The concept of content has some confusion around it.
My mind is blown every time I walk into a meeting with an agency and hear either “My brand does not have content!” or “My brand doesn’t have a content strategy!” This happens so often! It always takes a moment for me to recover (even though I have heard this before). I want to list the dozens of examples of how, in fact, their brand does have content. At a minimum, they have a website, right? In this day and age, they have at least one social account that they are updating regularly, don’t they? Oh, and by the way, I do know they have both. I checked before the meeting.
The brand “doesn’t have content,” but they have goals and a list of KPIs. Content marketing revenue will exceed $300 billion by 2019 (Statista, 2018), yet the two work in silos: content creation and content strategy and distribution. So how do you solve the content distribution disconnect?
1. Define Content & Determine What You Already Have
The first step in solving the content disconnect? Define content and define your content. Dictionary.com defines content as “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts.” It’s a pretty welcoming definition. Consider any descriptions or information on your website – not just your homepage, but various landing pages and sections – images, blog posts, promotional videos, articles you’ve already published (elsewhere and on your own site), … the list goes on. The primary purpose of content is to educate your current and potential consumers and establish yourself as a thought leader. Differentiate your brand and offer content of value. You should be the expert in your industry. Everything you’ve created and continue to create should scream expert.
2. Determine Its Value
Now you solve the second disconnect: determine the value of the content that you have.
Does the content provide value to your target audience? Is it relevant? Why would they care to read it, watch it, interact with it? Are they learning something new – a new strategy, new product, a new style, new way to make their life or business run more smoothly? Content that provides value not only helps your reputation, it directly impacts engagement and sales: 70% of US internet users want to learn about products through content versus traditional advertisements (MDG Advertising). 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement (Stratabeat), yet 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy (Altimeter). It’s no wonder 89% of marketers ranked improving the ability to measure and analyze marketing impact as a top priority (Demand Gen Report, 2017).
3. How Can You Create a Strategy Around that Content?
Now that we’ve defined what content is, determined if you have it (you do), and agreed that it’s valuable, the third disconnect usually shifts into view. It’s a big one: how to use this content for digital campaigns. Often I hear: it’s not currently part of the strategy or it hasn’t been evaluated from a media perspective.
If fresh creative hasn’t been produced and audiences haven’t been selected, it can feel daunting to start from scratch. But here are some key questions to start asking: How much are you producing, how often, and in conjunction with what? What is the goal of this content? Do you want your consumer to take action and what does that action look like – clicking, conversions, or follow up visits? Get specific with envisioning how your ideal consumer is engaging with your content. That’s how you’ll create a strategy that works.
The most successful campaigns I have been a part of don’t start with a PDF document RFI with a bunch of words on it. It is having a conversation and understanding the brand, the assets, and the value they give to their consumers.
4. How You Measure It Matters
Measurement is key to creating a sustainable, successful, results-oriented content strategy. How you measure your consumer’s engagement should directly reflect your strategy and ideal customer journey. What is the vision you created in your strategy? Are you going to measure engagement by click through rate (CTR), time spent on your site, conversions, a Call-to-Action like a sign-up form, or a follow-up visit? Is there a strategy to re-engage them? Retarget them? To adjust creative in real time using Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) so that it reflects where they are in the lifecycle or so it aligns with the other content they are already consuming? Again, it’s important to get as specific as possible with measurement to make sure it aligns with your brand strategy.
5. How Will You Distribute It?
Now it’s time to solve the fifth and final disconnect: the disconnect itself. Measurement and distribution are often siloed from content creation and content strategy – and why? They are part of the entire customer journey and are equally – if not more – important. How are your readers, consumers going to know this content exists? Even if your content screams expert, there are still millions of websites, and probably thousands of “experts” in your brand’s space. You need to get it in front of the right eyes for it to mean something. Hoping that search results are going to land you there can’t be the only solution. I’ve seen brand’s worry so much about pushing out content that they miss this key point: how do new customers or even existing customers find out about this content. Creation, measurement, and distribution need to work hand in hand (in hand).
The good news is the content is there, brands have a story to tell, and consumers care about products that provide value to them. By breaking down the walls and having a bigger conversation around content, digital companies can provide better advertising experiences that don’t feel like advertising but a relevant conversation between a brand and a consumer. When it’s relevant, a consumer engages.
My favorite part of the meeting is at the end: watching teams come together to recognize the value of connecting content, strategy, and distribution. Which is a win for brands, agencies, and digital partners – but most importantly, consumers.
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