategy Survey strongly/somewhat agreed their organization extracts meaningful insights from data and analytics, down from 69% last year.
And the winter of our Netflix (dis)content melted into a hot vaxxed summer faster than anyone predicted.
As many of the speakers at our recent ContentTECH Summit pointed out, audiences aren't waiting around for us to figure out what to offer them. They're going out to find what they want.
So, what are content leaders to do? Get to know your audience – all over again. We've pulled together a whole issue full of ideas and advice to help.
Let me know what you think.
It’s Their World. We're Just Working in It
If you ever knew what your audience wanted, you’re probably rethinking it now. And so are they. The only thing to do is work with them.
Subscribe for access to these feature articles:
Ride the Big (Idea) Wave
Like the best surfers, the smartest content leaders read the swells. One thing they're telling us – the time for big ideas is now.
Clubhouse and the Audio Revolution
Are audio apps a lockdown-driven fad or here to stay? Meg Coffey breaks down what makes them so popular – and whether they deserve a place in your content marketing strategy.
Survey Says: Better Experiences Mean Better Research Results
Survey experience is a primary pitfall for original research. A good experience boosts completion and accuracy. Here's how to ensure one.
Case (Study) Closed
Andrew Davis dishes out unsolicited advice on the perils of gated case studies – and makes the CMO an offer he shouldn't refuse.
Subscribe to access these department columns:
B2B Content Is Only Boring If You Let It Be
Turn "should read" into "must read" and eventually "did read" by making your content the most tempting option in the snack drawer.
Get in Their Heads (in the Right Way)
Here’s a look at how to use fundamental truths about human nature (in other words, psychological principles) to attract and grow your audience.
Can Anyone Serve Two (or Three) Bosses?
Content marketers have a responsibility to their brands – but also to their audiences and their own ethics. What happens when these interests conflict?
• Editor-in-Chief: Kim Moutsos
• Creative Director: Joseph Kalinowski
• Public Relations & Video Consultant:
• Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
<strong>It’s Their World. We’re Just Working in It
<strong>If you ever knew what your audience wanted, you’re probably rethinking it now. And so are they. But now they're in charge. </strong>
Meet the New Boss. (Not Quite the) Same as the Old Boss
Know your audience has stood as a content commandment since the dawn of storytelling. And, for just as long, content creators have struggled to live up to it.
Preferences, behaviors, and intent changing at mind-boggling speed as parts of the world reopen. The challenge is that much harder.
Another complication – the power dynamic has shifted. Audiences, prospects, and customers are embracing their roles as drivers of their own journeys, navigating to new experiences whenever the old ones disappoint or grow stale.
How can content teams keep up with these new and shifting expectations?
If you listen to the experts who spoke at ContentTECH Summit, it's going to take experimentation, a close eye on data, and (shocker) a willingness to talk with your new(ish) overlords.
Read on for their specific advice. – Kim Moutsos
Don’t drop the ball
We are quickly moving away from a world where different elements of the customer journey are handled by separate systems.
We must start thinking about the journey in a much more organic way, where technologies are connected, and look to a single source of data.
Every handoff of audience or customer data is an opportunity to fumble.
– Robert Rose, from
AudienceTech – A New
Way To Think About
the Technology of
There's still time! You can watch
ContentTECH Summit sessions
on demand until July 10. Just
sign in to the event platform
if you're already registered. Or,
sign up for on-demand access at
if you haven't already.
Try new things now
Marketers need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. We’ve been under a lot of pressure to create so many different types of content .... Customer expectations are changing while we’re doing this. It’s very hard to pinpoint exactly what customers need. Use this as an opportunity to try some things you haven’t done.
If you haven’t dabbled in video, maybe now is the time. It might not be comfortable, but it might really resonate with your audience. If you’re not leveraging personalization or testing but have talked about investing in a technology that not many people on the team are trained for, now is a great opportunity to try it. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and taking those risks … you never know how great the reward is going to be.
– Jill Grozalsky, from
Removing the Content
Bottleneck to Power
Involve the people you’re trying to reach
When you’re working on something, try to identify the people who will be impacted by it but who have little say in that thing you’re working on. Try to give them more say – they’re going to have to live with the thing you’re making. That’s the biggest shortcut to more inclusive content design.
– David Thomas, from
Design for Cognitive Bias:
Using Mental Shortcuts
for Good Instead of Evil
Really get close to your customers. I can’t overstate the value of being very close to your customers. Keep in touch with them, ask them what they need. How are you helping them do business?
It’s really about the ease of doing business with you. Don’t assume you know what they want. Talk to them on a continuous basis and keep the lines of communication open.
Don’t overcomplicate things
Things have changed from that old world of super-high production values where only a few people could make videos. Lots of people still do it that way, and it makes sense for some videos. But not every video needs to be a Hollywood movie. You probably have some incredible storytellers in your company who just don’t have the technical know-how to make videos. If you can help them unlock their creativity in video, that storytelling can go a long way.
– Garrett Goodman, from Say It
With Video – Amplify Your Content
Marketing with In-House Video
Creation to Drive Business Results
Don’t play favorites
Give equal investment and equal attention to data, experience, and technology. They're all necessary. When one falls down, the project falls down. You aren’t able to execute for the audience or for internal purposes without the combination of the three.
– Jessica Bergmann, from
The Tech Recipe: How
Salesforce is Serving Up
Aim for the unexpected
We need to understand that content comes from everywhere across the organization. We all need to work together to make sure we’re producing the best content and that we’re taking the content beyond the expected. Think outside the expected and work together across departments to get it done. CCO
– Megan Gilhooly, from
Customer Experience: How
B2C Experiences Impact
The best piece of advice I got from my
mentor, Julia Child, was to always pay it
forward. This is the best time to use that
phrase and that mindset. We’re in this
together. I love that everybody came
together during COVID. I hope we continue
to do that even after the world opens
up. I hope that we continue to share, to
collaborate, to empower each other and
to inspire each other, to stay connected,
to help each other.
Always pay it forward.
– Cat Cora, from Cooking with Cat Cora
See more great advice from the rest of the ContentTECH Summit speakers in the full version of this article on the Content Marketing Institute blog.