Are artists and researchers polar opposites? Though often considered worlds apart, content marketing balances creativity and science in harmony. In this space, data and ideas go hand in hand. There’s symphony in shared processes—trial and error, a new hypothesis, a researched methodology.
A stunning sunrise from 20 floors up in the sky.
Successful content marketing is built on a foundation of research, testing and creative experimentation. Having a content marketing strategy is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in your marketing plan, but a necessary driver of traffic and differentiation—backed by data and industry insight.
In the spirit of knowledge sharing, this article summarises the event’s key takeaways from the session’s experts: Sam Sidney (Milkbar Digital), Nerissa Atkinson (The Revery) and Aimee Jellett (SEEK ANZ).
Each speaker’s content strategy followed a similar outline:
- Define the goal and purpose of the strategy.
- Perform research (audience, behaviour, industry).
- Create content for your chosen channels.
- Share, experiment and tweak.
Using this outline, each speaker discussed the strategies that worked for their unique brand. Each brand applied techniques that blended their past methodologies, and experimentation.
Did someone say memes?
Milkbar Digital’s Sam Sidney and her team build in the social media space—curating and sharing clever content is their specialty. When creating content for clients, Sam asks herself whether it supports the overall goals of the strategy:
- Entertaining: is the content shareable and relatable? Will it make others laugh or support a community? Think memes, behind-the-scenes Instagram stories and 360 videos. Take notes from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s innovative 360 concert video.
- Educational: does your content inform and educate? Does it solve problems and provide answers? Think content that teaches, promotes and demonstrates new learnings and ideas.
- Inspirational: will it inspire viewers? Apply humour to make your content stand out. Knowing your audience lets you apply techniques that motivates and inspires customers.
In addition to measuring, A/B testing and tweaking the tone, type, and timing of content, Sam explained what makes content ‘sticky’, from timely campaigns to evergreen content sharing.
Sticky content is the brand messaging your audience engages with until they are ready to purchase. Sticky content is in your customer’s newsfeed, highly visible and relevant to your brand.
‘Sticky content stands out and is memorable, keeping you engaged with the brand even when you’re offline. For example, it pops into mind when you see that product on a supermarket shelf.’
Kicking off her presentation with a Venn diagram, Nerissa Atkinson’s approach to content marketing focuses on technology-led brands. To find the balance between science and creativity, Nerissa and her team ask ‘what really matters to people’, delving deep into audience insight. Nerissa calls it the pushmi-pullyu method.
Using a plethora of tools (Rankbrain, Buzzsumo and Hubspot to name a few), she encourages marketers to sequence content according to the needs of your brand’s conversion funnel. Once you’ve established a strong understanding of audience behaviour, Nerisa reminds us to create content that tells a story.
Need a tactic to get you started? Select common topics or recurring questions, perform a content cluster through brainstorming—and drill deep, just like Patagonia’s campaign below. It focuses on the environmental impact of accumulating stuff during sales—buy quality and no doubt, buy Patagonia.
A four-phase methodology.
Jumping into inhouse strategy, SEEK Australia and New Zealand’s (ANZ) Marketing Manager, Aimee Jellett, examined the content marketing experiments SEEK has taken over the years.
Aimee began by sharing SEEK’s content pilgrimage with a quote that perfectly frames the basis of a killer content strategy:
SEEK’s content marketing strategy is distilled into a four-phase approach, which Aimee illustrated with insights from the trenches.
- Phase one: focus on engagement.
Based on audience and industry research, SEEK ANZ shifted their brand voice and developed content appropriate to their audience (Let’s face it, there are only so many articles you can write on the topic ‘what to expect in an interview’).
- Phase two: analysing traffic and conversion.
Using analytics and data gathered from social media, eDM lists and website stats, Aimee’s team identified optimal channels, and added the Advice and Tips section to SEEK’s top navigation menu.
- Phase three: segmentation and relevancy.
With all that data, SEEK ANZ mapped their unique customer journeys, and targeted specific audiences. They segmented their database and key groups on social media, and developed content that was specific to each step of the customer journey.
Aimee consistently referred back to storytelling, highlighting the importance of connecting emotionally with SEEK’s audience and the brand’s core strategy.
Driven by three concepts (content components, people components and core strategy), SEEK communicates with their audience on native platforms, and strikes a balance with creation, promotion and governance.
- Phase four: real relationships evolve.
Referencing the agile methodology, Aimee noted that every experiment should provide insight and data. Your content marketing strategy should evolve every six months with the findings you discover.
During her presentation, Aimee made a four-year content marketing strategy sound achievable and worthwhile— citing a series of significant year-on-year increases in audience engagement. A key takeaway she shared was for brands to own their industries:
‘Brands need to act like publishers. You need to own your industry and conversations; but also remember to create content that elicits emotional engagement and serves your customers.’
The final balancing act.
While new and exciting ideas might be easy to implement, maintaining creative and quality content is a balancing act. To keep evolving your content, the speakers shared a few methods to spark creativity and idea generation:
- Create themes to write within.
- Create content clusters around one FAQ or topic.
- 10x every idea (come up with at least 10 different titles per idea).
- Involve other departments in your organisation with cross-functional brainstorms.
- Own moments uniquely (i.e. SEEK’s Mother’s Day content may focus on women in the workforce rather than motherhood).
- Tailor and curate content for audience segments.
- Take risks, test and experiment.
- Keep your eyes peeled for new technology, and learn how to use it.
Regardless of the process you find works best for you, the final tip each speaker came back to can be summarised by author Kevin Stirtz:
‘Know what your customers want most, and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.’
A big thank you to Interactive Minds for another stimulating event. If you found this event wrap-up valuable, be sure to attend Interactive Minds’ 2017 Digital Summit, this July in Melbourne and Brisbane.