Audiences crave content and marketers continue to depend on it.
Attractive and useful content drives traffic, and all kinds of data tools help content marketers nurture their audiences, bringing them closer to meaningful purchasing decisions in B2B and B2C. On the consumer side, people do their own research to make informed buying decisions, much like corporations weighing costlier purchases.
As Global Head of TCS Interactive, Sunil Karkera is no stranger to the need for marketers to use data intelligently around content to guide customers.
But the single biggest threat he sees facing marketing teams is “lack of quality content.”
As title sponsors of the TCS New York City Marathon, Tata Consultancy Services has leveraged the broad audience of participants to bring engaging interactive content on-site.
Whether it was the creation of “Pacey,” an animated digital assistant, or an action-packed racing game, TCS managed to keep the attention of runners and other marathon attendees at the yearly event.
Experiential content at an event is only one species in the content marketing kingdom. In the digital world, marketers are tasked with managing the distribution and quality of content across all channels. This situation is still evolving, and marketers need to find new ways to develop content.
“Content has a lot to do with culture,” Karkera told me recently. “It’s a very important part of marketing, and it has evolved, from magazines and billboards, to large content productions.”
Quality content is king
With the adoption of digital channels, new strategies must accommodate the sometimes shorter, often user-generated forms that draw attention over those channels.
“We now are dealing with small form factors,” Karkera explained. “Content has changed in digital. Syndicated content, owned content, is now very much the majority, with content created by your own customers. This content is harder to control, quantify and measure.”
He adds, “A second factor is content creation and curation, which is an artisanal process. It’s never been a digital process – there’s no digital food chain.”
What Karkera has discovered is that much of the content creation process takes place offline, even while creating digital content.
“The process is broken offline as it passes through multiple agencies,” he said. “Content creatives go offline into Microsoft Word, or other media developing tools. The problem is that data is in a single food chain, but content is not. That is a challenge for companies and ecosystems. Because of that, content can’t be measure, and it can’t be curated well.”
Measurement of content can be helpful in developing “more effective” content, to find out “what works and what doesn’t work,” according to Karkera.
Search-based analytics, however, don’t solve all the problems with quality content.
“Analytics goes into taxonomy, copywriting and what words should and shouldn’t be used in phraseology,” he said. “Search engines are valuing the speed of the content, if it’s produced fast enough, prioritizing search by credibility and speed.”
Yes, content is searched, but it is also increasingly surfaced on social media. “Rather than SEO (search engine optimization), brands should focus on credible content in the first place. The focus on content is even more important…without content you can’t actually message, otherwise you’re letting someone else message your brand.”
Karkera insists that “creation and management of content through social media calendars” is “very critical.”
Getting users to stay (and generate revenue)
Digital storytelling platform Apester tracks audience engagement with content for brands. CEO Moti Cohen points out that interactivity in publishers’ content came out of traditional media, going back to crosswords and puzzles from over a hundred years ago, up through Cosmopolitan’s first “Cosmo Quiz” personality test, in 1965.
“Given this history,” said Cohen, “we aren’t surprised to see publishers adopting a variety of interactive formats. What has changed is that technology allows publishers to include such content inside every article as a means of enhancing engagement with their audience.”
Apester measures engagement in CTR (click-through-rate), namely the number of readers who engage with the interactive portion of the content, compared with the total number of units seen by visitors.
“When the interactive content is contextual to the page, when it polls the audience, or when it educates readers about the topic in discussion, we see a surge in CTR, time on site, and traffic circulation,” Cohen explained.
Interactive elements create business for publishers and advertisers. According to Cohen, engagement with branded slides and quizzes has lifted Apester’s RPM (revenue per mille) by 50 percent since the beginning of 2019.
“We don’t know how much revenue we’ve added to the general publishing industry, but as far as we know, we’re the only technological solution for publishers that is accepted on both editorial and commercial teams,” Cohen stated. “Instead of creating quarrels inside these organizations, Apester is actually facilitating cooperation between them because we benefit editorial KPIs such as audience engagement, audience circulation, and time on page, as well as commercial KPIs such as reader subscriptions and higher revenue.”
He added, “Advertisers, on the other hand, are benefiting from a highly engaging medium…The engaging nature of the format, as well as its look and feel, have proved to substantially lift brand awareness and brand consideration.”