Are Content Marketers The New Business Rock Stars?
By: Guest Author
Content marketing is booming, with some pundits predicting the industry to surpass US$300 billion in revenue by 2019. A trend that is corroborated by content marketing platform, Curata, which found that 75% of the 1,000+ companies they surveyed in 2016 are planning to increase their content marketing activities over the next 12 months.
Okay, that sounds wonderful, but what is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic (long term) marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent (high quality) content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
No seriously, what is it really about?
At its core, it’s about storytelling, telling the story of your business, product, or service and engaging with people so they will try it out, acquire it and stay loyal to it. That’s why someone like Kevin Spacey can pitch up as the keynote speaker at a marketing conference – because he’s good at telling engaging stories.
And it has never been more necessary than now. There’s a lot of noise out there (2.5 exabytes per day to be precise) and if you want your business message to reach the right audience AND get them to do something about it you have to know how to mix a few not-so-secret ingredients.
The world is louder and noisier than ever before and attention is our most valuable resource.
How do you cut through all that noise?
According to UX research experts, Nielsen Norman Group, you have less than 10 seconds to grab the attention of a visitor to your web page. It’s important to remember that your audience wants content that delivers what they (and not necessarily what you or your business) want, when and how they want it. Otherwise they will go elsewhere to find it. That means doing some digging into what content people are consuming, including the information they are looking for, and which content formats they prefer.
New tools like Ask the Public in addition to older ones like Google Trends make it easier to track the questions people are asking online relative to certain topics. When it comes to formats, the rise of smartphones and accessible bandwidth has made video king, with projections that it will make up more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019.
Once you know what your audience wants and through which channel they want it, you need to deliver it at a consistent high quality. The best content research in the world means zilch if you can’t produce content that is original, relevant, and useful. The incoherent regurgitation of far better origin material is one reason 75% of web content sinks without a trace.
Quality content is key to the success of almost every aspect of a modern business
Sales, promotions, social media marketing, advertising campaigns, stakeholder engagement, brand management, SEO, public relations, influencer marketing, email marketing, training material, talent acquisition, corporate social responsibility – they all need quality content to be effective.
How do you know if your fancy content marketing techniques are working?
Thanks to digital analytics there are some fairly accurate key performance indicators for each content marketing goal:
GOAL KPI Brand awareness Social shares and other interactions Traffic Blog visits, returning readers, time on site, CTA conversion rates Sales leads Leads from each piece of content, landing page conversion rates Leads into customers lead-to-customer-conversion rate for each campaign or piece of content Customer retention Churn rate of subscribers, percentage of repeat customers Upselling Revenue from upsell campaigns
Which skills do you need to succeed as a content marketer in this brave new world?
Let’s kick off with numero uno, the non-negotiable, aka the Deal Breaker. The ability to communicate and write in a clear, concise, coherent, accurate, and hopefully engaging manner should be at the centre of any content marketer’s repertoire. In fact, without traces of this skill you are probably on the wrong career path. Unfortunately, the ranks of so-called writing professionals are filled with wannabe Margaret Atwoods who don’t know who, well, Margaret Atwood is. The more you read and the more diverse and challenging your reading material (and no, that does not include Buzzfeed or Fifty Shades of Grey), the better your chances of developing good writing skills.
A well-developed reading habit also helps you build the necessary reference framework to understand what you are writing about, as well as better research skills and the ability to scan complex material with comprehension for curation and other purposes.
Content marketing is closely linked to business goals, which means its efficacy needs to be planned and measured in an accurate manner so that content strategies can be fine-tuned on a regular basis. For that you are going to need some insight into the implementation and use of tools like Google Analytics and Google Trends. As the saying goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Marketing automation involves the scheduling of social media messages and email campaigns with software that automates the process based on various triggers. It follows the old ‘work smarter, not harder’ adage about productivity.
Although no-one expects you to be a Silicon Valley programming wunderkind it definitely helps if you know your basic HTML from your CSS, and know how to add a tracking snippet to a business website’s code. It will also give you better insight into SEO and UX principles, which all form part of the technical side of content marketing. So, get ready to learn all about meta descriptions, keyword research and heading hierarchies.
Last, but not least, since content marketing is the much sexier cousin of business development, it is important to understand the user or buyer journey so that content strategies are aligned with the goals of the sales team. That’s pretty much a no-brainer since sales pay everyone’s salary, n’est-ce pas?
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Talented content marketers are playing an increasingly important role in business success, whether it is getting a new business out of the starting blocks or helping an established one access new, larger audiences. Finding the right place to hone all those skills can be tricky though, with many companies still caught up in legacy approaches to marketing and user acquisition, and that includes the advertising agencies desperately trying to pivot to a digital model.
However, a new breed of digital-first startups has embraced the full potential of content marketing for a while now, which makes them some of the best places to kick-start your content marketing career. Eventerprise.com, the global platform for the events industry, is one such trailblazer that offers talented content-orientated students and postgraduates, with an interest in the digital economy, the opportunity to explore this exciting career trajectory.
Discover more about working at Eventerprise and view the current openings in our content team.