Content marketing: how to make sure what you are publishing is what your audience wants to read
It costs less than advertising and generates more leads but what exactly is content marketing? and what role do public relations agencies play in its generation? This blog post offers some tips on how to achieve the maximum return on investment from your content marketing
The consultancy IDC defines content marketing as “a technique that uses published information to influence customers and encourage them to establish a business relationship with a company. Well used, it provides useful and relevant information that the customer perceives as something beneficial, and not as a nuisance or an attempt to sell a product or service.” The emphasis here being on well used.
Content marketing is a welcome alternative to advertising which allows brands to make a greater impact on customers. It´s easy to understand why: a study by the expert in web usability, Jakob Nielsen, demonstrated back in 2007 that advertising banners are virtually “invisible” for the Internet users who just focus on content and ignore everything that is around. Embedding advertisements in the middle of the content is of no use either because on the Internet the eye glimpses from one part of the screen to another, and when the user sees something that may seem like an advert they don´t even look at it. Therefore, it is much more effective to try to attract users through content than through an advertising.
According to the Demand Metric´s study, content marketing generates three times more leads than traditional marketing and costs 62% less. Meanwhile, the Content marketing Institute (CMI), a pioneer organization in this area, assures that 93% of global companies do content marketing and 55% expect to increase investment in 2015. These statistics show why its essential that PR agencies are geared up ready to offer content marketing solutions for their clients.
Here are some other advantages that content marketing has to offer:
- Its more credible and more acceptable than an advert;
- It improves positioning and attracts relevant traffic to the company´s website;
- It increases interaction: users comment, like, share, etc;
- Content creation is cheaper than buying advertisement in the media,
- Content is lifelong and can be reused in different formats;
- It fosters clients´ loyalty who come back to the website or subscribe to receive content.
Another advantage of content marketing is that it allows brands to employ a wide variety of formats. The most popular are blogs, infographics, studies, ebooks and videos. But Eva Sanagustin, one of Spain’ leading experts in content marketing, describes in an ebook… Up to 42 different options to do content marketing with a very low budget!
An example of how far content marketing can go is Lego. Lego was named the most valued brand last year, according to Brand Finance and I am sure its commitment to content marketing is a large part of the reason why. Lego is, undoubtedly, an authentic content brand: with its own magazine, social network for kids and a theme park. But the prize piece of content marketing was in fact “Lego: The Movie”, it may not have won an Oscar it should definitely be up for The Ultimate in Content Marketing Award.
Four content marketing requirementes
According to the CMI, to achieve the desired results, the materials used in content marketing should meet four requirements: utility, relevance, coherence and profitability. Content is useful if it provides an added value to the customer; it is relevant if it adjusts to the interests of the person to whom it is offered to; and it is coherent when it responds to the generated expectations.
However, many of the materials offered under the umbrella of content marketing don´t meet these requirements. The biggest problem is that brands can´t avoid the “temptation” to elaborate promotional content, although it gets thoroughly rejected by the customer. 40% of the users surveyed by SkyRocket indicated they don´t share content if it seems too promotional and 71% of the participants in another survey conducted by ClickZ said they were “disappointed” by the lack of quality of the content published by brands.
In fact, a Forrester research indicates that 87% of the marketers have difficulties creating content which will attract their customers. According to the study done by Mashable, 62% of the companies outsource content creation, a percentage that increases to 75% in the technology sector, according to the CMI. Here lies the opportunity for PR agencies, as we are the ones who know how to write.
The fourth requirement of the content marketing, (as dictated by those in procurement) is of course profitability, it needs to be directly linked to the measurement of results. Although it is often the most overlooked factor… Only 47% of the marketers track the return of investment in content marketing (data provided by CMI). The main indicators used to measure profitability are: visits to the webpage, downloads, leads and content shares as shown in a survey conducted by Linkedin Technology Marketing Community. Still, it is just a beginning because a more profound and detailed analysis, which allows to measure the content´s return of investment (ROI) has yet to be developed.
Undoubtedly, more and more companies are doing content marketing. Personally I think it’s a great opportunity for PR agencies and we should be on the frontline of the land grab. The Internet is now flooded with all kinds of materials trying to reach customers. But not all content marketing is achieving the desired outcome because the competition for consumers to read that content is fierce. The key distinguishing factor in the success of a content marketing strategy will not be the quantity, but the the quality of the content and the demonstrable return on investment of the what is being published.