As part of our ongoing Content Strategy 2016 world tour, we’ve been hosting executive roundtable forums around the globe. At each one, we bring industry experts together to talk about a variety of content marketing issues. At the recent forum in San Francisco, for example, Scott Abel (aka the Content Wrangler), SDL’s Jessica Roland, and our very own Andrew Bredenkamp and Steve Rotter, spoke to a large group of marketing executives about the importance of unifying your content marketing efforts.
The discussion kicked off with Steve highlighting an important change in content marketing by comparing the results of the Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 and 2015 “Content Marketing Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends,” reports.
When asked what their greatest challenge was in 2014, 64 percent of content marketers said it was producing enough content. Yet just a year later, that response wasn’t even among content marketers’ top three challenges. Instead, in 2015 their greatest obstacle was creating engaging content, followed closely by creating consistent content (cited by 54 percent and 50 percent of respondents, respectively).
What those numbers show is that over the course of a year, content marketers figured out how to ramp up their content creation efforts, but sacrificed its quality and overall effectiveness in the process.
For Andrew, this shift in priorities is a sign that the industry is maturing. Whereas in the past content marketers’ goals were typically tied to content creation metrics (e.g., how many pieces of content they can create in a given week or month), today they’re more sophisticated than that. Rather than focusing on the volume of content they create, they’re increasingly concerned with how effective it is.
Giving People the Content They Want
Yet creating consistent, engaging content at scale isn’t easy. To do so, you’ve got to first know how to create content that people are actually interested in, which is no small feat itself. Fundamentally that means taking the time to develop meaningful personas to help you better understand your target audience. It also means abandoning the traditional sales and marketing mindset of ensuring that every piece of content is always a sales pitch. Instead, to succeed at content marketing, you’ve got to create content that answers peoples’ questions or provides them with information they need.
Scott pointed out how important it is for marketers to adapt to the realities of how consumers search for information. All of the different kinds of content that were previously controlled by sales are now available online. You can find product information, FAQs, technical documentation or anything else you need to facilitate your purchasing decision without ever talking to a salesperson. And, importantly, Google even tends to favor technical content like this over traditional marketing content most companies publish.
Breaking Down Silos to Unify Your Content Marketing
To achieve consistency and scale, particularly at large companies with many content creators across lots of different teams and offices, Jessica says you’ve got to break down the silos that exist in your organization. It’s the only way you can unify your content marketing efforts. That too, however, is easier said than done.
All too often in large organizations, different departments fail to work together to ensure that their content is unified and working toward the same goal. Instead, they each do their own thing, which can easily lead to inconsistencies and situations where one department’s team is in effect competing with another’s.
The key takeaway from this segment of the forum was that to succeed at content marketing, companies need to be unified. That means that they’ve got to work together to ensure that they’re creating engaging content no matter where in the organization they sit or which department they work in. Only when creating high-quality content comes first (rather that simply creating lots of content), can companies really engage their customers and help move them down the path to purchase.