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The Content Marketing Obsession

 Vinyl records, remember them? The Duran Duran album Rio you had in 1982? Or David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) from 1980? Then CDs came along and all but wiped vinyl out.

Well, not only are vinyl albums back, but they’re also moving well beyond the niche they’ve been lingering in for the past 30 or so years. According to Billboard, in 2012 vinyl album sales were up 19% over 2011 and totaled 1.4% of U.S. album sales, compared to 0.4% in 2008.

That’s content marketing.

Marketers have been quietly using content to attract and engage cus­tomers for decades—advertorials, branded products like cookbooks, seminars, white papers, and more. But now that digital media and dis­tribution have made it easier than ever to create and share content with the right customers at the optimal time in their lifecycle, marketers have gotten their content marketing groove on in a big way.

Today many marketers are, dare I say it, obsessed with content market­ing—but understandably so. There’s a great deal to consider. What’s the right long-term strategy, and the ideal content and channel mix to support it? Who should create and distribute it? Which success metrics are best? How often should all of those elements change?

What’s more, content marketing plays many roles in the overall marketing mix. In some cases content marketing is about moving customers through the purchase funnel or bolstering customer engagement and loyalty. In other cases it’s about branding. Consider LCA Vision’s view: “Someone may not be in the market [for Lasik] right now, but as their eyesight starts to wear down, they’ll start doing research,” Mark Stevens, director of digital marketing at LCA Vision, says in “Content Market­ing Gets Creative.” “We want to be seen as the authority on Lasik…. We aren’t seeing a lot of additional sales this year, but we expect to in the next year or two.”

Goal oriented

Additionally, the many roles content marketing plays vary depending on where customers are in their purchase cycle or lifecycle. Different content and channels work best at different stages in the prospect and customer lifecycle, and getting the right mix of both will help content marketing achieve maximal effectiveness. This requires a deep understanding of customers, and their needs and expectations; also essential is having a specific way to measure success. As Bob Egner, VP of product management at content management developer EPiServer, says in “Content Marketing Fuels the Customer Lifecycle:” “You have to know the journey [and] the objective your prospects and customers have in mind that they want to achieve. And you need to be able to mea­sure how effective that content was at helping the visitor move through the journey.”

As opportunities for using content to attract, engage, educate, and convert customers continue to proliferate, content marketers must devise, deploy, and maintain a robust, multichannel content-management strategy. But only 44% of B2B marketers and 39% of B2C marketers have a docu­mented strategy, according to Content Marketing Institute. As James Hill, chief strategy officer at custom media company McMurry/TMG, points out in “Strategy First, Then Content,” “[A good strategy is] going to boil down to, what actions or thoughts are you trying to prompt with your customer?” Because, ultimately, content marketing that resonates enough to get customers to engage, purchase, or share is music to marketers’ ears.

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