Back in 1996, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates surprised the world with his opinion on which internet businesses were most likely to succeed – and why.
In an online essay, he wrote that instead of hardware or even software firms, it would be companies which provided information and entertainment which would stand to gain the most.
“Content,” he said, “is king.”
Whether this has turned out to be true is debatable, but the question of the role of content in marketing has recently been raised again. In the current age of data-driven marketing, does content still reign supreme?
To find out, Econsultancy, in association with Oracle, recently held roundtable discussions with client-side marketers in Jakarta, Indonesia. At the Content Marketing Strategy table, hosted by Frederik Neust, speaker, author and lecturer, attendees discussed their experiences in planning content and the future of content marketing in their respective organisations. Below is a summary of the main points covered throughout the day.
Content marketers need to use data to find their niche
Content may be king, said one participant, but ‘context’ is queen. That is, for content to continue to have impact, marketers need to use data to understand the context in which their customers are consuming it. Marketers, he said, need to understand their customers better.
Data, explained another participant, can help marketers identify the right channels for their content and find the ‘niche’ which both interests the target customer and delivers the brand message.
Additionally, said another attendee, marketers need to learn how to evaluate the effects of brand content on their target market before they can start with the complicated, data-driven world of one-to-one personal marketing.
Once marketers understand their customer’s context and establish themselves in a well-defined niche, they will then be better able to demonstrate the business impact of content and justify a premier place for content in a data-driven marketing strategy.
Measure everything – including emotional engagement
Delegates agreed that performance data is useful, but that it is not the only way for them to measure content marketing effectiveness. Successful content, said one participant, requires the right combination of customer awareness and brand identity.
While data is useful for the identifying customer context, marketers also need to ensure brand messaging is delivered to customers on an emotional level. This is not easy to do and takes more effort than creating content with the most ‘likes’ and ‘shares.’
Instead, said another attendee, marketers need to evaluate their content qualitatively and judge whether it successfully reached consumers’ hearts as well as their minds.
Be brave and explore new channels
Content marketing, said one attendee, is almost always under-resourced. Marketers who produce content are typically overwhelmed by simply managing their current channels and struggle to deliver content across multiple channels.
Regardless, in order to matter in a data-driven world, content marketers need to ‘be brave’ so that they do not miss the next major trend. This means taking time to evaluate new medium such as Instagram TV, TikTok and Google Voice as gambles which could pay off in future, rather than just sticking to the channels which delivery high clicks and conversions.
Keep pushing new types of content
Along with being brave about which channels to use, content marketers should expand the types of content they create and promote. Marketers in Indonesia, explained one attendee, tend to favor content which focuses on offers and discounts. This type of content may drive short-term business results, but over time decreases brand equity.
Instead of just pushing out promotions, delegates agreed, marketers should use inbound marketing to lure potential customers into the marketing funnel with useful content. Inbound marketing content is usually more interactive than blog posts and include formats such as quizzes, surveys and gamified videos.
As one delegate put it, content marketers cannot win the game if they just play with the same tools as all other marketers.
Avoid perfection – and test, test, test!
Finally, attendees said that content marketers spend too much time in their ‘content comfort zone’, aiming for perfection instead of exploring new possibilities. Constantly working on improving the same types of content results in content that ‘dies in perfection’ as it often fails to be authentic.
Instead, marketers should try to be more entertaining, trigger emotions and test new types of content – something which is both useful and fun for consumers.
Participants acknowledged that testing new types of content would be more time consuming, but also conceded that it was better to produce lower volumes of more interactive content.
Overall, everyone agreed, for content marketing to remain relevant in a data-driven environment, marketers needed to get out of their comfort zone, be brave and keep pushing the limits on what content can do for the business.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank our sponsor for the day, Oracle, and the Content Marketing Strategy table moderator, Frederik Neust.
We’d also like to thank all the brand marketers who made time to attend the event and share their insights about content marketing and its importance in helping companies achieve their marketing objectives. We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!