The focus and opportunity around content is causing organisations to reassess their businesses at a variety of levels.
Content marketing has been identified as one of the most exciting opportunities for marketers today, based on the Digital Trends for 2015 report.
The growth of corporate blogs, podcasts and increased focus of video are some of the more obvious manifestations of this.
However, in order to do these things, and do them well, organisations must devise and implement a content strategy that resonates with their users, articulates the brand’s message and adds to the overall experience.
From content audits and the reorganisation of editorial processes, to asking questions about brand identity, the drive to re-incorporate content as a fundamental pillar of the overall marketing strategy is among the most crucial transformative activities organisations are currently experiencing.
The Making Content Strategy Transformative event, which was hosted at the Savoy Hotel, gave digital leaders the opportunity to share their experiences on how this transformation has gone thus far.
The event also saw Dr Mike Baxter, an Econsultancy Digital Transformation consultant, present additional insight on the newly published Implementing Content Strategy Digital Best Practice Guide, while Ben Salmon presented refreshing ideas on how content can be measured.
What follows are three of the key questions digital leaders pondered and discussed regarding their content strategy.
How should audience insight drive the content strategy?
For businesses that are editorial by nature or have strong editorial backgrounds, using customers as a basis for strategy should be almost second nature.
However, for other types of organisations, from charities to retail, content and communications has mostly been led by a broadcast mentality, with transactional messaging dominating the proceedings.
This is especially true when determining a tone voice. As a senior marketer at a media producer explained that their tone of voice is often dictated by their audience archetypes, others expressed that their tone is often challenged, if not dictated by other stakeholders in the business that are trying to push a certain agenda.
On the whole, businesses seem to be aware that this needs to change. A retailer of niche consumer electronics described how the change from product-focus communications, to a customer centric approach, whilst painful, has provided improved performance over a range of metrics.
One of key tenets in making this transition, was a key point in Dr Baxter’s presentation that resonated significantly with the marketing and digital leaders in attendance
The key to good strategy is deciding what to do and what NOT to do to best achieve a desired outcome.
While there is always excitement and interest in doing something new and executing a plan, it just as important to identify, what shouldn’t be done as part of a strategy. This is especially difficult when these activities are intrinsic parts of people’s roles.
Using customer data and insight to back up these decisions is crucial to not only getting such initiatives pushed through, but finding and taking advantage of new opportunities that should be maximised.
To what extent does the distribution of content come into the equation?
Content distribution and discovery is a crucial part of the puzzle that often doesn’t receive enough attention.
It has been suggested that content marketers should spend 50% of their resources on distribution, a stark difference to most businesses’ reality.
Historically, even for publishers, content creators have taken the approach that distribution is not their problem, as evidenced by this excerpt from the New York Times report on digital innovation:
At The New York Times, far too often for writers and editors the story is done when you hit publish,’ said Paul Berry, who helped found The Huffington Post. ‘At Huffington Post, the article begins its life when you hit publish.
One of the delegates at the roundtable event expressed that the process of creating content then ‘optimising’ it separately needs to be flipped on its head. However, while this certainly has elements of truth, content optimization and structure is requiring increasing levels of expertise.
For example, creating content that can easily be surfaced by the likes of Google has always held a degree of importance. However, this has moved beyond merely positioning in search engine results pages.
The enhanced support for semantic language, increased prevalence of Knowledge Graph and even the introduction of tweets being embedded in SERPs, are all opportunities for enhanced distribution, but only the businesses that atomise their content appropriately will be able to reap the benefits.
Whether the distribution strategy is centred around search, social or is medium-agnostic, taking the time to find and exploit the most effective ways to distribute content is a part of the puzzle organisations cannot afford to ignore.
What metrics should be used to measure content?
While it is nice if a piece of content receives a record number of views, ranks highly in SERPs or is shared at an exponential rate on social media, what impact does any of this actually have on the business?
The key to measuring content is to stop “making what’s measurable important and start making the important measurable” (credit to Ben Salmon)
Page views are easy to measure and may be important to editorial staff, but do not always have the same impact with other departments or senior leaders.
A method to measuring content effectively is by finding a “common currency” a metric or group of metrics that are important to a broad range of stakeholders.
Finding this can be easier said than done. A charity explained that often times, while the digital team would be concerned with improving performance, others were pleased if the content was being seen by just a handful of people.
In comparison, digital leaders from entities with more commercial priorities were explained they felt regularly under pressure to prove the value of a page or piece of content.
While it would be extremely difficult to have a common currency that is used across the board, a step in the right direction would be to determine the role or purpose of a given piece of content. This purpose can then inform an appropriate metric that is can be used to measure success.
The process of transformation is different for every business. Whether you’re looking for advice on how to transform your content strategy or implement bigger change, we’re here to help! Get in touch with our Digital Transformation team today.