Whilst businesses are evolving in the UK with a content marketing approach, the spaces are there for businesses to capitalise on, but are we digging deeper?
This article looks at the recent Content Marketing In The UK 2017 report (released December 7th) from The Content Marketing Institute. Some key trends are emerging where the opportunity and challenges are in front of us all.
Rather than taking the 2017 is all about the ‘human to human’ stance and that it’s going to be THE year for VR, lets put the brakes on and break down what the pie charts tell us.
So, Where Are We Today – The Main Thing
Are UK businesses searching for a remedy to move budget from the ‘we spent how much for that return?’ campaign mentality to one centred on commitment to a cause and of interest to someone else, on a continual basis? Or are we just, ‘lets just dip our toes in the water and see what happens?’
Lets set the scene and draw everything to the alarm bells that are still ringing loudly. If your audience is everyone, you mean nothing to anyone. This is why we have a strategy in place to provide direction. It is the vision and the way that your story evolves and expands. According to 60% of companies this doesn’t take precedence.
Only 40% responded that they have a documented strategy. This gets down to the nitty gritty. By having a plan that becomes the navigation tool, allows businesses to ensure that the deviation when something interrupts is at least relevant to the target audience (no matter how tempting the ’20 lessons we can learn from the exiting Europe’ blog post occurs in 2017). Just because something happened in a wider content, doesn’t make it relevant to your space.
Not having some form of strategy is a bit like being told to organise the work Christmas party for 50 people, but no one has indicated how much per person or what the budget is. You can either hope for the best and go all in or play it safe with the Clubcard points at Pizza Express. This is where businesses are where 46% know what an effective content marketing programme looks like whereas 54% don’t know how it manifests or are in the dark.
What I see from these stats is that we are still at a stage where education has a role to play where a different scenario is painted of finding an audience and understanding the role that businesses serve within their marketplace. Brands have to look beyond targeting everyone but become something with meaning to a targeted audience that has a clear structure based on owning that space.
The investment has to be recognised from board level to make this work and to become the cultural change throughout the business. This is something that Farrow & Ball did in 2014 with The Chromologist and the stood back to let it build it’s own path. You can find out more when Rob Murray shares the story at the next You Are The Media Lunch Club on January 26th.
The Good Stuff We Can All Take Solace With
It’s all ok though, there is no need to think that the UK content marketing discipline is moving at such a pace and you are getting left behind.
It’s not a case that the only piece of brand credibility you can muster is to put all the festive eggs in the GIF Christmas message basket and send the email with Santa riding off on a sleigh with your company logo for a number plate.
63% of businesses consider themselves at the early stages of content maturity. Businesses are developing and progressing with a behaviour they weren’t practicing a few years ago. This is where the contentment can lie and assurance that companies are not racing off to the finishing line, as this is a space where the majority of businesses are learning together. The ones who move to a stage of maturity are the ones where the biggest obstacle is now scalability.
When you get the strategy and thinking right, the return is evident. It is refreshing to see that deeper content with long form thinking highlights the need to go deeper within the responsibility you have for your audience. Word counts never mattered, whereas messages do. 85% of respondents took this stance.
Success when linked to a strategy (72%) is the moment when you realise that you have a responsibility and people recognise that too.
The temptations to try new things that do not link back to your reason for being, highlights why there has to be the distinction between the spark and a framework, and centred on becoming better at business, not how many LinkedIn points you can collect (which are always meaningless).
In a way this is apparent, where businesses surveyed are highlighting fewer average tactics than they used in the 2016 survey. Last year there was an average of 13 tactics used, the latest report highlights an average of eight trusty weapons from the toolkit. Does this mean that businesses are finding their footing via the tactics that resonate most with their audience, rather than thinking they have to have a role in every channel?
Blogging is recognised by far as the lightsaber (93%) whereas in another galaxy, the ability to spend more money on a campaign that consisted of brochure, sales video and advertising were once seen as the tactical kings/queens.
Whilst it is always a common measure to see the ‘we’re all in on this’ hands up, we’re going to create more than ever before next year is fine (79% to produce more next year), lets see who can target the right audience and those that meander in a world of mediocrity (notably those that are upping the ante for the end of year listicles). When it comes to setting goals, the focus of more is still the common theme.
As a result of creating more, the most prominent goal is to curate more leads (82%) and more people becoming aware of a brand (79%). At the bottom of the heap is the ability to build an audience (50%) that will be prepared to listen, stand beside you and become your allies. Lets put it this way, if you have no advocates, you won’t go very far. I would put far more emphasis on building audience than chasing leads.
The pursuit of quantitative data over qualitative information still presides. Website traffic (70%) is a metric that still determines the success of a programme. Does traffic always mean that it’s the right people visiting your website, or the tyre kickers spilling over from an Adwords campaign?
The heavy slant to quantitative measurement is evident over interaction with an audience. Analytical tools is the most popular content marketing tool (84%) whereas keyword research is the prime source to (61%) to gain knowledge about a target audience. It is clear that businesses are finding their footing and preferred tools to measure, analyse and plan, but is the true answer always at the end of a keyword search?
Content Marketing In The UK – Lets Round Up
A content marketing approach is being adopted, embraced and a valid business practice by UK businesses. People are committing, finding the channels they are becoming comfortable with and the successful ones are taking the lead with deeper thinking linked to an overall plan.
Whilst not everyone has a clear guideline for where they want to be and still consider the collection of eyeballs as validity for a successful approach, businesses are taking the lead when it comes to ownership and responsibility.
Virginia Woolf (20th century British writer) said, “growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.” If companies can put the approach set by our predecessors of shoe horning the pursuit of self congratulation centred on product and provide value to the marketplace they serve, this highlights a shift in behaviour.
The challenge is clear. Many businesses are creating content without having a goal or knowing why they are doing it. If companies embrace, take forward and have the ability to grow an audience they have control of, it puts them in a position they have never been before. It all comes down to having clarity for what you believe in, the responsibility you have and how you craft meaning that captivate and change others.