What is Content Marketing, and What Does It Take to Do It Right?
If you're a marketer, every day is a challenge. It's part of the job, one you probably embrace. There's the challenge of staying on top of the latest industry trends. There's the challenge of keeping tabs on your competitors, and staying one step ahead of them.
There's the challenge of demonstrating the ROI of the strategies you leverage—and there's the never-ending challenge of creating, curating and distributing content that resonates with your target audience.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is more than a new approach: it's a paradigm shift, a recognition among marketers that consumers are more skeptical than they used to be, which is the reason millions of signed up to "do-not-call" lists to keep telemarketers at bay, and millions of others fast forward through TV ads. Content marketing counters that skepticism by giving consumers information they can use to solve their problems, and in this way, rebuilds the trust and credibility which have been lost.
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing in this way:
"Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."
When effectively leveraged, content marketing is extremely effective. For example, content marketing costs approximately 62% less than outbound marketing, but generates 3 times as many leads—and content marketing leaders push about 8 times as much traffic to their sites as those whose work is merely adequate. The question is, what does it take to be among that select group of "content marketing leaders?"A Seminal Content Marketing Survey
Clear Voice recently decided to find out what it takes. They asked more than 1,000 marketers a simple question: "What's your biggest challenge with content?" Not surprisingly, they received a multitude of different responses, but some were cited far more often than others, including the following 4:
1. There's Never Enough Time
The challenge of having too much to do, and not enough time to do it, topped the list in the Clear Voice survey, outpacing both planning and management. In fact, "time," was by a wide margin the single word cited more often than any other—and insufficient time was cited as the source of the lion's share of marketing difficulties.
Those problems included too many (and sometimes disconnected) goals, a lack of organization, and an absence of collaboration among team members, and between the marketing team and other departments (like sales). Not having the time to effectively organize their efforts was viewed as particularly problematic, with disorganization the culprit in marketers' inability to generate new content ideas. Other time-related challenges included calendar scheduling, review process management and gaining buy-in from key stakeholders.
2. It's Hard to Produce a Sufficient Quantity of Relevant, Original Content
Creating content came in a close second in the survey, with 27% of marketers citing it as their number 1 challenge. The problem goes beyond meeting quotas for new blogs, articles, eBooks, white papers and case studies—the problem is that each of those pieces of content needs to be both original and relevant to this or that target audience or buyer persona.
Adding to the challenge, marketers increasingly feel the need to be expert storytellers. That means couching sometimes obscure ideas in compelling narratives which create an emotional bond with customers. To meet the challenge, marketers are increasingly exploring new and innovative approaches to content production, like repurposing existing content and outsourcing some or all content production.
3. You Need to Be Credible—and Genuine—All the Time
It's not enough to produce enough content—marketers are challenged to create enough high-quality content, the kind that establishes credibility and builds trust. For more than half of the marketers in the survey, content quality and credibility were viewed as 2 sides of the same coin, and as indispensable to hitting quotas for lead generation.
4. So Many Channels
Marketers feel the pressure of an increasing number of marketing channels for content distribution, particularly when it comes to social media marketing. Choosing the right channels was viewed as the key to meeting another principal goal: generating sufficient website traffic.
That need to push more prospective leads to their websites creates another challenge: the move to multichannel marketing. That challenge is highlighted in another study, this one from Digital Doughnut and Episerver, in which an eye-popping 95% of marketers reported that multichannel was critically important, and almost 3 in 4 said their businesses had already adopted the strategy—but fewer than 1 in 3 expressed confidence that the strategy would be effective.
Let's state the obvious: as rewarding as marketing can be, it's not easy. The challenges marketers face are growing exponentially, as are the solutions which forward-leaning digital agencies find to meet them.
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