The problem with project-based content marketing
UK marketers say their biggest challenge is to create enough content. They told the Content Marketing Institute and the Direct Marketing Association they struggle to keep up with what they believe is a demand from their audiences for more content than they are able to produce.
Research also shows that more than a third of UK organisations now outsource at least some of their content creation to external providers, presumably to plug the gaps in their own output or to produce time-consuming content such as videos or white papers. However, many outsource on a projects on a one-off basis, making use of a multitude of freelancers or agencies.
This approach has a number of flaws which could cost brands dearly.
It’s not about the numbers
What do you think your audience prefers: spending 20 minutes a day on content that is 80 per cent relevant to them, or spending 10 minutes a day on something that is completely relevant to them? It’s a no-brainer. Consumers don’t want more content, they want better content. This means you need to prioritise the creation of content that is high on relevance and value, and look at output levels as a secondary concern.
It’s easy to write a few passable blog posts a day. The real challenge is in publishing content that encourages specific action - whether that is sharing content on social networks or hitting the ’buy now’ button.
The worst reaction to a piece of content from a marketing perspective is indifference. Inspire action with truly memorable content.
Coherent and cohesive strategy
Trending topics play an important role in marketing; the whole concept of agility in marketing is built on brands being able to adjust their approach to take advantage of whatever is directing their industry at that particular moment in time.
But that doesn’t mean that when a new trend sweeps by, your overarching strategy falls by the wayside. The strength of an intelligent content marketing strategy lies in it being well developed from the start, with a clear set of objectives in mind and with each activity aligned to achieving those.
When a trend comes along that cannot be ignored, it is crucial that whoever produces content around it understands both your overarching objectives and how their activities contribute towards those, to ensure an integrated approach.
At Google’s mercy
Let’s face it: Google makes the rules when it comes to digital content. Already this year we’ve seen it dish out harsh penalties to the likes of Interflora, which didn’t play the content game in the way that Google likes it played.
The biggest losers in the wake of the Panda and Penguin updates were companies that failed to update their strategies as the industry around them evolved. They continued to outsource linkbuilding to dodgy SEO companies, or relied on freelancers to rewrite existing pages which were deemed by Google to be either duplicate content or of low value to the reader.
The single way of Google-proofing your content is by putting the end user’s needs at the heart of everything you publish, constantly asking yourself if what you’re doing is relevant and useful to them. It’s also crucial to remain at the forefront of industry developments and to set up your content team - whether they are in-house, external, or a combination - to react quickly to any changes that might affect your business.
Nearly four in ten UK marketers told the CMI and DMA their biggest challenge is measuring the effectiveness of their content.
The most accurate way of measuring content results is by keeping variables to a minimum. For example, if you’re wondering if your audience prefers reading a white paper or viewing a video for how-to type content, create one of each, promote them in the same way, and see which format yields the best results in line with your stated objectives.
If you have a single team creating content over an extended period of time, they will get to know the metrics that matter. They will know exactly what type of content yields the best results for each objective, rather than try to reinvent the wheel at the start of each project.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
This isn’t the SEO of old, where you could bombard your site with keyword-stuffed content and almost instantly enjoy top rankings in Google. Regardless of your strategy, content marketing takes a lot more time, effort and intelligence - but the rewards are bigger.
Proof that the best content marketing strategies are built to last, is Coca-Cola’s Content2020 initiative. Far from developing a short-term strategy, the brand has set itself lofty ambitions for what it wants to achieve with content by 2020.
You won’t find any project-based thinking at Coca-Cola, and if you don’t want to take your lead from Interbrand’s top global brand, who will you believe?
Karen Webber is the Head of Marketing Communications at NewsReach, an international content marketing agency headquartered in the UK. Focusing on intelligent content marketing, NewsReach works with leading brands to develop tailored strategies and produce world-class content ranging from white papers and infographics to video news and blogs in all major languages. Follow Webber on Twitter @webber_karen