Professor Jürgen Seitz (Stuttgart Media University) talked to Christian Jörg, CEO and founder of Opentopic, for Internet Innovators. Christian is a serial entrepreneur and has long been a leader in digital media and the startup/venture world. He founded the New Technologies group for Bertelsmann AG in New York in the ’90s and, after making some investments for Bertelsmann in Silicon Valley, started the first of his companies in 1999. Opentopic is his third startup. Based in NYC, with an office in Paris, Opentopic is a software company that offers the leading enterprise transaction content technology with clients such as Porter Novelli, Pitney Bowes, Vinci, Gust and Comcast NBCUniversal. Christian is also on several startup advisory boards, an Executive Advisor to Cartagena Capital, a Munich based technology focused M&A Advisory firm as well as a mentor for the German Accelerator in New York.
Christian, your software helps companies to curate content and use transaction content. Why should they care?
Jörg: If you are interested in growing your business, you should care about curation because it is the first step to what we call Transaction Content. That is the process of connecting content with transactions, measuring content outcome and continuously improving along the way based on metrics. This is what makes content marketing truly effective. Curation plays a key role in this performance-driven process.
What is so important about content curation and why on earth do we need software for this?
Jörg: Content Curation has proven, if correctly adopted, to make the difference in delivering web traffic and transaction results. Marketers and publishers have recognized that advertising and marketing are undergoing a fundamental shift. Traditional messaging focused around pure “selling” of one’s product or USP has to give way to engagement of the customer. Instead of buying attention one has to earn attention. Content Curation comes into play because it allows the marketers to truly find the content that is the best fit for achieving their goals. Also, in our short attention span society it is key for the marketer to be constantly present with relevant content. Only curation allows that.
In the market there is a discussion on what is better: automated curation or handcrafted curation. Your software supports both. What is your take on this: handcrafted or automated?
Jörg: What to choose in terms of handcrafted or automated depends on multiple variables, the key is to deliver tangible results. At Opentopic we have customers working both ways with fantastic results, but in my opinion the best approach is having a mix of the two. Our customers’ use cases tell us that using handcrafted or automated curation can deliver increase in web traffic up to 125 percent in the first month of usage. A smartly calibrated mix of the two strategies can bring an additional 25 percent.
There is a lot of discussion in the market about ROI of content marketing initiatives. How can marketers measure the outcomes of transaction content efforts?
Jörg: Every marketer has specific and varying goals. Transaction Content lets her choose the right CTA (Call To Action) to reflect these goals and provides the ability to measure the engagement metrics around those CTAs. It delivers exact data that can be used to develop a virtuous circle around those goals, i.e. the ideal buyer journey. Precise measurement and big data analysis combined with a self-learning algorithm that continuously improves results and maps the buyer journey in an ever more precise way, guarantees the best ROI on any content marketing efforts It allows better measurement than ever and never stops improving. We are now in the era of data driven marketing and that needs to be applied to content marketing as well.
Do you have examples of successful performance-driven content marketing or content curation initiatives?
Jörg: Absolutely. Tech.London and Digital.NYC, designed for the cities of London and New York, are the world’s most comprehensive online platforms for the Startup Ecosystem and they rank in the top position in Google Search. B2B is also a very successful environment for Content Marketing, we at Opentopic noticed a constant monthly-basis increase in lead generation through content shared via social media and blogs. In a 23 week period, content curation generated an average increase in web traffic of 180 percent. For one of the leaders in digital commerce and office automation, using content curation increased the newsletter click through rate by 350 percent. These are real data from some of our customers.
The benefits of content curation are quite clear for the customer if it is done well. What are the benefits for companies doing this job?
Jörg: Traditional curation provides clear benefits in as much it helps drive specific outcomes. An example would be an increase in web traffic that via a constant or improving conversion rate drives an increase in customer/user signups, additional revenue and as such clear ROI. At Opentopic we have customers in different verticals. For clients in the fashion industry, implementing Curation as part of the content strategy, delivered an increase of 100 percent in blog traffic. In the e-commerce space, for one of our customers, Soundgears.co, even during the summer we saw an 82 percent increase in sessions and 103 percent increase in pageviews with a 75 percent addition of new active users. If curation is implemented correctly in your strategy, metrics-proven results can be delivered in a short period of time.
It is your first time at dmexco. What do you expect?
Jörg: I expect great meetings with existing and potential customers as well as thought leaders in the industry as well generally inspiration for our business, especially in Europe. I would like to understand where the German marketplace is going in terms of content marketing as dmexco seems to be the place for the German digital industry. Lots of people have already indicated they are coming. I am also excited to be participating in the panel on startups by the BVDW.
Germany is quite low adopting content curation in their content marketing strategy. If they wanted to jump on the bandwagon, what would you recommend?
Jörg: I think the adoption will accelerate. The question is not, if but when that happens. The macro trend of a fundamental shift away from classic, product pitch driven marketing and advertising does not go away. I recommend for companies to be a leader, not a follower and they will gain a competitive advantage. Get going with a specific strategic assessment and then a comprehensive plan but start with specific, maybe small steps, measure the results and expand from there.
Christian, you are a German entrepreneur located in New York. How come? Should every entrepreneur move to an entrepreneurial hub?
Jörg: It’s important to be part of an ecosystem that combines potential customers, access to funding, market and talent. Germany is getting there but when I started my first company in the late 90s it wasn’t. I try to help the ecosystem along as a mentor for the German accelerator in NY and I am an advisory board member for startups who are based in Germany/Austria and an Executive Advisor for the US for Cartagena Capital, an M&A advisory firm in Munich.
Thank you very much for this interview, Christian.