The internet is full of all sorts of reports and posts which aim to help brands with their content marketing.
Econsultancy alone offers many content marketing resources, such as:
- The Content Strategy Best Practice Guide (2016)
- How to Monetize Global Content Assets (September 2017)
- And a number of excellent blog posts offering tips, case studies, and trend overviews.
But there’s not nearly as much material designed specifically for someone whose job it is, day in and day out, to produce content. What challenges do professional content marketers face, and how do they overcome them?
To find out, as well as to add to our body of content marketing material, Econsultancy recently invited a number of professional content marketers to a roundtable discussion in Sydney. Here, in discussions led by David Voorn, head of lifecycle Marketing at Salmat, content marketers were free to discuss the problems that they face as well some of the solutions they have figured out.
What challenges are content marketers facing these days and what did our roundtable experts say about how to overcome them?
1) Keeping content fresh
The biggest challenge raised by nearly everyone was that content marketers find it difficult to keep producing high-quality, relevant content on a consistent basis.
They indicated that best practice guides and lists of ideas can help, but many said that even these run out – and they occasionally face a blank screen with a full day’s work ahead.
So how do some get over this problem? Customer stories.
One of the most interesting trends which came up on the day was that many content marketers are using specific customer experiences as content. That is, they look for customers who are willing to talk about their problems both before and after they engaged with the company and then create content about the specific customer’s journey.
Besides being a great way to generate fresh, relevant content, participants felt that customer stories are a great way for the whole organisation to understand the customer better.
Those using customer stories did warn, however, that those adopting this tactic need to finesse the stories in order to fulfill other goals, such as driving search traffic to the site.
2) Always being asked to produce product-focused content
Another challenge routinely faced by content marketers is that the business and marketing managers are always asking content marketers to deliver content which is about, and only about, their company’s products. One attendee noted that it wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that product-based content drives little traffic and fails to impact many other of their KPIs.
The way some got over this was, first off, to write a content strategy. Typically this will state who they are trying to reach, what content themes will be used, and how they will measure success. Then resources can be allocated against higher-level goals and avoid being dragged into short-term product content production.
Another suggestion is that content marketers should educate the business about content marketing and sell the notion that content builds brand equity, often a key business goal at the C-level. Then, once senior business sponsors are bought in to a brand equity strategy, content marketers will be able to fend off ad-hoc product-focused content requests.
3) Confused by the technology stack
Many attendees admitted that their companies had bought various content marketing and marketing automation solutions, but had not used them to their full extent, if at all.
The only solution to this, suggested by a few participants on the day, was that content marketers need to be trained up on the platforms and to read up as much as the could about how to use them. Then, once they were aware of the potential of their technology stack, they should compare what they understand with any upsells from the vendors and make sure their knowledge and what they are being told line up.
It’s important that content marketers avoid becoming overwhelmed and technophobic though, one added, as technology does have a lot to offer content marketers.
Finally, another problem that content marketers are facing nowadays is that content marketing needs to reflect the authentic brand voice.
Those who use agencies to produce content were particularly concerned about this as external agency staff typically do not ‘live and breathe’ the brand and so often struggle to produce authentic brand content.
The best way to handle this? Brands should in-source content marketing, said the experts.
Only when content marketing is handled by people who are fully answerable to the brand will the authentic voice emerge. Customer stories (see point 1, above) do help, but even the most trusted agency partners will probably not have the same level of customer access as internal brand marketers.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and especially our content marketing table moderator, David Voorn, head of lifecycle marketing at Salmat.
We hope to see you all at future Sydney Econsultancy events!