Contently CMO wants to help marketers bring accountability to storytelling

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Contently is evolving from a service that connects freelancers and brands to a platform that will make marketers more accountable for the work they do, according to the firm’s CMO.

A New York-based startup founded in 2011 just as content marketing was becoming a bigger topic, Contently brought on Kelly Wenzel as its CMO earlier this year. In an interview with B2B News Network at the recent Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Wenzel said her background made it easy to buy into the firm’s mission.

“I’ve spent my entire career as a B2B marketer,” she said. “This big move around brand journalism, brands as publishers, trying to embrace storytelling — the conversation has shifted to digital transformation, in that the smart marketers see content as the golden thread that unites customers across all these digital channels.”

Contently’s offering includes a dashboard for marketers to plan and manage content, a “talent network” of editors and writers who become part of branded content teams, and a suite of tools to assist in other areas of the process. (Disclosure: I’m a freelancer on the platform.)

At Content Marketing World, for example, Wenzel and her team were demonstrating its Tone Analyzer, a module integrated with IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) system to examine things like the expressiveness, inflection and other attributes of what’s being produced.

“Imagine being able to leverage that tool and be able to measure (your content) against your top two competitors,” she said. “Brands are asking, ‘Where’s my opportunity to differentiate?’ Especially when you’re dealing with competitors writing about the same topics.”

Contently doesn’t just work with B2B firms but a wide range of brands across real estate, financial services, technology and many other sectors. Joe Lazauskas, Contently’s director of content strategy, said the firm complements tools like Tone Analyzer with professional services that leverage data from across its customer base. The services team can offer advice on everything from the best channels and formats for content, for example, to the cadence or frequency of publishing and which contributors might be the best fit for a particular brand.

“It’s all about understanding what pieces fit in different parts of your journey,” he said. “From a strategic perspective, we’re trying to advise clients on the best way to obtain their audience, whether that’s with e-mail capture or targeting new audiences with paid Facebook or LinkedIn (posts). You want to build an audience that matters to you.”

For Wenzel, the mission is also about helping to create a content strategy for which the marketing department can feel confident when it comes under scrutiny by other senior executives.

“It’s not just a matter having the right team,” she said. “It’s really creating content with the right business objectives in mind, and then delivering on that.”

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Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.