Marketers should put strategy before everything else when it comes to content marketing

Content discovery is emerging as a highly significant part of the marketing mix.

Recent research found that 55% of in-house and 58% of agency respondents were planning content marketing strategies in the future and two-thirds of in-house marketers (64%) agreed that content marketing is becoming a discipline in its own right as the online space becomes more competitive than ever and brands compete to keep audience attention.

The research also found that despite 90% of respondents predicting that content marketing will continue to increase in importance over the next year, the majority of them do not have a defined content marketing strategy in place. With content covering so many disciplines from social media to PR it seems there is some confusion over what it really involved and who actually owns it, which is one of the first downfalls that many companies fall foul of when trying to adopt content marketing

Web teams often seem like the obvious ‘owners’ given its digital nature, but then, the PR department may find themselves producing more copy… yet the fact that it’s even called content marketing implies that it should sit with the marketing division, surely?

The truth is, it is impossible to say who should own content marketing because every organisation is different, but if content is being created, be it a press release, an article, a video it should be included in the overall strategy – establish a process, implement it, enforce it and stick with it. Any content that you create should be thought of as a valuable output to support the content marketing strategy.

The first golden rule when it comes to approaching a content marketing strategy is that it must be woven throughout all disciplines for maximum effect – because content spans so many areas it’s no use if responsibility falls solely on PR, marketing or digital departments; it must be an integrated team effort from the offset for it to be truly impactful.

The importance of having a clear defined strategy before implementing any content marketing  campaign cannot be stressed enough – like most things in life, the devil is in the detail and unless you know what you want to deliver, what success would look like and how you’re going to get there, it will inevitably become a struggle.

There’s something to be said for knowing your boundaries too, so if you are not confident that in-house staff can create the likes of apps, infographics or videos, outsource elements of your content plan. Don’t underestimate the passion and in-depth knowledge that in-house staff generally possess – and how important that is to creating inspiring and engagement content – but allocate elements of the strategy to the right people.

Finally, be sure to remain ahead of the curve – a variety of trends have coalesced in recent years to underscore the importance of content marketing, and there’s no doubt that will continue – make a point of keeping abreast of developments; what’s working well, and any new or changing channels. Don’t forget to adapt with the times and ensure your content remains high quality and relevant to the audiences you want to engage with – which is ultimately what content marketing is all about.

Stephanie Himoff, UK Managing Director of  Outbrain UK.