After spending the better part of the last decade as the darling of the marketing world, the excitement that drove content marketing adoption seems to be on the decline. Gartner famously rang the first warning bell all the way back in 2015, when it placed content marketing on the decline side of their Hype Cycle model. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be with about half of the world’s population on the internet today, and with access to both content creation tools as well as new content being easier than ever before, the world wide web is now practically neck-deep in content.
Compare that to the early 2000s, when video content was controlled by media networks, and the idea of individually-created content and reaching an audience of millions was laughable. The same is true of other forms of content as well. Therefore, when you’re competing with numbers like that, it’s easy to understand why so many marketers might tend to not see the value in creating content today. But should we treat this as the Great Depression of the content marketing age? Or are we now finally making our way out of Gartner’s ‘trough of disillusionment’?
As some one who has worked extensively in the content marketing and sales enablement industry, I feel bullish about how Content Marketing can drive newer ways to connect with buyers. The need for content has not waned. Instead, the importance of content that adds value and engages the consumer has increased manifolds. Your audience is not simply consuming less; they’re actually pickier about what they invest their time in.
By making sure that you focus on creating value for consumers, you are no longer dependent on specific channels or media. 'Content' has expanded now to include everything you do online - emails, forms, FAQs, technical documents, and more - and pigeonholing your content creation into specific silos is a losing strategy.
Hiring a business-blogger is not good enough any more, not when your consumers are looking for infographics, or videos, or even quality audio podcasts. Gone are also the days of ‘if you build it, they will come’. Your consumer is no longer looking for information about you. They are looking for solutions for themselves, and Google and other search engines are understanding that more and more. Practicing good SEO is not a surefire way of gaining traffic, especially if your content has no real value to offer.
Using the right combination of data analytics and content tracking, a smart marketer will be able to ensure that they provide customized quality content to each of their customers
As a result, you have to be more creative with how you optimize and distribute your content. You need to be on top of consumption trends, and ready to adapt accordingly - Are you providing mobile-ready content? What about voice-based services, such as Alexa or Siri? Video is currently the rage, and live videos are becoming increasingly popular, especially for B2B businesses. Are you looking to the future when it comes to your content marketing strategy and processes? Or are you still a step or two behind?
With so many options, and new technologies becoming more accessible every day, marketers need to push themselves to stay relevant. When you couple that with the ever-increasing number of channels available, the potential is limitless. It’s exciting, if you think about it. We’ve entered a new almost-gladiatorial era, where only the strong will survive, and the best will rise to the top. If you truly understand your consumer, you will know how to provide them with the value they need. While that may take more time and effort, the pay-off is a customer that is committed to your solution from Day 1.
Of course, it's all meaning less, if you don't have data. Trying to come up with a successful content strategy today without data is like driving blindfolded in the dark. When each factor can make a significant difference to your chances of success, you need to carefully track how all your content is being engaged with. Today's analytics tools are all increasingly siloed, as a result, you end up with many types of disparate data that you must then map to each of your customers, in order to understand how they got there, and why. That gets very chaotic very quickly.
So, what should you do? Well, let’s think about it this way: what is common across all your platforms? The content. Sure, they are housed in different locations. Yes, they are optimized for different objectives. And of course, they are tracked by different tools across those channels. But by and large, your content is what makes you unique. It's the voice of your business, and that's not going to change too much. Why not leverage that, then?
That's where you're going to see the next big innovation in content. The industry is desperately looking for a way to create this consolidated image of the customer, and gauge exactly how interested they are, but they just don’t know it yet. Gaining that insight will help you build more detailed buyer profiles that you can then leverage into providing more specific value and develop more focused solutions. You’ll also be able to have complete control over your content, how it performs, how your users engage with it and better understand what works for you.
Using the right combination of data analytics and content tracking, a smart marketer will be able to ensure that they provide customized quality content to each of their customers, allowing them to pull themselves out of the 'trough' and into enlightenment and productivity. The business world is now rife with opportunities, and the savviest of us would know how to make this situation work in their favor.
This article by Vinoth Kumar, Co-founder and CEO of Paperflite, was first published here, in the Silicon India magazine.