This post is by Craig Hodges, the founder and CEO of King Content, Australia’s most awarded digital content marketing agency. Craig worked in magazines, publishing, internet radio and web development before embracing his true passion – digital content marketing.
As content marketing has become a hotter and hotter subject in both industry press and around boardroom tables, we’ve started to see an influx of the usual negative articles.
You know the ones: ‘Content marketing fails’, ‘Your content marketing sucks’ and ‘How to be a content marketing loser’. Ranging from feeble attempts at controversy to full-blown attacks against the idea that content marketing can drive any brand outcomes, these articles consistently decry the ineffectiveness of branded content marketing initiatives.
For me, it harks back to the tidal wave of opinion pieces that came about three years ago regarding the effectiveness of social media. Remember those ones? ‘Your brand shouldn’t go on social media’ and ‘Look at this branded social media failure’. Last time I checked, social media for brands was still a thing, right? Why? Because it works.
Content marketing is no different. It’s been shown time and time again that content allows you to target and engage an audience in a conversation, develop brand affinity and boost SEO and social footprints. The challenge lies in the effective execution of content marketing, which requires strategy and ongoing testing. Unfortunately, a content marketer can’t rest on their laurels once an image appears on a train platform or bus shelter.
So what’s the answer to this swathe of anti-content marketing sentiment?
That is, educating the marketers on how to be more effective with their content marketing and the naysayers about the processes involved for content marketing success. (Naysayers who simultaneously deny the effectiveness of content marketing but vehemently defend ‘eyes-on’ metrics that leave gaping data gaps.)
Held on Friday 21 March, the event – innocuously titled ‘How to be an effective content marketer‘ – was a great success with over 250 marketers attending to listen and learn from a host of local content marketing experts.
The success of the event proved a couple of things to me: the first being that marketers from all industries have embraced the concept of content marketing. When we started King Content four years ago, you couldn’t get five marketers in a room to talk about content marketing – let alone 250!
The second thing the event proved was that not only are marketers adopting content marketing, they’re hungry to learn how to maximise effectiveness and drive results. This indicates that content marketing is shedding its niche ‘trendy’ appeal and being rightly considered as an essential cog in the marketing machine.
What lessons on content marketing effectiveness did we offer them?
Here are my six takeaways from the event.
1. The dominant screen is now the smartphone
If you aren’t factoring in mobile in your content strategy, you are missing the boat. While a couple of years ago it was okay to focus on content, these days you must factor in how your prospective or existing audiences are consuming the content and what sort of experience it is for them.
2. Content marketing isn’t a campaign – it’s a commitment
For a while we saw everyone running at content marketing like a magazine ad campaign. That’s because everyone has been doing that type of thing for a hundred years. Content marketing is about telling a story and ongoing engagement with your audience. It’s about allowing them to engage with your content when they want it, not when it’s forced upon them. To do this, you need to deliver content that is not only interesting but engaging. Start to deliver value on a regular basis and your brand will be rewarded.
3. Effective content marketing requires a strategy
It’s no surprise that a straw poll in the room showed there was a distinct lack of content strategies being executed. In fact, only about 3 per cent had one they were working towards! The answer is to stop, plan and then execute that plan. It goes without saying that it would be very difficult to have success in content marketing without a robust strategy and roadmap.
4. Content and social go hand in hand
Too often these two divisions are siloed at opposite ends of the spectrum instead of working together. Content marketing is about engagement and adding value to a relationship, while social media is about sharing, transparency and relationship building – and it’s critical to have both working together. If your content or social strategy doesn’t include the other, then it’s time to revisit.
5. If content is king, distribution is queen
It’s critical to have a solid amplification strategy as part of your overarching content strategy. There’s no point having a great piece of content published if no one is reading it. All too often, brands rush to create content that is then published on invisible blog archives. Traffic, engagement and sharing doesn’t ‘just happen’ – you need to market your content marketing.
6. Work with an agency to help scale and keeps things moving
I’m a tad biased on this one, but we’ve seen the value of engaging part or all of the content strategy and execution to an agency. You get scale, you get experience and you get real-world perspectives – things you would have missed had it been solely managed in-house.