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This morning at SMB Digital Marketing moderator Jed Williams interviewed four companies in the middle of understanding how to deliver content market solutions to small businesses. One of the biggest challenges was balancing the scale of marketing automation with the authenticity of custom content.

Williams noted that BIA/Kelsey’s LCM data shows that SMBs understand that content can drive leads, and that they are increasingly willing to pay an outside source to help with content. In the latest wave of LCM data, 41% of SMB indicated a willingness to pay for help managing content.

“The play is you can plug in and assist them, they are warm and ready,” Williams said. The flip side of this is that social content not getting great ROI ratings. The bottom line is there is a gap between energy around content and the ROI it is delivering. How to bridge that gap is one of the challenges the session

Here are a few highlights from each of the speakers.

Daphne Earp, Director of Business Development, Yext

“We don’t aggregate any data. We build tools that help businesses collect info and get into digital form plus distribute that content. There is no data we don’t get directly from the business owner. We are helping local businesses get found, so that is who we charge,” Earp said.

Earp described a model that combines basic content created and managed by a service provider with the critical “authentic” content coming directly from the SMB. “At some level if you want good content, it has to come from the business.”

Stuart Wall, CEO, SignPost

Signpost is all about marketing automation, with a heavy focus on driving “conversion events,” which it defines as capturing customer information, with the ability to tell merchant of that consumer’s intent to visit. “Every business cares about conversion. We use content to facilitate conversion that begins with the profiles. We create conversion events on business pages, e.g., offer for consumer to put in email address. We generally capture emails.”

“Do It for Me” at scale is essential for SMBs. “It all has to be integrated to be as effective as possible,” Wall said. He advocates “solving the problem with software vs. being a big micro agency.”

John Denny, VP marketing, Advance Digital

Content marketing is about being found when people are searching for what you are selling. Denny offered a reality check on content marketing. He noted one estimate that 90% of world’s information was created in the last two years. “Much of that is really useful cat videos. The world is not starving for content. There is not a content drought, but a content deluge,” Denny said.

So how much content is getting seen? How do you break through? When you search for a local business and there is no content, no pulse, that is a problem. Need a base level of content. The next level is proactive and it costs more money.

Mike Orren, President, Speakeasy (digital agency, part of the Dallas Morning News).

Orren’s agency offers a high-touch and customized content marketing service. “Commodity content is not only not helpful, it is dangerous for a business. We focus on high end and useful content. Things we think people will engage with.”

Orren’s account teams are led by journalists and marketers who understand how to create great content, paired with more junior fulfillment teams who handle most of the fulfillment and technical work.


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