Deborah Holstein
Deborah Holstein 22 February 2017

Creative Fuels Your Content Marketing - It Deserves a Seat at the Table

While data and analytics have dominated the conversation about the effectiveness of content marketing, the big mistake that marketers are making is ignoring how critical the creative is to the success of these programs.

Too many marketers are making a big mistake with their content marketing. They are focusing their already limited budgets, resources, time and energy on analytics, segmentation and automation to the exclusion of creative.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a fervent advocate of all things data-driven. My MBA is a double major in Marketing and Statistics and I proudly fly my geek flag. However, I see too many marketers who have forgotten that insights from analytics are there to inform a creative strategy, not to smother it out of existence.

Creative is critical to the success of your content marketing program. It is the necessary fuel that powers it. It’s time to give it an equal seat at the table with analytics and automation.

Creative is what attracts, engages and influences your audience

Data is powerful. It shows you important things like who, when and what — but data will not attract and engage your target as she peruses her Inbox each morning or scrolls through her Twitter feed or even views your website. Our hearts and minds are wired for the visual:

  • Our brains process images 60,000x faster than text and including an image helps people retain 65% more information for a longer time.
  • Visuals drive 40 times more shares than other content on social media.
  • Including an image in a Facebook post boosts engagement by 2.3 times.
  • Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without.
  • Video is just as important, delivering an 86% jump in conversions when added to landing pages.

And creative can’t be an afterthought - it needs to break through. Up to half of the probability that any content will even be looked at is the creative, where targeting is just 10%. And Harvard Business Review’s, Creativity in Advertising, confirms that highly creative campaigns drive almost 2x the sales results over work that’s merely “meh.”

Both B2C and B2B audiences are comprised of people and the human brain is tuned to appreciate creative that is beautiful, and communicates something novel. Yes, of course, it should include a trackable CTA but the magic of highly creative content can’t be achieved with spreadsheets or a pivot table.

Creative is the fuel — without it your program stalls

Content marketers today enjoy an abundance of tools and technology. There are analytics tools that help us group our customers into hundreds of relevant segments. Email and social automation tools help us to deliver relevant creative to each one of these segments at just the right times. help us reach our audience wherever they may be and various content tools help us calendar, find influencers, curate new and then syndicate our content. But, without the right creative, your program’s impact will inevitably stall.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, among companies struggling with their programs, 37% attribute it to content creation challenges along with a lack of time and strategy.

It’s a frustrating but all too common situation when your team identifies an exciting data-driven idea but a creative bottleneck prevents it from seeing the light of day. It’s like a tree falling in a forest... if you can identify 100 segments, but can only develop two pieces of creative, are you really doing content marketing?

Leaders need to actively balance productivity and creativity

Adobe's State of Create 2016 survey showed leaders that 73% of workers today feel there is increasing pressure on them to be productive versus be creative at work. This is especially damaging to marketing and creative teams - their creativity is the lifeblood of your campaigns. Of course there are deadlines to meet, but the creative process isn’t necessarily linear. Many times it’s a random comment from a new source or a unique point of view that feeds the muse.

Other parts of the marketing process have been significantly improved with technology, but let’s give the creative process the attention it deserves.

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