Content Intelligence Is the Key
to Successful Content Marketing
A decade ago, the way to go about marketing a product or service was to simply bombard your target clients with brand ads and direct response ads. Today, however, direct response ads, dominated by Google and Facebook, have lost their effectiveness almost completely with a 97% loss along the value chain and GDPR killing the remaining 3%. Therefore, content-based strategies are the key to marketing success. But with the majority of brands publishing a broad variety of different content types in high quantities every day, how do you win the content competition? In this article, we’ll walk you through the importance of content marketing and discuss how you can use content intelligence to take your content strategy and performance to the next level.
What is Content Marketing?
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, defines content marketing as a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
According to several studies, content marketing is a highly effective way of generating and nurturing leads. For instance, statistics show that companies publishing 16 or more blog posts per month get about 4.5 times more leads than companies publishing zero to four posts per month. All in all, content marketing gets 3 times more leads than paid search advertising.
That said, many companies are still lagging behind when it comes to content. More specifically: only 42% of companies have hired a designated content strategist and only 33% of B2C marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
While content marketing has been around for quite some time now, it’s evolved enormously over the past few years and is expected to become a $300 billion industry in 2019. Many companies now use content marketing in conjunction with influencer marketing (ie: they co-create content with influencers) and with the shift in many target publics towards a general distrust in public and private organisations, brands find that it’s more important than ever to create content that’s deemed honest and authentic.
Why is Content Marketing so important today?
While earned media traditionally receives only a small allocation of a company’s marketing budget, companies are now moving towards prioritising earned media and spending more in this area. According to a report, 48% of B2B marketers have seen their earned media spend increase over the last year, compared to only 39% who said their paid media budget had increased. The top three factors facilitating this shift include a need to supplement traditional outbound programs, lower effectiveness and efficiency of paid ads and increased cost of paid media.
Additionally, it’s no longer feasible for companies to focus on paid media because the two biggest global players in the field, Google and Facebook, wield far too much power in the market.
Consider this: the global digital advertising market grew by 21% to $88 billion in 2017, with a whopping 90% of that growth being attributed to Facebook and Google. Essentially, the two form a duopoly, with no other player to keep them in check, except for Amazon slowly making its way to also become relevant in this space. That means that they can do whatever they want (such as inflating their prices) and advertisers have no choice but to go along with them.
On top of that, it’s next to impossible for digital advertisers to use ad spend effectively as it’s estimated that only 3% of the total ad spend actually ends up in advertising – 97% are lost to gatekeepers and other intermediaries. That spend might even be considered a complete loss if you take into account that many people don’t perceive the few ads that are making it through, in relation to the initial spend, as being trustworthy and credible. The same 3% are also threatened by other factors such as ad fraud, ad blindness, ad blockers and legal realities such as GDPR.
As marketing professor, TED speaker and entrepreneur Scott Galloway puts it: ‘No single brand has been able to establish a competitive advantage through digital. Think about this: the defining medium has been a tax for all manufacturers’ brands, as none has been able to do what Nike did with television or Williams-Sonoma with catalogues (establish sustainable advantage via deft mastery of a medium/channel). Google and Facebook’s genius has been not the quality of their tools, but ease of use, which has created a level playing field that all firms must use, but none can master. The result is Google and Facebook have become a tax, not a tool, for business. Every brand, agency and organization has had two dump trucks called Facebook and Google show up and take shareholder value.’
Don’t want to be under Facebook and Google’s thumb and also get value for your money? Then refocus your resources away from paid media to earned media to reach your target audiences. In best-selling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin’s words, ‘content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.’
Content Marketing workflows
We established that paid for communication strategies don’t work. However, given that social media is a very prominent factor driving product discovery and also purchases, how can digital communicators effectively leverage these channels and others? The answer is writing and curating relevant content for your target publics regularly. If done right, your content will create awareness, higher engagement levels will incidentally drive down the cost of paid ads whilst filling your owned media channels and, very possibly, lead to more media coverage.
So, in addition to curating relevant content, how do you make your content marketing pay off? As a starting point, you need to have a defined workflow and standard operating procedures that you can use.
Your workflow might look something like this:
- Come up with a content calendar. You can do this on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Here, you’ll decide how frequently you want to publish and mark down the dates in a calendar so that you can see your posting schedule at a glance.
- Brainstorm topics, titles and keywords. Sit down with your team to brainstorm interesting topics to write about and use tools such as CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer and Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer to hone in on the best headlines. To figure out which SEO keywords you should optimize your articles for, use any one of these eight free keyword research tools.
- Conduct research. Read all the best-performing articles on that topic, look up expert opinions and trawl forums to see what people are saying.
- Come up with an outline. This is the main “skeleton” of your blog post; doing this will ensure that your post is well-structured and organized.
- Start writing. If you need to collaborate with your team, Google Docs is a great tool.
- Get colleagues’ inputs, and make edits. Be sure to fact-check and make sure you don’t have any typos.
- Publish. Publish your content and share it with the world!
- Distribution. Identify and use most relevant and best-performing channels, include relevant influencers either at this stage or already at the content creation stage.
- Measure performance and consistently optimise. Define and regularly analyse performance metrics, set and monitor KPI-related performance and optimise all aspects of the workflow consistently
Major challenges for Content Marketers
Establishing a content marketing workflow is not enough: there are some key challenges that content marketers face today; these include distribution, striking a balance between writing for search engines and writing for humans and tracking the effectiveness of their content.
First and foremost, those new to content marketing typically assume that their job is done once they hit the “Publish” button. In actual fact, this is far from the case. Here’s the thing: you might get lost in an ocean of content since two million blog posts are published every single day and if you don’t distribute and promote your content properly, you probably won’t generate much traffic to your pages. Additionally, try also to personalise your content delivery. In fact, personalised content leads to more engagement and conversions. Also, make sure you share the content in the company’s social channels and get your employees to reshare it as well – you may want to check our article on employee activation for some hints. If you publish a weekly or monthly newsletter, link to your content in said newsletter and try and get your content syndicated as well.
Next, many marketers also struggle with striking a balance between writing for search engines and writing for humans. You’ll need to cater to both parties here. If you overstuff your blog posts with keywords, your phrasing will probably sound awkward and this will turn off your potential target stakeholder groups. On the other hand, if you write for your clients and ignore SEO altogether, this hurts your visibility and diminishes the effectiveness of your content overall. So understand your audience’s needs, provide easy-to read content, include links and use keywords without stuffing the text with them.
Finally, marketers also find it difficult to track and analyse the performance of their content. While tracking your content’s key metrics isn’t as easy as, say, logging into your Google Ads dashboard and seeing your Cost Per Click or Cost Per Acquisition, there are ways of publishing or distributing your content so that you can numerically track how your customers are interacting with it. For example, use Google’s UTM tracking codes to track every piece of content. But the story does not end here.
What is Content Intelligence and how does it relate to Content Marketing success?
The American Marketing Association defines content intelligence as “systems and software that transform content data and business data into actionable insights for content strategy and tactics with impact.” So, content intelligence essentially allows you to understand the full context of a piece of content, as well as what your audience is hoping to get out of it. Or, as Ryan Skinner of technology research firm Forrester puts it, “content intelligence is technology that helps content understand itself – what it’s about, how it speaks, how effective it is at accomplishing certain goals, what emotions it calls to mind, etc.”. To do all this, the content intelligence technology combines new and existing technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning (ML), predictive analytics and automation and all this makes it easy for you to optimise your content strategy.
Think about it this way: without content intelligence, you might just be guessing what topics your target audience would like to read. With content intelligence, however, you get the insights you require to accurately identify the topics that will resonate effectively with your target audiences.
How does Content Intelligence make content marketers successful?
We’ve just discussed how digital communication professionals and marketers should use content intelligence to help them hone in on the topics that are most relevant to their target audience; that aside, you can also use content intelligence to overcome other content marketing challenges because it can help at every stage of the content marketing workflow, to varying degrees. For instance, you can use content intelligence to analyse the existing content that’s already published on a certain topic in your industry. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify the current benchmark and go above and beyond that to create outstanding content.
Also, content intelligence can help you to optimise your content for SEO, readability and even for social media. To do this, simply use a tool such as Atomic Reach to score your content automatically and suggest recommendations on how you might improve your content.
Finally, content intelligence is also particularly useful when it comes to distributing and promoting content. If you’re not sure how often to share your content or which platforms you should be using to share your content, simply utilise content intelligence tools to give you more clarity. These tools will analyse your past performance, campaign history and consumer sentiment in order to determine when, where and how many times you should share your content.
The bottom line? Drive Content Marketing success with Content Intelligence
The reign of paid media is over and the spotlight has now fallen on content marketing and earned media instead. Now, many marketers still assume that content marketing is simple, but remember: you’re not just creating content for content’s sake. Instead, you need to produce high quality, valuable content that successfully stands out amongst all the other content already out there – and that’s no easy feat. As Julia McCoy puts it, “over 200,000 blogs are published hourly: and 84% of all content published now gets less than 10 shares. The only way to combat this content shock is to work smart. Content intelligence is a key route to working smarter, identifying trends, and coming up with great topics that our readers will love, share and link to – not the opposite.” So, exploit the potential in content intelligence to drive your content marketing success.
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