Over the past several years, content marketing has become a key digital marketing tactic for most brands.

According to a recent Econsultancy survey, content marketing ranked as one of marketers’ top five priorities in 2019, ahead of ecommerce, marketing automation and even social media engagement.

But despite its relative importance, marketers remain unsure about how content marketing integrates with other marketing tactics. As a result, content marketers end up focusing on output targets such as blog posts per day rather how to create content which supports their company’s overall brand marketing strategy.

To help marketers better understand the role of content marketing, Econsultancy, in association with Oracle, recently held roundtable discussions on the topic with dozens of client-side marketers in Bangkok.  At the Content Marketing Strategy Table, moderated by Vishanu Pandey, CEO, Dgtl8, attendees discussed how content marketing delivers values to brands, the daily challenges faced by content marketers and what they can do to produce content which aligns with their company’s marketing strategy.

The main points from the day’s discussions are summarized below.

Why should brands use content marketing?

Participants started the day by writing short paragraph describing why brands should use content marketing.

Content marketing, they said, is a crucial technique for both activating and engaging a brand’s target audience. Because of this, content marketing should aim to create a sustainable and meaningful message which relates the brand with its audiences’ emotional needs and rational pains.

What are the main challenges content marketers face?

Once the purpose of content marketing had been established, delegates then discussed the obstacles they faced when trying to produce content to achieve their brands’ marketing goals.

First off, attendees felt that it was difficult to create content regularly that both attracted and engaged their brand’s target audience. Consumer interests, one participant said, are very difficult to predict and marketers often struggle to pick topics and formats which drive traffic to the company’s website.

Another issue raised by attendees was that even when marketers are able to attract their target’s attention, they were not sure whether the brand content was useful to the reader. B2B marketers said that this was one of their biggest challenges because of the high cost-per-click (CPC) for their target audience.

Finally, participants said that they struggled to harmonise content from different business units as a single brand.  Companies with many divisions, explained one delegate, often combine different businesses on a single website – resulting in a mishmash of content topics which confuses site visitors and provides little value to the individual businesses.

What should a content marketer do to align with their brand’s marketing strategy?

In addition to highlighting the difficulties of content marketing, attendees also discussed how content marketing needs to change so that it can be integrated with the overall brand strategy.

1) Define a clear goal

Content marketers should, first and foremost, understand the purpose of the content they are creating.

To do so, they need to be able to answer a few key questions:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What do we want them to do?
  • How will we measure whether we were successful?

While these questions seem straightforward, one participant said that answering them can be surprisingly difficult for companies that have not aligned their content marketing with their marketing strategy.

2) Understand the target persona

Next, marketers need to know who they are creating content for.  More than just defining a target audience, content producers need to understand exactly who will be reading the content. Will it be the actual buyer or someone who influences the purchasing decision?

This step is particularly important for B2B content marketers, said one delegate, as creating content for the person who ultimately chooses a solution may not be the best approach. Instead, marketers should write for the person inside the organisation who understands your product and how it would integrate with the company’s existing solutions and corporate structure.

For example, Salesforce creates content for marketing managers, not the C-suite, as managers better understand how Salesforce would be used by their company’s existing sales and marketing teams.

To ensure that the whole marketing team has the same target in mind when producing content, delegates agreed that content marketers should research their customers, build personas, and be sure to highlight the persona’s rational decision-making criteria as well as their emotional pain.

3) Map out the customer journey

Once the team has decided on a target persona, content marketers should then list their brand touchpoints and ‘connect the dots’ to map the buyer’s journey. Doing so will help the marketing team create content which is consistent across the entire journey and tells the whole brand story.

Marketing teams that have a significant amount of legacy content should do a ‘content audit’ to make sure that everything on their site is relevant to the journey. Existing content should be mapped to a stage in the customer journey and have the goal of moving its reader on to the next step.

4) Tag content for analysis

While participants agreed that planning content is important, marketers also need to be able to analyse the effect that their content is having on individual consumers. To be able to conduct this sort of analysis, however, all content has to be tagged so that its contribution to a single customer’s journey can be recorded.

For content to be tagged, pointed out one attendee, companies need to invest in marketing technology, such as a marketing cloud solution.  While some said that they were able to track customer journeys using web analytics, most agreed that a purpose-built content management and tracking solution was the best way forward.

Once in place, a tagging solution allows marketers to know the status of individual site visitors and see what effect the brand’s content has on moving them toward a purchase.

Armed with this knowledge, marketers then know exactly how their content is contributing to the overall brand strategy and what work still needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of their content marketing.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank Vishanu Pandey, CEO, Dgtl8 for hosting the Content Marketing Strategy table as well as our sponsor, Oracle, for hosting the event.

We’d also like to thank everyone who participated on the day and shared their experiences, frustrations and insights about content marketing and how it can be better integrated into a brand’s marketing strategy.

We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!