Investing in content has never been so vital.
So what is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a wide and encompassing topic, being any material that a brand decides to produce. It forms as the basis of what makes a brand a brand. It is what differentiates, reinforces, informs and persuades consumers to be loyal to your brand.
In Content Marketing, we have three main types of media:
Owned media, is material that the brand has produced itself. This could be shooting a video or writing an article.
Earned media, is material about the brand produced by other people, but the brand hasn’t paid them to do this. This could be a magazine inviting a spokesperson from the brand for an interview, or when a blogger writes about them.
Paid media, is any form of advertising that the brand has directly paid for. This could be everything from billboards and television commercials, to Pay Per Click (PPC) ads on Google.
Until fairly recently, content was formulated and produced by disconnected departments, who didn’t talk to each other. Later, companies decided to create Editorial and Content Committees where the heads of department would debate which content would be released. This was a step in right the direction, but it was still hard to define a common ground to agree. Usually, the Head of Product would demand new content, and the other departments would just comply with the request.
Why owned media is an investment that needs to be made
While paid media is highly accountable and transparent all the way to the actual ROI, when one buys one impression, one click or an action (lead, order, etc.), whatever the business model might be, one can know exactly the turnover one would receive and can calculate the margin right away. The decision of whether to create the paid media content is therefore made easy thanks to very detailed metrics.
The main reason it is so hard to find common ground on why and which owned/earned content to create is that, while companies have the feeling that it needs to be done, they still have a lot of difficulties quantifying the cash value it brings.
The answer to this question lies in the analysis of the conversion funnel. Let’s take retail as an example. In 2015, UK consumers go through about 20 ‘touchpoints’ (or exposures) with the brand before actually purchasing anything. Now, when investing in Display, PPC or Social ads it’s common to see only 8 touchpoints before conversions, you know there is quantitative gap versus your market. Putting it back into the broader context of the internet, what we’re seeing is an increase in the number of touchpoints before conversion. Internet users are now expecting more and more engagement with brands. This is what we call the power of presence. If your company doesn’t take digital space, that’s a lost opportunity and another brand will take it. So what better way to compete than creating content that will become part of the conversion funnel organically without having to pay for each impression or click like in paid media?
How do I know what internet users expect?
Now that I know that content needs to be produced, how do I know what to produce?
Content is not only about selling and generating conversions. Content is important at any point of the conversion funnel. Content is relevant for everything from persuading you to buy the product, to instructions and after sales support.
It’s about mapping out what internet users expect and responding to it.
First, we analyse the behavioural data via our client’s web analytics tool. Here are some of the questions we ask ourselves:
- What kind of audience are coming to the website? Are they in line with who are actually buying in the end?
- Where do we see high bounce rates?
- Where do people leave the website? Are they coming back afterwards? Where did they go? Did they leave because they didn’t find a specific answer, that they found elsewhere? Or is it just part of the normal conversion funnel (e.g. we’re in the benchmark phase)?
If there is not enough data on the website, you might consider doing a quick research, i.e. surveying what look-a-likes (an audience with the same characteristic as yours) want to see from you.
These lead to the project questions:
- How much informative content do we need?
- How much inspiring content? What format?
- How much content on what to buy and how to buy it?
This is the qualitative gap analysis.
How do I track the impact?
This is the most interesting part, because for some reason marketers are looking for a quick ROI from the content they produce. But then you might ask yourself, why do I do TV? Do I really sell from it? You might do. But isn’t TV more about brand recall and awareness?
Different content is created with different intentions, and not everything is just about sales. Some pages exist as a bridge to something else. Some rich media such as videos can be about building brand recall, but others might be about how to use a specific product.
So once it is decided that content has to be created and what, it is now about knowing where this content will feature in the conversion tunnel. You will see the content everywhere, so more than one KPI needs to be taken into account. I suggest four:
- ROI (to the likes of the ecommerce team!)
- brand awareness / reach (to the likes of your PR team!)
- engagement (to the likes of your social media team!)
- lifetime value (to the likes of your CRM department!)
Here’s four easy ways to track it in your webanalytics tool:
- ROI: number of sales generated from this content (last click) or where the content contributed to it (assisted conversions)
- Brand Awareness / Reach: Page Views, Unique Visitors broken down per page views, New Customers per page views
- Engagement: How many actions (others than buying) have been done as a result of seeing the newly created content. This could include newsletter opt-ins
- Customer lifetime value: do active clients see this content and does this contribute to cross/upselling?
Assess your new content using the KPIs and you will see the incredible value brought to your customers and the company.
Finally, how do I pitch it to my management/board?
- Is this ROI friendly? Yes as the cost is less than traditional marketing and generates lots of conversions over time
- Is this good for engagement? Yes if SEO groundwork is done and the content is accessible on all main media like Google, Facebook and other social networks, YouTube and on the website too
- Is this good for brand recognition? Yes, because content encompasses different formats including videos and you can generate repetition on highly memorable formats at lower costs than any other marketing activity.
Overall, content marketing is an absolute requirement in your marketing mix and Data is a must to do your gap analysis and focus your investment on the pieces of content that are expected by your target audience.