The UK content marketing industry is worth £4 billion, yet 52 per cent of marketers say they are not effective at content marketing. That's an awful lot of marketing budget being wasted, and it’s the kind of stat that makes those holding the purse strings think twice about whether or not to invest in content marketing.
Being effective at content marketing is hard and complex, and it requires marketers to cultivate good habits and then stick at these relentlessly.
I recently spoke at the Figaro Digital Conference about the seven habits of highly effective content marketers. These included:
Having an advanced content marketing strategy that allows them to create content that is highly tailored to personas which have been developed on the back of strong data.
Writing on a regular basis to keep content creation skills fresh, and making sure they have a documented content strategy.
Being innovative in order to delight and surprise their audiences.
Being selective. This means they're unafraid of saying no to bad ideas and to "content for the sake of content", and they're good at choosing great team members and partners.
Effective content marketers know they need to prove value and show how their activities contribute to overall business objectives.
Appreciating the value of technology and building skills into their teams in order to be well prepared for the future.
Networking and collaborating with peers and other industry folk in order to come up with fresh ideas and build strong relationships.
But after this presentation I still felt there was a great deal more to be said (not least because the format of this talk was limited to 21 slides with 21 seconds exactly spent on each slide...). So here are a few more traits or habits of effective content marketers.
Immunity to "shiny new object syndrome"
Effective content marketers don't feel compelled to jump on every bandwagon. While they are forward-looking and up-to-date with the latest developments, they are first and foremost focused on their specific strategy and personas, and that's what informs their decisions.
This is the difference between spending money on mobile or video because that's the hot trend, and engaging your customer base on a format they love.
Everyone keeps telling ecommerce sites they absolutely have to be on mobile. Marketers absolutely need to investigate the latest trends and consider them for their strategies, but they shouldn't try to embrace every latest fad.
This ties in to the need to stay curious and think critically. Effective content marketers are interested in finding out new things and digging beyond the status quo. They aren’t naysayers or killjoys, but equally they don’t just go along with everything without asking important questions about the validity.
Effective content marketers never want to be like everyone else. With every piece of content they create, they think: if all my competitors are covering this particular topic in my industry, what will make someone engage with my content rather than theirs?
Why will 22-year-old web developer Louis from London come to my site to read about the latest Google update? If Mashable, TechCrunch and 3,000 tech blogs are writing the same story, what makes my offering different and valuable enough to pull in my audience?
Agility is a buzzword in our industry at the moment, and with good reason. My CTO Janaka is already talking about agility in a technology context on the blog, so I will only touch on the topic.
Effective content marketers have a long-term strategy and vision, but they are comfortable with the short-term chaos that often accompanies an agile approach to working. It's about knowing you will rarely have a "finished product" that will be 100 per cent perfect in every way. Instead, it's about building towards something through multiple stages (or iterations) and continuously looking for ways to improve what you have.
Communicate vision clearly
Effective content marketers know they need to bring their marketing departments, boards and whole companies with them on a content journey. By creating a culture of content, where everyone in an organisation has a content marketing frame of mind and contribute to strategy and creation, audiences get a far richer content experience.
The digital marketing industry continues to evolve at breakneck speed. Effective content marketers are open to change and willing to constantly learn in order to stay abreast of the latest changes. One of the key areas marketers need to upskill in coming years is that of marketing technology. The marketing technology landscape is a complex one, and it is an often-cited prediction that in the next three years, CMOs’ technology spend will eclipse that of CIOs. If you don’t have access to tech skills either in your current marketing setup or in the agencies you employ, this will be a key consideration going forward.