Content Marketing In The UK 2018. The Year Of Responsibility
Companies who are accepting responsibility with the audience they build are the ones more likely to achieve loyalty.
The Content Marketing Institute release each year their annual Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. The UK findings have been released this week (17th January 2018). Lets have a look at how things look and how this relates to you.
We are starting to see some clear points come through, that helps make sense of this new gladiatorial ring we combat within for relevance.
Content marketing in the UK, has said goodbye to the diatribe of ‘content is king’ but taking responsibility to build something where there is ownership.
Getting Wiser, Forever Learning
From looking at the report as a whole, one of the main areas to emphasise are those companies who are progressing (a point of view delivered to an audience on a consistent basis) there is still work to be done. Whilst there is the ability to create and share in abundance, there is the issue of integrating throughout the business. Naturally this becomes an issue when a commitment becomes something siloed in a corner and the responsibility of the few, rather than integrated as part of the business process.
When you bring people together and there is a shared sense of responsibility, it makes the whole journey one that is more open and not as isolating. Participation can be something that opens new doors and integration throughout.
This is something that the team at the Met Office have taken on board where they have taken the bottom up approach to learn together. In the words of Simon Swan (a speaker at the You Are The Media Conference in May) who is spearheading this, “There are a number of opportunities from approaching it this way, specifically around getting your team and wider teams buy-in to what you are doing. For example, it is about making those initial small steps transforming your organisation such as social listening, keyword research, interviewing users and, from collecting this data turning this into helpful actionable advice that supports not just your content efforts but also supporting your wider business objectives.”
It is not about this big giant leap and giving enough rope for someone to hang themselves up by, but taking a concerted effort to draw on the skills, enthusiasm and momentum that aligns back to what the company believes in.
A Clear Correlation
Word counts never mattered, the underlying message does.
Like a Formula One battle royale between Prost and Senna, there is a clean breakaway when attributing content marketing success. Last years report shown a cluster of factors, now we have two clear winners.
Yes, creating and distribution requires patience, practice, perseverance and times when you think nothing is happening, but when there is a reason for making that step-up, is when you are not so easily swayed into past habits (self centred, inward focused love letters to yourself). This invariably means pressing the default button to go back into product related benefits, rather than keeping steadfast on the value created outside of what you invoice.
Finding depth, not width is where momentum sits. In the words of David Raptitude, “When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface.”
A plan that leads to digging deep helps build loyalty, this makes it easier for people to make that connection. In an article on do less, get back more, “the only way you are going to grow your audience is not to worry about the frequency of content but the role that you play within someone else’s day/week/month.”
What also links from this particular question is the link to a shift of commitment. Probably the biggest thing to take away from this year, is that a move from dabbling to becoming ‘extremely’ committed sees a 5% jump to 38% when it comes to content marketing success.
A Runaway Goal
As businesses become committed and take on responsibility to creating and building, the goals start to become more affirmed.
An all round goal that businesses strongly agree is the ability to build audiences. With the well documented Facebook news from Friday 12th January, and the upcoming algorithm changes that will push business posts to the side (unless you are ready to pay more), what it highlights is the importance to have something that you can lovingly call ‘yours.’
Rather than businesses thinking they can throw the Facebook net out and acquire hoards of strangers as customers, what this now means is that it is even more important to have a subscriber/customer base that you are already familiar with and want to spend time with you.
To businesses, social connection then becomes a way to keep a conversation (and presence) ongoing. There has to be a switch from buy me, to being relatable. In Marketing 4.0, Philip Kotler highlights that, ‘in the digital economy, digital interaction alone is not sufficient.”
Starting from zero (away from the likes/followers), but people who will step forward and provide you their email/contact info, has to be the loneliest place to start, but is the biggest asset to a company that deals with other people.
Once someone is onboard, then social connectivity becomes part of an ongoing flow of communication (rather than the other way round). If 80% of businesses agreed that building audiences is where the focus lies, this presents homes where people want to pop in and out where we feel more welcome and the packet of Boasters keeps us sticking around for a little bit longer.
If you can own the audience and that audience doesn’t belong to someone else, who can change the dynamic at the flick of a switch, then you have channels to open a dialogue and to encourage a two way flow of ‘how’s life?’
Whilst we are all tempted because everyone else is having a fantastic time somewhere else growing from zero to 10,000 followers/subscribers/dry to salivating strangers in no time at all via the ebook/Facebook live/vlogging/podcasting, sometimes it is best to put the brakes on and get good at a few, rather than the many.
Those businesses who see success comes down to addressing an audience (via email), with a point of view (for instance the blog) and then extending the reach with the goal to resonate (social media). This creates a feedback loop where people are drawn to your email and the process is cyclical. Doesn’t that sound easier, rather than reading what type of room to sit in when it comes to using live video? We have to remember that the goal is not to just create, but to recognise the thing that makes us different and then utilise the channels to grow and develop.
The Bit That Raised An Eyebrow
There needs a way to check in and just look at what was said at the very beginning when the fresh new shoes were lifted from the box and before the few dozen miles were walked.
Whilst we get excited about pressing the publish button and those first few likes start rolling in, there needs to be a reality check that the reason you started, is the reason you are continuing. 30% of businesses saw a fair alignment between their metrics and goals. People aren’t punching the air, that it all joins up, but that’s ok. We just need to get better at aligning our message with what we want to achieve. I have wasted far too many days and weeks over the past few years doing things that did not align with my business.
Everything that is created, published and promoted has to always align with what it is you set out to do and what you wanted to achieve. For instance, if a goal is to grow email subscriber subscribers to a weekly email, then where is the place for me to leave my email address, so we can keep this new found friendship going? The hidden landing page that you spent hours refining so people know what they are signing up to can become a distant memory, if you become all consumed in just creating. When it comes to alignment, the ventures that you pursue have to match your mission.
The View From The Content Marketing Institute
How does the UK compare to the other country reports? Lisa Murton Beets, research director, Content Marketing Institute commented. “We didn’t notice any striking differences between the U.K., Australia, and North America annual content marketing survey respondents while producing our 2018 research reports; however, one thing stood out as a similarity: Over the last year, content marketers across the board have become more focused on building an audience (building one or more subscriber bases).”
“Content marketing, when done right, provides a terrific way to build an audience, but marketers must be sure they continue to provide value long after they collect an email address. A documented content marketing strategy, with clear goals and aligned metrics, are important keys to nurturing an audience.”
So, Where Does This Leave Us Looking Forward
To make a dent ie. people share, subscribe, commit, buy, come back, tell others, there has to be a commitment, that stems from a plan.
From those surveyed in this years report, it does have a sense of focus, where we are seeing clear outcomes, rather than a cauldron of options ie. which social channel do you prefer and a response akin to throwing confetti in the air.
For the first year within the report, I see the importance of building something that has a continuum (building an owned audience), rather than using as an approach purely as a means for customer acquisition and squeezing people down a standardised funnel because they downloaded something completely unrelated to what the company was about, but hey… we have their email now.
2018 represents a year to get things in shape, rather than just looking at the gym membership card in February. You don’t need to chase trends just because the World Cup has a hashtag this summer. You don’t need to download the LinkedIn contact emails onto an Excel sheet and then think that is ok to then send emails (hello GDPR). You don’t need to think that just because you read a posts on storytelling that you think you have to be the B2B equivalent of Stanley Kubrick in two weeks time.
It takes time, it takes patience, but when you have a framework to deliver from, things start to join up. The places where you share from, can become your transmitting beacon where the bleeps, fizzes and crackles, hit someone else where they feel reassured that it came from you and they know it is you.
Here is the full report to have a look at: