Kresten Bergsøe
Kresten Bergsøe 21 August 2017

The end of content marketing - as we know it

Content Marketing is entering a new phase. The content saturation flooding every possible market, niche or need is challenging the very foundation of the strategy itself. Competition for audience attention is extreme and competition accelerate.

“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.”

Seth Godin, 2008

Since Seth Godin's 2008 statement, Content Marketing has emerged as the cornerstone of most marketing organizations across industries.

The strategy to attract and identify leads by creating and pushing targeted content is now so mainstream that 88% of B2B marketers in North America use it. On average B2B companies spent 28% of their total marketing budget on Content Marketing in 2016 and 51% of these organizations expect to increase their Content Marketing budgets in 2017.

27.000.000 pieces of content are shared online daily - repeat daily!

All organizations that rely on Content Marketing is challenged to make this strategy successful and profitable. This challenge only seems to deepen as the competition for attention of the target audience continue to increase. Content Marketing is more than ever a red ocean strategy. As time goes, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate your message and convert the target audience.

Only 38% of content marketers say their Content Marketing is effective.

Constant demand for new content

The constant demand for presence and position are pushing marketing organizations to create more and more content. 63% of content marketers are currently working on finding more and better ways to repurpose content. 23% plan to begin working on it within 12 months.

Reality is that companies only have a finite number of core stories to tell - so the result is often variations of the same story typically targeting different audiences. If you regularly download whitepapers - you know what I am talking about. Too many articles or whitepapers are simply keyword bait to generate form submissions - and nobody likes them. The people who submit gets a lousy inflated content experience, the team who follow up - gets lousy and irritated leads. For many organizations Content Marketing has become a race to the bottom in terms of content quality.

Hyperinflation hits your SEM spending

On average, 3 paid advertising methods are used to promote/distribute content - and as usual, the most important is search engine marketing (SEM).

If you rely on paid advertising to generate traffic to your content you will likely find it increasingly hard to do profitable. Jonathan Hochman examined 50 advertisers on Googles Ad Network from 2013 to 2015. He found that in that period cost per click (CPC) increased with 71,74%. Conversion rate dropped from 8,8% to 3,6% (-59,09%). In total cost per conversion increased from 10.44 USD to 44,50 - that is a 326,25% increase in 3 years. This research was on a limited sample from the US, but it shows the problem: pricing goes up, effect goes down which results in a higher cost per lead.

Feeding your Content Marketing strategy with traffic from paid advertising will add another step in your conversion funnel, it will require budget - but for most there is no way around paid traffic to get a critical mass of leads from the investment made in content creation.

So what to do?

Less is more

The answer is not to create more content - it is to create a better more relevant content experience with a higher value to the target audience. Simply to get more of the target audience to consume more of the content and as a result convert on the real business goals.

Content Marketing practitioners have to address the old data dilemma: Data without content is powerless… Content without data is irrelevant.

Entering Clever Content

Clever content is data driven personalized context aware content. Content that knows who the reader is, what interests the reader has and what brought the reader to this point in the conversion process.

Clever content use a rich visitor profile and dynamic conditional content to render a personalized version of the content to each reader. Rather than serving the same article to all readers, the article is rendered individually to each reader based on what is know about the reader in that exact moment.

Content personalization is the future of Content Marketing as it solves a lot of the fundamental challenges traditional Content Marketing is facing.

And the good news - it is likely you already have all the content you need. Clever content can be built using variations of existing messaging from existing content. Variations that address specific information from the reader. Answers to form questions or behavioral information like previous visits, goals, experiences, interests, purchases, PPC keywords, searches, stages in sales process etc are all part of the scope of parameters your content team can use when writing variations inside the clever content.

For starters a single piece of clever content can replace a huge number of traditional static content pieces - resulting in fewer more focused paid campaigns to attract the target audience.

Clever content has a much stronger impact on the audience consuming it compared to static content - simply because it is aligning the messaging directly with the reader's profile. 88% said interactive content is somewhat or very effective at differentiating from competitors, versus just 55% for static content.

Clever content changes the focus of your marketing organization from volume to what questions to ask your target audience or what information to track. Mapping your target audience behavior, needs, value and barriers for conversion to serve the right combination of messages in the content.

Clever content can be consumed on multiple levels - as an example a landing page receiving all traffic from paid advertising could have a short abstract that requires no registration or download. This is a teaser for the real CTA (full article/download/registration).

Visitors who bounce will be added to a nurturing programme retargeting them with a flow of impressions that highlight different parts of the content in order to get the visitor back to full content consumption.

Leads for the sales funnel will also be significantly more qualified based on the self profiling done in the Content Marketing initiatives.

The stories in clever content can evolve in time. When the marketing organization develop new angles on the existing stories - previous readers can be notified with email or browser notifications - creating a continuously progressive evolving customer experience that pops the subject matter top of mind in the target audience.

Clever content can be delivered across most digital channels: web, email, mobile apps and may be the end of Content Marketing as we know it.

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