In 2015, content marketing needs to be less about clutter and more about effectiveness
The 2015 researched reported that only 42% of marketers think their content marketing is effective, compared to 48% in 2014. If you consider that £4bn a year is spent on content marketing, it means that £2.3bn every year is spent on ineffective content marketing.
The problem isn’t the lack of content – far from it – but the lack of originality. Joe Pulizzi pointed out that every SEO agency in the world has a Complete Guide to SEO – and none of these add anything new. He also added that the “content marketing” produced by many businesses isn’t content marketing at all – it’s just sales. Both Fergus and Joe agree that content marketing is a young industry and there is plenty of time to reset and reevaluate. There also needs to be more of a focus on after-sales – building relationships with existing clients and people who already know about your business. These, Joe points out, are your low-hanging fruit.
If 58% content marketers consider themselves ineffective, £2.3bn a year is wasted every year on ineffective marketing (tweet this)
You really need to have a documented strategy
One of the biggest surprises in the report was that 64% of marketers still don’t have a written down strategy, but those who had a written down strategy were much more effective in all areas of content marketing. Both Joe and Fergus agree that there is no excuse not to have a documented strategy – you can write it on a napkin. Joe emphasised the importance of having everyone in your business working towards one goal, and Fergus explained that to build a strategy, you only need to answer two questions:
- Why does your business exist?
- Why do your customers need you?
A written-down strategy helps guide your business and helps you to benchmark your goals. Without a documented strategy it is difficult to gage success.
Your priority for 2015 needs to be brand awareness
This year there was a shift in the goals marketers hoped to achieve through content marketing, with a focus more on lead generation and lead nurturing. However, Joe Pulizzi believes the focus should really be on brand awareness and subscribers. He also emphasised the importance of employee advocacy, stating “everyone in your business should feel like marketing is part of their job.” Fergus added that if content marketing agencies are promoting the use of inbound marketing, they should be using it themselves. This year Axonn restructured their marketing and sales teams to focus on inbound instead of traditional outbound sales.
Joe Pulizzi on employee advocacy- “Everyone in your business should feel like marketing is part of their job.” via @AxonnMedia (tweet this)
Your content marketing team needs four key players – a chief content officer, a managing editor, a designer and an “air traffic controller”
While Joe pointed out “it doesn’t matter how [your content marketing team] is set up so long as there is ownership over it”, these are the four roles he suggests your team has.
Your chief content officer oversees your strategy, understands your goals and works with the rest of the organisation to implement content marketing. The managing editor works through the content to decide what works, transforms content in a story-telling format and puts the content together. The designer ensures consistency across branding, and the “air traffic controller” is the one listening out to what is being said about your content to ensure feedback reaches the chief content officer.
You don’t need more content, you need better content
Four out of five content marketers questioned say they will be creating more content in 2015, but as Joe pointed out, there is no shortage of content. Why do content marketers always want to create more content? He emphasised the importance of creating content that is amazing, not just content for content’s sake – “bad, horrible content”. Fergus agreed, and referred to the phenomenon of “content shock”, popularised by Mark Schaefer, and the struggle of breaking through all the clutter. Both Joe and Fergus agreed on the importance of thinking “what can we do that is amazing?”, whether that’s once a day or once a month.
Why do marketers always want to create more content? Instead ask “what can we do that is amazing?” – Joe Pulizzi (tweet this)
Podcasts are having a revival
The report clearly identified a drop in previously-popular content marketing channels such as webinars and podcasts, with an emphasis on social media and blogs, but Joe pointed out that podcasts are a much less-saturated market and that the average listen is 45 minutes. They’re also ideal for commuters who might not have enough phone signal while travelling for blog posts and videos. As a leader in content marketing, Joe is practising what he preaches by releasing a new content marketing podcast too.
Spend your money on distributing
The old adage that “if you build it, they will come” is no longer relevant in content marketing – your content needs to be distributed. Joe recommended spending the vast majority of your marketing spend this year not on content itself, but on the distribution of that content, including paid advertising and native. “If a tree falls and no-one is there to see it did it really fall? It’s the same with content”.
Fergus recommended looking at technology – using marketing automation software to make life easier for marketers. However, Joe warned that marketing automation software can go wrong and that technology can not fix all of your problems – if you have a strategic problem or a people problem – but if you have all of those things in place there are real opportunities to take advantage of technology.
“If a tree falls and no-one is there to see it did it really fall? It’s the same with content.” – Joe Pulizzi (tweet this)
What did you think of the report? Did the results surprise you? What did you think was the most important takeaway? Let us know on Twitter.