A content marketing platform (CMP) is a software solution that helps content marketing teams plan, envision, collaborate and create materials that successfully raise brand awareness, improve lead generation and increase revenue. CMPs centralize and streamline the end-to-end content creation process, starting with conception and moving through delivery to the measurement of impact or return on investment (ROI).
Content marketing platforms create a scalable, multichannel and data-driven approach to strategizing, producing, distributing and analyzing marketing materials. They help marketers understand the business impact of their work. Ultimately, the platform allows users to focus more on creating quality content and less on the creation of workflows, approvals and money loss. This can, in turn, benefit the overall business by improving brand management, optimizing content impact and increasing revenue.
CMPs are typically delivered as software as a service (SaaS). They provide interoperability by combining various other software systems into one platform, including content management systems (CMSes), social media channels, social media management systems, marketing automation, content repositories and email. Furthermore, they are not limited to a specific content type or publication environment.
When would you need a content marketing platform?
The primary areas of focus for content marketing platforms are:
- Content strategy
- Content planning
- Content curation
- Content analytics
Content marketing platforms are needed when an organization's content operation reaches a certain size and complexity. This is often determined by the number of team members producing and publishing content, as well as the volume of materials created each month or each quarter.
In addition, marketing teams look to a CMP when they're unable to attribute revenue or pipeline to their content assets. The CMP collects and holds data related to the marketing materials' business impact. This helps justify the budget -- and even the existence of the content operation -- by quantifying the project's contribution to business objectives.
A CMP can also be used to help marketing teams identify topics for new content assets, using search and social data, as well as performance data from past campaigns.
How can a CMP impact your content marketing plan?
Content marketing platforms reduce the time marketing teams spend on procedures and processes, freeing them up to focus on content creation and performance optimization. A CMP can automate editorial workflows, revenue attribution reporting and ideation management, which could consume several hours of marketers' time when performed manually.
For example, editorial workflows automate the review and approval process of marketing materials, which is more efficient than team members sending different versions of documents back and forth via email.
Pros and cons of content marketing platforms
The advantages of using a CMP include:
- A CMP can help content marketing teams efficiently plan, manage and analyze their end-to-end content operation.
- A CMP can save time by automating workflows.
- A CMP can use data-driven ideation to suggest topics that will connect with a target audience.
- A CMP can quantify pipeline and revenue attribution for each asset in an organization's content operation.
The major disadvantage of CMPs is the required financial investment. Annual licensing can cost $20,000-$50,000 or more. The amount invested in a CMP is money that can't be spent elsewhere, such as advertising, related marketing software and additional headcount.
In addition, a content marketing platform is complex software that requires weeks or months of onboarding and training before teams become productive using them.
Common content marketing platform features
While each vendor's content marketing platform provides a wide set of features, core capabilities among most offerings include:
Reporting and analytics. Typically delivered in a dashboard, reports include leads and pipeline attribution, revenue attribution and content production metrics -- such as average time to produce content.
Editorial calendar. A visual, calendar-style view of in-progress campaigns, milestone dates, due dates and more.
Editorial workflow. The ability for content teams to have role-based reviews for different phases of the content creation process, such as an initial draft, first review, second review, final draft and publish to production.
Ideation. Using keyword research and social data, a CMP can help content marketing teams identify topics, words and phrases to apply to new content assets.
Content display and rendering. The ability to supply webpages with content hubs and content libraries and display marketing materials to visitors. Some CMPs support personalization, offering content assets based on a visitor's demographic, psychographic or firmographic information.
Asset management. Capabilities to store, organize and search for various content types, including documents, articles, videos and presentations. Assets can be arranged via a formal taxonomy or a less formal tagging system.
Martech integrations. The CMP will connect and exchange data with other marketing technology (martech) systems, such as marketing automation platforms (MAP), customer relationship management (CRM) and content management systems.
Differences between a CMP, MAP and CMS
A content management system provides core content management capabilities and publishes to websites, mobile apps and other channels. Its most common use case is the management of an organization's website or intranet. A CMS provides services such as editorial workflow, page and template management, permissions and localization.
A content marketing platform also supports editorial workflow -- from a project-based rather than page-based point of view -- as well as other complementary services, such as ideation, editorial calendars and content-specific analytics.
A CMS is more foundational than a CMP. In other words, most organizations have a CMS, while very few have a CMP without having a CMS.
A marketing automation platform can integrate with both CMSes and CMPs to handle lead scoring, lead qualification, email marketing and email nurture. A MAP tracks visitors' activities on a website to understand their customer journey or place in the sales cycle. A MAP can help marketers understand which leads are ready to buy, compared to those that are simply doing research.
Selecting a content marketing platform vendor
Content marketing platforms are less than 15 years old. The industry is still taking shape, with a wide variety across vendors' offerings. Organizations should define a budget range, then find vendors whose offerings fit that range.
Organizations should also identify the core set of features most important to their content marketing teams. When viewing sales demos, focus in on the core set of features, giving them the highest weight during the decision-making process.
Content marketing platform implementation
Most content marketing platforms are delivered via SaaS, which means that organizations do not have on-premise software to install. CMP vendors provide onboarding programs that help marketing teams configure settings, customize the software and assemble content marketing tools, projects and campaigns.
Once the onboarding process is complete, vendors typically provide customer success and customer service contacts for day-to-day support. Some vendors provide the option to purchase additional training or consulting.