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Influencers are playing a greater role in marketing says international software brand

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The next article in our Q&A content marketing series produced by SmartCompany’s content agency, Bureau, features Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at US-based international software company SAP.

Head of Global Influencer Marketing at US-based international software company SAP, Ursula Ringham, was an early adopter collaborating with B2B influencers as part of SAP’s marketing campaigns.

She uses all forms of digital marketing and social media to create engaging content and was previously at Adobe and Apple in their developer relations organisations, helping companies bring products to market.

In her spare time, Ursula writes thriller novels about the tech industry. Ursula caught up with SmartCompany’s content agency, Bureau, to share her thoughts on content marketing.

What’s your definition of content marketing?

Any type of online digital asset including video, blog, podcast, infographic that informs an audience about a topic and has a call to action.

How does this method work without overtly promoting a brand’s product/service?

Content marketing only works when you empathise with the audience through good storytelling. Present a business challenge, how to address this challenge, and share successes. When done correctly, the content should have very little to do with the brand or brand’s product but provide a call to action if someone wants to learn more.

How has content marketing changed over the past five years?

How you reach and retain your audience has changed. Today’s consumers only have the attention span of eight seconds. Whether you capture this attention with a photo, video, or even one sentence, it has to be compelling and impactful content. Also, consumers are less trusting of brands. They are more apt to trust a person they know. Thus the rise of influencer marketing and trusted voices influencing buyer decisions.

How are B2B audiences consuming content differently than previously?

B2B audiences expect to be treated like a B2C audience. This sets the bar very high for B2B marketers. Content needs to show up in surprising ways to grab the attention of your audience and it all comes down to good storytelling.

For SMEs with a limited budget, what are the best tactics to use?

Create a campaign based around holidays or events that relate to your product or service. A picture is worth a thousand words. Share a photo that tells a story about your products or services. Ask a customer to write a blog.

Everyone has a story to tell and likes to be recognised. On social media create games, competitions, or polls to create engagement for your product or service.

Content is more pervasive than ever. How do you ensure your content gets cut through?

Tell your story in an innovative way. Show up in surprising, unexpected places and ways. Collaborate with an established entity who reaches your audience with a podcast, video series or blog series.

Partner with other businesses that complement your business. The key is to experiment and keep trying. And keep telling the story of how your product or service helps people.

Has content moved beyond awareness and vanity metrics to more lead generation and ROI attribution models?

Yes. But it all depends on the business and its goals. Most executives want to see the pipeline as a result of your content marketing efforts. So ROI is very important. And today, ROI is much easier to track. You can track the power of a tweet to an online sale. But I think you should do a combination of awareness as well as lead generation. You want to build awareness and then the CTA is to lead generation.

What brands are doing it well and who isn’t doing it well?

This is tough. So many are doing it well. Which brands are killing it? Here’s some:

  • Adobe Instagram shows what you can do with their products
  • Airbnb Instagram highlights their “Superhost” accommodations
  • General Electric and their #GEinstawalk campaign. Fall of 2018 campaign showed GE’s products through the eyes of influencer photos. This was an unusual and different way to build awareness.

I usually do not like to comment on a brand that “isn’t doing it well” as every business has lessons learned or room for improvement when it comes to content marketing.

But recently, this brand had an epic fail that relates to what’s happening with society today. And it’s all around manipulation. The North Face along with their ad agency, Leo Burnett, manipulated Wikipedia for a marketing campaign to climb to the top of Google search results. They replaced known public photos on Wikipedia with their own that contained their brand logo.

They took advantage of the public’s trust in Wikipedia for their own gain. Clever publicity stunt or massive fail? I am disappointed that The North Face stooped to this level.

Can you quantify the importance of video and voice over the coming years? 

If you are not using video, you are already behind. Video is everywhere. It is being used by every industry. Consumers are more apt to watch a video than read a blog.

But how we use video will change. Right now, it’s about short, snackable video that grabs the attention of your audience and leads them to longer format content such as blogs, longer videos and podcasts. Look for VR, 360, and vlogging from influencers to come into play.

Read more from Bureau‘s eight-part content marketing series here.

Yoghurt brand Chobani divulges marketing tactics on how they’ve grown their social followers

Audiences are tired of listicles and clickbait headlines – brands must educate, inform or entertain

Voice will be essential for brand relevancy as search rankings shift with voice queries

Brands need to earn the right to mention their products by creating valuable content says ME Bank content lead

Marketing trends shift as voice spearheads new content tactics

Brands need to use the right content on the right platform at the right time: IAG Head of Content, Zara Curtis

 
Bureau

Bureau is SmartCompany’s content agency helping brands attract and connect with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. Bureau creates articles, ebooks, videos, podcasts and infographics from data-led insights to achieve marketing ROI for businesses.