Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or you’ve been using the same approach for a while, it never hurts to revisit your content strategy plan and make sure it’s up-to-date, innovative, and engaging for your prospects and customers – no matter when or how they intend to buy.
If you’re having trouble planning for the upcoming year or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, read on.
In this post, we’ll dive into what content strategy is, why your business needs a content marketing plan, and what steps you need to take to create your strategy. Plus, we’ll explore some examples of effective content marketing strategies for inspiration.
What is content strategy?
A content strategy is a plan in which you use content (audio, visual, and/or written) to achieve your business goals. A successful content strategy will attract your target audience at every stage of the funnel and keep them engaged even after a purchase.
Say your business goals include increasing brand awareness. To achieve this, you might implement a content strategy that focuses on SEO to increase your website’s visibility on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive traffic to your products or services.
New business owners might assume a content strategy is a nice-to-have, but not necessary early on. However, producing high-quality content can be invaluable in building trust with new audiences and succeeding in the long haul.
In essence, a good content strategy is the foundation of your Attract and Delight stages in a buyer’s journey that follows the inbound marketing framework. Along with attracting prospects to your brand, you can leverage a content strategy for sales enablement and customer satisfaction.
Plus, with 70% of marketers actively investing in content marketing, it’s critical that you develop a good content strategy to compete in your industry.
When you develop a content strategy, there are a few questions to answer. Let’s dive into those, now.
1. Who will be reading your content?
Who’s the target audience for your content? For how many audiences are you creating content?
Just as your business might have more than one type of customer, your content strategy can cater to more than one type of user.
Using a variety of content types and channels will help you deliver content that’s tailored to each persona.
2. What problem will you be solving for your audience(s)?
Ideally, your product or service solves a problem you know your audience has. By the same token, your content coaches and educates your audience through this problem as they begin to identify and address it.
A sound content strategy supports people on both sides of your product: those who are still figuring out what their main challenges are, and those who are already using your product to overcome these challenges.
Your content reinforces the solution(s) you’re offering and helps you build credibility with your target audience.
3. What makes you unique?
Your competitors likely have a similar product as yours, which means your potential customers need to know what makes yours better — or, at least, different.
Maybe your main asset is that your company has been established for many years. Or perhaps you have a unique brand voice that makes you stand out from your competitors.
To prove why you’re worth buying from, you need to prove why you’re worth listening to. Once you figure that out, permeate that message in your content.
4. What content formats will you focus on?
To figure out what formats to focus on, you need to meet your audience where they are.
While you may to tempted to launch a podcast since it’s grown so much in the last few years, or launch a YouTube channel, find out first where your audience lives.
Otherwise, you may waste time creating content that either won’t reach your audience or capture their attention.
Once you identify the best formats, start creating a budget to assess what resources you can allocate to execute this strategy.
5. What channels will you publish on?
Just as you can create content in different formats, you’ll also have various channels you can publish to, from your website to social media.
This, again, will reflect where your audience lives. If your audience prefers long-form video content, you may opt to publish your content on YouTube. If you have a younger audience that likes quick content, you may opt for TikTok and Instagram.
We’ll talk more about social media content strategy in the step-by-step guide later in this article.
6. How will you manage content creation and publication?
Figuring out how you’ll create and publish all your content can be a daunting task.
Before you execute, it’s important to establish:
- Who’s creating what.
- Where it’s being published.
- When it’s going live.
In a small team, this may be easy enough as you may be the sole decision-maker. As your company grows, you may need to collaborate with several content teams to figure out an effective process.
Today’s content strategies prevent clutter by managing content from a topic standpoint — as explained in the video above. When planning a content editorial calendar around topics, you can easily visualize your company’s message and assert yourself as an authority in your market over time.
Why Marketers Need to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing helps businesses prepare and plan for reliable and cost-effective sources of website traffic and new leads.
If you can create just one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic, an embedded link to an e-book or free tool will continue generating leads for you as time goes on — long after you click “Publish.”
The reliable source of traffic and leads from your evergreen content will give you the flexibility to experiment with other marketing tactics to generate revenue, such as sponsored content, social media advertising, and distributed content.
Plus, your content won’t just help attract leads, it will also educate your prospects and generate awareness for your brand.
How to Create a Content Strategy Framework
- Define your goal.
- Conduct persona research.
- Run a content audit.
- Choose a content management system.
- Determine which type of content you want to create.
- Brainstorm content ideas.
- Publish and manage your content.
Now, let’s dive in to learn the specifics of how to create a content marketing plan. Curious how our former HubSpot Head of Content SEO Aja Frost put together our content strategy? Here it is.
1. Define your goal.
What’s your aim for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to produce content and create a content marketing plan?
Know your goals before you begin planning, and you’ll have an easier time determining what’s best for your strategy.
2. Conduct persona research.
To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content’s target audience — also known as your buyer persona.
This is especially important for those who are starting out or are new to marketing. By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they’ll want to read and convert on.
If you’re an experienced marketer, your target may have changed. Do you want to target a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience? Revisiting your audience parameters by conducting market research each year is crucial to growing your audience.
Featured Tool: Buyer Persona Generator
3. Run a content audit.
Early on, most brands start with blog posts. If you want to venture out into different formats, you can run a content audit to assess your top-performing and lowest-performing content. Then, use that information to inform which direction you take next.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you should review your content marketing efforts and the results from it in the last year.
Figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals. Now is a great time to align your team’s goals with the rest of your organization’s goals.
Whatever stage you’re in, a content audit will help you determine what resonates best with your audience, identify gaps in your topic clusters, and brainstorm fresh content ideas.
4. Choose a content management system.
A few vital parts of content management include content creation, content publication, and content analytics.
You want to invest in a CMS to create, manage, and track your content in an easy and sustainable way.
With the HubSpot CMS, you can plan, produce, publish, and measure your results all in one place.
Another popular CMS is WordPress, to which you can add the HubSpot WordPress plugin for free web forms, live chat, CRM access, email marketing, and analytics.
5. Determine which type of content you want to create.
There are a variety of options out there for content you can create, from written content like ebooks and blog posts to audio content like podcasts.
In the next section, we’ll discuss some of the most popular content formats marketers are creating, including some tools and templates to get you started.
6. Brainstorm content ideas.
Now, it’s time to start coming up with ideas for your next content project.
Here are some tools to get the juices flowing.
The Feedly RSS feed is a wonderful way to track trendy topics in your industry and find content ideas at the same time.
You start by telling the software what topics you’re most interested in and its AI tool will do the rest.
You won’t need to scour the internet to find new content ideas anymore. Instead, you can go through your curated list, compiled from news sites, newsletters, and social media.
Want to discover popular content and content ideas? This company offers a number of market research tools, one of which uses social media shares to determine if a piece of content is popular and well-liked.
This information helps you see which content ideas would do well if you were to create content about them.
Get your mind gears going with IMPACT’s blog title generator. This tool works a bit like Mad Libs, but instead of joke sentences, it shows you common headline formats with blanks where you can fill in the subject you have in mind.
This brainstorming technique helps you put general ideas in contexts that would be appealing to your target audience. Once you have a headline you like, BlogAbout lets you add it to your “Notebook” so you can save your best ideas.
You can get blog post ideas for an entire year with HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator. All you need to do is enter general topics or terms you’d like to write about, and this content idea generator does all the work for you.
This tool analyzes headlines and titles and provides feedback on length, word choice, grammar, and keyword search volume.
If you have an idea in mind, run a few title options through the Headline Analyzer to see how you could make it stronger, and to move your idea further along in the brainstorming process.
This is a great tool to use when you want to see where you’re at with your website and SEO efforts. The Website Grader grades you on vital areas of your website performance and sends you a detailed report to help you optimize.
With this tool, you can figure out how to make your website more SEO-friendly and discover areas of improvement.
7. Publish and manage your content.
Your marketing plan should go beyond the types of content you’ll create – it should also cover you’ll organize your content.
With the help of an editorial calendar, you’ll be on the right track for publishing a well-balanced and diverse content library on your website. Then, create a social media content calendar to promote and manage your content on other sites.
Featured Tool: Free Editorial Calendar Templates
Many of the ideas you think of will be evergreen (i.e.: just as relevant months or years from now as they are today). That being said, you shouldn’t ignore timely topics either. While they may not be the bulk of your editorial calendar, they can help you generate spikes of traffic.
Most people count on incorporating popular holidays, like New Year’s, in their marketing efforts, but you don’t have to limit yourself to these important marketing dates.
If there are niche holidays that might appeal to your audience, it could be worth publishing content on your blog or on social media. Check out this ultimate list of social media holidays — keep an eye on it when you’re planning your calendar.
Content Marketing Strategy Template
Ready to get started with your own content marketing strategy? Download this helpful workbook.
- Generate content ideas.
- Create topic clusters and pillar pages.
- Promote your content.
- Repurpose your content based on your needs.
Content Marketing Strategy Examples
To understand what a content strategy is, let’s explore some examples of real-life content strategies based on a few various business goals.
Let’s start with Evernote, a note-taking app, that developed an SEO-driven content strategy to attract new prospects to their website.
I’m a huge fan of Evernote’s blog, which offers a wealth of knowledge around the topic of productivity. The blog post, How To Stay Disciplined When Times Are Tough, made me laugh out loud – and incentivized me to grab a pen and write down some of the tips I liked best.
But why is a company that sells a note-taking app writing about discipline?
Because it’s how I found their website when I searched “How to stay disciplined” on Google.
People interested in reading content related to productivity are likely the same people interested in downloading Evernote’s note-taking product.
On the contrary, if Evernote’s marketing team simply created content for the sake of increasing traffic – like publishing “Our 10 Favorite Beyonce Songs” – it wouldn’t be considered a content strategy at all, it would just be content.
A strategy needs to align content with business goals. In Evernote’s case, the strategy aligns content (blog posts on productivity) with the business goal of attracting leads (people interested in note-taking) to their site.
Let’s take a look at another example to see how a good content strategy can help businesses with sales enablement.
Consider the following scenario: A prospect calls a sales representative at Wistia and asks questions related to Wistia’s video hosting service. As the Wistia sales rep speaks with her, he learns her business is using a few other tools to convert leads into sales, including Intercom.
Once the call ends, the sales rep sends the prospect a follow-up email with a blog post about Wistia’s integration with Intercom, which enables Intercom users to further personalize messages to prospects based on video-watching data they collect through Wistia.
This is a prime example of how you might use a content strategy as a sales enablement tool.
On the surface, it might seem odd that Wistia has dedicated content regarding another business’ tool. However, this content is a great resource for Wistia’s sales team, particularly when prospects have concerns regarding how Wistia’s product can integrate with their existing software or processes.
Now that we’ve explored a few examples of content strategies, let’s dive into the types of content marketing assets you can develop.
Types of Content Marketing
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Social media
These are the eight most popular types of content marketing you can create for your readers and customers.
1. Blog Posts
If you haven’t already noticed, you’re currently reading a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors.
Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites.
We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, but you should experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
Featured Tool: 6 Free Blog Post Templates
Check out our free blog post templates for writing great how-to, listicle, curation, SlideShare presentation, and newsjacking posts on your own blog.
Ebooks are lead generation tools that website visitors download after submitting a lead form with their contact information. They’re typically longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts, which are written to attract visitors to a website.
But ebooks aren’t only effective for the top of the funnel.
As Nora Leary, Growth Director at Ironpaper, Inc., notes, “Ebooks serve different purposes at varying stages in the buyer’s journey.”
She told me, “Awareness-level ebooks help educate the prospect about a certain pain point and are an excellent lead capture tool. The content should remain introductory and informational.”
Leary adds, “Ebooks can convert leads in the funnel by offering them useful tools as prospects consider their needs more in-depth. An ebook here might dive deeper into a particular problem and solution options and include templates or calculators.
[Lastly,] ebooks further down the funnel should become more personalized and offer more sales content. Comparison guides or an ebook of case studies are beneficial for prospects at this stage.”
Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post. such as this one, visitors might want more information.
This is where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play, directing people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.
Featured Tool: 18 Free Ebook Templates
3. Case Studies
A case study allows you to tell a customer story and build credibility in the process.
A case study is perhaps your most versatile type of content marketing because it can take many different forms — some of which are on this list. That’s right, case studies can take the form of a blog post, ebook, podcast, even an infographic.
The goal is to demonstrate how your product helped real-life companies succeed. Before choosing a customer for a case study, you should determine to which business area you’re trying to drive value.
Featured Tool: 3 Free Case Study Templates
Templates are effective content marketing examples to try because they generate leads while offering tremendous value to your audience.
When you provide your audience with template tools to save them time and help them succeed, they’re more likely to engage with your content in the future.
Infographics can organize and visualize data in a more compelling way than words alone.
These are great content formats to use if you’re trying to share a lot of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
Featured Tool: 15 Free Infographic Templates
If you’re ready to get started, get our templates for creating beautiful infographics in less than an hour.
Videos are a highly engaging content medium and are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike.
Videos require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual content continues to offer big ROI, it’s a medium worth exploring.
Featured Tool: Free Video Marketing Starter Pack + Templates
Starting a podcast will help audiences find your brand if they don’t have time or interest in reading content every day.
The number of podcast listeners is growing — in 2021, there was a 10% year-over-year increase in U.S. podcast listeners.
If you have interesting people to interview or conversations to host, consider podcasting as another content format to experiment with.
Featured Tool: How to Start a Podcast [Guide + Templates]
8. Social Media
Once you’ve been regularly publishing content on your own site for a while, start thinking about a social media strategy to distribute your content on social media.
In addition to sharing your content, you can also repurpose it into new formats and create original content specifically for each platform.
Posting on social media is pivotal to amplifying your brand’s reach and delivering your content to your customers where you know they spend their time. Popular social networks include:
When launching a business account on any of the social networks above, adjust your content to the platform.
On Instagram, for example, users want aesthetically pleasing visuals. With feeds, IGTV, Stories, you have a lot of room to play with. TikTok, on the other hand, appeals to a younger demographic that wants trendy, funny, and creative short-form video.
Do some market research to discover which platforms your buyers are on, and mold your content to their expectations.
It takes time, organization, and creativity to grow a successful content marketing strategy. From building the foundation of your content marketing plan to adding tools to better manage your content, setting up your strategy for the new year won’t be a hassle if you follow the steps and explore the resources here.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
How to choose a content marketing automation platform
A 1917 poster says in bold capital letters: “I WANT YOU FOR THE U.S. ARMY,” along with the famous image of Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer.
In 1917, most advertising was blunt and direct, but in the following 100+ years, consumers have become desensitized to typical marketing strategies. As a result, companies have turned to new forms of marketing to reach their audience.
One of these forms of marketing is content marketing: an indirect type of advertising that delivers blog posts, podcasts, and other forms of content to indirectly market a brand to consumers. Today, businesses can automate many aspects of content marketing, and choosing the right platform for content marketing automation unlocks new efficiencies and return on investment for companies.
- Content marketing is a powerful way to reach customers by providing value through content.
- Automation makes content marketing efficient and convenient.
- Optimizely can help you take your content management to the next level.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a new strategy for reaching potential customers by delivering content they want to consume. Content marketing improves the brand’s image by providing useful or entertaining content which builds goodwill and brand recognition among potential customers.
Content marketing takes many forms: podcasts, digital video, webinars, articles, infographics and more. Creating and delivering quality content is difficult because it must deliver on multiple levels: it must be useful, entertaining and informative, but it must also inspire confidence and credibility. In other words, quality content marketing must be both good content and marketing material.
Why would a company spend its marketing dollars on content marketing instead of more direct forms of advertising? There are several reasons content marketing is a good choice for companies:
- Content marketing improves organic reach by delivering content that customers want to consume. This can range from entertainment like TikTok videos or online quizzes to more serious informative content like how-to guides and video conferences.
- Content marketing inspires confidence in your brand by establishing your company as an expert and key player in your industry.
- Content marketing improves goodwill by delivering personable, relatable content that meets customers where they’re at. Rather than trying to make customers interested in your company directly, content marketing capitalizes on the things your customer is already interested in.
How to automate content marketing
AI can’t host a podcast or present a webinar (at least not yet), but automation plays an important role in content marketing.
Social media is one of the largest opportunities for marketers. Social media is the second largest market within the world of digital advertising, second only to search marketing. Content marketing is uniquely poised to cover both categories as it can optimize content for organic search results and social media sharing.
This is where automation comes into the picture: automation can’t take over your social media presence for you, but it can take on some of the most tedious and error-prone aspects of your digital presence. Some key ways you can automate your social media content marketing are by scheduling posts, connecting various social media platforms to publish content on multiple platforms at once, regularly sharing your content, automatically promoting content and more.
Recently, AI has taken significant steps forward in Natural Language Processing (NLP), which makes AI chatbots a powerful way to connect with users on social media platforms (as well as on your platform).
A fan of the television show Arrested Development would finish the phrase “The money is in the…” with “banana stand,” but experienced marketers know that the right answer is “the money is in the list.”
This popular phrase refers to the fact that email marketing is one of the most important aspects of a marketing plan, and a longer list of quality leads is one of the most reliable ways to grow sales. Email newsletters are one of the most popular forms of content marketing but sending email after email is a tedious and treacherous process as it creates limitless opportunities for human error.
Automation revolutionizes email marketing by automatically sending emails. With a customer relationship management platform, email automation can automatically send emails based on milestones and timelines and personalize emails based on the customer’s name and history. This level of personalization is difficult for small businesses and impossible for large ones, but with automation, it’s straightforward and convenient.
One of the keys to marketing automation is tracking marketing communication performance. Marketers should be performing A/B testing to see which campaigns perform the best and merit further expansion, but tangibly measuring the outcome of these tests is difficult without the right tools.
Automation helps companies track the performance of their content marketing by collecting data from various platforms, bringing it all into one convenient place and providing metrics about the traffic and conversions coming from each piece of content.
Features of the right content marketing platform
Harnessing the value of these powerful automation options requires a quality content marketing platform. The right platform should include some qualities that maximize its usefulness.
- Flexibility. One of the essential functions of automation is the ability to share content on multiple platforms simultaneously. While this is already a powerful option, it becomes more powerful with a headless API that empowers you to deliver content on various platforms.
- Personalization. 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% become frustrated when companies don’t personalize their communications. The right content marketing platform makes personalization second nature with robust personalization tools that go beyond copy-and-pasting names. Content marketing platforms like Optimizely target personalized digital experiences to dynamic customer segments.
- Capacity. Your business has unique needs, and your content platform shouldn’t hold you back. Rather than making your job harder, the right content marketing platform makes your job easier by offering a wide range of options and high-capacity storage for all your needs.
When it comes to content management, Optimizely is an industry leader. Optimizely’s advanced tools range from A/B testing, e-commerce support and headless digital experience management.
To learn how Optimizely can help you harness the power of automation and revolutionize your content marketing, request a meeting today to start the next chapter of your marketing journey.
Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer
According to Statista, the number of software developers around the globe is expected to increase to 28.7 million by 2024.
Freelance software developers benefit companies because of the ease and speed with which they can be onboarded and used as project-specific resources. This blog will answer the most asked concerns about using contract services.
Benefits of Hiring Freelance Software Developers
When hiring a freelancer, your first expectation is impeccable skills and expertise, followed closely by cost savings, or vice versa. Here are the most popular reasons why companies choose to hire freelance talent.
Full-time employees cost an organisation a salary, as well as added investments in training, equipment, perks, overheads of utilities and rented space, and benefits such as healthcare and social security.
Freelancers work remotely using personal resources; businesses reduce investments without losing quality.
Businesses reduce financial risk by working with freelancers on an hourly, monthly, or project basis. Setting a clearly worded contract that the freelance software developer agrees to and signs, mitigates financial risk and clearly stipulates ownership of intellectual property.
Freelancers with niche expertise such as software development company in London, provide companies with the best talents for their projects. Hiring freelancers for different projects allows businesses to match the varying demands of each project, streamlines workflows and ensures productivity.
Businesses choose professional freelancers expecting them to complete any given task with minimum input from the organization. You can access talent from across the globe on platforms such as UpWork, People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Toptal, amongst others. Client reviews on such portals help in assessing proficiency and expertise.
A freelancer is as good as her or his portfolio. Successful freelancers achieve credibility by building long-term relationships and providing consistent quality. Freelancer work depends on referrals and good reviews, hence a potential contract employee’s work portfolio, and reviews showcase their abilities.
Skills of A High-Quality Freelance Software Developer
The first criterion for hiring a developer for your project is knowing what skill sets are needed. List your project specifications to customise your search and determine the expertise required for the project. Freelance developers may work on web development (front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers) or mobile application development.
Front-end freelance developers
Back-end freelance developers
Full-stack freelance developers
Mobile app developers
Mobile app developers develop, create, and test mobile applications for iOS and Android operating systems. Mobile app developers have programming language skills such as NodeJS, PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails. They must also be proficient in back-end frameworks, database management and security, and hardware interaction. They need expertise in UI/UX design, security, and the Internet of things (IoT) for mobile devices.
How to Locate the Best Freelancers Online
Talent portals such as Upwork, People Per Hour, and Fiverr showcase many talented freelance software developers. Here are steps on how to hire talent from an online opportunity marketplace.
Set a Hiring Budget
Look for similar job postings to learn what are the current hourly rates for the work you require. Define a reasonable budget. Beware that a freelance software developer may have higher hourly rates than regular employees.
Clearly Define Project Requirements
Freelancers can be effective resources when you provide clear details about your project requirements. Be sure to mention the following
- Allocated Budget
- Payment terms
- Project start and end dates
- Clear job descriptions
- Project expectations
Shortlist and Assess Freelance Software Developers
Top software developers typically work harder and achieve results because client reviews are essential to their ongoing success. The details you post make it easier for them to determine if they fit your requirements. Once you begin receiving qualified responses, choose according to their ratings and reviews, your interview process, and any sample project to build software and check their skills.
Six Factors to Consider when Hiring Freelance Sofware Developers
Hiring a freelancer revolves around their technical skills, certifications and education, attitude towards work, and ability to deliver results. Here are some crucial pointers to help you find the most appropriate fit for your project.
Freelancers must be able to handle the technical requirements of the project. They should be well-versed in software stacks, coding, development and task management software, version control tools, and deployment processes. Freelance software developers may charge more for specific technical abilities such as mobile app development, web development, or project rescues.
Freelancers who have worked on similar projects will have come across pain points and solutions. Any relevant experience enhances their expertise for your project and boosts their ability to strategise toward productive outcomes. Note that a freelancer’s experience typically increases their pay rate.
Experience and expertise increase a freelancer’s worth, but their services must provide value for your money. Knowing current hourly or project rates ensures that you are connecting with the right candidates. Freelancers that accept less payment may be new to the market and want to create a client base. Or, are choosing to supplement their income with multiple projects, which may reduce their work quality.
Education and certifications improve a freelancer’s pay scale, but they do not signal a freelancer’s abilities. The easiest way to gauge work ethic is from social proof such as client endorsements and their portfolio. A professional freelance software developer will openly share these details, with their client’s approval, of course.
A reliable freelancer will have a long-standing client base, developed by consistent efforts and proven results. The more repeat customers a freelancer has, the better the chances of them being dependable. The following actions demonstrate the integrity of any freelance work and can be testified by customer reviews.
- Following instructions
- Regular updates
- Quickly responding to queries
- Willingly accepting critique
- Meeting deadlines consistently
One of the best features of acquiring freelance talent is access to global resources. Ensure that your communication skills match. Also, check that the culture and holidays in the freelancer’s location do not conflict with project development. Location can also affect fees, where freelancers in the USA charge the highest as compared to their Asian counterparts.
Finding and hiring the right freelance software developers is easy when you have the necessary checklists in place. Software development work is complex, make sure you are vetting your candidates carefully to get the best fit for your project. Good luck!
State of Content Marketing in 2023
I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.
Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.
He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”
Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.
In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.
First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.
Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.” In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”
Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.
Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to
In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:
- Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
- Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
- First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
- Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.
You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.
However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.
Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is
For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.
That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.
As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.
In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.
It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.
The unaware builds a case for the aware
The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”
My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.
That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.
Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.
They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.
Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.
Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?
The future looks cloudy and bright
As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.
And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.
As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”
As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.
However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.
Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)
But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”
That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.
Time to get to work.
It’s your story. Tell it well.
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