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Content marketing leadership in action: Driving growth at a Fortune 500 tech company

With content marketing replacing the typical sales model as the silent salesperson, a Fortune 500 technology company recognized the need to prioritize content marketing as part of its overall marketing strategy and hired me to pave the way.

As content leader, I built a global content marketing program from the ground up centered on developing and nurturing relationships with the target audience. 

My goal as content leader was obvious: create valuable, insightful, and relevant content that engages the target audience over their buying journey and generates marketing results. There are many levers to pull to achieve the goal, so the best approach for your business and your audience comes from a well-designed strategy. 

How I did it, in a nutshell

That’s just where I started – understanding audience needs and pain points to define content pillars, mission, editorial focuses, and distribution and promotional plans to reach and resonate with the audience. 

I then organized a content marketing center of excellence with regional marketers to scale the content strategy globally and produce content at scale. To efficiently support global content distribution, I onboarded technology and resources to help. 

The journey

Setting the strategy in motion

The objective for the content strategy was to become the trusted voice in payments and commerce. To do that, we needed a content foundation where visitors could return again and again for insightful and educational content to help grow their businesses with advanced payment and commerce strategies. I conceptualized and launched:

  • A digital publication

  • A content hub experience for the digital publication

  • A digital newsletter

  • Activated social media 

Fueling the engine with content experiences that created results 

Once the foundation was set, we needed pillar content that delivered exceptional value and leading-edge insights to the audience so we could consistently drive marketing leads for the business. I conceived an annual industry trends content campaign, supported by a multi-channel, integrated go-to-market strategy with that goal, and it worked. For years running, it was the largest generator of marketing leads for the business.

Amplifying impact

Pavlov’s Theory absolutely applies to content marketing. Twenty percent of content marketing is producing the content. The other 80%? You guessed it; It’s marketing the content – using tactics like SEO, SEM, social media, paid ads, email marketing, and content syndication. 

My team leveraged each one of these amplification approaches to meet our goals. Some we used for always-on or evergreen content like SEO, email marketing, and organic social media. For others like paid ads, SEM, and content syndication, we prioritized for campaigns and high-performing evergreen content.

Day-to-day leadership

No content strategy can run on its own. Rather, it needs creative leadership and a dedicated team to identify opportunities and solve problems day in and day out. 

I led a team of content marketing professionals to develop and iterate approaches to fuel deeper audience relationships, including:

  • Content creation such as articles, whitepapers, ebooks, infographics, product and sales enablement, case studies, and marketing campaigns

  • SEO content refreshes 

  • A/B testing

  • Brand tone of voice training 

  • Strategic website refreshes

  • Personalization strategies

I’ve learned throughout my career how important it is to bring others along the journey with you so they clearly see your vision and understand why you do what you do. To make sure everyone was on the same page, I established a community of practice with colleagues from regional markets and lines of business. We discussed audience needs and pain points, best-practice approaches, identified content opportunities, and shared results that could be reproduced in other markets and deployed globally. 

Operationally, I organized a content marketing center of excellence to scale the strategy globally and govern messaging, tone of voice, style, and content processes.

Measurement matters

Like any other marketing strategy, content can and should be measured. I didn’t just want mediocre results; I wanted great results!

We established content KPIs to measure our effectiveness across each phase of the marketing funnel. Each month, we found areas to optimize and made strategic adjustments, filled content holes, and amplified high-performing content to create consistent growth year over year:

  • 41% increase in traffic to digital publication

  • 42% increase in digital publication-assisted leads

  • 46% increase in newsletter subscriptions

  • 23% increase in social followers

  • 102% increase in social-assisted leads

  • 62% increase in social engagements

"Kristen's achievements include up-leveling the blog channel, a rapid pivot of our content in response to COVID that helped us emerge as an empathetic partner with a voice in the industry as well as integrating our owned channels and the launch of Payments in Focus. Kristen is constantly looking across the business and the team to recognize opportunities, pursuing the right ones with that can-do attitude," Maureen Schumacher, CMO at Global Payments

Content marketing is a strategic function

An organization without a content leader guiding strategy won’t generate the results it desires simply because a leader looks holistically across all phases of the buying journey to connect the dots. A leader ensures the potential buyer gets the right content at the right time to make a buying decision – while also keeping your brand at the forefront of impactful conversations that make the audience sit up, pay attention, and take action.

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