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Does Your Content Marketing Deliver ROI? (Video)

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Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series featuring speakers from the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON). For more information, visit www.MAICON.ai.

Not sure if your content marketing is making the right kind of impact on your organization?

You’re not alone.

Many companies are stuck in the “publish and pray” mentality—spending way too many hours conducting research and pulling audience data. Luckily, there’s AI for that. And that’s what MarketMuse Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Jeff Coyle, will discuss at the Marketing AI Conference (MAICON) this July.

Specifically, his session will feature Making Content Your Competitive Advantage: How to Ensure Every Article Delivers ROI.

Interest piqued?

In this video, I sat down with Jeff to unpack the details of his session and give attendees an idea of what to expect at the event.

Watch the full video, or read the interview transcript below. We hope to see you at MAICON! Register before June 3 to take advantage of early bird pricing.

Q&A Interview Transcript Highlights

Paul: Alright, I am here with Jeff Coyle, the co-founder and chief product Officer of MarketMuse. Welcome, Jeff.

Jeff: Hi, Paul, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Paul: Doing great. Jeff is going to be presenting at the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON) in July with us. And so we're here to just get a little preview of his session, Making Content Your Competitive Advantage: How to Ensure Every Article Delivers ROI.

So Jeff, first, why don’t you give us a little background on MarketMuse, what you guys do and what the software enables?

Jeff: Oh, sure. So MarketMuse is a content intelligence and strategy platform. We are focused on accelerating content creation and identifying how to really impact the level of expertise that the content on your site or your network of sites communicates to the world.

By being able to analyze millions of content items on-demand, doing automated gap analyses and other detailed technical evaluations of content, we're able to craft high quality content plans and content briefs using our technology that inform and create a single source of truth for your editorial and content teams.

Paul: So say I'm an SEO or I'm a content strategist and I used to do it this way. I used to go and look for keywords. I used to try and figure out subject lines. Give me an example of how it used to happen and how you guys make it possible.

Jeff: On the content strategist side, we used to inform content decisions with manual research, brainstorming or exhibited expertise of those teams—whether it's a writer with the individual subject matter expertise or an editor who has that expertise. And from a search engine optimization perspective, it was really manual keyword research trying to identify using things like search volume or pay-per-click data as your north star.

And then the next phase of evolution in the space began to focus on competitive analysis. So what could I achieve based on factors that I can measure?

And so the big difference that MarketMuse makes is that we're able to provide data-driven insights for planning, briefing, editing and for impacting and understanding how to tactically prioritize content creation and optimization. [With MarketMuse, you can confidently know that by making a certain change] you are going to be more impactful. Ask yourself: How frequently do I publish content that is successful, based on the key performance indicators that I care about?

What are these KPIs? Is it traffic? Is it conversions? Is it sales?

So being able to use that historic authority and historic success rates to be able to guide my next steps [makes] a big difference as opposed to doing it manually.

Paul: And MarketMuse considers the domain itself that's publishing as well. For example, if you only get 500 visitors a month on your site, it's not going to matter how much good stuff you write. MarketMuse uses AI to help marketers know if their domain is weak, strong or moderate. So it helps to understand your likelihood to actually succeed.

Jeff: Yeah, and that's a big differentiator for our community. Some other platforms are only looking at off-page factors to evaluate your strength. They are only able to look at, like, let's say linking signals. But what we're able to do is basically map out the story of your content inventory and how does that influence where you will be successful, in addition to all those other signals. And that creates a much more high fidelity piece of advice for opportunity. And so, if I go out and I write the best article in the world about the new iPhone on a blog that is a brand new domain, good luck. I'm going to have to build out hundreds and hundreds of content items, build out a new brand, generate authority on that space to even have a chance in that field.

If I have a great site and I write the same article, it's going to have an easier chance of penetrating that market. So what MarketMuse can do is tell you the level of difficulty in either of those scenarios. How much is it going to take to win, regardless of what those scenarios are and is it attainable? And that's the big big difference is personalized recommendations based on opportunity and difficulty.

Paul: And I know you guys talk a lot about content clusters. What is a content cluster? And what should people know about that approach to improve content?

Jeff: There are two ways to think about content clusters. One is semantic relatedness. So if I'm going to cover this topic, cover the related concepts to comprehensively tell the story that I'm an expert. So if I'm going to cover content marketing strategy, I need to ensure that I have coverage of buyer journeys and target audience or else it's actually not passing muster that I know what I'm talking about.

Whereas in the past, keyword-focused or keyword-crazy writers would go content marketing strategy and then everything I write about is related to the same concept and not really thinking about those related topics. So that's part one of how we think about clustering.

The other is intent targeting.

So what are the things people wish to accomplish? What are the goals along the buying cycle that are a fit for content? And so, you're looking at a lot of different intent profiles. Some people are in the early stage: they just want to know, what is CRM software? If you're in the middle, you might be might be looking at things like CRM software benefits or advantages. Or, if you're deeper in the funnel, you're comparing particular products in the field or specific product features or troubleshooting. All of those things make up common intent profiles for any particular topic.

When you combine intent targeting with semantically-related concepts, that tells the story of what it means to be comprehensive. And so what MarketMuse is trying to do is surface both of those characteristics into your planning.

Identify where you have gaps. Identify that you're really, really good at the top of the funnel content, but your middle of the funnel is a little bit light. And so by building out content plans and supporting them with content briefs for marketing, it's giving you an advantage to say, “I know that if I covered this topic in this way, I'm going to have all my bases lined up.”

Paul: That's awesome. So for MAICON, our goal was to find the people who actually know what they're talking about. Who can make this stuff make sense to the average marketer? And the challenge we presented to people like Jeff and other technology companies is, you have to come to tell a story but the outcome can't be, “You need to buy our software to do it.”

So what can people expect when they come to the conference, specifically if they come to your session? What kind of actionable takeaways should they expect, regardless of whether they buy your software or not?  

Jeff: Well, anytime I'm communicating to an audience at a conference or an event, I'm always focused on it not being about MarketMuse. It's about them. It's not about me.

I think: if I needed to do this, how could I do it? I think about the manual effort. It's the solutions that you could piece together to do these things. And I'm uniquely able to do that. And you know this, Paul, because I did all of this. The story of MarketMuse is that I was doing all these things manually, all these workflows.

And I found somebody (my co-founder) who could automate them and had the vision from an AI perspective. So basically, I was like, here are all these crazy workflows that content strategists need and search engine optimization professionals need. Can you do this with this technology? Now, all of them are possible with technology, which is wonderful.

And so certainly everything that I communicate at the event will include what's out there and what’s realistic. What can you actually do manually, as well as what's out there that can be helped with automation?

Don't listen to people who say that this is five years in the future because natural language processing, natural language generation, rubric generation, brief generation or gap analysis, etc., that's happening now! It is now and it's not just MarketMuse, you can build it if you wish. I mean, it'd be a little bit painful, but you can build it.

And the biggest takeaway that I would hope that a marketer has is that they will wish to inspire their organization to never publish content that doesn't have a chance to succeed. I'm not letting anyone in my organization publish content that isn't equal to or better than all of my competitors from the standpoint of quality and comprehensiveness. If I can inspire that at the end of my session, I will have won. You don't ever want to publish low quality content ever again on your site. And if that's all you take away, I'm happy.

Paul: You may need to change the title of your session to: never publish content that won't succeed! I love it.

Jeff: Yeah, it's so true. And it's one of those things where you simply need to acknowledge the expectation of a piece of content. Like, I know that this isn't the lightning rod, but it's the foundation. As long as you have the right expectations. So many teams are publishing content thinking they're going to generate traffic and it’s not going to. It never had a chance and it shows it's about realistic expectations, but also it's putting the real mirror in front of your face. Know if you have low quality content on your site. There isn't an easy way of measuring it. And that is something that we uniquely do.

Paul: Well, Jeff, I really appreciate your time. Let everybody know how they can find more about MarketMuse and how to find you online.

Jeff: Sure. Well, find us at MarketMuse.com and @MarketMuseCo is our Twitter. We respond to everything. I'm Jeff@marketmuse.com or you can find me, Jeff Coyle, on LinkedIn, and I respond to everything.

Paul: Or you can come to MAICON in July in Cleveland, and see Jeff in person!

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