If you've been working in marketing at all over the past year, you've probably witnessed an argument about the effectiveness of content marketing.

To some businesses, content is the bright future of marketing; others are skeptical about whether it truly drives engagement. The latter group argues that not all content marketing drives measurable results. But some marketers have figured out the secret to creating engaging content.

What breaks the good content marketers away from the pack is their ability to tell a story—and to tell that story to the right people.

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of content marketers, from such leading brands as Scripps Networks, Allrecipes.com, and the Associated Press at the Experian Marketing Services 2014 Client Summit. The panel members all agreed that content marketers need to tell the story their audience needs to hear.

Content marketing done right results in increased business and loyalty to the brand, but to realize these benefits, marketers need to design content with specific audience segments in mind. As the panelists discussed, that requires great data and great listening skills, especially when asking the following questions.

1. Why are consumers here?

"Different consumers often visit the same website with very different intentions," stated Gary Feldman, vice-president of Strategic and Digital Ad Sales Research for Scripps Networks Interactive. "Are they looking to be educated? Or are they looking to be inspired? For HGTV, we have to understand why they're visiting our site to deliver a meaningful brand experience. If they hope to be educated, we're going to deliver very different content than if they're visiting for design inspiration."

Seth Harris, manager of Strategy and Digital Products for the Associated Press, agreed that identifying consumer segments was key to a great content and product strategy. "The format of news content has changed so much over the years. What used to be simple text stories now have video, photo and social content," he said, arguing that one of the main ways to make strategic and product decisions is through understanding consumer behavior.

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image of Callie Reynolds

Callie Reynolds is senior director of client engagement for Experian Marketing Services.

LinkedIn: Callie Williams Reynolds

Twitter: @CallieMCW