He was one of our greatest digital visionaries, but when Bill Gates released his “Content Is King” essay in 1996, I doubt he could have forecast just how vast content’s presence would be 22 years later. We’ve transitioned from Gates’ view of online content as a burgeoning entertainment and news medium to its permeation into every aspect of our online experience—including marketing.
Forbes.com contributor Steve Olenski notes that while advertising used to be king in the marketing sphere—mainly because it cost the most—consumers and B2B companies have come to expect more comprehensive endorsements from brands before they buy.
“Marketers are faced with the challenge of finding new ways to reach their consumers, in a way that makes them happy rather than makes them angry. [Content] centers around the customers rather than itself. It attracts people rather than interrupts them, and it’s more about them than it is about you.”
Of course, not just any content will accomplish that. Enter the quality factor.
You Can’t Always Eat Cake
Enter the quality factor - but, striking the fine balance between quality and quantity doesn’t have to be left to guesswork
One constant thread runs through my consultative editorial experience: companies trying to figure out how much content they need and how often they need to publish in order to generate the most engagement. My response is invariably the same. There is no right answer. We all want to have our cake and eat it too, but that’s not always possible.
The ideal situation, of course, is if your company has the budget and bandwidth to produce superior content pieces (blogs, video, infographics) and a lot of them. That’s a rarity. If you want results, it makes more sense to produce one top-notch blog than ten mediocre ones. At the same time, if your resources only allow for three stellar blogs a quarter, and they publish sporadically, you’re not serving your potential customers either.
The struggle is real. But, striking the fine balance between quality and quantity doesn’t have to be left to guesswork.
Look To The Metrics
If your current strategy isn’t producing results, it’s time to shake things up
If you discover your current strategy isn’t producing the results you desire, it’s time to shake things up. For example, if your efforts are primarily blog-centric, you may want to experiment with different assets such as infographics or slideshares. Perhaps your social media distribution and cadence is too cumbersome or simply doesn’t resonate with followers. Sharpen your focus. Research what successful companies similar to yours are doing in the social sphere.
Remember, content is no longer an “add-on” to advertising. It has become the focal point of marketing tactics and should be measured accordingly by analyzing various metrics, such as page views, time on site, CTA click-through rates, social shares, unique visitors, number of subscribers, and leads generated. Establish benchmarks early on in your assessment in order to identify true opportunities for improved engagement and subsequent growth.
One word of caution: You have to give shifts in strategy time to take hold. Don’t give up in a month if you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for.
There’s No “I” In Team
Oftentimes, those experts are right before your eyes
To be most successful, you must think of a content marketing program as a team effort. Enlist the help of every single player in your editorial department, from editors and writers to marketing masters and social media gurus. And, more importantly, understand the valuable role each plays. When I worked as part of a two-person marketing team, I was tasked with assessing metrics to identify areas needing improvement. Coming from an editorial background, that wasn’t in my wheelhouse. I spent a lot of time trying to navigate metrics when I could have invested those hours recruiting writers or creating more effective content assets.
No matter how big or small an operation, it’s important to have someone connected to the editorial team who is an expert at analyzing metrics and establishing those benchmarks--and who can convey what’s working (and what’s not). Creating a cohesive relationship between marketing and editorial teams allows your company to become a well-oiled, more efficient content marketing engine.
Don’t risk alienating prospects (or clients)
In the customer’s eyes, the quality of your content offerings is representative of the quality of your work as a whole. Don’t risk alienating prospects (or current clients) by not understanding the influence content possesses in today’s marketing environment.