Content marketing is one of the hottest topics in the marketing world. In fact, according to a report from Oracle, content marketing now gets the second highest digital marketing budget, just second to paid search. The study also shows that 73 percent of marketers plan to spend more in content creation in 2015 compared to 2014.
Given the focus on content marketing, companies need to see ROI from their investment. And as the following tips from content marketing pros show, getting the most business value from content marketing requires an understanding of the customer and having the right infrastructure in place.
Adopt a media mentality.
One of the best examples of content marketing in consumer goods is Red Bull. The company has taken a “brand as a publisher” model, creating a group exclusively focused on creating content. The division, called the RedBull Media House, produces a variety of content, including blog posts, digital media, feature films and TV spots. Some of the division’s biggest accomplishments include creating a movie called “The Art of Flight” and sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from space, which gained a lot of attention online.
Document your content marketing strategy.
Before writing your first blog post, designing your next infographic or filming your next video, it’s critical to step back and document your plan. That’s according to Meghan Casey, lead content strategist at the agency Brain Traffic.
“Content strategy helps organizations provide the right content, to the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons,” Casey writes in a recent article for Content Marketing Institute. She says the primary purpose of a content strategy is “to help organizations say no to content ideas that fail to serve the audience or the business.”
While Casey’s advice may sound like a no-brainer, it’s actually an important and often overlooked one. A 2014 study by Content Marketing Institute shows that only 35 percent of B2B marketers and 27 percent of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy even if having one increases their chances of success.
Find out what’s interesting to your buyers.
Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at Newscred and guest speaker at our upcoming webinar, says that companies need to “stop selling” in their content marketing efforts. He says companies should produce content that customers will find interesting.
“You must understand the topics that are interesting for your buyers,” Brenner says in a recent blog post. “Publish content that seeks to help them answer their biggest questions, challenges and concerns… If you want content that works —that truly drives leads and sales—create helpful, non-promotional content.”
“You must understand the topics that are interesting for your buyers” – @BrennerMichael (CLICK TO TWEET)
Release content consistently.
Forbes contributor Mike Templeman, founder of Foxtail Marketing, says most content marketing efforts are unsuccessful because they lack consistency. While many companies may not have the time or resources to release new content regularly, Templeman says tapping into the knowledge of your employees can help.
“Instead of trying to shoulder the burden of content creation with one person or one department, the responsibilities should be spread around the company,” he offers, adding that doing so allows marketers to share the workload and helps ensure that there’s always fresh content.
Create content that helps your customers.
Nick Stein, senior vice president of marketing at Vision Critical, says content marketers should build their customer knowledge in order to become successful.
“Before diving in and creating a comprehensive content marketing program, it’s critical to step back and think about the challenges that your customers face,” Stein says. “Don’t assume you know the issues plaguing your prospects. Talk to your current customers and ask them to help define the challenges that are prominent in their industries.”
Stein says marketers should engage with customers directly to remove the guesswork in their content strategy.
Try new things, but be selective about the tactics you stick with.
Margaret Molloy, the global chief marketing officer and global head of business development at Siegel+Gale, says content marketers need curiosity in order to succeed.
“Marketers who want to have an edge have to have an insatiable appetite for exploring new ways of doing things, and judiciously accepting new frameworks and technologies to achieve their goals,” she told NewsCred. “Marketers will always be agents of change, and they must be relentless in driving that change within their organizations.”
At the same time, Molloy says marketers need to be focused on their end goals. “Even the most promising new platforms can become distractions. Marketers need to be increasingly judicious about how they spend their time.”
“Marketers need to be increasingly judicious about how they spend their time” – @MargaretMolloy (CLICK TO TWEET)
Create compelling stories.
The best content marketing campaigns focus on telling stories instead of blasting their audiences with sales messages. That’s according to Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes and founder of the popular website MarketingProfs. She says stories make messages more memorable and give your content “a heartbeat and a pulse.”
So how do you make sure you’re telling a compelling story? Handley says the key is an understanding your audience.
“Storytellers have empathy for their audiences,” she offers in a recent blog post. “They understand that the more they know about the audience, the better their chances for clear communications.”
“Storytellers have empathy for their audiences” – @AnnHandley (CLICK TO TWEET)
Now that a majority of companies use content for marketing, brands need to think about ways of standing out from the crowd. Ultimately, the companies that know their customers well—those that use customer intelligence in their decisions—are better positioned to produce content pieces that are helpful to their target audience and that will drive sales and revenue.
For more on this topic, watch The Secret to Killer Content, a webinar featuring Michael Brenner, head of strategy at NewsCred.