Brands across the board are showing renewed commitment to content creation. Marketing managers know how important content is as a means of connecting with customers but that doesn’t mean everyone is confident in their approach.
The survey ‘Missing the Mark: Global content survey of brand marketers and their B2B audiences’ conducted by The Economist in conjunction with research firm Peppercomm found that 93 per cent of brand marketers planned to increase their content budget for this year but less than a third believed the role of brand content was highly understood within their organisation. And it’s not just B2Bs that are struggling with perception, many businesses are being held back by long held and often well-circulated misconceptions: are content marketing fallacies pushing you toward failure?
Several factors are still contributing to the widespread misconception that the effectiveness of content marketing ought always to be measured in terms of leads generated. Firstly, marketing managers reach for a measurement they are familiar with, one that is relatively quantifiable even if only because it drums success down to a very basic level, examining any uplift in generation or conversions since a campaign’s commencement. In part it’s about looking for an instant verification for the investment – both in terms of monetary spend and time.
The second issue is awareness of more appropriate measures. How else could you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing, such as these content marketing examples, and why would your boss care about the resulting report? The answers of course should lie in the agreed goals of your content; you’re unlikely to ever truly be purely focussed on generating leads or conversions. So, instead of reaching for the familiar, brands need to spread their analytical wings and look for more appropriate and likely multiple, ways to judge success.
Yes, some businesses are increasing spend but other forms of investment – company time, stories and data, general attention and understanding can be harder to obtain. Some brands making headlines with branded content have undoubtedly invested great quantities of money and effort – look at Red Bull’s association with the extreme sports world as an example.
However, there are equally big names with huge spending power failing in their content marketing efforts and small brands making a splash and connecting with customers on low budgets. It’s not all about the Euros.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency in marketing to rinse an on trend tactic to death with little thought for consequences or impact on efficacy. Since the power of good online content was first recognised as a means to please search engines, engage audiences and raise brand awareness, many marketers and firms have admittedly been getting over excited. Most of us have at times been guilty of producing content for content’s sake but churn doesn’t do anyone any favours, least of all brands who need to recognise the content they pump out into the ether as online real estate.
First digital PR was the new SEO then content marketing found favour and was crowned king. In reality, all of these threads of online promotion are best used to support one another. Having a team with a good mix of skills and awareness of how marketing methods impact on one another is likely to contribute to strategy that makes best use of opportunities, though if you’re primary concerns are traffic and rankings you still need to pay attention to the onsite technical stuff.
Content marketing is often thought of as a way to sneak under customer’s subterfuge and target those with advertising repellent armour. But come what may there’s still the underlying temptation to turn content marketing pieces into straight up adverts promoting products and services. Some heavily branded content is successful but content needs to be about the audience and serve some purpose for them. Some ads and content pieces can pull this off but brands need to judge on merit, not their preference.
Be honest, how many times have you written or read a brief that’s a plan for viral content? For obvious reasons having content that goes viral can be seen as the ultimate achievement. It has the potential to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and if it strikes the right note it could be the thing that puts your brand at the forefront of a customer’s mind at just the right moment. That said, your basic website content, information about your brand and its background and maintenance of your online reputation through authentic reviews are more likely to contribute to success on an everyday basis. Have you weighted your efforts correctly?
It would be fantastic to be able to accurately predict which pieces of content are going to go stratospheric but there isn’t a magical formula. It’s easy to get caught up in a sure thing; one that has creativity and promotional support and the research suggests should be a perfect fit for your audience. That doesn’t mean you should abandon the research, stab in the dark or produce inauthentic content, but there should be acceptance that the online world is not totally predictable.
You don’t need to be a big name to try your hand at content marketing and you don’t need to have a huge budget, but there a few musts that companies do sometimes try to forgo. When it comes to content marketing, creative talent is a must. You may know your audience, product and services inside out but a good creative team knows how to work with you to translate your knowledge into ideas that work. Audiences still judge content by its quality – how it reads and how it looks.
At first, online marketers felt obliged to make content pieces short, easy to consume and quick to share. Online and mobile audiences have short attention spans, right? The came suggestions that Google ranks long form content more highly and some marketers forgot themselves and suddenly began adopting the very opposite tactic. How long does a piece of content need to be? Brands can’t lose sight of the purpose of the content, where it’s being published and what it needs to contain to fulfill its purpose when considering this question.
Okay, we’ll admit it; this one is a bit of a double bluff. Google tells us that it wants to create quality online content and even provides helpful guidelines. Plus, we know audiences are consuming more content online and via mobile and content is by its nature intertwined with search and social media performance. All things considered though, hasn’t marketing always been about finding the right content for our audience or rather helping them to find it? And that’s something we shouldn’t forget just because it’s boxed differently.