Content marketing is becoming an increasingly important part of the CMO’s responsibility.  Customers and prospects are showing more loyalty to the organizations that are providing insightful content to them during their buying journey.  But consistently taking content from idea to delivery can be a challenge.

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Too Many Tools

Research has found that the more tools employees have to use to get their jobs done, the less satisfied and productive that they are.  In fact, when going for having to use 2 tools (other than the standard desktop apps for email, word processing, etc), to 3 tools, satisfaction drops by 14.5%.

And no one in an organization is required to use more tools to get their jobs done than the marketing department. Marketing automation, social (often itself requiring different tools for different social channels), CRM, content management, blog publishing, and other tools all come with their own learning curve and are always evolving. The issues is so significant that some analysts are projecting that the CMO will soon control a larger technology budget than the CIO will!  The nearby image is an overview of the technologies typically used by the Marketing Department.

Marketing Content Management using Microsoft Dynamics CRM

So if Marketing can do a few more things with the tools already available, all the better.

The Content Marketing Process

Content Marketing is more than just writing blogs.  Here is a partial list of the things that a Content Marketer must consider:

  • Customer Journey: What questions are our customers and prospects asking that we can help them to answer?
  • Personas: Who is the audience for each piece of content?
  • Editorial Calendar: What content should be published at what time?
  • Ideas: How can good content ideas be surfaced in the organization?
  • Content Curation: What other content already exists that can be part of the value that is reused by the organization?
  • Prioritization: Of all the good ideas that exist, who and how will the decision be made about which content to deliver?
  • Authoring: No one has any time for developing content.  Who knows enough about the topic to be able to deliver on it?  Will the company pay outsiders?  Will it make content authoring a KPI?
  • Editing: Who will make sure that the content is high quality, and that subjects are capturing readers attention?
  • SEO: How will content be optimized to appeal to search engines?
  • Premium Content: What content will be free?  What will require providing contact information? Will any content require payment?
  • Social: How will new content and older content fit into the company’s social strategy?

What kind of tool can the marketer use to make it through all of these steps of the process?  Enter Dynamics CRM … but not the part of it that  you may think!

CRM Customer Service … for Marketers

Microsoft Dynamics CRM already has a great built-in tool for content creation and management.  But it’s not found under the marketing heading.  It’s called the Knowledge Base, and you’ll find it under the Service area of CRM with the label “Articles”.

Knowledge Base Articles in Dynamics CRM

The functionality has been there for years, but with the rollout of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016, it has finally become powerful enough to use by the marketing department.

About the CRM Knowledge Base

The knowledge base in CRM was, as you may have guessed, originally developed for customer service teams.  The idea was that as the team developed solutions to issues that customers frequently had, the knowledge could be tracked as articles in CRM.  The articles could be easily searched and shared with customers to bring speed, quality and consistency to the customer service experience.  To meet these requirements, the KB (that’s short for Knowledge Base) can now support the following capabilities:

  • Articles can be written in a “rich” format – including embedded photos, videos and other media.  This editor is available in CRM 2016’s new Interactive Service Hub.  It’s exactly the kind of editor that the Marketing Department wants to use when creating blogs.

Screenshot of Microsoft CRM Marketing Content Management

  • Articles can be searched by category, subject, product and many other criteria.  Microsoft is even building more intelligent search capabilities into the KB, so that articles can be “suggested” based on the record that you’re working on.  And these articles can now be associated with anything in CRM.  When your sales team is looking for just the right content to send to a prospective customer based on an opportunity that they’re working on … voila … there it is!
  • The KB includes a publishing process so that articles can be drafted and go through various approval stages prior to being released.
  • Articles can be made available on a website.  So as you publish new content in CRM, it can instantly be available on your website.

Tweaking the KB for Marketing

The KB isn’t going to work for marketers directly out of the box, but here are some tips and tweaks that  you can use to make it the right tool for your marketing team.

  • Categorize Marketing Content: You’ll want to be sure that your content for marketing is different from customer service content.  There are a number of ways you can do this.  The nearby image shows using the Subject field to get the job done.

Using the CRM Subject Tree to create Marketing Content Categories in the Knoweldge Base KB

  • Put it in Marketing: You’ll want to update the CRM configuration to make sure that marketing can see the KB in their area of CRM too.  For the short-term, this will be a bit of a challenge because the rich editor is only available in the Interactive Service Hub.  You can either go there to access the KB, or you can install a rich text editor (such as one offered by C5 Insight) into the Marketing area.
  • Add Idea, Prioritization,and Editorial Calendars Functionality: A few custom entities in CRM may help you with this.  Or, in our case, we use SharePoint for developing ideas, setting priorities, and approving them for writing.

Want to learn more?  Click here for webinars on content marketing and customer service using Dynamics CRM.