‘Content is king’. They’re three of the most commonly used words in digital marketing. But as the purpose and scope of content evolves, what does that phrase really mean? We asked seven experts to explain how and why content marketing will matter more than ever in 2014
Andrew Marcus, Deputy Head of Communications at the Museum of London: Great Integration
Content marketing is no longer an option. In today’s multimedia world the most effective way to engage with the full spectrum of stakeholders is through content. However, just as brands must seize the opportunity that the digital world offers, they should not forget about real world content. Online and offline should work together in harmony. As communicators we strive for the Holy Grail that is integrated marketing. Content marketing – at its best – is integration.
For us at the Museum of London video is a central part of our communications strategy and we are using it to communicate to consumers, funders and thought-leaders. The long-lead launch of our Cheapside Hoard exhibition, displaying the world’s finest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewels, included a YouTube interview with Vogue’s Jewellery Editor Carol Woolton talking about the show’s importance.
This was complemented, of course, with a PR and advertising push. Equally, the new vision for the organisation – ‘Inspiring a Passion for London’ – was announced with a visually captivating print document accompanied by a short YouTube film to outline our strategic objectives. Every stakeholder event we hold reiterates this message, completing the virtuous online-offline circle.
SEO and content marketing are so intertwined that you cannot do one without affecting the other. SEO helps your content be seen by a lot more people. To promote your content effectively, whether it’s an article, video or image, you want search engine users to see it. Using keywords to enhance relevance, having strong meta-data and structuring websites so that content is easy to find can all help get extra views from within search results.
If you want your site to rank higher, you need links pointing in from relevant, authoritative websites. Content marketing helps you get these. By creating and then distributing high quality content, you will generate links from bloggers, journalists and forum users. Content also brings in links and positive endorsements from social media users, which are becoming ranking factors in their own right.
It is important to recognise the interest that search engines have regarding authorship. Eric Schmidt of Google said recently “information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher”. We are already seeing that trusted authors who publish via Google+ profiles are doing better in the search results. To become a trusted author, you need great content.
Michael Barber, Head of Product Marketing at Communicator Corp: Hit Your Target
Our industry – email marketing – is dominated by large, US-based providers. Good quality content put to use effectively allows players such as ourselves to compete. It allows us to engage with consumers and potential prospects on a global scale, levelling the playing field. This in turn helps us to fulfil our business objectives, enabling growth in a competitive arena.
This is no different to any other industry and in 2014 we expect to see an increased focus on content supporting the traditional sales funnel. Further down the funnel, content should provide a solution for your prospects and should therefore be focused and highly targeted to drive sales.
This means that the content delivered at the bottom of the sales funnel is intelligent, relevant and right on point. It’s delivering a solution to the right person, at the right time; engaging the consumer, driving sales and ultimately linking back to supporting business objectives.
We foresee this combination of technology and data influencing content and subsequently playing more of a role in increasing consumer engagement and ultimately ROI.
Simon Douglass, Search Marketing Director, and Matt Evans, Senior Search Executive, at Pancentric Digital: Give the People What They Need
Content should always be a part of your marketing, just as it was long before the advent of the internet, but the influence of content has shot through the roof. Businesses are now adopting a more expansive and engaging approach to their marketing campaigns, to match the decreasing attention span of the average user. Having interesting, relatable content will often set you apart from your competitors, especially in industries where you think content might not apply. Your competitors will think the same and that’s where you can make a difference.
How can brands target their content more effectively? It’s all about user feedback. With the Google Hummingbird algorithm update of 2013 it’s clear that the online focus is more about fulfilling needs and answering questions. Does your content answer the questions the user is asking? Tracking internal search and social media listening are both more crucial than ever.
Social media gives us a totally unique approach to customer insight. We can see what users are asking and the recommendations they’re making; that sort of personal data can’t be found anywhere else. Listening to the right areas and platforms is key. From there it’s about how you respond to conversations.
The connection between content and SEO is stronger than ever and arguably the strongest relationship anywhere in your marketing armoury. Both need each other to survive; most content is found via searching, and your search content needs to drive performance.
Robert Goldsmith, Managing Partner at Spinnaker: Picture This
Research shows that over 65 per cent of the population is more naturally attuned to visual learning. The 20 per cent of us who are kinesthetic learners (those who prefer learning through touch and interaction) are also motivated by visual stimuli. Add to that the fact that 90 per cent of the information that comes to the brain is visual and that we process visual stimuli 60,000 times faster than text and it becomes clear why visual information is key to learning. No surprise then, that it’s also the centrepiece of successful online marketing.
Facebook statistics bear this out. Videos are shared 12 times more than links and text posts combined. Photos are ‘Liked’ twice as often as text updates. And according to ROI Research, 44 per cent of people are more likely to engage with brands when they post pictures.
When it comes to effective visual content, be authentic – real life delivers so much more than contrived fiction. Get the tone right. Fun, edgy and unusual content shares best. Encourage participation. Simple engagement is a great way to encourage sharing. Be distinctive in terms of style. And, of course, make sure you tell a good story.