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Content Marketing is the new buzzword. And as with buzzwords, every agency is trying to capture a slice of the action – but this means they all have their own definitions. Which leads to confusion.

Naturally SEOs were the first to jump on Content Marketing as content and links are so intrinsically linked to success, but there’s a lot more to it than SEO.

So to try and ease this confusion I spoke to our resident SEO specialist, David Freeman and we came up with this advice. 

Where to start

It’s unlikely that we are going to reach a commonly accepted definition of content marketing, so it’s important to be prepared before you engage. Your overarching goals should be clearly defined and should dictate the strategy.

Different types of content strategies will achieve different goals and the two main content approaches can be defined as:

  •  Brand
  •  Direct Response

Brand based content such as the Red Bull Stratos jump tends to have huge reach, creates a lot of social buzz and has sizeable advertising backing. However, these campaigns tend to drive less benefits in areas such organic search than a DR focussed campaign.

DR based content is more focussed towards driving organic search success. The content strategy will deliver valuable new on-site content and very specific off-site content that will drive links. 

However, this type of content will not drive anywhere near as much brand recognition when compared to a brand focussed strategy.

Each content strategy has vastly different outcomes, so as I mentioned early it is vital to set clear goals for the campaign.

How to get the best results

Content marketing simply cannot work in a silo, and whilst all the various types of agency are developing product offerings ultimately the best results will be achieved through four areas:

  • Clear objectives, KPIs measurement criteria.
  • Using your objectives and KPIs to define your content strategy, don’t let your agency push you down a route just because that’s where there skillset lies.
  • Collaboration between agencies – I firmly believe that a single agency cannot own Content Marketing because there is far too much crossover between channels, it should be a collaboration between creative, SEO, social, media and PR. 

Remember Content Marketing is about producing great content, not vast amounts of poor or average quality content.

Wait, something’s missing

Earlier I touched on the fact that SEOs were the first to jump on the Content Marketing band-wagon and a vast quantity of the articles written about content marketing are being produced by SEOs.  

There’s nothing wrong with this as content is a fundamental part of SEO, but to succeed in content marketing you cannot purely live in an SEO world. 

Content marketing should not be led by keywords and requirements for improving rankings. 

To-date as far as I can see across the market there has been a real lack of involvement from user experience teams and this just isn’t right.

User experience teams bring some of the most valuable information to a content strategy through their approach:

  • Speak with the target audience and find out what content they would like to see,
  • Speak with the target audience and discover whether they are facing any issues or problems they need help with,
  • In collaboration with SEO and Social teams they will work to determine on-site content gaps, areas that naturally lend themselves to great content and will meet the needs of the target audience,

Where does advertising fit in?

Content marketing is not advertising and a banner ad should not be seen as content. However, advertising can form a key part of a conten strategy, but the extent of this support depends on whether the overarching objective is brand or direct response. 

In general, advertising is used to amplify content or in the case of TV the ad can be part of the content.

Brand campaigns will naturally lend themselves to advertising, but the direct benefit for channels, such as organic search, will limited.

Direct response campaigns are much smaller in scale and in many cases won’t require any advertising support unless you have a very shareable piece of content that you want to amplify.

What’s holding you back?

Content is fantastic way of engaging consumers and if done well, pushing your organic search performance to new levels. 

Speak with your agency/agencies and join the dots and set some clear objectives for content. 

If you’ve already got SEO, Social and PR campaigns in place you’ll probably be surprised at how much of a role content is already playing, but what will surprise you even more if how much harder you could be making your content work.

Darren Goldie

Published 18 April, 2013 by Darren Goldie

Darren Goldie is Managing Partner, Digital  at Havas Media and a contributor on Econsultancy. 

9 more posts from this author

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