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Content marketing

Challenge

Content marketing is one of the key challenges for companies these days. Most companies acknowledge the need to change their commercial model due to the rise of social media. Most companies are looking for ways to become responsive towards questions from consumers on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies also understand that they should be proactive and feed customers with conversation-worthy content. The latter is the main problem. Most companies don’t know what content marketing means.

Source: InSites Consulting

Definition

Content marketing is a term that refers to the creation and sharing of content for marketing purposes. In digital channels, it refers to content that resides on properties the brand or marketer owns (e.g., a website) or largely controls from a content perspective (social media channels, syndication). Content marketing differs from advertising in that, unlike advertising, a media buy is never part of the equation.

Source: Rebecca Lieb (Altimeter) – Content: The New Marketing Equation

Why

To continually attract and engage consumers requires companies to develop new skills. They must learn to think and function as publishers, producers, and – often – as community managers. Content creation and distribution places new and continual demands on the enterprise as a whole, not just the marketing department. And frequently, content necessitates operating in real-time environments, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Source: Rebecca Lieb (Altimeter) – Content: The New Marketing Equation

Fundamentals

  1. Understanding that Content marketing is not free
    Certainly, Content marketing can reduce the media spend associated with advertising, but the more mature a company’s Content marketing efforts, the better it’s understood that effective content initiatives require significant investment in internal staff, production and distribution resources, and often new source of strategic support.

  2. Implementing broad cultural integration around Content marketing
    Rebalancing requires deep departmental integration and cultural shifts across the enterprise, as well as education, training, and new digital skill sets for staff within and beyond the marketing organization.

  3. Integrating Content marketing with advertising
    Increasing confidence in and reliance on Content marketing is causing marketers to reevaluate, and often to cut back, on advertising and shift those dollars to content production and distribution. For optimal impact and maximum success, content and advertising should be integrated – or at least interrelated. In tandem, the two can more fully express a brand story.

  4. Avoiding bright, shiny objects
    Content marketing will permeate the organization. Led by the marketing department, finding, producing, and disseminating content both internal and external to the organization will become a core marketing function, but it will require cross-departmental support, primarily in the form of input and creation from senior management, sales, and product teams. To seek out stories, trends, questions, and the other “raw materials” of Content marketing, shoe leather is a requirement. Like beat reporters, those charged with creating content must continually travel throughout their companies and, indeed, their industries, to keep a finger on its pulse and to find the stories and ideas that can be turned into content.

Key components of rebalancing

  1. Organizational structure
    The infrastructure that allows content creation and distribution to be fostered and encouraged within both the marketing department and beyond it.
  2. Internal Resources
    Staff roles, teams, and leadership that support and create Content marketing.
  3. External resources
    The extent to which the organization works with outside vendors and service providers, including agencies, creative resources, and technology vendors.
  4. Measurement
    Creating meaningful metrics around Content marketing, including tying them to overall marketing and sales goals.
  5. Education, including…
    • New skills and capabilities: fostering understanding of Content marketing; executive buy-in, and ensuring staff can manage, create, and publish content.
    • New mindsets and approaches: Content marketing is almost never a 9-to-5 undertaking. Creating, managing, and monitoring content outside of normal business hours, often in real time, is essential.

InSites six step approach in Content marketing

  1. Topic selection
    Define what you want to be famous for. There is a content overload in the world. The magic happens when you find a topic you are knowledgeable in and that the market is still waiting for. Select your content domains smartly and be consistent in your choice.
  2. Content conversion strategy
    Content marketing has to lead to an increase in revenues. Think upfront about where conversion should happen. Define a top conversion point and lead people to this point through your content.
  3. Editorial content planning
    Once you have defined the topics and the conversion strategy, create an editorial calendar. Set up a roadmap so you know when and where content will be shared. Streamline the content calendar with all other marketing actions in order to increase impact. The content calendar should also describe the level of intensity of each content action.
  4. Create shareable content
    The right content domain (step 1) is important but not sufficient. The content needs to be easy to share and worth sharing. People tend to spread content that is positive, relevant appealing and contains a benefit. Take that into account during the creation of the content.
  5. Manage content conversation
    Once the content is launched, people will react to it. Be open to this engagement from your audience and be ready to answer questions or to give feedback. Next to this conversation management, think about the role of industry influencers during the launch of your content.
  6. Measure success
    The moment the content strategy is up and running you can measure its impact through a set of relevant KPIs. These combination of business generation measures and conversational measures.

1. Topic selection

2. Content conversion strategy

3. Editorial content planning

Example

  Updates Projects Campaigns
Objective Maintaining relations in a frequent manner Mid to long-term realization of objectives Short-term realization of objectives (awareness, sales) 
Objective Continuous 1 week to 3 months Average: 1 month
Frequency of new content creation High (almost daily) High: during the project new content is shared almost continuously Low: the same content (advert, games) is used repeatedly throughout the campaign
Intensivity Low Average High
Media pressure Low Average High
Target group Maintaining relations in a frequent manner Mid to long-term realisation of objectives Short-term realisation of objectives (awareness, sales)
Media choice Primarily online channels (Facebook, Twitter, blog) Primarily online channels, supported by suitable offline media Targeted offline media pressure, supplemented with all own online channels
Type of content Formal and informal ‘did-you-knows’, news, a glimpse behind the scenes Content in function of project objectives Commercial content

4. Create shareable content

5. Manage content conversation

Observe (as a manager)

Listen to reactions on your content. See what people share with each other. By observing which stores share better than others, you learn how to improve your content creation process. Install real-time monitoring tools to follow up on your Content marketing.

These are three success parameters to use:

  1. Reach of content sharing: How many people are consuming your content?
  2. Sentiment of content: Are people positive, neutral or negative about your content?
  3. Impact of content: Is the opinion of people towards your company improving due to your content?

Facilitate (as a brand)

Facilitating goes beyond adding a share button to your content. It implies helping your existing community to spread your content. Make sure everything you produce is available in a digital form so people who like it have the opportunity to share it.
Facilitating also implies the influencers’ management. Know who the influencers of your industry are. Connect with them. The moment you have relevant content, you should proactively share it with these people. If the quality of your content is high and the way it is presented is great, they will be more than happy to share it with their network. This enables you to reach out to new contacts and thus achieve the objectives of your content marketing strategy.

Join (as a peer)

The last step in managing your content conversation is actively joining in. Most companies are good at being responsive in their conversation management. Responsive implies that questions and remarks towards the content are answered positively, openly and professionally. Being responsive is great, but it is not sufficient. Joining the conversation also implies being proactive. When people in your network are talking about certain topics that fit with your Content marketing, you can approach them and share your content proactively. The only way to implement this successfully is if your content is extremely relevant for these people. If the relevance is average or low, it will feel like spam.

6. Measure success

The last step is setting up a measuring system to carefully monitor your Content marketing KPIs. Knowing which KPIs to measure depends mainly on the objectives you set with your content strategy.

However, we advise to use different layers of KPI setting:

Source: InSites Consulting

Altimeter’s Content marketing Maturity Model

  1. Stand (Characterized by: Curiosity and Consideration)
    An organization that hasn’t yet realized the value of Content marketing starts in the Stand stage. This organization may have dabbled in social media or created a blog, but activity is infrequent and not generally viewed as important within the organization. The marketing department relies almost wholly on “push” communications, such as e-mail marketing, direct mail, and advertising.
    While organizations in this initial stage may have discussed elements of Content marketing, no internal stakeholder has made a case for content. Theses organizations require a catalyst to demonstrate the value that content can have on their marketing, communication, and sales teams before they can move into the second maturity stage and begin developing strategy to guide their efforts.

  2. Stretch (Characterized by: Advocracy and Experimentation)
    An organization at the Stretch stage realizes the value of Content marketing and develops that – while many of the tools and media are free – content requires an investment of resources. An executive sponsor is necessary to lead the program and communicate its value and reach to the organization. This executive sponsor is also tasked with identifying team members to engage with early channels, building basic forms of content, and evaluating potential agency relationships.
    Content is driven by the understanding that its focus must be around the company’s products or services, but very often not specifically about them. Content tends to be directed to one or two discrete channels (e.g., a blog, whitepapers, or articles; a Facebook page; or a YouTube channel).

  3. Walk (Characterized by: Strategy and Processes)
    In this stage, content creation and production get a solid foundation organizationally. From channel specific (e.g., “we blog”), content begins to become channel agnostic and is distributed across a variety of channels and platforms. Processes are formalized. This is the stage at which a team begins to take shape, strategy is more fully refined and tweaked, and the team begins to establish governance to scale and shape content processes.
    Existing content, as well as potential sources of content, are identified and unified across the organization. Content is then formally audited and assessed, often with a formal scoring or grading process. Content is optimized for digital and social distribution, and efforts are made to identify repeatable, sustainable content modules and practices. The leader of the content group makes a more concerted effort to connect content development with all parts of the organization’s communication teams.

  4. Jog (Characterized by: A Culture of Content) This phase of the maturity model is the goal for most companies seriously committed to Content marketing. The organization’s strategy is clear, as well as communicated throughout the enterprise at this stage. Focus shifts toward expanding the team and its ability to create experiential, engaging content rather than simply creating and publishing simpler stories and informational pieces. The processes for producing content are also more fully developed and strategic. Content is created with a view toward being reusable or repurposed across multiple media platforms. To achieve this, content must have a life of its own – decoupled from the brand, product, or service – to enable it to travel. Agency relationships are frequently deepened into longer engagements rather than episodic, campaign-based initiatives. Connections between the content team and rest of the organization’s communication groups solidify, but there are still some growing pains/holdovers.
    Earned media increases in importance, as the organization’s efforts have existed long enough to sustain a constant flow of “earned” media that helps extend reach. Achieving earned content is often expressly a goal of the company’s paid advertising, while owned content is created with a view toward sparking conversation and other forms of earned media. A continual challenge is to achieve a resource balance that maintains both growth and equilibrium while remaining cost effective and to scale – and at the same time maintaining a high level of customer engagement. Yet even these sophisticated marketers can overly focus on “bright shiny objects,” the newest, most sophisticated, and technologically advanced digital channels, while overlooking basics such as search and e-mail.

  5. Run (Characterized by: Monetizable Content)
    This is the most aspirational phase of Altimeter’s Content Maturity Model. Only a handful of companies have begun to Run, primarily global CPG brands with a strong commitment to pop-culture marketing initiatives. In this phase, a successful, real-time integration of Content marketing and curation is part of the fabric of nearly all aspects of branding. The organization has become a bona fide media company, actually able to monetize innovative and highly polished content that is either branded and/or related to the brand proposition. Content is sold and licensed based on its standalone merit, with content divisions having separate P&L responsibility
    Earned media (specifically, consumer-generated content) often is significantly outpaces owned media. Media shared between the company and its partners becomes an important asset. Multi-disciplined agency relationships are efficiently producing content that is high in quality, creative, and professional. Production and creative are often a full, standalone business unit. Content opportunities are discovered and leveraged that relate to a brand experience more so than around products or services.

Content marketing Maturity Self-Audit

Score 0 (Stand) 1 (Stretch) 2 (Walk) 3 (Jog) 4 (Run) Your Score
Organizational Structure No executive sponsor formal structure to create and distribute content Executive sponsor and a small, part-time support team Executive sponsor leads small team of dedicated content producers Content managers lead teams focused on different content types and channels Chief content officer integrates content into all communication groups  
Internal Resources No internal resources dedicated to content creation or strategy Assess colleagues’ capabilities to produce content and create a small team Expand responsibilities and size of the content production team Formalize content team and hire dedicated talent; incentivize creativity and contributions Content creation is a responsibility of all marketing and communication teams  
External Resources No external resources engaged to make the case for or create content Consultants make the case for Content marketing Establish relationships with agencies for content creation and production support Agencies assume a larger role in creating more advanced types of content, e.g. video and mobile apps Working with cutting-edge agencies to explore new types of content  
Measurement Very limited measurement of website traffic; no formal strategy Form a measurement strategy; begin a basic listening program Track basic KPIs, such as page views, fans, likes, comments Connect metrics to meaningful business objectives Advanced sentiment analysis and ROI calculations  
Education No educational programs within the company in regard to content strategy Executive education to encourage buy-in Training for content team Content marketing training incorporated into the overall employee training program Continual training on emerging content trends and technologies  

Source: Altimeter Group

Organizational changes

Content management is a time-consuming and therefore expensive operation. Nevertheless it is vital to prepare your content management thoroughly and well in advance, so the process can unfold efficiently and with impact.

Source: InSites Consulting

Examples

Useful material