In one of my earlier columns, Forget Media Planning, Embrace Content Planning, I talked about how content is gaining importance for digital marketing and how critical it is to have a content strategy in place. With increasing social presence of all the consumer brands, it is becoming even more necessary to not only have a content strategy in place but also to give useful and usable content to users, so that the strategy can work harder for your brand.
Let me highlight some important points to consider in order to perfect your content approach for your consumers:
1. Excess of everything is bad
As everybody has started talking about content, marketers often get trapped in what I call "Let's Put Everything" syndrome. This syndrome results into generating pages after pages of content irrespective of whether it is required or not. Marketers think that more content means more engagement. At this stage, a step back is required. One needs to understand the objective, which of the particular content piece fulfills for the users. If it doesn't, it is not useful content. Consumers should be able to solve either an issue or problem at hand by using the content, at least the content should be such that makes them smile or makes them share it with their friends. Getting into the shoes of the consumer with regards to a particular content is as important as framing your overall marketing strategy.
2. Detailing of content
It's interesting to see how much marketers love details. And it's even more interesting to see how often they get trapped in those details. The detailing of content should be a result of strong consumer insights, which come from research or social listening, for instance. How much you have listened to your consumers will pave the way for the amount of detailing required for your consumers. This will also go a very long way in prioritizing the content areas for your digital presence. Figuring out relevance of content for users is an ongoing exercise. You need to see how consumers are using your website, for example, which areas they spend their maximum time on, so on and so forth.
3. Content navigation
We know how possessive brands are about telling their stories in detail. And when the two points mentioned above are overlooked, the result is a "content prison" where consumers get locked. Lack of clear action points, clear user journey, and poorly defined content maps are some of the major factors resulting in user fatigue, and ultimately a lost user. Every user session is equally important and the web property should clearly indicate the user journey path for the consumers. This also links back to my previous point of too much detailing of content, which is a hurdle for clear navigation.
4. What worked once, may not work again, at all
Have you ever encountered a situation where you saw a similar activity done again did not work at all, and it had worked brilliantly the first time? Quite often, marketers tend to ignore the context of various activities like polls, contests, sales promos, etc. I have personally come across many such examples where similar contests have not worked beyond doing it once. This is the time to give yourself a pause to see what actually worked, whether it was the context or the contest, for instance. A price off contest may not simply work again because of seasonality of a product category. Sounds like a no brainer, but brands have committed these mistakes over and over again.
5. Content for owned, paid, and earned media
This point has already been discussed to death how important it is to differentiate content for various kinds of media. What works on your website may not work on a paid media ad unit due to sheer shortage of time with the user. Similarly, what has worked in social media for a brand might not work on a paid media website as the context changes drastically for the user. The time spent and therefore user affinity with paid, owned, and earned media is dramatically different from each other and the content strategy needs to reflect that for users. Mobile platforms, for example, need to have quick and actionable content for consumers.
6. Measuring the success of content
This will be one of the most critical components as brands start focusing more and more on this area. Marketers who measure success of their content are very rare to find these days. How often do they deploy social listening tools? How often do they talk to other departments such as sales to know the consumer feedback or competitive heat? How useful was the content for the users? These are some of the questions that marketers should try to find an answer to. It has never been done before, therefore it looks challenging, but there is a light at the end of tunnel. What's the point of spending efforts and energy on content when you do not know if it worked or not. Deploying the right metrics is another issue.
Measuring likes, shares, etc. is not enough anymore. Every brand needs to build its own benchmarks, and continuously keep evolving these with upcoming trends and techniques.
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RP Singh is a digital marketing specialist with over 12 years of new media experience working in India, China, and Southeast Asia. As the CEO of Sirez Group, RP looks after 4 companies under Sirez: Sirez Infosystems, MRP Digital, Apptology and Sample&Try. He has worked at leading media networks WPP and Starcom MediaVest Group including organizations such as GroupM, Starcom, Ogilvy, Trident Group, and Smile Interactive. RP has worked on brands like P&G, General Motors, Amex, Diageo, Qualcomm, Nokia, Lufthansa, Pepsico, Economist, British Airways, GSK, Tourism New Zealand, HSBC, Ford, Perfetti Van Melle, Akzo Nobel, Apollo Tyres, GE Money and Hero Honda among others. He believes digital is about the consumer, not technology. RP has trained over 600 marketers in digital marketing so far and also a member of advisory council for World Brand Congress. A lead trainer and mentor for afaqs Campus, an active blogger, and a visiting faculty at leading B Schools.
March 19, 2014