Content Isn’t Marketing Without a Strategy

The popularity of content marketing shows no signs of abating. But marketers who use content as part of their marketing mix must ensure that their content is meaningful for their audience. Building a robust content strategy will help, because creating compelling content takes planning, time, and people—an investment that can be too easily overlooked.

Liya Sharif, senior director of marketing at technology manufacturer Qualcomm and publisher of its digital content platform, Spark, says investing in personnel is her number one priority when it comes to content. “My goal [is] to hire the right people, who really understand not just marketing and PR, but what it takes to create compelling content that people want to come and read,” she explains.

Spark uses a mix of brand marketers, PR professionals, journalists, and analysts to create its content. These include an editor-in-chief and executive producer, with a full-time staff of about five people.

Qualcomm has put its marketing muscle behind the venture, but it’s possible to take a lower-cost approach. “A lot of people don’t take advantage of the amount of freelance writers out there,” says Casie Gillette, director of online marketing at B2B marketing firm KoMarketing Associates.

To maximize the investment in content, it’s vital to build out an editorial calendar as part of a content strategy. “Putting even a loose content schedule in place around key events,  like product launches and innovations, keeps you on track and holds you accountable,” Gillette says.

Format is also an important part of any content strategy, with marketers having to think carefully about the preferences of their target audience. Would customers prefer blogs, videos, whitepapers? What’s the right mix?

“Brands need to create and keep producing new, fresh content, but if they do this with an eye on repurposing the content across platforms…they’ll be ahead of the game and cost-efficient,” says Lynn Baus, creative director of cross-channel marketing services provider Responsys.

She recommends including video and other visual content, like infographics, since they “up the engagement and relationship quotient exponentially.”

In addition to format, marketers need to understand where their target audience consumes content and adapt it accordingly, whether that means making it sharable for social networks or optimized for mobile.

Finally, as with all marketing tools, there should be metrics in place to measure the success of the content strategy. For Qualcomm’s Sharif, having a good measurement system helps justify investment. Since Spark launched eight months ago it has seen a 13 to 15% rise in repeat visitors to the website per month, helping the brand achieve its goal of building awareness with “cutting-edge” consumers, she says.

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