I recently read an article published at the start of this year which predicted 2013 would be the year of content marketing.
What a prediction that turned out to be. Content marketing has been one one of those tactics marketers have been adopting with great gusto all year. There are plenty of surveys from marketing journals pointing towards greater spend in this area in 2014 too.
But what has been driving this?
Primarily the case studies that show real ROI from content based initiatives, or inbound marketing as it is generally also known. These have been the first movers, those brands and marketers that adopted a content based strategy early on, before there was so much noise.
Another driver of course has been marketing agencies. Content marketing represents a good opportunity for agencies to earn fees: we can create the overriding narrative, build the content in numerous formats (copy, image, audio and video), build the platforms to tell stories on and measure their impact through digital tracking and analysis. It’s win win for in-house and agency marketers alike.
Only it’s not so easy now.
With the growth in popularity of content marketing, the sheer volume of content (aka noise) represents a real problem for marketers.
Your stories and content might be stronger than your competition. However if they are better able to optimise for the search engines, have a greater social platform to share their content and a slightly bigger budget to market their marketing, you are back to trying to shout louder in a crowded space.
What does this mean for content marketing?
1. It’s time to market your marketing
If you invest in producing a good piece of content, make sure it is very good and that you take it to market well.
For example if you run a survey for a PR campaign, make sure alongside your media relations activity you also:
> create a report to summarise your findings
> host it on your website behind a data capture form
> build a summary slide deck and post on slideshare that feeds traffic to your landing page
> promote your slide deck through all of your social media channels to push traffic to slideshare
> run a PPC campaign to promote the report
> run an email campaign targeting the appropriate audiences to promote the report
> provide the report to your sales teams to share with their prospects
> setup your marketing automation platform to nurture and score any new leads too
NB don’t forget to think about the search engines with your report, landing page and social posts
You get the idea. If you invest in creating a piece of content, you really need to think through what to do once you have the finished asset.
2. It’s time to think about utility
Content marketing is evolving too. Next year’s buzzword is going to be utility marketing. I know this because the first few books on the subject have been published and it’s starting to come up in conversations with the US based marketing fraternity – a sure sign it’s coming to Europe next.
Utility marketing is all about adding some value to your target audience and not simply providing a good ebook. For example if you are a dietitian, creating a smartphone app that allows your target customers to keep a track of their daily calorie consumption might be expensive, but it will also create tremendous value to your customer.
How about the car hire company that creates an app for it’s business customers to find spaces in inner city car parks, or the telecoms company that provides a map to local wifi hot spots.
Hopefully you get the picture. It’s time to think about providing something of real value to your customers that has long term and ongoing benefit. A tool your customer uses regularly and that sits in the palm of their hand all day everyday is the next level.
So what does the future of marketing loo like?
This is something we’ll be writing about in an article for b2b marketing to be published next year, but certainly it will include utility based applications.
If you have any perspectives on this topic you know what to do…