CRM Evolution 2014: Modern Marketers Must Focus on Context, Content, and Revenue

content, according to Berkowitz. Increasingly, online magazines and newspapers are featuring articles and stories that brands have commissioned them to write or include. The New York Times, for example, has formed a new editorial team, the T Brand Studio, specifically to create content for brands.

In June, the newspaper ran a 1,500-word native ad for Netflix's original series Orange Is the New Black. Rather than appear as a blatant ad, the content appeared as an article on female incarceration in the United States. Though there was a Netflix logo above the story to signify that the piece was branded content, the association wasn't immediately obvious. "It's a perfect example of how brands can organically build interest in a product," Berkowitz said. "It's not a banner ad that says 'click here to subscribe to Netflix and watch Orange Is the New Black.' It's relevant content that says 'Here's an article on a topic, and if this topic appeals to you, then you may want to check out this show,'" he explained.

Content marketing is also a critical component in revenue marketing, a concept borne out of the growing overlap between marketing and sales. In the past, if a customer was interested in buying a product, salespeople were involved almost immediately, educating the consumer and guiding him through the purchase process. Now the buying cycle is different, and by the time sales teams enter the picture, the customer has already done preliminary research, and is well-informed, Bruce Culbert, chief service officer at The Pedowitz Group, said. "Today, 60 to 80 percent of the B2B buying process is self-directed without any sales contact. So how can brands engage their customers and drive them to buy? Through revenue marketing," he said.

Revenue marketing, which Culbert defined as the combined set of strategies, processes, people, technologies, content, and results across marketing and sales, is the future of selling, he said. While the traditional approach to marketing is siloed and focuses heavily on brand building and generating impressions, revenue marketing is analytics driven, and relies primarily on content marketing. "Content plays a huge role in breaking the silos between marketing and sales. Businesses have to map out their customer buying cycle and align their content strategy with this cycle," he said. "Companies that do this report a 73 percent higher response rate to MQL [marketing-qualified lead] conversion," he added.

As day one sessions wrapped up, the consensus among speakers was that marketers can no longer afford to rely on the products or, as Culbert put it, on "sheer creativity." Rather, today's marketer must be analytics-driven and customer-focused, keenly aware of the buyer's journey and how content and context can make "all the difference," Berkowitz said.

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