The Crux of it: Exploring the Importance of Strategy in Content Marketing

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Content marketing is fast becoming an integral part of the marketing mix, providing a dynamic channel from which brands, publishers and agencies can drive awareness and customer engagement to create a deeper relationship with consumers.

In fact, research from Outbrain reveals that more than 90% of respondents predict that content marketing will increase in importance for them over the next 12 months. The research, based on a survey of more than 1,300 digital marketing professionals examined the strategies, objectives, and challenges that marketers are currently facing.

It’s more important than ever to be content savvy when engaging with target markets. Not only must content be engaging and accessible in order to deliver ROI, but creators must think strategically about how they deliver and amplify it in order to achieve their desired reach.

Using a range of content to communicate with audiences - anything from newsletters and blogs to video, social media and microsites – content marketing provides a more in-depth level of engagement than can be achieved through many forms of traditional marketing.

Although new technology platforms such as blogging and social media are exciting (the research showed that 83% of in-house marketers use social posts and updates for marketing, more than any other type of content), it’s important not to dive headfirst into content creation without developing a proper strategy first – deciding on ownership and content are two of the most important elements in achieving a positive outcome.

Overcoming barriers to ownership two-thirds of in-house marketers (64%) agree that content marketing is fast becoming its own discipline, but less than half of companies have dedicated budgets (34%) or assigned individuals (46%) for content marketing.

Similarly, in-house marketers sighted lack of human resources (42%), lack of budget (35%) and company politics (30%) as barriers to implementing content marketing.

Meanwhile agency respondents were more likely to cite a lack of understanding or training (46%), content marketing skills (39%) and lack of ROI / no business case (35%), as limitations.

Both agency and in-house marketers agree that content strategies should be led from in-house teams who have the knowledge, brand passion and authenticity needed to best speak to their audiences, while agencies are best placed to continue implementing the strategy using the additional skills and resources needed to do so effectively.

Bringing strategy to life

While strategy and clear ownership are undoubtedly the key to success when it comes to content marketing it’s the content itself which brings strategy to life and its power should not be underestimated. Brands must therefore ensure that they are developing authentic content, catering to what is relevant and timely in the minds of their audience, not simply the messages they want to convey at that particular time.

Brands can learn from publishers when it comes to content, for example by adopting a story-telling approach - something that great brand marketing has long been about. While using tools like banner adverts to do this has historically been difficult, content marketing delivers an effective way to tell stories, as it enables people to engage and interact at a time when they are most receptive and in a completely new and empowering way.

Content marketing is now gaining real recognition as an essential tool in the digital marketing sector and when used with a clear, solid and relevant strategy along with engaging, audience-appropriate content, it can really help achieve wider business objectives. That said, with so much great content available across the web, even the most brilliant can remain hidden unless a strong discovery strategy is put in place… more on that next time.

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