It’s 2018. Are you following the same content marketing best practices you rolled out in 2013?
I’m willing to bet you aren’t. I know I’m not. As content marketing has grown up, marketing tech has improved and customers expect better, more personalized content. As a result, marketing best practices (and the prevailing wisdom about which content strategies really work) have zoomed forward.
Justin Talerico is leading the way. He has been pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing best practices for 25 years. The company he co-founded, ion interactive, started focusing on interactive content a few years ago, and was acquired by ScribbleLive in late 2017. The acquisition led industry analysts to highlight the importance of interactive content in the marketing tech landscape.
Since the acquisition Justin has been consulting for growing tech companies with his wife and business partner, Anna. I asked Justin to share his perspective on how marketing has evolved over the past two decades, and his predictions on the future of content marketing.
Why did you shift the focus of your company to interactive content?
Regardless of delivery method — website, conversion path, interactive assessment — we believe that quality creative content wins the day. Each platform we’ve deployed and marketed has been based on that single-minded premise. In the interactive content world, that means enabling a content-driven dialogue across the journey that enables both the brand and the prospect to get to know each other.
The overarching vision is that every click should lead to a great experience. The top-line strategy is to create usable technology that makes that vision plausible at scale. And what’s changed over the past 20 years is the data and technical firepower at our disposal to make journeys smarter, more specific and more relevant.
How do you think marketing will change in the next 5 years?
For many marketers today, myself included, quality data-point mining is too laborious. As technologies evolve to help us make that piece more accessible and agile, a higher percentage of resources can be allocated to creativity — ultimately providing higher-quality, more differentiated content. Because explicit data tells us more, we won’t have to rely on shotgun-style quantity over quality. We’ll be guided to more deeply invest in fewer, higher-quality pieces informed by a more meaningful and reliable data layer. We’ll be able to confidently target that high-quality content to our best-fit prospects, identified by their responses across the digital dialogue. I can see the horizon of that vision today and it’s incredibly exciting.
What are the current challenges and frustrations you're hearing from marketers?
It’s hard for any marketer or designer today to keep up with the pace and proliferation of marketing technologies. They need solutions that they can confidently invest in and know that both the short- and long-term upsides are there. When they do commit to their martech stack, they can get frustrated with the integration, cooperation and maintenance of the puzzle pieces.
Once they get past implementation and integration, their opportunity is to create a real dialogue with customers and prospects. It’s truly amazing to see how a brand that is useful — producing functional content — can be valued and loved for its marketing, of all things. Marketing transforms into an authentic, transparent relationship-builder — in stark contrast to its history.
Whose work do you admire right now? What marketers are doing innovative work you're watching?
I love what brands like Netflix are doing to raise awareness and the bar on interactivity. Interactive content is ultimately about users controlling outcomes and journeys, and Netflix is enabling a level of engagement far deeper than anything previously possible. Once people get a taste of this whole new kind of engagement, the new generation of consumers will come to expect it. And when that happens, old-school, one-way content will find itself in an even more precarious place than it is today. Personalization has been around a long time, but it’s been a very surface idea. Now that brands are embracing ceding control, real personalization finally has a path forward.
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