Content marketing

Content marketing strategy: responding to the challenge of efficiency

Despite being the hottest ‘evolution’ in marketing for several years now, content marketing still has a bright future. We don’t have a crystal ball but we know our customers and looked into fresh data on the state of content marketing in Austria (more about that below).

Last but not least, we also did some research, went through analyst forecasts and saw some very shiny years ahead for content marketing when watching IDC‘s interesting FutureScape (worldwide) 2016 CMO Predictions webcast.

Content marketing defined: taking the perspective of results

Admittedly, there is some confusion about what content (marketing) really is. If you watch the replay of the Content Revolution debate with our CEO Mark Read at dmexco 2015 (which we covered and embedded in a previous blog post), you’ll notice that the panelists didn’t always agree on what is content marketing and what is advertising.

Because content marketing is not advertising. Then what is it? Well, it depends on whom you ask. The people who coined the term, for instance, will tell you that native advertising is not content marketing. Others will tell you it is.

The reason for this confusion is that content marketing in reality is an umbrella term. Furthermore, the importance of content in the integrated marketing picture has become recognised in literally all digital and ‘traditional’ marketing disciplines. From the ad industry and IAB to search engine marketing experts and PR agencies: everyone talks about content marketing. It has outgrown the control – so to speak – of the pioneers who feel very strong about the definitions and practices.

As we mentioned in our previous blog post on programmatic we do think that good definitions make good friends. However, it’s as least as important to make sure we use content (notice we dropped the term marketing now) in the most relevant, effective and appealing ways, whether it’s to engage consumers, respond to customer questions or connect with audiences through storytelling. Results!

Content marketing strategy: you really need it

Content marketing strategy matters - full picture

Content marketing strategy matters – full picture

This brings us to something everyone agrees on: in order to be successful content marketing needs a strategic approach. Wait a minute: isn’t strategy always important? For sure. But even if content marketing is part of a customer-oriented and integrated marketing approach, it does come with some specific strategic and tactical characteristics. From understanding content ‘needs’ and audiences, identifying content gaps and performing an audit to picking the best mix of formats and channels, distribution ‘tactics’, workflows, measurement and gathering feedback: it’s all part of an integrated view on content marketing.

The good news is that even if it might sound complicated in the end a strategic approach towards content marketing is teamwork just as other ‘forms’ of marketing are. In other words: you don’t need to do everything yourself and can rely on the experience of partners and agencies.

The bad news is that for many many years now a lack of a strategic way to leverage content marketing stands in the way of success for all too many companies. It’s a global phenomenon and has less to do with definitions than with what some call ‘maturity’ in what, after all, is still a pretty new phenomenon for many businesses. Content marketing passed the peak of inflated expectations in Gartner’s latest digital marketing hype cycle. But, while for some it’s already very productive, for others it’s still an innovation trigger.

Content voices from Austria: leveraging the full benefits

The thing is that each country (content marketing was coined in the US), each industry and each business obviously is different, as is each consumer. However, here as well, there is one thing that distinguishes the best in class from the others: a strategy, having the essence right and most of all an approach that is tailored for different audiences and the goals of the brand.

It is important for marketing departments and agencies to enhance their content operations and adopt a strategic approach which will reveal the efficiency of content marketing activities and processes for companies and organisations.

Ricardo-José Vybiral and members of the Dialog Marketing Verband Österreich

Ricardo-José Vybiral and members of the Dialog Marketing Verband Österreich

These are the words of CEO for Wunderman Germany and Austria, Ricardo-José Vybiral, who is also member of the content marketing taskforce of the DMVÖ. That is the Austrian DM Association which just looked at the state of content marketing in the country. The study found that the potential for content marketing is big in Austria too but, as we see in most countries, the benefits are not yet fully recognised.

And that’s why Ricardo urges organisations to be more strategic about it and taste the full value of content for brands and consumers.

Some data on the state of content marketing in Austria: 83.8% of respondents use content marketing. Yet, despite this high number there is some catching up to do. More than half of respondents feels that the positive impact of content marketing is only partially measurable and there is uncertainty regarding the overall measurement of success. As Austrian medianet reports (article in German) that’s probably not a big surprise as the study found that social media interactions are seen as the most important indicator of success.

Content sharing matters a lot but strategy requires more measurement

While content sharing is certainly an important barometer to see whether content resonates as RebelMouse CEO Paul Berry reminded in our panel debate on the future of customer engagement, measuring the return and impact of content (marketing) needs more.

And that’s where the need for a more strategic approach comes in again. Because strategy most certainly involves data, analytics and solid measurement too, precisely what we like to do.

By the way: even if Austrian (and many other) marketers can do better at strategy and measurement we should also mention that social media postings dominate the formats used for content marketing with 72.3% of all respondents. And those can certainly be measured too. It’s all a matter of integration and strategic readiness, starting with the essence, just as in programmatic. So, let’s get strategic about content marketing together. And measure.

Oh, and do watch IDC’s FutureScape 2016 CMO Predictions webcast too. Some predictions coming soon. Yes, it’s that time of the year already!