Marketing junkie? Chances are you love buzzwords. Here’s one for you: content marketing. You’ve probably heard of it. The term has been making major strides in the past few years, and for good reason.
Our friends over at the Content Marketing Institute report that roughly 88% of respondents from their annual survey use content marketing. In fact, 73% of organizations created more content in 2015 than they did the year before and roughly 77% of B2C marketers plan to create more content this year than last.
Why the sudden wave of investment? Well, content influences most, if not all, other digital initiatives. Known as adaptive content, strategically developed material supports meaningful, personalized, interactions across all digital channels. Email has content, for example, and social depends on it. Most importantly, content marketing can be a very effective way to engage and reach your audience. Remember, anything that touches the customer impacts the brand. So what does that mean for business? It may be time to focus on creating engaging content and lots of it.
However, let’s slow the roll. It’s easier said than done.
It’s no secret that businesses have been struggling to effectively create content that consumers will find value in, especially at scale. Here’s a few reasons:
1. Creating good, valuable content takes time, and time means money.
2. Got plenty of money and time? Congrats! Now, who develops the content? Who plans? Who writes? Who designs? Where is it hosted? Resources, and good ones, are also hard to come by and cost money and time. Even with a team, lack of coordination often is a huge detriment.
If you can relate to these issues, no worries. Content marketing is still a viable strategy. So how do you adapt your current strategy to a constantly changing landscape?
Start with your audience.
Content marketing is driven by consumers. Dive in and research. What channels are they using the most? Pay attention to how they behave on each channel, how they interact with content and what they find valuable. Your strategy should revolve around the customer, not the channel.
In the long run, your strategy should touch the consumer at every stage of their purchase journey. Engage with consumers consistently and never stop researching. Master these two tactics and producing fresh, relevant messages will become a more efficient process.
Think of Buzzfeed, who has managed to build an incredible followers base by focusing on content people want to share. It’s a reason Tasty videos have done so well lately. Who doesn’t love food? They also continue to adapt based on what they learn from their audience. Nifty, a channel of short-form craft videos, was recently launched based on the positive feedback from Tasty.
Evaluate and plan.
Take a step back and review your current plan. How does your current content output align with your digital initiatives? More importantly, how does it align with your overall goals? Ineffective strategies fail to guide the brand toward desired outcomes, and 50% of B2C marketers dedicated to content marketing don’t even have a documented plan. Woof.
Determine your resources and act accordingly. Get your team on the same page, develop a process and document it. Consider starting over and establishing new goals, especially if you already have a content marketing strategy that’s not seeing the results you want. Not ideal, we get it, but it will be more cost-effective and efficient for your business in the long run.
Start with your KPIs. Do they make sense for your business and your campaigns? If so, great! If not, make adjustments. If awareness is what your brand needs, then impressions will do just fine. Looking for more direct engagement? Consider a channel with a robust ad platform. Let your KPIs lead the channels you consider. Video does great from an impressions standpoint for example, but is not necessarily a guarantee for engagement.
If at all possible, author the content on your own site to maximize its SEO value. SEO-optimized content can drive organic traffic and increase e-commerce revenue. Learn more about content and commerce here.
Test, analyze, prioritize, optimize. Repeat.
We recommend starting small. Test new channels and content initiatives one by one, then look at the data to see whether or not the investment was worth it. Based on your results, decide whether you should expand to meet the content demand or focus on specific content strategies (whether new or existing for your business) that will bring the most ROI for your brand. Then optimize these and continue testing. Just be careful with experimenting. Launching several tests at the same time will confuse your audience and lead you to inconsistent data.
Once you find what works, scale up and keep moving. Just be sure not to scale too quickly. If your team can’t produce content to quickly, you neglect channels. Neglected channels means poor content. Poor content means no relationship with the audience. Catch our drift?
It’s a continuous process and one that requires a lot of trial and error. Given content marketing is unique to each brand, it’s difficult to lay out the perfect path to success. It’s not an easy initiative to take on, but the investment has it’s rewards. According to the folks of Kapost, marketers who’ve made the investment saw:
- 133% increase in return to visitors to their website
- 253% increase in online engagement
- 200% increase in email open rates
- 75% increase in web traffic
- 512% increased in marketing qualified leads
- 6x revenue lift from content marketing
- 30% reduction in asset production cycle time
- 24% productivity improvement
Take the time to do it right and content marketing will be the right strategy for your brand. Need a hand developing a strategy or adjusting your current plan? Let’s chat.