The evolution of Content Marketing to attract and retain audiences

Strategy
January 21, 2022

Most people think that Content Marketing is an innovative and novel business strategy, when in fact it is older than many people think.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the first Content Marketing strategy dates back to 1891, when American entrepreneur August Oeketer decided to market a baking powder for home consumption accompanied by small recipes on the back of the product packaging, to educate consumers about the use and nutritional benefits of his brand. Oeketer achieved such success that twenty years later, he published a cookbook that became one of the best-selling cookbooks of its time with 19 million copies printed worldwide.

It is clear that Content Marketing is nothing new, but it can be said that the emergence of the Internet led to the democratization and popularization of Content Marketing. This shift has allowed any kind of company – including SMEs and Startups – to generate their own content, without having to invest large amounts of resources in this type of strategy, in order to attract more leads and retain a greater number of customers.

Nonetheless, this situation poses a great challenge for brands today, as it is increasingly difficult for them to attract the attention of their audiences with relevant, attractive, and useful content. Particularly when there are millions of options available to them at the click of a button for information and entertainment when surfing the web.

For this reason, companies like Castleberry Media are investing heavily in programs and methods based on data and Artificial Intelligence, to help brands simplify and automate their internal processes for selecting, creating, and distributing content so that they have the desired impact on their audiences.

The creation of relevant and quality content for the right audiences is not an easy task. On the contrary, it requires a more scientific and rigorous process from brands, where the choice of the topics to be explored depends on the information provided by data on the needs and preferences of the audiences and not, as it happens today, on the “guesses” or “hunches” of the editorial teams.

How can this be achieved? In this article, you will find the answer.

content marketing evolution

Content Marketing: from future to reality

“The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment… Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.”

This was what Bill Gates wrote in his opinion column in 1996, entitled “Content is king”, in reference to the approach that companies’ marketing strategies should take in the Internet era that was just beginning.

And the truth is, he wasn’t wrong. According to statistics from HubSpot, 70% of business decision-makers invest in content marketing strategies, because they know that a large part of consumers prefer to learn about a product through high-impact and high-value content, rather than through traditional advertising.

“For example, U.S. companies that have a blog have 126% higher lead generation than those that don’t,” according to a study by the Impact agency. “This happens in a context in which 77% of Internet users read blogs regularly”. These figures undoubtedly demonstrate the degree of effectiveness and receptiveness that strategies based on Content Marketing have on both consumers and companies themselves.

Globally, some of the companies that have succeeded in developing this type of strategy are American Express, Bayer, and, of course, Microsoft Corporation. Through its blog “History Story Labs,” Microsoft shares and celebrates the most inspiring stories of the industry that, through technology, science, and innovation, are transforming the world and the way people live and relate to each other.

In Colombia, one of the brands most recognized for successfully implementing Content Marketing is Bancolombia. Through its digital platforms such as ‘Capital Inteligente’, ‘Innovación y Transformación Digital’ and ‘Actualízate’, Bancolombia shares information and specialized knowledge with its customers about financial education, ecosystems for entrepreneurs in the region, and programs for SMEs, respectively.

Succeeding in content marketing

Guesswork: the big issue with Content Marketing today

Although many brands are currently using Content Marketing, most of them continue to implement their strategies based on intuition or inspiration rather than resorting to more effective or scientific methods, such as data. In other words, what currently dominates the process of selection, creation, and distribution of content within them, is guesswork (let’s see if this topic works), intuition (this may interest my audience), and even past experience (if this worked before, it may work again).

While this may work during the first few months, as time goes by, imagination inevitably falls short on editorial teams, so the question “What are we going to write about this month?” is not only becoming more frequent, but even worse, generating more frustration among editors. It also encourages us to make the common mistakes in this type of situation: repeating topics, creating content that does not engage the audience, adopting a more promotional style, and -in the end- believing that Content Marketing is not useful.

Other companies, on the other hand, appeal to traditional and/or basic tools to know their audiences, such as SEO Keyword Research (which may improve the positioning of content in search engines by including keywords used by the audiences on the web) or Buyer Persona (which recreates a fictitious profile of the ideal client based on data).

While these approaches help to identify the general characteristics of the audience, they do not establish deeper and more determining aspects about their needs and interests. For example the type of language they use, the content they consume, or their personal opinions about it.

Consequently, the truth is that most brands are not implementing their Content Marketing strategies in the most efficient way, as they continue to appeal to traditional resources or – even worse –  resort to guesswork to identify the needs and desires of their audiences to create the content that they believe is most useful and attractive to them.

Contrary to the early years of the Internet, where the goal of brands was to create content at all costs, the success of Content Marketing today is based on generating the most relevant and useful content possible, to achieve the greatest engagement with audiences.

How to achieve this? It’s very simple: through data.

Data: the right approach to impactful content

If it is no longer enough for brands to simply create content to succeed in Content Marketing, but rather they must create the best possible content for their audiences.  To do so, they must begin by getting to know these audiences in depth in order to have more detailed and accurate information about their tastes, desires, and interests.

To achieve this, the only possible approach is through data.

That’s why companies like Castleberry Media have developed tools that allow companies to collect as much data as possible about the content consumed by their customers and leads, in order to analyze it and develop the most targeted and relevant content for them.

In this way, companies’ decisions regarding content (such as the selection of topics, positioning, format, and keywords) are based on real data and facts, instead of intangible elements such as intuition or guesses, reaching the objectives initially established without having to waste the company’s finite resources, including time and money.

Many times a brand can easily determine its target audience and build a functional customer journey around it, but it struggles to determine the type of content that will generate the most engagement. This is where data and, above all, Artificial Intelligence play a decisive role, as they help to improve and optimize the delivery of more relevant and attractive content for increasingly selective audiences.

brand objectives

Artificial Intelligence: predicting and measuring content strategies

While data allows brands to know their audiences in depth (to develop the most attractive and useful content possible according to their needs and interests), Artificial Intelligence gives them the possibility to know if those pieces of content will achieve the desired impact and engagement, even before they are published. Taking Content Marketing to a level of predictability of results never seen before.

According to Luisa Echeverry, Business Lead at Castleberry Media, ” Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms allow brands to optimize their content by determining whether or not the article they produced fits the parameters of the best content in the world for that audience; based on its tone, grammatical structure, writing style, and even sentiment.”

In addition to predicting the future performance of each piece of editorial content, AI also gives marketing teams the opportunity to make the best distribution and positioning decisions so that their content achieves the desired visibility and impact. “For example, at Castleberry Media, we have our own AI algorithm called “Content Placement Score,” which calculates the probability that the analyzed article looks like the best articles published for that audience in the world.

So, if there is a high degree of similarity, it prompts marketing teams to amplify (distribute) the content, by investing in advertising, placing it in the header as the main headline of their blog, or including it in the company’s newsletter. Thus improving its visibility and positioning in both search engines and customer preferences,” adds Luisa Echeverry.

True Content: the evolution of Content Marketing

If the Internet gave brands the opportunity to venture into Content Marketing through mass communication channels, data and Artificial Intelligence will allow companies to optimize their resources to the fullest, to ensure that their content strategies achieve the desired objectives on their audiences.

That is why Castleberry Media has developed a tool called TRUE CONTENT, which allows brands to understand how to build the most effective B2B content, based on data analysis and Artificial Intelligence, and to discover what their audiences are reading, talking about, and consuming. Thus transforming Content Marketing into an analytical and scientific process based on data, rather than one based on guesswork or instinct.

But what exactly can brands do with TRUE CONTENT?

  • Get to know audiences like never before, through the topics they consume, what they read, what they talk about, what they are interested in, and what they care about.
  • Monitor what your competitors are doing to know what content, topics, and keywords they are using to communicate with the audience you want to reach, in order to highlight and differentiate your own content strategies from the rest.
  • Use Artificial Intelligence to know in advance if their content has the right tone, sentiment, and keywords to generate the desired engagement with the audience, based on the best content in the world related to that topic.
  • Identify the writers on their editorial teams who, due to their profile and writing style, are best suited to the content they want to produce and to the special attributes of the selected audience.

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