Strategy & Planning Director
Content marketing is an increasingly important part of brands’ marketing spend
Data is key to the future of content marketing, enabling new technologies, powering hyper-relevance, and permitting accurate attribution
Success demands a strong content marketing strategy based on clear objectives, data-driven actions, and measurable outcomes
Almost 70% of businesses are actively investing in content marketing, and 24% of marketers planned to increase their investment in content marketing this year. Yet while organisations are frantically publishing across the myriad of online channels, how many brands are jumping on the bandwagon — and how many are really fulfilling the potential of content marketing?
Digital has driven a huge appetite for content — from articles and blog posts to whitepapers and videos — and it is all too tempting for busy marketers to churn out content piecemeal in order to meet this demand. Yet like any aspect of marketing, content marketing needs a considered strategy to guide what you produce, when and why, and to inform how you distribute this. A plan is also crucial to measuring success, based on crystal clear objectives.
A content marketing strategy should take a bird’s eye view, considering audience, revenue, profit and brand. It must be firmly aligned to the growth agenda of today’s CMOs. But it must also evolve with shifting audience behaviours, ensuring valuable content is continually delivered to the right people at the right time, and in the right format. Only then can it offer true value. It is not a tick box exercise satisfied by publishing a blog post every week, or an ad hoc whitepaper.
There are numerous technological evolutions to factor into your planning too. Chiefly, 5G networks have the potential to be up to 100 times faster than 4G networks, and can carry a lot of complex data. This capability will transform the use of AR and VR in brand video content, massively upping the creativity stakes. But again, use of shiny new tech will only work if it is informed by, and aligned with, a well-defined strategy.
Leading brands are increasingly using data to serve hyper-relevant content based on their audience’s browsing habits, and it is fast becoming an expectation. Data and automation hold the key to content which really hits the spot, and prompts the desired action from your user.
Data will become more granular and content more targeted, that much is clear. Data is also key to measurement, enabling more accurate attribution, and allowing marketers to identify exactly which piece of content prompted which consumer action. Page views and dwell time no longer cut it. Performance data and measurable results are key to effective marketing.
Influencers also have an important role to play in content marketing. While a number of poorly judged brand partnerships have raised a question mark over their value during the last year, they still have much to offer, if properly thought out and planned as part of a long term vision.
The opportunities for brands are many and varied, but success hinges on a strategy. That said, your content marketing strategy must be agile, ready to bend and flex as technology prompts changes in audience behaviours, as new platforms emerge and existing ones lose traction, and as macro trends affect needs, wants and emotions.
In today’s fast moving world, an Agile approach is hugely important, with 32% of marketers reporting using some element of Agile to manage their projects. With so many online platforms, live feeds and disappearing content, brands can no longer plan content months in advance. Agile methodologies help marketers to break work into manageable chunks and to tweak, adapt and respond. It maximises efficiency and minimises wastage.
iCrossing adopted the Agile way of working when we worked with sofa.com. We used the Scrum framework — essentially using iterative progress to achieve a specific goal — to experiment with digital marketing and optimise conversion. One test, using shoppable content pages instead of linking to product pages, drove a 40% increase in product page interaction from social.
Content marketing has matured, and the technology to maximise its power is at our fingertips. But without a strategy that enables you to deliver consistency, value and impact, brands will be, at best, failing to maximise their investment. At worst, they will be wasting time, effort and money, and damaging the audience relationship in the process.
We believe that moving too slowly in digital is the biggest risk your business faces. If you are ready to move faster in digital, we are here to help.