The search for Chief Content Officer (CCO) on LinkedIn yields over 46,000 people. So why don’t we know as much about them as we do Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, or Chief Technology Officer? It’s a new title, and it was all the rage a few years ago, but there’s an answer to this question that may help us uncover what stands in the way of CCO becoming more widely accepted on the C-Suite.
Where do Chief Content Officers fall in the hierarchy?
Creative teams, made up of copywriters, graphic artists, videographers, web designers, and more, are usually under the brand function of enterprise organizations. Many companies diversify their structure by creating content teams under a demand generation function of marketing as well.
When you think of content marketing, you probably think of multi-media influence across mediums. It’s an omnichannel experience, and content marketers must rise to the challenge of communicating with their target audience in a personalized, meaningful way to engage and delight them. The reward? Their interest, following, engagement, and (hopefully) conversion to a customer. If you do it right, you gain trust, loyalty, and advocacy for your brand. For this reason, content creators typically fall under the marketing function, and marketers are often led by Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs).
Since 56% of Chief Content Officers have been appointed since 2016, the hierarchy within each organization might look different. At some, a CMO will lead the marketing department and hire a VP of Content Marketing to run content strategy and production. At other organizations, CMOs and CCOs both have a seat at the executive table. So, why isn’t Chief Content Officer a more prominent title? Well, it’s the same reason that CMOs are finding it harder and harder to maintain their executive presence.
What CMOs and CCOs currently lack
CMOs are falling behind their peers when it comes to tech adoption and data-driven strategy. That’s because our world is rapidly evolving, and technology is reshaping the way we approach business. While marketers have adopted technology that helps optimize their campaigns, they are slower to adopt more advanced technology for a few reasons. The first is their budget. A CMO’s budget is usually not as high as some of their counterparts, making it difficult to adopt more expensive technologies at scale to showcase the value-add it would provide to their teams. In addition, marketers house several creatives who are worried about the impact of AI and machine learning on their creative skillset. Finally, marketers have one of the most difficult jobs when it comes to proving brand awareness, attributing prospect engagement to marketing spend, and showcasing the ROI that is directly derived from creative content. Why? It all comes down to one major problem… Humans are complex creatures.
Sounds like brands just need to set up more Match profiles, right? How well has online dating worked for you? Same concept here. Market research is extremely helpful for strategy and execution, but again… what works for one person won’t work for someone else. We all have unique needs and desires. Go figure. No wonder both dating and marketing are so difficult.
So, why aren’t Chief Content Officers a bigger “thing”? Well, I’d argue it comes down to showcasing value—specifically, value down to the dollar. How much is the ROI for investment in expensive brand awareness campaigns? What about that content budget to create hype videos, thought leadership blogs, branded podcasts, influencer webinars, etc.?
Becoming more data-driven with help from technology
Chief Content Officers are few and far between, but they are becoming more prevalent. While we can’t all be as cool as the first-ever CCO, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, we can strive to achieve greater impact at our organizations by taking a more data-driven and human approach to our content. Great content comes from great research, expertise, and a commitment to quality. That’s why understanding your market is so important to content strategy, creation, and execution. You need to understand your audience and cater to their needs. And prioritizing personalized content at a rigorous scale requires a technology partner to help you do it. Let’s face it. The world isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Tech advancements aren’t either. As content marketers, we must be prepared to earn our seat at the table with data-driven strategy and tech-savvy processes that amplify our programs and create measurable impact.
How can you possibly do that, you ask? Well, we’re approaching a time where the Fly stage of our Content Maturity Model is necessary to move the needle. We need to adopt technology as our partners to scale our content programs and create more meaningful engagement with our targets.
Leverage AI to connect with individual consumers
Just imagine what you could do if you leveraged AI to help you understand the buyer’s journey of every individual customer. Michaels is a great example of hyper-personalization success. Susan is interested in purchasing 10 new easels for her art studio. She is a frequent shopper at Michaels and wants to see their prices. She searches online to see the different options and puts one in her digital shopping cart. Suddenly, Susan gets a message from her partner and exits her browser. She’s forgotten about the easels.
Marketers currently use retargeting to try and jog Susan’s memory. She may see Michaels put an ad on her Facebook feed or send an email with the Subject: Forget something? Your easel is waiting.
But let’s go back to when Susan put the item in her cart. Say she purchased it. How many people still get those ads showing the same product for purchase?
Now, what if Michaels knew Susan was interested in learning more about crafting? As a professional painter, she is passionate about her trade but wants to expand her studio to make it welcoming for everyone. Michaels hosts classes for different arts & crafts, teaching interested participants like Susan how to make wreaths, create jewelry, or frame portraits. What if we knew Susan well enough to know she’d inquired about a jewelry class at the same time she was looking to purchase those easels? Could we create a better opportunity to educate her on the new class Michaels offers for jewelry making?
CMOs and CCOs have an incredible opportunity here. It’s an opportunity to drive personal connection with their consumer through data-driven insights that were readily available to them directly from the consumer. So many of us can relate to poor personalized experiences with brands. We fill out a form online only to talk to a customer service agent who asks us to repeat ourselves. With AI-driven technology, marketers and content creators can take customer experiences to a whole new level. Just think of the customer satisfaction and what benefits you could gain from listening more intently to what your customers want from you.
An Opportunity for Data-Driven Strategy
Technology helps us leverage the data we have on our customers to create seamless buyer experiences and more authentic communications. Ultimately, Michaels wants to help Susan fulfill her dream of owning an inclusive art studio where everyone can find something to create. Michaels wants to be her loyal partner for both the training she wants to pursue and the supplies she needs to make her studio dream a reality. So, how can we create holistic consumer experiences the way Michaels wants to with Susan?
We must create consistent user experiences, leverage the consumer data we have to create more meaningful connections, and track the content each individual consumes throughout their buyer’s journey.
There are several tools on the market to help you achieve these goals. With PathFactory, you can create binge-worthy content experiences with tracks that line up content for consumption based on prior interest. Hubspot allows you to track email, social, and blog interaction and integrate with other platforms to understand the impact of your content throughout the buyer’s journey. You can also integrate UTMs into every piece of your content and connect it back to Salesforce campaigns to show click-throughs and catalog the dates they were accessed. Plus, you can identify how much you would spend in CPC and search to gain the same amount of engagement with Contently’s Content Value Tracker.
It’s a pivotal point in time for content marketers. It’s never been more important to showcase the impact of content, especially in the age of AI and digital transformation. We are at a turning point, and we can either embrace the change with open arms or let it overcome us. Those looking to become Chief Content Officers must prioritize data-driven insights and technology adoption to keep pace with their peers. It’s time to be a part of the conversation. It’s one that will influence the way businesses communicate in the future. It’s time to educate ourselves and level up our playing field so that CCOs are more widely known as an integral part of the C-Suite. We must understand the technology that powers our decisions and create strategies to drive greater impact for our organizations.
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Meriel Jane Waissman