For many established marketing teams, content marketing is also a fairly established function. These teams have a general understanding of the value of content and are using it to educate and engage customers, all in turn for their loyalty and purchasing power. While content marketing may be part of our “daily grind,” for many industries and more resource-strapped businesses content marketing plays a relatively new role in the marketing machine. But take a look at nearly any website or social media feed and you’ll see that content (mainly in the form of educational content that delivers value and drives two-way relationships with audiences) has taken center stage.
Content is one of the best tools businesses have for building brand awareness, earning customer trust, and generating traffic. You might be thinking to yourself, “hey, those are exactly the things that marketing does in general.” That’s right, but those things wouldn’t be possible without great content. That’s because content marketing is marketing. The smartest marketing leaders know that content is core to effective marketing, which is setting their business up for success.
If you’re still on the fence about the efficacy of content marketing or its power within the marketing organization, here are three signs content marketing is (and will continue to be) marketing.
1. Content Is Cross-Functional
Content marketing has taken off because it’s a critical part of every marketing function today. Whether it’s obvious or not, a well-executed content marketing strategy touches every aspect of the marketing organization. At the most basic level, content marketing is your brand’s website and your owned channels like email and social media. But content marketing is more than the words and messaging you use. It’s about what type of content you create, for which channel, and how you use the content to drive deeper engagement with your audience. Content marketing influences the calls to action you use (such as to drive visitors to your website or to drive viewers to download a piece of content), what messages or emails you send customers based on their website behavior, and how your business tracks and makes decisions based on content.
With these examples alone, content marketing touches every single marketing function. It starts with understanding the business’ marketing objectives and then building a content strategy that aligns to those objectives. Then it branches to align with content creation teams and channels owners to build the content creation plan per channel (email, social media, website, paid advertising, etc.). Last, it influences the marketing technology stack and how you structure your data to get the insights you need to make data-driven decisions.
2. Brands Are Investing in Content-Focused Talent
Another sign that content marketing is marketing is how marketing teams are growing their own in-house content functions. Research shows that the demand for creative content continues to grow in volume and creative teams are producing 10 times the volume of work than in previous years. As brands build out bigger and better content marketing strategies, they will need a better orchestrated and well-managed in-house content function to scale with those strategies. In our experience, success lies in having the right mix of talent in the form of content leaders, experience designers and, of course, writers. But it also requires infrastructure and process. We recommend teams have formalized processes in place for gathering inputs from project stakeholders, and to inspire the work itself, also known as “the creative brief.” With a thoughtful creative intake process in place, brands can ensure all marketing stakeholders have a clearly defined strategy, a strong handle on the audience targets, and alignment to business objectives.
3. Content Marketing Is Transforming the Ways Marketing Leverages Customer Data
Consumers crave content of value and content that educates and informs. This content will ultimately help them with future decision making that will likely benefit your brand. But in addition to value, customers want content that’s tailored to their unique needs and desires as an individual. This means that brands can no longer address audiences simply as segments with generic content; consumers expect content experiences that are relevant to their specific tastes, interests, and behaviors on an individual level. To meet these expectations, brands have to align content marketing strategies with customer data.
For the first time, content marketing is relying on extensive customer data to influence the customer experience via content delivery and cross-channel individualization. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools, marketing teams are able to leverage data, particularly when it comes to tracking individual consumer behaviors and interests, and delivering relevant content based on that data.
As marketing leaders rise to the forefront of organizations and are responsible for contributing to the bottom line, the ability to clearly show how content marketing drives the customer experience and therein customer engagement will be critical to establish overall marketing ROI.
To learn more about content marketing’s place in marketing and how you can build highly effective strategies, contact us about OneSpot’s strategic services.