In this opinion piece, Irwin Lim (pictured below), marketing services lead at Accenture Interactive in Australia and New Zealand argues why brands need to look beyond the creative aspect of their content and be prepared to get their hands dirty.
From education to recreation, we would be hard-pressed to identify aspects of our modern lives not impacted by digital content. Reviews and recommendations of friends, bloggers, journalists and the wider internet community influence everything we do, from what restaurant we dine at, to who we bank with and what purchases we make. As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to a state of boundless connectivity. The average person is exposed to 577 marketing messages every day and, as a result, brands are now competing for attention more than ever.
Accenture research found that organisations are spending between US$150 million and $250 million on content-related activities, but does spend always equal value? And with 60 per cent of leaders admitting that they don’t understand the goals of their content, it’s clear that organisations need to align these substantial investments with a clear understanding of desired outcomes.
In the absence of a strong sense of purpose, content can become an operational grind with no rigour or structure. Organisations need to look beyond the creative aspect of their content and be prepared to get their hands dirty to both operationalise and revolutionise the way they deliver content at scale, to grow their business identity and command an audience.
Identity and culture content is synonymous with a brand’s voice; it is the personality and identity of the organisation. High-performing organisations are addressing the evolving landscape by producing content that helps to define a consistent brand identity. Content-first organisations are redefining the consumer relationship and driving disruption with traditional content-led business models.
Some successful organisations embody themselves so clearly in the content they produce that their audience develops a true affinity with them. Bupa’s The Blue Room is one such example here in Australia. This online content hub publishes commentary on health, wellbeing and lifestyle issues relevant to its wider audience. Content is no longer about promotion; it’s about expressing a brand’s identity and building relationships with its customers.
Command an audience
Research by Accenture revealed that 80 per cent of consumers are either ignoring traditional adverts or using ad blockers. However, more than 70 per cent of consumers also reported feeling more open to content, especially if was tailored to their tastes. So, how do organisations break through the ad blockers and engage their audiences in meaningful and compelling ways?
The qualities which earn credibility in the eyes of consumers are demonstrated expertise, ethical transparency and innovation. The best content meets complex consumer needs and is useful, entertaining, believable, and aspirational.
Lingerie brand Berlei is an example, recently launching its ‘Womankind’ video content series which portrayed an honest and authentic customer journey of women buying underwear. The message for women to feel empowered by investing in themselves allowed Berlei to truly connect with its female audience and rejuvenated the 100-year-old heritage brand in the eyes of many marketing commentators and consumers.
The path to popular engagement is no longer a straight line. Content marketing has been making headways in Australia, but questions have also been raised of quality versus scale. Popular digital platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Live are creating new ways for organisations to reach consumers.
The radical possibilities presented by digital technology means distribution itself has become an important area of creative innovation. Yet, only 29 per cent of executives agree the content they produce is consistent in style and tone across channels, which is impacting brands’ ability to create quality content.
It’s not practical, nor desirable, to commit equally to every new platform. Knowing your audience will determine the right distribution., with channels and touchpoints informed by a clear and consistent purpose and identity.
Develop a blueprint
Branded content engages consumers from an emotional and personal level, blending marketing with storytelling and social connectivity. But what’s missing for many organisations is a clear and robust content blueprint that defines the basics such as goals, activities and measurements.
Begin with the right platform and tools, get to know your customers, use data and analytics to develop insights, and drive the right message to the right people. Be committed to content production and develop a cohesive approach that allows more contributors – employees, agencies, journalists, bloggers – to create content with a consistent objective and voice.
We know content must be a vital expression of an organisation’s purpose and true to its lifeblood. And we know that consumers have an insatiable appetite for content that matters, and organisations must ultimately navigate audience needs while staying true to their brand identity.
But we also know that organisations who invest in developing a robust content blueprint and operationalising this throughout their business, producing and delivering authentic content at scale, who are committed to using data and analytics to provide customer insights, will be the ones who reap the rewards of driving brand engagement, and ultimately ROI.