In 2014, $135 billion was spent on the production of digital content—that’s an investment never before seen by marketers and one that is likely to keep on growing. A recent study from The Economist Group also revealed that 93 percent of companies plan to maintain or increase their commitment to unique content in the year ahead.
Tagged, cookied and targeted
So why are we seeing this increased focus on and investment in content? It’s because the online world is not only vast, but content rich. Consumers can no longer simply be tagged, cookied and targeted. They are more digitally savvy than ever before. They consume more information, from more sources, across thousands of channels in a way that has altered the very nature of how advertisers now need to operate. In short, brands must create rich, valuable content that engages and interests in order to reach their target consumers.
86 percent of B2B organisations use content marketing but only 21 percent say that they are successful at tracking its yield against investment.
Alongside this, advertisers have also got to get better at measuring the performance of their content. If we’re set to see huge increases in budgetary spend on it, then this surely should be backed up by significant investment in measurement? And yet, according to recent research from the Chartered Management Institute, 86 percent of B2B organisations use content marketing but only 21 percent say that they are successful at tracking its yield against investment.
Good content can power performance
Effective measurement would reveal that, when brands get it right, good content can power performance – whether that’s increased ranking as part of a SEO strategy, social sharing, or driving a transaction via a compelling product description. Without measurement, however, brands fail to understand how their content performs and they’re unable to determine how it impacts their business.
This underlines the need for a performance-based approach to content, enabling digital marketers to understand what type of content performs best, and on which channel
In our own analysis, conducted alongside BrightEdge, we looked at over 1 billion pieces of content from more than 9,000 brands within the BrightEdge Data Cube. We found that, although the biggest driver for performance was engagement, only one in five pieces of content were engaged with at all, in terms of views, clicks, shares or forwards. This underlines the need for a performance-based approach to content, enabling digital marketers to understand what type of content performs best, and on which channel.
It needs an editorial approach
Brands also need to work with good content creators that understand their audience. Creating and developing content that is targeted, insightful and compelling takes planning and dedication, something that is currently being neglected. It needs an editorial approach, with data guiding the content process from conception to retrospective reviews. This rings especially true following Google’s latest algorithm update, which puts the onus onto quality content. Today the direct relationship between great content and SEO has never been stronger, with our study showing organic search drives half (51 percent) of all visitors to both B2B and B2C websites.
The good news? It’s never been easier to create content. But on the other hand, creating content that performs has never been more important. It’s something that should be at the fore of conversation on the agency-side, with us working to help brands understand that harnessing data to create content that stands out will ultimately reward them with measurable success.
Ben Wood is global president with iProspect