With 90% of advertisers now using content marketing (and 60% planning to up their budgets), it’s no surprise that most of it is already invisible to consumers. And with 60% of those companies planning to increase their budgets this year, according to a new report from Forrester, quality is the key to breaking through.
Brands with strong content, like Johnnie Walker, Chipotle and Dr Pepper are proof that content marketing is an effective way to build deeper relationships with customers. There is a growing realization that “people are so bombarded by content that quality is essential,” says Tracy Stokes, co-author of the report and a principal analyst at Forrester. “The world doesn’t need another piece of content. You have to know what is relevant, in terms of the customer cycle, and then add value,” she tells Marketing Daily.
Because of the rapid evolution of content marketing, she says more sophisticated companies — in other words, those that have already achieved some level of scale — are now recognizing that to connect with consumers, they need to make a conscious effort to shift from quantity to quality, including reevaluating the role of vendors and internal organization structure.
The best content marketing programs, she says, are those that underscore “what the brand stands for,” such as Chipotle’s work, “or something fun and unexpected. I really enjoy Dr Pepper’s one-of-a-kind videos, for example, which feature people like the mother of five who is also in the roller derby.”
An inherent problem is that among large companies with many brands, balancing content demands across business units and geographic regions can be difficult. Many create central teams, which “must find efficient ways to create, manage, and deliver content without the wasted resources that can come from duplicating efforts. Or they risk undermining brand experiences with inconsistent messaging.”
As content marketing becomes more of a focus, so will demands for better metrics, she writes. “As budgets and C-suite visibility rise for the content being created, so will the expectation of clear return on investment.”
Less sophisticated companies are still working on building efficient content machines, she says.
Right now, Forrester reports, marketers’ ad agencies, such as 360i or AMV BBDO, are the likely first stop. But as the field’s ecosystem expands, that’s changing, with companies like Skyword and Contently, which put marketers in touch with pools of editorial resources; intelligent systems that automate content curation, such as Curata; and software that helps marketers manage content, such as Percolate, which recently entered into a partnership with WPP.
But ultimately, she writes, marketers will crave integrated solutions, sparking consolidation among vendors. “Ultimately, marketers will not put forth the resources to piece together a patchwork solution of content providers. Their need for a one-stop solution will fuel consolidation of content marketing suppliers. Oracle’s purchase of Compendium and Sprinklr’s of Dachis are small signs of a fast-changing playing field.”