From Red Bull to Pampers, countless brands have proved that in today’s marketing world quality content is king. According to the State of Content Marketing Survey, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs – and announced at Content Marketing World earlier this month – 75% of marketers plan to increase their spend next year and dedicate up to 31% of their budget to content production. Top marketers understand that to turn prospects into customers they must produce articles, videos and infographics that resonate and then motivate them to come back for more.  For many, quality content production is not as simple as it seems. According to the same survey, only 36% of marketers believe that their content efforts are effective. 

So how can marketers produce better, more effective content over the next 12 months? We connected with a few of the conference’s expert speakers and here’s what they had to say. 

Develop your brand narrative. In the past, marketers have had fewer opportunities to voice opinions and share stories from their own platforms. With social media and web technology, brands can now reach beyond billboard advertisements and press announcements and offer themselves as a resource. “Marketers have to see their ‘product’ as their unique expertise, knowledge and their ability to tell engaging stories,” said Michael Brenner, Senior Director of Integrated Marketing at SAP. By unveiling brand experience in bite-size content pieces, marketers can build awareness and communicate a company’s unique place in the world.

Zappos, online shoe and clothing provider best known for stellar customer service and free shipping, illustrates how they serve customers in times of trial and moments of celebration through blog posts, an active social media presence and ongoing newsletters. Their narrative obviously resonates with customers: the company reported $1.6 million revenue their first year, and was later scooped up by Amazon in a highly publicized acquisition. Nate Riggs, Director of Social Business and Content Marketing at The Karcher Group, expressed his approval of Zappo’s content marketing efforts in a blog post: “There’s literally hundreds of personal stories that rave about how [CEO] Tony and his brand army consistently go above and beyond expectations in order to form deep relationships with their customers.” By creating content that is genuine, helpful and welcoming brands will build a community of passionate advocates and eager to spread the word.

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Less is more. One of the main struggles that marketers face is producing content that spreads, elicits engagement, and ignites further action. “Two years ago, marketers were scrambling in an arms race to produce blog posts and other content marketing pieces on a daily basis,” said Riggs. Riggs is one of many marketers who recognize the consequences of this scrambling, and that content for content’s sake will only waste time and resources. In order for a content marketing program to truly be effective, it must be focus on what the audience needs.

IBM, for example, addressed the concerns and interests of their audience through the Midsize Insider, a resource for small to medium-sized business owners and IT professionals.  Leslie Reiser, Program Director, WW Digital Marketing of IBM General Business Division, recruited a team of expert industry writers to produce content that would help their readers increase business efficiency. By focusing on a niche audience and leveraging specific keywords, IBM found a way to cut through the industry noise and reach prospects that are likely to seek IBM products and solutions in the future. Their strategy continues to deliver: the Midsize Insider team has nearly doubled their click-through rate to product pages, and boasts readership from 171 different countries. 


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Prove Yourself.  No one ever said that making the content marketing case to C-level executives, especially those accustomed to traditional marketing methods, would be easy. Although there is no one formula or set of metrics that will get the CEO on your side, it’s crucial to educate your colleagues on the value that content can bring to all aspects of your organization. Before you map out your strategy, define your business goals and identify the ways in which content can contribute to those objectives and consistently analyze the results. “As soon as companies start baking [measurement] into the content marketing process, they will be able to understand what works and what doesn’t,” said Arnie Kuenn, president at Vertical Measures. “[Marketers] will learn what to do more and less of, and they will better understand the business value [of content] compared to other forms of advertising and marketing”.  By pulling metrics that showcase the engagement and actions sparked by each piece of content, marketers are better able to prove to leadership (and themselves) how content is contributing to specific business goals. 

Building an effective content marketing program is not something that happens overnight. It takes strategic thinking, risk taking and ongoing performance analysis. Behind every good content program is a team of people that believe that their organization has the potential to improve lives, and is willing to creatively and consistently deliver that message.

For a detailed approach on how to succeed at every stage of the content marketing process, check out our white paper “Kick-Start Your Content Marketing: A Seven-Step Approach”.

How will you use content marketing to tell your brand’s story? Share with us below or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

David Woodrow

@davidwoodrow