The disconnect between Content and Consumption

Content Marketing

The emergence of inbound as the preferred marketing medium has put content development at the center stage of marketing activities. As per a survey conducted by Content Marketing Institute, 86% of B2B marketers report that their organizations are using content marketing, and 70% of them are creating more content than they did one year ago. The shift of focus towards content is a direct outcome of evolving consumer behavior and purchase patterns. Unlike before, online research forms an essential part of the purchase cycle for most of the consumers. Buyers today are far more informed about the alternatives available in the market and their purchase decisions are highly influenced by the product information and customer reviews available online. A study conducted by GE Capital Retail Bank has found that 81% of people look at products online before making a purchase in store. Therefore, it is important for B2B marketers to leverage content marketing for reaching out to their customers and for increasing awareness about their products and services.

Generating good content is important but not sufficient

Most of the articles available on internet today, talk about the importance of generating original, relevant and capturing content for achieving success at content marketing. From ‘attention grabbing headlines’ to ‘story-telling approach’ and from ‘colorful infographics’ to ‘engaging videos’, practitioners are trying hundreds of things in an attempt to win the battle of developing best and newest form of content. However, despite all these efforts, very few companies have been able to leverage content marketing for achieving higher sales which is the ultimate objective behind any marketing activity.

Then there are articles that talk about clearly defining your target audience, building an in-depth understanding of your buyer persona, having a documented content strategy and developing content that resolves the day-to-day challenges faced by your customers. These too are all important fundamental things that one must, as a marketer, learn and apply at each touch point of purchase cycle. They are no secrets. Neither they are specific to content marketing.

Producing good content that provides authentic information without any bias enables customers to take informed purchase decisions or enables them to perform their work more efficiently, is important for building trust and favorable consumer perception but that alone may not be sufficient for generating higher sales. The reason behind this is simple. Today, the speed at which content is being generated is much higher than the speed at which it is getting consumed. Given, the ongoing content marketing bandwagon there is a sea of content that is being generated and targeted at consumers which of-course have a limited time available with them and hence much of the content that is generated never reaches its target audience and when it does reach the target audience, it invariably fails at grabbing their attention amidst the noise i.e. competing content/communication from competitors/other marketers.

Content Marketing

The disconnect between Content and Consumption

Content fatigue is not a new topic. It has been a concern of marketers around the world for quite some time now. The problem lies in the fact that despite content saturation being a known issue, not many companies have a defined strategy to deal with it. There is an absolute disconnect between content generation and consumption planning. To generate optimal results from content marketing efforts, it is very important to have a well planned content distribution strategy. A well planned content distribution strategy covers following points:

  1. Establishing a good sense of your target audience size i.e. how many target customers/prospects (new and existing) you plan to reach out through your piece of content i.e. unique impressions? While as marketers we all want to maximize the number of prospects reached, establishing a target helps in benchmarking the performance during post-campaign analysis
  2. How many times do you want these prospects to be exposed to your content (it can be different content each time or same content 2 to 3 times over a period of time) i.e. frequency
  3. Document the distribution strategy in terms of platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Blog, influencer marketing etc.), tactics (timing of posting the content, places at which the content will be distributed e.g. company page, groups, communities etc.), organic vs. sponsored, content distribution budget

5 key elements for effective content distribution

Here are five key elements of an effective content distribution strategy for enhancing the reach and effect of your content:

  1. Define Consumption Targets & Maximize the number of platforms you publish your content on – To take a structured approach towards effective content distribution and achieve enhanced consumption for your content it is very important to define realistic consumption targets for your content. Further, given the sheer amount of content that is being generated and posted on internet every single minute it is easy for your consumers to miss out on reading your content even if it is one of the best articles on the concerned topic. While it is correct that the ROI from each channel will be different depending on your domain (B2B v. B2C and likewise), there always is some percentage of your target audience that is present on that additional channel. Further, don’t forget to utilize the power of hashtags. It not only makes it easy for your target audience to locate you, it also puts your name into the relevant content feeds.
  2. Utilize the information you captured during buyer persona exercise – A very important aspect of defining your target buyer persona is building a thorough understanding of how and where they get answers to their day to day challenges. What is their source of information for latest industry best practices, what is the most effective media channel to reach out to them and what is likely to be a good time for capturing their attention? These may look like simple things but the effect they can have on your ability to navigate through the content muddle is huge. Partnering with an influential thought leader in your domain for doing a guest post or getting them to write about you on their blog automatically increases your reach manifold. Similarly, building your content story around the news that matters to them can be another effective way of capturing their attention. Media planning is one of the most essential and relevant skills for marketers and can be a key differentiator in enhancing our potential to reach out to maximum number of targeted consumers in a structured manner.
  3. Re-posting the same content and optimizing the frequency of posting – Like in television, your chances of remembering an advertisement and adding the concerned product in your consideration set while making the purchase increases when you have seen the advertisement multiple times or have been exposed to the concerned product multiple times through different channels (e.g. print and outdoor), your chances of remembering a product/company increases when you have been exposed to its content multiple times over the internet. Hence, it is important to optimize the frequency at which you post your content to enhance the top of the mind recall about your offering. Further, re-posting the same content allows for reaching out to the target audience which did not see your content, the first time it was posted.
  4. Leveraging the sponsored updates/paid campaigns – Going back to the point regarding having a good sense of the number of prospects that you want to reach in total and the number of prospects that you will be able to reach though organic mediums allows you to identify the gap between the targeted number of impressions and the expected reach as per the previous experience. Instead of spending your entire content marketing budget on generating new content, it might be a good idea to utilize some part of it on content distribution and fill this gap by sponsoring your content to enhance its reach to the relevant audience. Most of the social media channels offer good amount of filtering capabilities for reaching out to audiences very similar in demographics (and sometimes psychographics too) to your buyer persona.
  5. Analysis and Feedback – Finally, make sure to analyze the performance of every content marketing campaign. Document the effectiveness of various parameters such as ROI from each of the mediums, ROI from each of the content formats (e.g. blog post, infograhics, video, webinars, whitepapers, etc.), incremental reach through re-posting of same content etc. Utilize the insights gained from this analysis in your next campaign for achieving better results.

To summarize, content marketing efforts in most organizations today are focused on development of relevant, interesting and capturing content with limited or no focus on the effective content distribution. While it is important to generate attention-grabbing, original and pertinent content, that alone is not sufficient to attain success in content marketing. Some of the most brilliant movies made ever failed miserably at box office because of the failure of their distribution strategy (in terms of the timing of release, promotional strategy and overall reach). The same holds true for the content marketing as well. In today’s era of content shock where the speed at which content is being generated is expected to soon outpace the speed at which the content is being consumed, writing good content alone may not enable you to capture the attention of your target audience. It is time, we start looking at content distribution strategy as an essential part of content marketing.

If you liked this article, please leave a comment and share your strategies to cut through the clutter of content and to reach out to your target audience in today’s age of content fatigue.

Note: This article originally was posted on LinkedIn Pulse here.

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