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How Content Marketing Is Changing & What We Can Do to Be Ready

Nathan Safran
by , Comments

We are on the cusp of a new content phase. As digital marketers, we should be aware of what is coming. Much of the evolution is occurring first in B2B marketing, but I believe this foreshadows a change that is coming for all digital marketers.

Content was initially a simple concept for most online marketers – any content would do so long as it moved their handful of keywords up the search listings. Then, content marketing evolved. The swathe of keywords widened, and content marketers became newly concerned with content discovery on channels such as social and using content to build their brands and connect with their audience.

Phase Content Goals Measurement
  • Appear in Search Listings
  • Limited Keywords: (10's of keywords)
  • Content discovery across inbound channels (search, social, etc.)
  • Brand building
  • Connect with audience
  • Moderate keywords (thousands of keywords)
  • Social network activity and engagement

There are many problems forcing this shift in content marketing, but we'll focus on just two of the primary ones here.

The first has to do with the persistent trouble of proving content's ROI. The second is the enormous, missed opportunity of customer segmentation.

Problem 1: 7 out of 10 Marketing Executives Struggle to Measure Marketing Impact

Measuring the Business Impact of Marketing Spending

Overall, marketing executives have great difficulty in measuring the impact of marketing spend. An amazing 70 percent of executives admit to not being able to show the impact of their marketing spend at all, or only having a qualitative but not quantitative sense of it.

The inability to effectively gauge the impact of marketing is a significant catalyst of the impending content evolution.

Problem 2: Marketers Know They Need Content Better Aligned with the Buyer's Journey

Content Marketing Alignment With Buyer Journey

When we narrow our focus to content, what we immediately see is that 68 percent of marketers recognize the importance of aligning content with the buyer's journey.

In fact, only 12 percent of marketers feel confident about how they are currently measuring their content efforts and report being "sophisticated in our content alignment with the buyer's journey and measurement."

Marketers are clearly aware that all is not well in content measurement. 49% of Marketers that say they are planning on working to change that in the next six months by better aligning content with the buyer's journey. This also gives us another look into the next phase of content marketing's evolution.

The New Content Marketing Will Emphasize Customer Segmentation and Measurement

If the first phase of content marketing was an unsophisticated "publish content to a broad audience with limited measurement", the next phase involves a deeper understanding of audience segments and measurement of the effectiveness of content to those segments.

The content needs of buyers/visitors differ based on their stage in the buyer's journey, and the metrics used to measure success may also differ based on the buyer's journey. It is this awareness that will drive the next phase in the content marketing journey.

Phase Content Goals Measurement
  • Appear in Search Listings
Limited Keywords: (10's of keywords)
  • Content discovery across inbound channels (Search, social…)
  • Brand building
  • Connect with Audience
  • Moderate Keywords (1,000's of keywords)
  • Social Network Activity and Engagement
  • Content discovery across inbound channels (Search, social…)
  • Brand building
  • Connect with Audience
  • Shepherd buyers through the buyer's journey
  • High Keywords (10,000's of keywords)
  • Social Network Activity and Engagement
  • Content Consumption and Effectiveness by Buyer's Stage

Get Ready for the Next Stage in Content Marketing

Driven by the implicit desire by marketers to gain greater insight into marketing spend and the need to be better targeted with content, content marketing is entering a new phase. This new phase ushers in an era of sophistication that allows marketers to better connect with their audience, educate them through the buyer's journey and wring more value from their content dollar with better measurement of what does and doesn't work.

We can start to take steps to be prepared for this change by beginning to think about how buyers progress through the buyer's journey in our vertical and how their content needs might differ at each stage along the way.

What's your view on how content marketing is changing?

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