By Todd Murphy | May 5th, 2015
For those who work in public relations, marketing and even advertising, you know each year vendors attempt to capture your budget dollars with something new and shiny. In the 1990’s the rush to weekly newsletters was a rage. The late 1990’s saw billions of dollars spent as companies rushed to get their web presence online. In more recent years agencies and practitioners have turned their sights to varying strategies for content marketing.
Content marketing is almost a golden goose in that much of the derived benefits are difficult to truly measure, but nearly every competitive organization feels they must be in the game. The point of this post is not to group PR, marketing, and advertising professionals with the snake oil vendors of the dust bowl era, but rather to help educate the clients of these vendors on three things they can watch out for when using a vendor.
Content Marketing: The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action
- First and foremost, be sure your created content has value to your target audience or demographic. With the “push” from content marketing reaching an all time high, fatigue is setting in. Our most recent analysis of social media shows a level of disengagement is forming as the users of social networks become overloaded with content. Like a news editor, you don’t want your content to end up in the discarded pile. Be judicious with your efforts. Only share that which is truly valuable. And when possible, speak from the position of a thought leader in your area of expertise. This effort will pay off with media placements, earned media exposure, and message amplification through retweets and sharing.
- Engagement is hard. In the early days of content marketing… last year, link baiting your headlines worked. Such tactics as putting numbers in your headline (e.g. Top 3 Stupid Things You Can Do With a Headline) helped. Or, creating irresistible shock in the headline would compel viewers to click on your content. Unfortunately, our social media monitoring and media analysis shows that this strategy is also decreasing in effectiveness. Unless your content borders on celebrity porn or notorious drug use, readers are now much more wary to click on absurd headlines. Be honest and direct with what your post discusses. A real benefit of this honest and direct approach is that Google will reward you for posting relevant content.
- Finally, track and measure your results from your content marketing efforts. Whether you outsource to a professional organization to help you create your content, or perform this function in-house, knowing your effectiveness starts with measurement. But measurement can be difficult as it is not simply about counting retweets and hits. Is your content appearing on the right sites, being received by the right influencers, and reaching a demographic or audience that will drive “profitable customer action”? You must know this can be effectively measured by your vendor or media measurement firm.
The old adage that you get what you pay for is still true today. There are free tools for tracking the reach of your content marketing efforts, there are 3rd parties who are able to comprehensively measure the impact and develop insights from your efforts, and then there are agencies that can manage this all for you. But as the buyer you must be aware. That secret formula promised to deliver greater sales and top page rankings may not ultimately deliver.
If you have your own tips on better content marketing, please share them here.