In an increasingly packed marketplace, content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective ways of catching and holding the attention of prospective customers and partners. A steady supply of quality content will help to drive traffic to your site but, more importantly, it will also provide something engaging and valuable for visitors once they arrive, establishing a company as a thought leader worth paying attention to.
Regular new content such as blogs, videos and podcasts, as well as longer items like eBooks and research whitepapers, will give visitors more of a reason to explore and return to your site, and can make all the difference when it comes to turning them into new prospects and partners. Content marketing is also useful for improving social media presence and SEO, as well as providing useful ammo for new business and sales activity.
The booming market
Content marketing has become so important that research from leading analyst Gartner found that marketing leaders allocated 7.4 percent of their marketing budgets on content creation in 2017. In a survey conducted by the analyst firm at the end of 2017, marketing decision makers also named creating and managing content as their top two digital priorities for this year.
Being able to field a steady supply of new items is a key part of the content marketing approach. Accordingly, in early 2018, Gartner established its inaugural Magic Quadrant for content platforms designed to manage how content is created and published. Alongside analysing the current leaders and market environment, Gartner also noted companies were at risk of missing opportunities or producing lacklustre results from campaigns due to the amount of resources needed to consistently produce high-quality content.
Sometimes less is more
While it is important to be consistent, producing high volumes of content and investing in a management platform will be a waste of money if the material itself is not valuable or engaging for the target audience. A small, high-quality content programme will go much further to building a reputation as a thought leader and maintaining a connection with the audience than a busy, scattershot approach.
Each item doesn’t need to be a flawless work of art, but all content should meet a few key criteria to be worth publishing. Creators should always be able to answer the classic Five Ws and the H:
- WHO is it for? Anything created without a clear target audience is likely to simply be ignored, or worse yet actively confuse your prospects. The language, format and action points of all content should be closely tied to the specific demographic you want to engage with.
- WHAT do you want them to do? Whether you want to raise awareness around an industry trend or encourage prospects to make an enquiry about a new service, content should be geared around a particular call to action.
- WHERE will it be available? The internet is full of great pieces of content that ultimately go largely unread because they are just passively sitting in an archive. From a regular blog to an elaborate eBook, all content should come with an established plan to spread the word through avenues such as social media or mailing campaigns.
- WHEN will it be published? Sticking to a schedule will help ensure a consistent flow of new items and help to time publication around relevant dates and events. Content should also be a mixture of time-sensitive, opportune material and ‘evergreen’ items that will be useful and relevant for years to come.
- WHY did you produce it? From technical whitepapers offering insight into a complex topic to more light and accessible blogs providing more personality and colour for the company, any content should be produced with a clear purpose for the organisation.
- And finally HOW will you do it? The production of any content should be mapped out in advance, including required resources, availability from contributors, and deadlines that need to be met. This will make it easier to keep to a schedule and ensure content quality is consistent.
As the content marketing approach becomes ever more central for engaging with customers, prospects and other key influencers, those companies that base their strategies around relevant, targeted and high-quality content will be in prime position as influential thought leaders.