In 2019, the phrase ‘content is king’ couldn’t be more relevant. Businesses of all sizes are turning to content as a core part of their marketing strategy, with some of the biggest brands in the world jumping on the bandwagon over the last 12 months. That’s why Content Marketing Institute is doing a yearly research in which content marketers (both B2B and B2C) can find out a valuable insights for this field of online marketing. Whether it’s using technology to make content creation easier or figuring out which type of content works best on each platform, below are 6 things that all content marketers should know this year.
1. Strategy has never been more important
In PointVisible’s 2019 B2B and B2C content marketing statistics infographic, they found that only 33% of B2C content marketers have a documented strategy. This is an astonishingly low figure, and highlights a key issue around how overlooked content marketing as a ‘concept’ often is. It’s very rare that a marketing campaign for Google Ads or email marketing would be planned, delivered and published without a firm strategy – so why should content marketing be any different?
There are a plethora of benefits to creating a content strategy for your business; whether it’s something that’s created on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, a clear strategy should be an essential part of marketing planning. As well as giving you and your team focus and a set of priorities, other benefits of a documented strategy include stakeholder management and buy-in, resource and budget allocation and accountability. Not only should strategy creation be the first step in any campaign or media planning exercise, it’s also the first step of scaling your content marketing initiatives.
By creating a focused plan of activity before you start work, not only will the curation of content be quicker, but you can ensure that the content that’s created is always fit-for-purpose. This also ensures that no one on your team is wasting time on tasks that don’t contribute to your overall objectives and deliverables. By creating initial benchmarking, analysis and developing success criteria, your strategy will not only help you to better communicate the goals of your content campaigns before they start, it will also allow you to accurately measure, communicate and report on key stats and key performance indicators achieved.
2. Content drives loyalty with existing customers
Many marketers make the mistake of thinking that content is just about acquiring customers and clients, but this couldn’t be more wrong. 81% of B2C content marketers agree that content drives loyalty with existing customers.
Remember the old marketing adage that ‘keeping a customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one’? It’s not a myth! Harvard Business Review reported in 2014 that acquisition costs can be anywhere between five to 25 times more expensive than the costs of retaining an existing customer.
As well as the common sense cost benefits, it’s essential to the growth of your business that your current customers are advocates of your brand. Whether you’re explicitly talking about your product or service, or talking about other (related) topics of interest to your audience, by giving them authoritative information that’s relevant to their needs, you are adding extra value to their relationship with you while putting your brand in a position of trust, authority and thought leadership. This means that customer retention is more likely, and also enhances the likelihood of both referrals and word of mouth recommendations.
3. Technology can help you
The chances are that you’re already using a form of content marketing technology, whether or not you recognize it as such.
Common uses of content marketing technology include: automation tools, analytics, email marketing programs, social media publishing, project management tools, collaboration tools and content management system. There are plenty of free and ‘freemium’ tools out there for businesses of all sizes, and outlays for these tools are generally very cost-effective due to their collaborative and time-saving nature.
With 67% of B2B marketers using some form of content marketing technology and only 5% of the least successful doing so, it’s clear what an important role technology can play as part of your content marketing strategy. With significant time savings available, the benefits of using technology to support your planning and delivery are absolutely worth considering.
4. Analytics are key
Upon hearing the word ‘analytics’, your mind may instantly think of tools and bar charts such as those on Google Analytics. Google Analytics has a very big role to play in the overall analytics remit, allowing you to measure the effectiveness and relevance of published blogs and articles such as: bounce rate, average time on page, sessions and total visitors. But, there are also many other forms of analytics that you may have overlooked so far as part of your content marketing strategy.
Social media analytics such as those on Facebook Business Manager, Twitter Ads and tools such as Hootsuite can support you in not only reviewing the efficacy of your content by measuring impressions and engagement rates, but also in curating more relevant content, catered to your audience. Most social media platforms now have detailed audience and demographic breakdowns, and usually will provide ‘affinity categories’ or ‘interests’. For example, if you are a business that sells insurance but your users are also generally interested in baking, you might look to curate content that combines the two themes in order to better engage your audience.
Another great use of big data and analytics to inform content marketing decisions, is to use them to find out how people find your website. Are visitors finding you via referrals, advertising or by typing keywords into search engines? Do they tend to land on your homepage, or on your blog? This is an important distinction to be made, because it may help to influence future content curation and marketing campaigns. If your users are finding you via blogs, which ones are the most popular? Can you leverage these popular pieces of content to generate leads? How can you use this data to create more of the same results with new content? Use analytics frequently to find out what works for your product or brand, and do more of the same, remembering to frequently check in, regularly test and optimize.
5. Creating content marketing isn’t just about blogging
Lots of people in the marketing and sales world still think of content as blogs and articles, but they couldn’t be more wrong! Amongst other things, content includes: email campaigns, e-books, PDFs, whitepapers, images, GIFs and video.
While blogs and articles certainly have their place in the marketing mix, many social media algorithms now favor visuals and penalize long-form content and outbound links. This means that you shouldn’t use e-books, whitepapers, PDFs or lengthy articles as an essential part of your social media strategy; instead, use these pieces of content to generate leads and sign-ups on your website. With the rise of social algorithms favoring, in particular, videos and GIFs, it’s not only important to familiarize yourself with the ‘unwritten rules’ of each social platform, but also to use them a way that works better for you. If your chosen platform for lead generation doesn’t promote long-form content, how can you repurpose a white paper to fit the needs of that platform? For example, if you have made a 10,000 word document covering a key issue in your industry – could you turn this into a 1 minute video, or perhaps an infographic? The importance of creating content that’s fit-for-purpose is paramount.
- Related: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn: Important Social Media Statistics for Brands (infographic)
This also rehashes point one of this article about making a strategy. Algorithms and fit-for-purpose content should be discussed and taken into consideration during the planning stage of your strategy, prior to any content curation, which will ultimately save valuable time and ensure that all content curated is used to its full potential.
6. Storytelling is a powerful tool
Only 52% of content marketers use storytelling in their content. Which means a massive 48% of marketers are missing out on a vital tool that can make their content resonate far better with their audience.
Storytelling is widely known as the process of telling your brand’s story, through whichever medium works for you and your audience. Storytelling could mean sharing your ‘why’, sharing how your product or service solves a problem or even by sharing your company’s humble beginnings.
As Forbes highlight in their ‘4 Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing’ article, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story. The human brain can also process images 60x faster than words, which is one of the reasons why in the age of ‘instant gratification’, video and image-based content has become not only more frequent, but it’s now expected. By delivering content that expresses a clear narrative, your audience are far more likely to resonate with your message.
Storytelling can take a simple message like ‘buy this car’ which is cold and un-personalized, and turn it into a short, emotionally-charged experience which allows the customer to imagine how their life would be better with the car. Evoking and utilizing emotional responses to close sales is a tactic that has worked for decades across many industries, and by simply changing your messaging to tell a story, you can elicit a similar emotional response with your audience.
To get more valuable insights check the infographic below.