Creating and publishing emotional, engaging content continues to be one of the hottest trends for marketers going into 2016. The ANA’s Ask-the-Expert research team has received a steady stream of questions about content marketing over the last five years.
“For us, it’s been a steady drum beat,” says researcher Wendy Ball. “Perennial questions have been, ‘What are the trends and best practices for how companies and brands are using content to engage customers and prospects?’ Of late, questions concern more about the ‘how’ and less about the ‘why’. As more marketers implement content marketing programs, they want to know how to measure the effectiveness of content marketing, how to increase results and how to run an efficient operation -- for example, how to create a content editorial calendar.”
One reason marketers may be looking for more specific tools is because they feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content and the speed of social media. When ANA members chose “content marketing” as the 2015 word of the year, some verbalized these challenges.
One member asked, “Isn’t there enough already? I certainly don’t need more content.”
Another responded, “I hope someone is measuring the ROI on all this.”
The Internet is infinite; budgets and work hours are not. So how are brands to tackle the content hydra? The short answer: Strategy.
A thoughtful strategy that is executed through careful organization will keep teams focused and prevent content burnout. Brands that want to increase efficiency and cut through the clutter can start with consumer insights. Those insights can lead to topics for content and help brands choose the appropriate channels for audiences. Clear goals and priorities are key. In a recent ANA Magazine article on preventing burnout, Senior Vice President and CMO of McDonald’s Deborah Wahl cautioned marketing teams not to meet performance pressure with more activity. She explained, “… big, relevant ideas have more impact than relentless activity.” To increase content marketing performance, marketers can choose not to simply increase the number of content items they produce, but to focus on how content strategy will help the brand meet business goals. Setting appropriate metrics and tracking ROI will ensure that the team remains focused on those goals.
For marketers wondering why anyone needs more content, the answer is that brands are looking for ways to provide audiences with useful information and entertainment in lieu of traditional advertising. It’s a genuine shift from producing what we typically think of as ads to providing an audience with editorial expertise. So if you as a marketer are throwing up your hands and saying “Isn’t there enough already?” look at your market and try to find a niche that hasn’t been filled. Excellent content anticipates and solves customer problems, entertains with humor and innovative ideas and/or connects with people emotionally. Doing some research and social listening to find what resonates with your audience can sharpen that focus. To learn more about organizing and creating a strategy for content marketing, watch the ANA’s short video on this trend.
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