The Christmas break is now a distant memory for most of us, and as we begin to get back up to speed it’s worth having a think about where to focus in the year ahead. Richard Parker, managing partner and strategy director at content marketing agency Edge, shares what two things content marketers should focus on in 2016.
I don’t want to call these ‘trends’ – they’re more strategic imperatives for content marketers in 2016. And it’s very deliberately not a long list. I’m a firm believer in setting goals that are achievable, not creating long lists that are just fantasy.
Put simply, I believe that for clients to take their content marketing efforts to the next level this year, we’ll need to focus very hard on the following two things:
Goal one: Understand and implement real-time relevancy
First, and arguably most importantly, we need to gain and use a deep understanding of the content that our audience consumes to learn more about them in order to optimise sales and conversions – in real time. We need to be looking at the content that any given individual interacts with at every stage of the funnel and using it to drive the relevancy of direct sales messages at the pointy end of the funnel. This sounds pretty straightforward, and theoretically we’ve had the capability to do it for years, but in practice it can be a little more difficult;
- It needs powerful CRM software and sophisticated data architecture to capture and draw conclusions from the preferences displayed and implied by consumers based on their interaction with content.
- It requires content and direct acquisition teams to work closely together so that remarketing and retargeting builds on and is optimised according to the insights driven by content.
- And it requires serious resource and budget to support the activity, along with bravery to test something that as yet has few precedents.
The businesses that embrace this approach in 2016 will get a massive jump on their competitors – and win. It should be an absolutely key goal for content marketers this year.
Goal two: converting your audience
It’s been a long time since content marketers just produced content without a guiding strategy, but there are surprising numbers of content marketing projects out there that operate at the top of the funnel – driving awareness, shifting perception etc – without a clear and measurable focus. In other words, the content is great, and worth watching and/or reading, but the business isn’t following up with the audience afterward. So 2016 needs to be the year of content working harder and demonstrating much clearer results. For me, that means one, or both, of two things:
- Focus hard on content that drives measurable conversations within your own tech and data ecosystem – to email, to an e-commerce site, to a physical store, to an event, etc etc – and ensure that you have tracking in place to trace these conversions. No more excuses – focus hard on ensuring you have the technology in place to make this happen. Find a work-around, outsource it, do whatever it takes, but make it happen.
- Put in place measurable remarketing frameworks that use third party data and third party media platforms such as paid media and programmatic networks. Put in place pixels, tags and tracking codes to show how interaction with a piece of content impacts on the likelihood of converting via more direct sales messages down the track.
That’s it. I think that’s more than enough for most marketers to bite off in this calendar year – and I think if we do achieve on these two key imperatives, content marketing will be more effective, more measurable and be perceived as a more mature and proven marketing technique for the years ahead.