In today's discussion around content marketing, much of the focus has been on volume. If content is the fuel that drives inbound marketing, mining for more of it seems paramount.
Except when it's not. As content marketing becomes nearly ubiquitous, other factors such as integration with other marketing programs, analytics and distribution are receiving increasing attention. Even viewer psychology is beginning to be employed.
“Pictures really add stickiness to your content,” said George Stenitzer, VP-communications at telecom equipment maker Tellabs Inc. “The magical thing about infographics is that many people learn visually. But the challenge in b2b marketing is how to boil down complex topics to one image.”
Stenitzer said he's experimenting with producing one infographic per month to leverage the stickiness factor, gain viewers' attention and pull them through to more descriptive content about the company's technology elsewhere on the Web.
Tellabs' use of images has extended to producing videos of customers, known as “product champions,” discussing their use of the company's products. A new initiative has been to tap into the views and findings of research analysts, who discuss larger issues affecting the telecom industry, such as mobile technology and the bring-your-own-device phenomenon.
Tellabs uses multiple channels of distribution for these third-party viewpoints, with the content sliced appropriately not only for infographics and videos but also for blogs, print articles and executive-summary thought pieces.
“Many people have interesting things to say, and a part of our content marketing strategy is bringing forward analysts' opinions rather than our own,” Stenitzer said. “We want our own ideas in the content mix, but we don't want it to be a monologue.”
The rise of content marketing has paralleled other trends, such as the increasing focus on local marketing, said Bill Connard, VP-local search technology at search engine optimization company Rio SEO. “You can never have enough content on local landing pages—relevant things like local company fundraisers or about promotional items based on user interest,” he said.
Connard said a key to local distribution of content, in particular for large companies with multiple locations, is having access to adequate content management-system technology to distribute and customize content on local landing pages as well as social and review sites.
Distributed well, content supports a variety of other marketing efforts, including search and social.
“We also apply Facebook tags to our clients' local landing pages, which connect with Facebook local landing pages,” Connard said. “Connecting the dots between a brand's Web properties and Facebook is the hottest topic now.”
Marketers' commitment to content marketing is increasing rapidly. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to a BtoB study said they will have official content marketing programs in place this year, with 66% reporting their companies will be “very” or “fully” engaged in the development and distribution of content.
Metrics and analysis remain key challenges for marketers. According to BtoB's study, “Content Marketing: Ready for Prime Time,” based on an online poll conducted in May 2012 of 440 b2b marketers, poorly defined ROI is a major stumbling block to more effective content marketing efforts.
One company that's trying to do something about that is Glam Media, which distributes sponsored content to a cadre of almost 5,000 bloggers who are compensated for featuring the native ads. Glam has partnered with analytics company Moat Inc. to develop metrics and benchmarks for measuring content engagement and effectiveness beyond traditional measures such as page views and social shares.
Its product, Glam Content Analytics, enables marketers to measure how users are actively scrolling through the content and how much time is spent with the content in the user's active browser window. It's a technology that has previously been used only for video views.
“We've been searching for better ways to measure the lifeblood of our business, which is great content,” said Erin Matts, chief digital marketing officer at Glam Media. “Clicks alone are not indicative of whether someone has paid attention to the content or liked it.”
Matts said that measuring viewer engagement not only helps in gauging the performance of its clients' content but also in assessing the relative abilities of its bloggers.
“Content marketing is maturing, and marketers are finding better ways of measuring its success,” she said.