What is the secret to successful content marketing?
Much has been written about the rise and rise of content marketing. Brands across both B2C and B2B sectors have realised that content is both an effective and essential route to reaching and engaging customers.
In 2016, 77% of companies planned to increase their content marketing budgets, as revealed by the Econsultancy-Oracle Marketing Cloud Marketing Budgets report.
Job roles in marketing, be they individual, agency or departmental, are increasingly referencing ‘content’ as part of their titles, reflecting the growing importance of the concept at all levels.
As the availability of data and customer insights grows, along with the channels and tools to allow more targeted and intelligent delivery, content marketing is becoming more sophisticated and impactful.
As an industry we still have a way to go before fully reaching content marketing greatness, but we can already pick out some of the hallmarks of great content marketing.
What makes successful content marketing?
High-quality execution is an imperative – amid the ever-proliferating mass of content being churned out by brands and media platforms, only the best stuff can hope to make a lasting impression with audiences.
It’s also important to find new ways of grabbing customer attention and keeping it.
This could be by using new platforms and channels to distribute content and reach customers in a different way, or it could be by taking novel approaches to content creation, or highlighting previously unrevealed aspects of the brand.
Four key content marketing principles
We’ll now take a look at four hallmarks of successful content marketing activity, with real life examples to illustrate how these principles have been put into action to deliver content marketing success.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that silos are bad practice. This applies equally in content marketing.
Instead of existing in a single channel or single campaign, great content should transcend divides, and reach audiences on different channels and platforms.
This encourages dialogue and shareability, extending the ‘shelf life’ of activity.
In December 2015, Barclays Bank was awarded by the Content Marketing Association (CMA) for its multichannel approach to content marketing.
The bank teamed up with a publishing agency, Redwood, and came up with a long-term strategy for creating and distributing useful content across all its channels.
These include not only web and social media, but also mobile and even ATMs. Content ranges from useful tips on digital skills (Digital Eagles) to helpful banking advice.
If content is to work across multiple channels and different platforms, it follows that much of it will be the result of a collaborative effort.
Different departments, from market research (informing concept) to advertising (creative) to social media (distribution) will all play a part in the development and propagation of great content marketing.
Multinational petroleum giant Shell ran a multidisciplinary campaign called The Power of Sport, bringing together many different departments to help conceive, execute and publicise the activity.
The company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) department was a key player, given the focus of the campaign on creating opportunities for underprivileged children living in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
High-specification playing fields were provided for the communities, and recordings of the children in action were captured and used by the advertising department to generate content which was then distributed by social media and PR teams.
Trackable and measurable have become the two most important words in any CMO’s dictionary.
Winning content campaigns should encourage action, be that sharing, conversation or enquiries.
Gone are the days when campaigns were launched on a wing and a prayer; they must now prove their worth in concrete figures.
A fantastic example of a creative and trackable campaign comes via IKEA Israel, who harnessed a traditional content medium in a new way.
They convinced reality TV show Big Brother to furnish the entire house with IKEA furniture – in itself priceless product placement.
However, they went one step further to make it a truly engaging campaign – all housemates had to assemble the products live on air, effectively transmitting detailed product demonstrations, woven into the story being told on screen by real people.
The proof was in the pudding as widespread press coverage appeared and social media share counts rocketed.
IKEA also tracked enquiries generated, and recorded 250,000 requests for product information off the back of the campaign.
Customer groups are a hugely powerful way to reach and engage audiences. Communities, groups and fandoms are out there – often existing around cultural phenomena such as TV programmes, movies or even brands.
Companies must tread carefully and ensure real authenticity and creativity when trying to ‘break into’ these spaces and propagate their message.
Brewing juggernaut Carlsberg identified two major fandoms to tap into, with great success.
HBO series Game of Thrones has built a formidable following, and Carlsberg took advantage of this by publishing exclusive content related to the show, to existing fans, ensuring their attention and excitement.
In an equally great stroke of genius, they latched onto the return of the Star Wars saga with special content timed to coincide with May the 4th – the annual day for Star Wars fanatics.
— Carlsberg UK (@CarlsbergUK) May 4, 2016
The content marketing tipping point
Content marketing is undoubtedly here to stay. With customers demanding ever more intelligent, tailored and useful interactions, brands are being forced to develop content marketing strategies in order to keep their attention.
Amid the increasingly colossal output of content out there, CMOs must remember to stick to these four content marketing principles, in order to build content that truly captivates and compels customers.
- In both B2B and B2C marketing, content has become the dominant form of communication .
- Successful content marketing must be well-executed and fresh in order to stand out.
- It must be multichannel and multidiscipline – able to work across many platforms, and with contributions from multiple departments.
- It must also be intelligent, data-driven, and authentic in attempts to reach customer communities.
Discover what lies ahead in the fight for marketing success! Download Econsultancy/Oracle Marketing Cloud’s The Future of Content Marketing.