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By: Eder Holguin, Founder and CEO, Ideal Media

There’s a smattering of complacency about content marketing. Many brands are spending a great deal of money on content creation, and then just tagging a few keywords, sticking it up on their site’s blog, repeatedly posting it on Twitter for a few weeks and calling it a day—job done. Quality content needn’t have such a finite shelf-life. With a little creativity, content can be re-used and promoted more regularly; for example, by creating seasonal content which can be easily repurposed each year. Neither should marketers be solely dependent on SEO and social shares to get the content seen.

Too many brands are relying on SEO and social in a way which places the onus of branded content discovery on the consumer, requiring them to actively search for the brand’s content or leaving it to chance that they’ll stumble across it through social media platforms. Given that around 95% of B2B and 97% of B2C companies in the UK are practicing some form of content marketing, it pays for brands to take a more active approach to getting their content in front of their target users. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t cut the content marketing mustard.

Brands and marketers with experience in content marketing are aware of the need to actively promote their content to supplement search and social. They also understand that a concerted content marketing strategy is necessary to generate a strong ROI on content creation. Brands can drive traffic to their content and build positive relationships with consumers by remembering a few content marketing tactics:

  1. There’s More to Life than SEO—SEO is, of course, fundamental to any digital marketing strategy, but there’s no guarantee on it being sufficient to drive significant traffic to branded content. Used effectively, good SEO enables consumers who are looking for something specific to find it easily and click through to a website for more information. The best SEO is most effective when executed with extreme precision. Yet brands with a real understanding of content marketing know that the content they create is often only loosely related to the core keywords of their brand. For example, a leading bread brand might create an article for their site on the tastiest lunchtime sandwich fillings. Yet with recent updates to search algorithms, it’s far more likely that consumers searching “tastiest lunchtime sandwich fillings” will be taken to content from a company who makes the tasty sandwich fillings, not the bread. That’s one of the reasons why—according to research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)—only 45% of businesses rate their SEO ranking as a top measurement criterion for content marketing success. There’s more to content marketing than SEO alone.
  1. Get the Content Out There—The main organizational goal for UK companies who undertake content marketing is brand awareness. Lead generation and boosted website traffic aren’t even in the top three things companies hope to achieve with content marketing. According to the research by the CMI and DMA, promoting the content to raise brand awareness is what companies care about most. So it’s insufficient to merely promote it with some tweets if the company has only a few hundred followers. Equally, there’s little value in brands developing content for their blog if it only receives ten hits per day. The content must be promoted, whether by emailing it to consumers who’ve opted in to receiving information from brands, or to prospective customers via content discovery platforms which enable marketers to place ads linking to branded content natively within relevant digital editorial. Promoting content with ad formats which sit natively within relevant content ensures that the branded content is seen as part of a user’s browsing experience, rather than feeling like they’re seeing an ad.
  1. Leverage Other Relevant Editorial—To communicate effectively with consumers, marketers have to seed their branded content around the internet in a way that reflects the many different ways digital content is being consumed. The content marketing strategy must be compatible with consumers’ content consumption habits. Whilst some consumers actively search for a brand’s content, or come across it via a social media contact, many consumers move from one piece of content to the next via relevant links at the bottom of articles. Brands and marketers who position their content within relevant editorial are maximizing the likelihood of consumers clicking to their content and initiating relationships with the brand.
  1. Rework, Rewrite, Repurpose—The CMI and DMA research discovered that companies in the UK cite “producing enough content” and “producing engaging content” as their top two challenges in content marketing. It’s an issue partly because of how naively many businesses approach content marketing, assuming that they have to create new, shiny, high-quality content—whether articles, video, or images—on a regular basis and at great cost. John Rampton from Adogy says “Many companies are overlooking the ways they can repurpose existing content to maximise ROI. A talented copywriter can turn the research conducted in order to write one feature article into several features, each making the same brand-consistent points in a diverse number of ways. Similarly, a decent video editor knows how to turn a recorded internal meeting on new product developments into an engaging three minute Q&A to go on the company’s YouTube page. Ensuring you have access to talented content creators—whether in-house or outsourced—is crucial to developing a sustainable content marketing strategy for your brand.”
  1. Listen to Your Audience—By analyzing comprehensive metrics of consumer interaction with the branded content, marketers can assess which types of content are having the most impact with consumers and ensure future content fits this mold. A home gym equipment manufacturer might find that consumers are significantly more likely to share and interact with their “Top 10 Worst Things About Public Gyms” content than their “Top 10 Best Things About Having A Home Gym” article. This insight enables the creative teams to tweak their content creation towards what consumers actively want to engage with. Content discovery platforms which promote branded content enable brands to assess metrics such as duration of interaction with the content, viral activity, and the sources and volume of traffic. If a certain type of content is failing to generate a response from consumers, it can be retired, in favour of the types of content which are garnering more attention. Good content discovery platforms are also geared for real-time updates, meaning marketers can place ads that display fresh, relevant, on-trend branded content that can display with each refresh of the page.

When executed effectively, content marketing can be a powerful tool in building brand awareness and enable brands to build and maintain valuable relationships with consumers. Yet brands must be proactive about promoting their content, and can’t afford to simply rely on consumers to find the content. An SEO and social media-focussed content marketing strategy simply can’t provide the same guarantees for brands as actively pushing the content to ensure the quality content marketers have spent time and money creating is going to be seen by consumers.

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