Are you confused about content marketing?

It’s a great time to dip into those ‘tips and predictions posts’ when industry pundits throw their hats into the ring for the year ahead. Equally interesting are last year’s predictions, of which some are right on the money. One that caught my eye was actually a missed prediction (or as I see it, an opportunity!): In 2013 “Brands will get serious about planning content marketing".

It’s a great time to dip into those ‘tips and predictions posts’ when industry pundits throw their hats into the ring for the year ahead. Equally interesting are last year’s predictions, of which some are right on the money. One that caught my eye was actually a missed prediction (or as I see it, an opportunity!): In 2013 “Brands will get serious about planning content marketing".

According to a survey, only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy, and yet nearly all those who said they’re not good at content marketing also have no documented strategy. Companies are feeling more confident about the value of content (particularly in the UK, where confidence is growing at an impressive rate) and they’re allocating more and more resources to it, but currently it seems the majority of marketers don’t have well-documented strategies.

Why aren’t we talking more about CM strategy?

There is a difference between tactics and strategy. A strategy is never a one-size-fits-all service. Content marketing falls into this camp; it’s a planned, detailed, holistic approach that can integrate all kinds of digital services that include SEO but aren’t restricted to it.

Many brands are already doing some form of content marketing whether they’re labelling it that or not. Building and adapting this strategy into the processes that already exist – and recognising the opportunities – is the challenge. And just as people used to debate about holistic Search vs. technical SEO, now they’re debating about content marketing vs. SEO content marketing (and more). Without a clear strategy to start with, it’s very difficult to harness your strengths and focus on improving your weaknesses.

Working towards a clear strategy

Content marketing isn’t just about reproducing old ideas (even though when you have an holistic strategy, recycling, curating and co-creating can work very well). Content marketing is not rehashed SEO strategy or the ‘new link building’ or SEO’s replacement. The two have common goals & KPIs (links, traffic, brand awareness, customer retention and conversion) but the increasing variety of ways people consume media today means that there are others ways to interact with content in addition to Search. The great thing is that anyone can produce content (kind of reminds me of that saying, “anyone can cook!”). Producing quality content, however, takes a bit of forward planning.

Diagram from Search Engine Watch, survey from Content Marketing Institute.