When special guest Erin Acheson, President and COO of DemandSphere, joined Site Strategics CEO Erin Sparks and Digital Media Director Tom Brodbeck in-studio for Episode 305 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast to find out the how and why of bridging the gap between content creation and marketing strategy, she made the point that it makes good marketing sense to really listen to how people search and talk about brands, products and services. But in order to bridge the gap, there are some things everyone needs to stop doing. Here’s what we learned:

STOP Assuming the Data is the Problem

The data geeks aren’t the end marketing content creators, so there’s already a critical gap. The data is there – reams of it. But how do you get the different departments in a company paying attention to that data and utilizing it. The problem is one of utilization. You have all this amazing data and everyone just assumes that because you have the data, something should be happening. But nothing happens unless someone takes action.

Giving somebody a huge dashboard that’s just filled with widgets and numbers and all kinds of things makes people go back to what they were doing before, which is not listening, not sharing, not doing these things because they take a look at this or that data and think it’s just owned by people who only want to live in data. And they’re not the practical end task marketer. There are very few people who are both the analyst and the final content creator. Part this is about the tools being used to look at the data. The tool has to help. And there’s no one-size-fits-all tool. You have to find the tools that work for you and your company. But it definitely needs to be something that can very easily extract and mine multiple types of content so you can look at email, you can look at landing pages, you can look at competitors’ landing pages, you can look at customer service complaint logs, you can draw information from Reddit and so on.

STOP Stalling, Start Small

A big part of the problem here is that bridging the gap feels like an impossibly huge task. But the point is that you don’t have to tackle all of it at once. You can’t slap down a document with 27,000 words listed and wonder why people aren’t using it. So, the answer is to start small. Pick a couple of key topics and disseminate some limited data to some places where it could be used. Then see what kind of results you get and if the results are good, then you can do more. Keep at it and you’ll eventually start changing corporate culture, breaking down the silos and bridging the gap. It’s not an overnight shift. You’re building a bridge, and that takes time. You have to be committed to it, even when you start small.

Take customer service as an example. There’s rich data in there in terms of what they’re hearing from customers. But if you just keep asking them to tell you what they’re hearing, they may not be excited about helping you if they don’t feel like they’re getting anything back. So, give them something! As you find out they need better resources to address particular issues, create that content for them. Go beyond the FAQ and give them a video or some other kind of relevant content they can use. If you’re going to ask them to spend time helping you mine their data, be prepared to give them something in return that will make their work easier.

Logical places to start include search, email and social. You’ll get the fastest results from those and the quickest ROI in easily understood metrics.

STOP with the Frankenstein Reports!

One of the most frustrating things that continues to happen at so many companies is over-reporting. People are obsessed about creating these massive reports about their data, but then what happens with the report? It’s turned over to someone and then…nothing. It becomes little more than busy work, and over time that starts to make people feel so useless and ineffectual that they just give up. If you’re going to produce a 100-page Frankenstein report, there better be a darn good reason for it. And to be fair, sometimes reports just evolve over time into these Frankenstein monstrosities that simply don’t do anyone any good. There might actually be some good stuff in there, but it’s buried. That is not a good use of anyone’s time, and any CEO should be outraged if it’s happening at their company. Make reports short and useful.

STOP the Shiny Object Syndrome with SaaS Tools!

Another point of frustration is seeing companies who cobble together tool after tool after tool and then still have huge gaps not being addressed. When a company is using a half-dozen or more SaaS tools, there’s going to be a lot of overlap in what they do. So the key question to ask is what is it you’re really trying to do. There’s a certain amount of shiny object syndrome that happens with all these different SaaS tools. You have to be careful with this because those subscription fees can really start to add up. You have companies that are paying thousands of dollars a month for all these different tools, and for what? Are they really getting something truly useful and actionable out of each and every one of them? No. And how much time did it take to get each one set up and people trained on how to use it? Suddenly, you’re talking about a substantial amount of resources being put into all those tools and not much of anything to show for it. Unfortunately, the “set it and forget it” approach of the SaaS business model contributes to this problem. Eventually people will hopefully get sick of it. Find the best tool for you and use it!

Read Erin’s article on DemandSphere: Bridging the Gap.

Connect with Erin Acheson and DemandSphere

Twitter: @TexasGirlErin (https://twitter.com/texasgirlerin)

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erinrobbins/

DemandSphere (formerly GinzaMetrics): https://www.demandsphere.com

DemandSphere Facebook: @DemandSphere (https://www.facebook.com/DemandSphere)

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