Liam Kelly, founder of PR Measured, points in this post his views on the biggest challenges that content marketing teams will be facing in the next twelve months, elaborates on the biggest barriers that marketers are still facing when collecting data and using the right metrics and finally shares what is his favourite type of content, and why.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing content marketing teams in the next twelve months?
Liam: The core challenge that faces content marketing professionals in 2017 is much the same as it has always been: creating content that will engage a target audience and prompt a required action.
The challenge is that there has never been so much content. This year has seen more content generated than at any other point known. Some of it is created paid content, some is earned content, some is social content, but all of it is trying to engage an audience to take action.
If you are a content marketing professional, all of that content is distracting the target audience from your message. There’s a good chance that the content marketer won’t reach most of the audience with a single campaign. And so, content marketers need to define and document their longer-term strategy, rather than thinking just about single campaign activations.
On digital platforms, consumers and influencers have communicated visually for as long as we’ve been able to. But, search engines are getting better at finding and analysing images, which means we can define just how important visual communication is. As we dig into video and image content, marketers need to understand what the imagery means for consumers and how it will engage the target audience.
For me, the rise of fake news is a real point to consider in 2017. As Buzzfeed reported, during the US presidential election, Facebook users engaged more with fake news than with real news. When you consider that 44% of the US electorate use Facebook to source news, millions of voters were reading and sharing news they did not know was fake. Marketing is about building awareness, trust and reputation. The problem for content marketers is that fake news creates consumer doubt across online content. Doubt has a way of corroding trust, and a lack of trust means the target audience won’t engage in the way a brand hopes.
Q: Marketers are still struggling with measurement of content marketing activities. What do you believe are the biggest barriers to either collecting the data or focusing on the right metrics?
Liam: We live in the age of data. It is fortunate for people like me, because I love what data can tell us about the world. But, data alone can be misleading and content marketing is not alone in its struggle with measurement. It can be very easy to become distracted by numbers, rather than thinking about the insight that the numbers can bring.
Online data can be challenging. Programmatic content delivery is incredible. But its accurate measurement is tricky – there’s always some doubt around the veracity of viewer numbers. The increased use of bots means that even social data can be misleading. And, then there’s the credibility of where the content has been placed, and does that match the brand’s image.
I’ve been helping communicators measure effectiveness for almost 20 years, and there is no silver bullet – I know, I’ve looked. Instead, the marketer needs to define clear objectives, which are specific and measurable. The objectives do need to have some business benefit. Remember that the purpose of the content is to engage the audience and prompt an action of some kind.
Once the audience is defined, we can measure if they are engaging in the way a marketer may want. Operational metrics, the numbers that define the effectiveness of a specific action, can be useful here. Viewer data and sharing activity help the marketer understand if the tools that are being used to prompt engagement are working the way they need to, and to make adjustments as needed. It can be easy to become lost in operational data, and it’s important to maintain a focus on understanding the target audience.
Similarly, once the desired action has been defined we can measure if the action has taken place. The action may be anything from raising awareness to making a purchase to changing perceptions, and all of those actions have specific measurements that we can use.
Ultimately, rather than becoming lost in operational data, like viewer numbers, a marketer has to focus on whether the work has met the objective. They need to understand why (or why not) that may be the case to apply the learning to the next campaign.
Q: What is your favourite type of content and why?
Liam: I’ve spent almost 20 years analysing content and trying to understand its impact on a target audience. So, I’ve seen a lot of content. Over the past few years we’ve seen some incredible uses of technology to create and distribute highly engaging and inspirational content. But, I still prefer long-form print journalism.
As consumers, we spend most of our day seeing visual content and marketing messaging. When we read news online, we tend to scan it quickly rather than read it fully. We’re often distracted by other content on the page, which reminds us that there is something else that we should be doing.
Content that can engage, inform and entertain is rare and we don’t always have time to appreciate it. There is a special luxury in finding time to read a well-written print piece. And, I am not alone. We have seen the number of magazines grow over the past decade. Brands, like Net-a-Porter, are creating their own magazines in order to deliver their own content directly to their target audience.
Magazines with a particular focus on a given topic are interesting to me. For example, I’m a runner and really enjoy Like the Wind, a magazine written by runners for runners. The readership of focused magazines is usually low relative to mass market publications, but they can build a strong and highly-engaged community across multiple platforms. These micro-influencers will help content marketers find the audience they are looking for.
About Liam Kelly
Liam Kelly is the founder of PR Measured. For almost two decades, Liam has created, sold and managed global earned media analysis programmes for some of the world’s largest companies including Procter & Gamble, Burberry, Volkswagen, Ricoh, Sony, Tetra Pak and Eaton and many others. As Vice-President Insight at Cision, Liam led the group’s Insight offering in Europe and Asia for six years, significantly growing revenue. Prior to Cision, Liam managed client offerings at Report International and CARMA. Liam is also an associate at The Measurement Practice. Liam created PR Measured in 2016 to support the growth of insight businesses. You can reach Liam via email, follow him on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.
About PR Measured
PR Measured provides an external perspective to help media and content intelligence groups develop client-led insight and measurement products. Supporting the intelligence business across the customer lifecycle we provide guidance on uncovering and delivering insight to PR and digital customers. Subscribe to PR Measured’s monthly measurement newsletter. To learn more you can visit prmeasured.com, follow them on Twitter or reach them via email.