October 31, 2018

Publishing for content marketing: The challenge of staying relevant

staying relevant - an open laptop with the caption "TARGETING" written on it

About 90% of B2B businesses use content marketing to generate leads. But only 5% of them agree that their efforts are fruitful. So, what’s going wrong? For one, merely producing content is not enough. Your content needs to be relevant to the context for which it is created. This means it should add to an ongoing conversation or trend around a topic important to your target group.

As a logical follow-up, you also need KPIs to measure the performance of your content.

We’ve got you covered with a concise guide that lists some of the basic indicators that should be a part of every marketer’s self-evaluation kit. Now we’d like to explain how you can actually go about creating that relevant content.

Here are four things you must consider:

1. Analyse market trends

As trends change, marketers need to reinvent their strategies to generate content that engages their customers.

Take, for instance, the video marketing trend that picked up pace in 2017; HubSpot reported that 48% of marketers planned to add YouTube videos to their marketing plan in 2018.

Another recent trend has been to address the needs of the consumer not to the end of making an immediate sale but to ease their customer journey. This is why there’s been a sudden decline in sponsored posts, branded email, and even traditional ads – all of which are no longer as effective as they were earlier.

A case-specific example of a brand having adapted its marketing strategy and content would be Warner Brothers Studio.

To prepare for an upcoming movie, it decided to base its media planning on insights gathered from big data. It considered the behaviour and engagement patterns of the target audience. By personalising its approach and tailoring content to the chosen platforms, WB Studio registered a 26% increase in ROI.

This goes to show that analysing marketing trends like these can give you a competitive edge and help your team create customer-relevant content pieces.

2. Understand who you’re creating content for

Imagine you’re going for a job interview. How would you prepare for it? You would understand what the company does, where its interests lie, the gaps in its industry presence that you can help fill, and so on.

What you wouldn’t do is walk into the interview without any background research and offer answers based solely on your assumptions and beliefs.

Creating relevant content for your target audience is exactly like that. You need to know the context they function in, what they already have access to, and what they need. So, define demographics, the context of content, pain points, and so on of your average buyer before creating content.

Consider the phone-case brand Peel. It has managed to stand out in an industry where phone cases are bought and sold in bulk, by creating covers that are thin and functional, yet attractive.

The brand has utilised Facebook ads to help differentiate their product from those of their competitors. And Instagram has been used for a dual purpose: first, as a platform to establish brand presence and product identity through an aesthetically appealing feed, and second, as a means to respond to customer feedback.

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3. Use an apt medium

You can do everything possible to generate and post premium quality content. But if your target audience does not find it, does it even exist?

The truth is that effective content can only have a chance at being path-breaking when an effective distribution strategy is also at work.

Start by finding out how your audience consumes content. Using the right medium to start conversations, speaking in a language they are comfortable with, and using audience targeting options will help you build a better relationship with them.

Here, the example of the innovative conglomerate, General Electric, would illustrate the point well. GE deals with developmental issues that are rarely of interest to the average online audience. To get them interested and engaged, GE partnered with filmmaker Sam Cossman.

Together, they captured on cameras and sensors as Cossman descended into the Masaya Volcano, popularly known as the ‘Mouth of Hell’, and shared the footage and results on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Through smart tailoring of content, GE made heavy, research-based work accessible to more general consumers online.

4. Create niche relevant content

As has been discussed by Joe Pulizzi in this blog, creating generic content will lower your chances of breaking through the clutter on the internet, making it difficult for consumers to differentiate you from your competitors. You need to set your brand apart.

But before beginning to create a new area of specialisation, identify your potential competitors. Study their content approach, writing style, popular posts, and specific jargon used to target niche areas. Then build trust and influence by creating a niche content that’s relevant to your audience.

Virgin Airways has got this strategy right. To set itself apart from its competition, it created a 5 hr 46 min long video that detailed what it would feel like to fly on a ‘blah’ airline from Newark to San Francisco. The video connected with consumers and went viral.

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Your take away

The key is to create a balance between staying relevant and standing out. Once you’ve got that mix right, you’ll increase your chances of achieving success as a content marketer.