Content marketing is not a new thing, but it is changing.
Brands and organisations influencing content is not new. Procter & Gamble’s first laundry detergent Oxydol was instrumental in inputting content into daytime radio serials in the US in the 1920s – it was the brand that put the ‘soap’ in ‘soap opera’.
Even BBC Radio 4’s long-running drama The Archers began life in 1951 with input from the Ministry of Agriculture. The government at the time considered the show as a tool to educate audiences on rural life.
If we are talking about content marketing as the practice of creating valuable, useful content in order to engage potential or existing audiences, then content marketing is as old as anything else in the marketing mix. But it is changing fast.
There are many research studies that inform the marketing industry why content can deliver results when executed correctly:
- Research last year from the Association of Online Publishers showed brand content partnerships increase the likelihood of recommendations or purchase intent by 30 per cent.
- A study by Kapost and Eloqua in the US found that over a 24-month period, content marketing was over three times more effective than paid search. And unlike paid search, the effects of content are not temporary or a constant budget item but long term – your content will stay live for as long as you are prepared to keep the servers running.
- Seventy eight per cent of people believe that organisations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them, according to The Magazine Group.
These findings are juxtaposed with good reasons as to why brands are unable to implement a content marketing strategy.
Not every marketer has the budgets of Red Bull at their disposal or the resource, as Reebok does, to create their own production studio or, in the case of Adidas, create digital newsrooms’ to deliver an always-on marketing strategy.
In recent research by the Content Marketing Institute, three different reasons were identified when the question was asked about challenges that marketers faced that relate to content.
1. Lack of time (67 per cent)
2. Lack of content (46 per cent).
3. Producing engaging content (46 per cent)
So, despite the UK’s content marketing industry being worth almost £1bn in 2014, according to research by the Direct Marketing Association UK, 52 per cent of UK marketers admit it is not something they are doing efficiently.
As we all become more familiar with content’s role throughout the various stages of the buyer’s journey, the efficient management of content creation, placement, distribution and engagement also becomes increasingly vital to commercial success.
Disconnect between brands and consumers
The Big Shot has recently partnered with a leading research agency to establish consumers’ feelings around content marketing, specifically their ‘content state of mind’.
Some of the findings have been revelatory while others have reinforced what you might expect.
We use the findings when considering the type of content to create to deliver against marketing objectives and, more broadly, business challenges.
1. Over half of those surveyed have taken social action after seeing branded content, with 50 per cent following a brand in social media.
Clear objectives need to be set when creating content. If growing or generating social currency is a key objective, then ensure that your content is shareable. If the key metric for success is driving traffic, then keep the content short.
We use four key measurement criteria, and from these most projects can deliver a maximum of three. It is important to decide the objectives for content before starting to create and share it.
- Consumption – how long audiences have spent with the content.
- Sharing – whether they have shared the content with their social circle.
- Leads – whether audiences have parted with data.
- Sales – has the content generated a sales uplift?
For example, the content we produce for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is short and focuses on the call to action, as we are driving ticket sales.
However, when we create content for Harper Collins we can afford to take longer to introduce teens to the narrative themes of a new book release.
2. Consider where and how your content is being consumed and think cross-platform
The creation of content is less than half the battle. A connected media and distribution strategy is vital.
Next to video, our research shows that pictures and written content are as popular with audiences but nearly a third cite audio content as a platform they like.
We will often amplify a central content asset with digital audio that can be placed at the heart of a digital audio promotion or radio creative.
For Knight Frank, we are working on a campaign to engage potential home buyers and have created a series of short films, but we are also working on a suite of ‘second tier content assets’, which will include a series of written articles for key target media.
It is also worth talking to your target media – key bloggers and journalists – before you start creating content. We are working on a campaign to engage young men for 3M’s car wrapping product and spoke at length with YouTube collective Car Throttle when developing the creative approach.
3. Be relevant and be good
One of the most surprising findings in our research is that ‘relevance to the brand’ is the most important quality any branded content should have, and with 73 per cent of respondents citing this the point was made loud and clear. This ranks above humour at 49 per cent.
Nearly three quarters (70 per cent) of people said seeing poorly produced branded content would have a negative impact on a brand, and alarmingly, 13 per cent of those surveyed said the branded content they had seen was ‘crap’.
However, more than two thirds of those surveyed say they would be more likely to buy or consider a brand having seen relevant and well produced content.
Surely everyone has a content marketing checklist that includes producing entertaining quality content that is distributed effectively and efficiently? Or do they?