What is it that makes a great content strategy?
Before you launch your next campaign, this is very likely a question you will ask yourself. You must first consider the larger aspects of content strategy, even before you begin to type, research the topics and let it be your guide. In the digital world today we strive to create honest and authentic content, but there is now new research/data pointing you to the specifics of what really makes your content more authentic, honest and credible. This will help you to break through the digital noise and drive the results you’re looking for with your own content.
There are ways that can help you prove the value of certain distribution models, bring to light the need for new tools, and show the value of content marketing over a longer time frame. When you sit down in the next coming months, trying to break through your writer’s block, have a think about these these six data-driven points to help you create better content, distribute it more effectively, and be better able to prove the lifetime value of your content marketing efforts.
1. Trusted data – Primary is key
Pardot (a business-to-business marketing automation software provider) recently published research in 2014 asking 400 B2B buyers about their content experience. The research found 61% of the B2B buyers said content that shares primary research is more credible than content that does not. This is an easy thing to understand, yet when we are tasked to produce lots of content we may put this aspect aside due to the costs of research. But readers say they find it more credible, so it is something we should strive for. There are different ways to obtain primary research, and it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money.
Three options for Primary research:
Survey: This is the best for answering tactical questions. Tools like SurveyMonkey will help you create a survey, and find the exact audience for a reasonable amount.
Observation: This is the easiest and the least expensive of acceptable research methods by far. Consider creating benchmark studies by observing a specific set of criteria each year and write up how those data points change.
Internal analysis: This can be one of the most powerful research, and lasting pieces of content. Email Performance Benchmark report from MailChimp, it shows the average email open, click, and bounce rate for every vertical market they serve. The data comes from its service and is anonymized for privacy. It is a go-to resource and pure SEO gold.
2. Looks are important
The look and presentation of your content will have the most impact on making your content more authentic and make a visual pop and enhance your content strategy. In the same Pardot report, they found 70% of all survey respondents agreed that the look and feel of the content is highly influential in their view of content authenticity. The next biggest factor in a buyer’s perception of authenticity is the quality of the writing. And 62% of buyers feel the quality of the writing is very influential in determining if content is authentic.
If you are not a particularly good writer there are books and other resources to help improve your writing. Consider taking courses to improve your writing, as writing well is crucial to content marketing success in 2015 and is a simple way to quickly improve your content.
3. The “Halo Effect”
Wikipedia states that the “Halo Effect” is defined as “is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. It was named by psychologist Edward Thorndike in reference to a person being perceived as having a halo…If you like one aspect of something, you’ll have a positive predisposition toward everything about it. If you dislike one aspect of something, you’ll have a negative predisposition toward everything about it.”
Content must be distributed, yet we very rarely consider distribution as a part of the content experience, yet new data shows it can have a significant factor in the experience. How people find or come across your content can significantly affect their perception of it, which means it can create a positive or negative bias before they even begin to read it. Consider this – people now can search, discover, and find things online at any moment. They know they have this power, and they trust things they find. They do not trust things put in front of them nearly as much as things they find on their own. This is why creating content, which gets shared, is so important. Not just because it increases your reach, but also because if it is shared it is far more likely to be trusted by those with whom it is shared.
4. Great content strategy increases lifetime value
The lifetime value of a lead is something brands are beginning to measure. Tools such as marketing automation allow brands to follow leads across the full lifecycle and shed light on to new ways of proving value on marketing activities which all ties into your content strategy. If you want to be able to prove a longer-term value on content marketing in 2015, consider its effect on the full value of a client. Pardot also found in its research that delivering “authentic content” to a current customer is two times more impactful on their decision to stay with you than their “trust in your brand’s employees.” It’s also three times more important to them than your “perceived position in the marketplace.”
5. Bad content erodes trust
A major part of content marketing is measured by an engagement metric and mostly downloads. It is the standard measure for the effectiveness of your content. Did it have the desired effect we wanted, yet we are not considering what the impact of the content had on the reader/consumer. Pardot took a look at this as well with its research and found 71% of those likely to share had engaged with content they found disappointing; 25% of those who were disappointed also said they would never read content from that brand again, and 39% said they are only slightly likely to ever read content from that brand again.
6. Ghostwriting kills trust
Most companies don’t have the cashflow or luxury of a dedicated team of writers, thought leaders and use their executive teams as their thought leaders. Content has a demand and a time deadline, writing is usually left to others while their names still end up on the final document. The term ghostwriting refers to an article that is penned by someone other than the author. This practice has been used for years, and has different view points from many different people. Pardot followed up in its research study to see how consumers felt about the practice of ghost writing and found 83% of those surveyed said if they found out content wasn’t written by the persons whose name is on it, it would negatively affect their level of trust with the brand in a significant way. It is unlikely the readers will know if you are using a ghostwriter but on an ethics stand point, we should consider our readers feel it to be unethical.
The value of creating great content can easily extend past the download, but it takes time and data to understand what should be created, and how actually to create good content experiences. We are constantly being flooded with new data all the time that helps us to show the value of great content is much deeper than just in the download, and the measure of great content is in more than just the piece itself. With Click for “Likes”, “OMG wait till you hear this…” and “Did you see this?” headlines, we are pulling the viewers in, but if the content is not worthy, our consumers will start to ignore us. The full experience around the content is now what we are being judged on, and hopefully you will be able to take these new data-driven lessons back to your content team and build better content experiences in the coming year.