There have been a lot of discussions lately about content marketing and even if content marketing is little more than well…just marketing. From what I can gather, this debate began with Mark Ritson’s article, Is Content Marketing a Load of Bollocks? written for Marketing Week. He brings up a very interesting point about the effectiveness of content marketing creation and whether its audience impact justifies the amount of time and money spent on its execution.
Here is the definition of content marketing, according to The Content Marketing Institute. Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
This to me, being a marketer for several years, sounds like the essence of marketing. My take? Content marketing is not so much as “bollocks” as it’s an evolution and trending of marketing and I.T. mixing together creating a new way of approaching customers. It’s not new, but it has evolved over time just as most industries do.
I.T.? Isn’t that the Help Desk?
Marketing has been around for a long time and the importance of marketing for both products and services. What’s changed is the I.T. world starting to cross over into the marketing world, creating a more measurable, calculated and analytical approach.
First, a little background on marketing’s interaction with I.T. in the 90s and subsequent years as told through the marketing perspective:
- Job 1: I.T. (consisted of one person who was also our office manager): Me: “Can you please help me with this swirling virus from infecting my computer?”
- Job 2: I.T. (several team members, resided in the basement of the building): I.T.: “Here are 30 keywords you should use on the website copy that we have determined will drive traffic.”
- Job 3: I.T. (resides in a window-less walled-off area): Me: “Please help me set up an online newsletter template and tracking capability to best reach our customers and then determine what source they are coming from.”
Fast forward to today and marketing and I.T. have together created what is known as content marketing. These two departments worked separately from one another for years and slowly integrated over time. Content marketing, as a result, is both creative, technical and measured.
What We Can Learn From Our Better Half
Just like any marriage, I.T. and Marketing both bring their strengths to create content marketing.
I.T. Skill Set:
- Analytical: I.T. professionals have a great way of sifting through data whether it be in an Excel file, email list or what pathway a prospect is taking to enter a company site. They find patterns and like a puzzle will turn data different directions to create a clear and concise plan.
- Website Creation Technical Side: The way a website is designed from a “behind the scenes” look is just as important as its outward appearance. I.T. professionals know the correct flow from one landing page to the next and also to make sure not to lose a potential prospect no matter what page they land on. They also make sure to track movements, determine clicks on a page and how long someone spends on the site. All useful marketing information.
- Analyze Traffic: Once the website is up and running, analyzing where visitors are coming from is key. Are they arriving via a search engine or an email that was sent out? I.T. employees with their analytical minds can see patterns in the data and can modify or change the overall content marketing direction. What looks good in an initial marketing plan may not work once implemented in real time.
- HTML Knowledge: I.T. professional probably know HTML amongst other coding languages, but HTML knowledge is key when it comes to content marketing. This is a huge asset as they can easily help with title tags, description meta tags, anchor text, image “alt” attributes and more.
Marketing Skill Set:
- Creative: Marketing people are “think outside the box” individuals that figure out who their customer is, what they like and then find a way to drive more sales. They will also come up with unique solutions that may not have been explored by their competition or even look at their competition and put a different spin on the same topic.
- Website creation visual side: With all the competition out there in every industry and with the majority of businesses having a website presence today, your company needs to stand out from the crowd. Marketing people can view a website adjusting colors, language and the overall feel to tailor it to their target market. With consumers making decisions within seconds whether to stay on a website or move to the next, it’s vital to get their attention immediately.
- Generate traffic: There are more ways than ever to generate new leads: social media, public relations, ads, blogs and more. Marketers have the ability to take one clear message and work across several mediums to drive that message to their consumers or customers. Furthermore, this message although different based on the vehicle needs, has to be cohesive and have a clear objective.
- Copywriting skills: According to Orbit Media Studios, the average blog post, time spent on blog posts and the more visual elements added is all increasing. Having a strong background in writing as several marketers do is a must to stay ahead of the competition. Consumers and customers are savvy and they view content marketing not only to learn about a company, but also for information. The more a blog or article adds value to someone the more they will convert to a customer.
What’s the Take Away?
Mark Ritson is right in that content marketing may be marketing in its essence, but it’s more the new trend and direction marketing it taking. Just like clothing styles change and evolve so does marketing. My infographics in this piece of content marketing? What my 90s self would have referred to as PowerPoint slides. Looks like content marketing will be around for years to come with more trends expected in 2017 according to The Content Marketing Institute. So whether you agree or not, content marketing is here to stay.
Are you a content marketing or in marketing? What is your take on content marketing?