Though many may feel that it is no longer the 'new shiny thing', content marketing is still a hot topic among marketers.

A quick glance at Google Trends shows that interest in the topic is at an all-time high...

...and recent research by Econsultancy backs up this notion as well. Our survey revealed that 'creating compelling content for digital experiences' was the second most-popular choice for marketers globally as 'the single most exciting opportunity' in 2016.

Professional marketers, however, need to do more than just follow the latest trends. They must make sure that what they are spending their time on helps the business.

Because of this, marketers are often looking for ways to improve their content marketing. Specifically, how can they build on initial experiments and deliver a sustainable and profitable content marketing programme?

In order to answer this question, we spoke to a number of professional content marketers at our recent Digital Cream Singapore event. The table topic was 'Content Marketing Strategy' and it was sponsored by content marketing specialist, Lionbridge.

According to participants on the day, organisations with successful programmes focus on three key aspects of content marketing.

1. Relevance 

Attendees each had their own way of producing content, but all agreed that they avoid the 'hard sell' of sales material and, instead, try to craft the brand message to be engaging and relevant to consumers. 

It's not always easy to do, especially for B2B brands, but throughout the day attendees spoke about a number of techniques which help them deliver continuously relevant content.

First off, marketers need to personalise the brand content. With segmentation and automation technologies so widely available, marketers should not write for 'everyone' but instead write highly-relevant content intended to reach smaller groups of people.

While most felt that they are some way away from writing for an 'audience of one', delegates said that content management systems can help a lot with targeting smaller audiences.

Another way content marketers add relevance is that they make sure that branded content is emotive and engaging. Adding a personal touch, such as an interview or a profile of a key employee, can go a long way to accomplishing this goal. 

Finally, content localisation is key, especially for marketers based in a region as diverse a Asia-Pacific. Delegates agreed that if different content had to be produced for each country then there would be little time to do much else!

One participant pointed out that marketers should create content whose intent, style, tone, and context can be easily reproduced. Known as 'transcreation', it is the most effective way for content to be created once and then distributed to other regions.

Listen to what Aoife McIlraith, senior director of global search and marketing services at Lionbridge, has to say on the topic.

2. Discoverability

Producing high-quality, relevant content is important, but if no one sees it then the effort is wasted.

This is why successful content marketers focus on the delivery channel nearly as much as the content itself.  Social media has become one popular way to do so, but many participants felt that this channel had become 'cluttered' and less effective for their brand.

One attendee suggested that instead of relying on fans and other organic followers, brands should promote content on paid channels in order to increase reach.  This should, however, only be done on content which has already been successful organically so that brands do not waste money on content which is not engaging.

Successful content marketers, therefore, always test out content on free channels before they invest money to increase discoverability.

3. Success metrics

A recent survey by the Content Marketing Association (CMA) revealed that 100% of respondents felt that measurement was an 'important' or 'very important' part of their content marketing strategy, but only half (50%) felt it was possible to measure the return on investment (ROI) of their efforts.

What this means is that half of all content marketers are in a quandry. They realize the importance of success metrics, but they are not sure what they can do about it. 

What did our delegates feel about this question?

Largely the same, it seems. Over the course of the day, very few marketers felt satisfied with how they measure the success of their content marketing programme.  

Everyone agreed that campaign-based metrics, such as engagement rate, click-throughs, and time spent on-site, were useful but most felt that they are not enough to prove ROI to the business.

For those that were delivering ROI figures, few felt that they could actually show, say, $3 worth of value for every dollar spent on the programme.

One solution may be to use 'brand health' measurements such as brand lift or consumer propensity to buy and linking those to ROI. Doing so, however, will require a difficult conversation with the business, said one participant.

Regardless of how difficult it is, though, it seems that success metrics will be an important topic in the coming year.  

According to the same CMA survey, nearly half (45%) of respondents say that they will be increasing investment in content marketing measurements and nearly the same amount (44%) are considering it.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated at Digital Cream Singapore 2016, our table moderator Eu Gene Ang, lead trainer in Asia for Econsultancy, and our table sponsor for the day, Lionbridge.

We hope to see you all at future Singapore Econsultancy events!

Jeff Rajeck

Published 12 December, 2016 by Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck is the APAC Research Analyst for Econsultancy . You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.  

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