By: Elaine Ip
Posted: March 23, 2016 | Content Marketing
Anywhere you look, it’s likely that you’ll see an ad—whether it’s on your computer, on a mobile app, or on TV. In fact, digital ad spending alone is expected to pass $68 billion in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer. But you can break through the clutter by providing valuable content that effectively attracts, reaches, and engages your audience—educating them rather than advertising to them.
Technology leaders, including the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple, are empowering publishers to reach even more of their audience, faster, with new product capabilities for content delivery. And who is better positioned to take advantage of these innovations than content marketers—the marketers who publish content in all forms?
It seems like a not-too-distant past that content marketing started gaining traction among marketers as they began to recognize that batch-and-blast, pitchy messages weren’t the way to go. Instead, we started understanding the need to communicate without selling, to build relationships with our prospects and customers, and to personalize these messages based on each unique buyer. And we learned that all this could be done through content, by publishing pieces that provide practical tips, advice, and insight, rather than by promoting our brand or product.
But what changed in recent years that has made content both a marketing and company initiative, with tech giants jumping on board? Here are a few reasons why content is continuing to gain momentum among publishers and the masses, and you should continue to invest in it as a marketer:
Buyers today are more informed, as they can easily access and compare product information and pricing, form opinions, and draw conclusions well before they choose to interact with your company. The majority of a buyer’s journey is self-directed before they interact with you and they’re doing this research everywhere, even on the go. In fact, according to Google, smartphones account for more than half of searches in 10 countries.
And with all the technological innovations that have emerged, people can now consume and engage with your content wherever they are without sacrificing speed or the user experience. And tech-giants have gotten savvy to this, adding publishing capabilities aimed at capitalizing and capturing the traffic and attention that today’s content achieves on their platforms. For news outlets or content marketers, this shift doesn’t indicate a huge change and so the goal remains the same: keep your audience coming back for more by publishing relevant and personal information, messages, and offers—now, you just have more places to do it.
Content comes in all shapes and sizes: datasheets, whitepapers, videos, ebooks, infographics, and blogs, to name a few. And each asset serves as a different touchpoint for collecting data on who your buyers are and what they’re interested in. In fact, with the proliferation of distribution and publication channels, you may have more robust information than ever before. For example, Apple News provides its publishers with both channel-based data and article-based data for metrics like unique viewers, total views, average active time, shares, and likes (Disclaimer: Currently, this data is for usage in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia and is limited to 30 days). Ultimately, successful publishers want to not only get people to engage with the content on their platform, but understand how to replicate their success and iterate for continued improvement. And as a content marketer, this process is essential for optimizing your inbound marketing efforts to drive more traffic and conversions.
As the saying goes, data without insight is just a set of numbers. Publishers can make data meaningful by using it to measure how effective each piece of content is at bringing in new customers, engaging with your audience, building relationships over time, and driving ROI. As new publishing platforms emerge, it will be interesting to see how effectively these platforms deliver metrics that offer a clear understanding of content performance to content marketers.
Content marketers in particular are now, more than ever, able to demonstrate the ROI and overall business impact of their efforts and will be looking for it in each new place that they publish their content. For example, if your goal for a piece of content is to convert prospects into customers, you would create that content with the intention and ability to track mid and late-stage metrics that tie into pipeline, opportunity, and revenue contribution.
As a content marketer at Marketo, I admit that I am a little biased when it comes to preaching the value of content, but don’t just take my word for it. Take the word of technology giants Google, Facebook, and Apple, each of whom have rolled out new capabilities that enable publishers to provide content to their audiences faster than ever before.
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) allows publishers to create instant-loading, mobile optimized content on the web by using their open source framework AMP HTML. Facebook’s Instant Articles allows publishers to deliver content on their platform—at a speed they report to be as much as 10 times faster. And recently, Apple announced that it’s opening up Apple News Format to all publishers—major news organizations, magazines, blogs, and more–to deliver their content through the iOS News app (pending approval, of course). These recent changes empower content marketers to do what they do best, but more quickly and at scale.
With major technology leaders optimizing their content delivery, I think it’s safe to say that leading companies recognize the value of not just content, but more importantly, the consumption of it. Consumers want content, and these innovations allow them to digest it faster than ever with fast-loading, mobile optimized articles. Sounds like a win-win situation for us all.
Today, the question isn’t whether you’ve started content marketing in your organization; it’s how you’re improving your content marketing. With everything going your way and tech giants backing up your efforts, it’s time for you to step up your content and offer your buyers real value in more places. These recent innovations have given you an even louder voice, so use it for good—to engage and deliver value to your audience wherever they are.
How have you shaped your content to deliver value to your buyers rather than pitching to them? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!