An Essay on Content Marketing

Here is a very very long article I wrote while I sat in a shed and drank a few beers. Its a bit random and rambling but you get the idea. I didn’t use this particular shed above. This belonged to Dylan Thomas and he was a much better writer than me. But anyway, here goes. See you on the other-side. 

Content marketing isn’t anything new. Smart businesses have been doing this forever.

It’s about understanding the audience, understanding what’s interesting and relevant to them. It’s about creating content that appeals to them. It’s about adding value rather than talking about your products, your service, your brand. Traditional marketing is about creating a message and getting that in front of people. Content marketing is a reverse by understanding what they’re interested in and providing value through useful content.

A personal example to me is my local bike shop. They produce loads of great content, nutrition advice, guides to commuting in London, stuff that really adds values. It’s interesting. It’s engaging. When I’m ready to buy some more bike kit, they’re the first people I go to.

Good content marketing is about understanding their audience and creating consistently great content that enables you to build loyalty, keeps them coming back to you and, ultimately, that will translate to sales.

Content marketing is really important because the online space is packed full of businesses trying to get your attention. We need to be creating content that cuts through, that adds value, that adds interest.

 

Why is content marketing essential?


Content marketing is essential for many reasons. One of them is for SEO. SEO used to be about link building. Now, it’s about great content. Google goes as far to say that you don’t even need to have good technical SEO. Google will find great content.

Good content is essential because the way people research and buy products online has changed. Google estimate that people are looking up to 10 sources of information when they’re considering buying something. It’s essential that we create content that’s in the right place at the right time to help them. We’re being relevant. We’re being front of mind in that process.

There are many benefits of using content marketing. It can help with thought leadership. It can help with lead generation and lead nurture.

What’s big with content and social?


There’s so much going on in content and social at the moment. There’s three things I’ll probably talk to. One is the ability to hyper-target where you put your content. Let’s take social media. We can use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter to target content to people based on their interests, their demographics and their behavior. We’re able to target people who are thinking about going on a holiday. We’re able to target people who visited one page on our website with content that’s really, really relevant to them.

That’s going to help people react to the brand better because it’s not just about great content. It’s by serving it up in a timely fashion in the right place. It’s all about understanding their online behavior, making sure that content serves up to them.

Some of these visitors on our website, they share an interest in a certain part of that website, a certain topic. We’re able to then do with social advertising, for example, is follow that up and reinforce that. Hopefully, help them to come back to us.

Content marketing and social marketing is more powerful because we’re able to target people based on their interests, their demographics and their behavior in a way that you can’t, for example, through PPC. That means we can be hyper-targeted in the way that we serve that content up to them based on where they’ve been and interests that they’ve expressed previously.

Another trend we’re seeing is real time content. We’re able to put content out there through social advertising on social media and instantly get feedback about what’s working, what’s not. We’re able to change the creative, or change the copy or change the visuals almost instantly in response to the feedback that we’re getting.

 

Content marketing challenges


Content marketing needs a bit of a mindset for some businesses and that comes with challenges. One of the main ones is how do you consistently produce lots of content? There’s a resource requirement there because we’re almost asking brands to be like publishers to continually be creative in what they’re talking about that’s going to add value to their customers, a bit like a magazine. Having the right resources in place is essential.

There’s lots of challenges around this area. One of them is how do you create resources to produce enough engaging content? It’s quite resource-intensive. If we’re to think like publishers rather than just brands, we need to have processes in place to do that. We need people who can create copy. We need the visual stuff. We need people that know how to publish and get it out there. That’s resource-intensive.

I think the other thing is measurement. There’s lots of metrics out there. There’s umpteen metrics around impressions, and engagements and so on. What are the metrics that really help you understand how your content is performing, what’s not working?

 

It’s no silver bullet


We take a holistic approach to content marketing. We talk about the content marketing journey. There’s not really a silver bullet for this. You have to be doing the planning right. You have to understand the audience. That means understanding personas. You need to understand what content you got, and how that works, and how it doesn’t work. You need to understand the customer journey that your prospects or customers go through. That’s the planning bit. That’s the inside bit. Then you need to create a great content. At BBD Boom, we have a fantastic team of content creators whether that’s visuals like infographics, whether that’s moving images, animations, film. We can produce whatever content is required for the job. Then it’s about getting that content into the right places. How do we use social? How do we use marketing automation? How do we use email to get that content in the right places at the right time? Then crucially, it’s about optimization and measurement so knowing what’s working and feed that back into the process.

I don’t think there’s a silver bullet for great content. If there was one thing that I think clients often don’t invest enough time in and that’s the planning. The planning is all about understanding who the audience is, understanding the personas and behaviors, thinking about the customer journey that they go through. What are the thought process? What are the channels that they use in order to get them to purchase from you? Also, an understanding of what is the content you’re producing that resonates with the audience, what doesn’t.

 

Where to start?


We typically start with we call a content audit. That’s all about understanding the content our client is using at the moment, what’s working, what’s not working. That often then leads into a content planning workshop. It’s an interactive session. We bring the right people from across the business in there, people who understand the audience. That might be the sales team. It might be customer services. We work with the marketing guys, obviously, the people who are involved in the digital side of things, and really get our heads together to map out who the customer is, what is the content that’s really going to make a difference to them.
e can get together, get our heads together and create better contents for our clients.

Traditional marketing vs Content Marketing

There’s not a huge difference between content marketing and traditional marketing in the sense that you’re still trying to attract customers and you’re still trying to build lasting and profitable relationships with them. The difference is how you go about it. With traditional advertising, you might have a range of disparate marketing tactics. It might be a heavy focus on broadcast communications like mass message, maximum number of people. With content marketing, it’s more about building that brand trust, building that loyalty in a more authentic way, so you’re connecting with people in their everyday lives by delivering targeted, relevant and useful information to them in a way that’s unique to what you have to offer to that market. What that means is often some of that communications might have little or no sales messaging whatsoever. It’s more about creating the spaces and the reasons for those people to engage with your brand.


Some more musing on what content marketing is important

 

Firstly, we live in what people are calling an expectation economy. What that means is we expect access to information on products, services just instantly wherever we are whenever the mood strikes us. That means we will expect that information to be readily available and easy to access whether we’re on a mobile phone, out on the High Street researching something online and we’ll expect it instantly.

Well, another reason content marketing is so important is because we don’t want to be sold to. There was a time we all talked about how consumers are becoming more savvy. We’re almost beyond that now. We’re, in fact, pretty intolerant to ads. Unless we’re specifically looking for a good deal, we will fast forward the adverts on demand TV. We’ll choose to watch Netflix. We will enable ad blockers. The way we consume content has meant that we inherently avoid advertising if we can which means if you’re going to be worth my time as a consumer and you’re actually going to attract attention, you better be saying something that’s genuinely relevant, or useful, or something that I’m interested in taking the time out of my day to look at.

There’s a number of benefits. A very simple level, traditional ad formats fail to deliver on the enhanced experiences and more exciting things that can be offered by modern forms of content marketing. For example, there’s native experiences anything from in-game ads, videos playing mostly within social feeds or augmented reality, things like that. There is a fundamental benefit in taking an approach that forces you to think more strategically and more creatively about the way you’re producing and distributing content. You’re much more likely to achieve cut through if you’re doing something disruptive, different or aligned with the technologies and experiences that people are excited about engaging with.

On a pragmatic level, there are definite benefits to businesses employing a content marketing approach. For example, it often makes for a more collaborative team effort. You get a more cohesive message out there in the market by planning something strategically and more holistically in terms of how you’re communicating with your audiences, but also often budgets can stretch a lot further because you’re maximizing the lifespan and the uses of those contents by atomizing, repurposing. Also, you’re making sure that you’re targeting the audiences that matter. There’s a less of a risk in terms of what return you’re going to get on your investment.

Time to get personal


Personalization is definitely a big trend in content and social. When we say that, it’s more than just auto-populating someone’s name in an email. Now, it’s about using all the data available to you, so including social data, to build a picture of someone so you can personalize every interaction they have with your brand. This means that you’ll be contacting them, engaging with them at the times and on the platforms that are most preferred by them. You’ll also include in your messaging thoughtful references to maybe previous purchases or any other interactions that they’ve had with your brand. It’s a personalized experience tailored to them from end to end.

Similarly, with mobile, for example, content marketing has got a huge … It’s hugely influenced and will influence how we consume content on mobile. The main thing to remember is that your content has to look flawless on mobile. We’re engaging with brands all the time and on the move which means most of the time we’ll be accessing content on the mobile device. The creative has to look flawless, and I should be able to continue my journey from my mobile device whether that be opening something else, viewing rich media types or accessing a website, buying something. Everything has to be mobile first. It’s just a must.

Mobile is hugely important, particularly in content and social, because we’re accessing content and we’re communicating on the move wherever we are. Mobile devices are only going to continue being an important factor. That’s in terms of creatives, for example, so everything you produce needs to look flawless regardless of the device that’s being viewed on, but also mobile can’t inhibit a user from continuing that journey with your brand whether that means they want to click through from an email to consume something else. Maybe they want to watch a video. Maybe they even want to make a purchase at your website. Everything has to be optimized for me to do that on my mobile device.

Well, of course, social is a given and for a number of reasons. Obviously, it’s a communication platform. Obviously, it’s a way to build communities and engage in a two-way dialogue. Increasingly, it’s about the data you can gather from social. You can get a huge, rich picture on your users and on your audiences based on their social activity, and using that data becomes incredibly important in terms of targeting follow-up communications with them. Also, from an eCommerce point of view, we’re going to see increasing examples of click to buy, for example, so if you’re Pinterest, Instagram. We need to make sure that the infrastructure is in place to ensure people can continue that journey seamlessly from their social spaces to online buying spaces.

I think largely the challenges that brands are facing, particularly with our clients, is not necessarily a concept of understanding. Most people and most brands out there know that they need a content strategy. They know that they need a social strategy. They know the traditional ad formats or broadcast messaging alone isn’t going to cut it anymore. The difficulty is translating that understanding into what that looks like on a day-to-day basis, what that means to your marketing activity and how it might change. For those that do understand that, there is an inherent challenge in also selling that into the business, justifying the budget, being able to explain how you’re going to measure the return on that investment. That’s an increasing challenge.

That strategy and insight that we undertake at the beginning is usually informed and continuous to inform a series of workshops which allows us to build the plan of action moving forward. That means we can tailor the campaign approach dependent on what the objectives are. For example, that might be a top level brand strategy to raise awareness in the market or it might be a demand generation campaign, for example, where the key objective is to drive leads and sales.

So in summary??!!

The secret to great content really does lie on a combination of a few key factors. It’s about message. It’s creative. It’s timing. It’s channels. It’s distribution points. Really, I think getting all those areas right comes down to knowing your audience. If you genuinely know what interests them, what concerns them, where they’re looking for information, when they’re likely to be looking for information or need that information, and who else they might be getting that information from, you’re much more likely to produce a message that is relevant, interesting, helpful, even entertaining and that sort of thing is what cuts through the noise and make sure that your content gets to them first.





 

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