Two major shifts in digital content consumption behavior have occurred in recent years. On the one hand – search engines provide an endless archive of the world’s information, while on the other hand, social media platforms have enabled the rise of “always-on” content marketing. These shifts have challenged brands to walk a tightrope and effectively generate the right content balance (at an acceptable cost) and distribute it to the right audiences. It’s an evolving marketing challenge which can’t be fixed with old marketing approaches.
The new content generation model requires marketers to create channel-specific content to live within an established digital eco-system. All pieces are connected through a brand narrative but each satisfies a particular consumer need. Establishing this model requires:
- Audience Research – to target your core consumer
- Planning – to define investment and determine the content mix
- Execution – instituting a leveraged content creation resource model
AUDIENCE RESEARCH: WHO ARE YOU SPEAKING TO?
As you begin the content creation process, it’s essential to understand and establish your target demographic as this will ultimately influence what you say, how you say it, and how to deliver it. Producing content for audiences of different ages, ethnicities, business sizes, socioeconomic background, and other dividing factors can influence the tone, voice, and intent based on how each of these audiences fit within your business objectives.
Your digital research team will allow you to break down the current demographic you’ve been targeting, giving you actionable insights on the different audiences within, as well as which type of content performs well with each.
- Enterprise-level, Business Decision-Makers: Responsible for identifying partner and vendor relationships, with the objective of increasing efficiency, reducing costs and increasing/maintaining their competitive position.
- Key Content to Influence Decision-Making: Relevant case studies and clients (by vertical, company size, geography); research and information (data, facts and product specifications/service capabilities) to assist business case development; and thought-leadership material (whitepaper, blog, social media posts) to establish category understanding and market positioning.
PLANNING: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SAY IT?
Budget, time and capacity (internal and external) are factors to consider when selecting the most effective means to communicate your brand message; but it’s important to recognize the advantages of certain content marketing assets over others. For instance, video is a powerful storytelling device while a 140 character post can deliver a timelier message.
Define and plot your content mix based on opportunities to connect with your audience along the decision path (awareness > engagement > opinion > action > advocacy). There are several considerations in the process of customer journey mapping:
- Recognize that you have three distinct (but dependent) channels of brand promotions available – owned, earned and paid media
- Envision the entry point / discovery method for each piece of branded content
- Understand the consumer mindset at each point of the customer journey (e.g., willingness to engage with a brand, information required, need to contact a rep, etc.)
- Develop content chains that help establish a path to action from each asset after discovery
Think of each piece of content as a tool to lead your customer towards an end goal. Your job is to determine what type of content they require at each step. Always consider how your audience will find or share your content marketing online. Your investment in content engagement should also influence awareness through search and social network referral. Once your content types are defined, map them against delivery schedule and connect with activity in your marketing calendar.
EXECUTION: DELIVERING YOUR CONTENT NEEDS
There are a few models companies can adopt to deliver timely content in the new media landscape. Many organizations are moving editorial teams in house to meet the demands of their content production schedule. Others are relying on agencies to steward their brand message to shared audiences. The most effective approach to generating credible surround sound is a mix of resources (internal and external).
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