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A view of content marketing from the inside

by Liam McNally

A view of content marketing from the inside

What is content marketing?

To me content marketing is about creating relevant, quality content, to a target audience on a consistent basis, as well as creating a content strategy to plan the various channels that this content can be distributed on, be that web, mobile, social or print.

Julia Scott, Content Marketing Manager at La Trobe University, describes it as ‘producing content that is valuable to both the audience and business, on the correct platforms, encouraging the consumer to take action depending on what stage they are in the “funnel”’.

The great thing about content is that it is ever-changing. I spoke to two senior content marketing leaders and asked them:

 - What are some current developments in the content marketing space?
 - What does the future hold for content marketing?
 - Does the UX process involve content enough?
 - How to break into the content marketing field

Exciting developments in content marketing

Commitment to content marketing

This seems to have been established and it’s certainly evident in the current marketplace, with the need for great copywriters, content specialists, content strategists, and content managers.

The emphasis on immediate content seems to have waned with a focus on strategy, with Julia stating,

the lead time for content is 3 years -  there should be a three year strategy in place to get a true ROI of the content. It is easy to create good content but difficult to create great content... with the last 10% of work taking 90% of the time for a successful content strategy”.

Julia also mentioned she would like to see content taking more of a lead role in web development projects, rather than following the design team. Which if this trend continues could certainly be the case.

Content marketing and storytelling 

For content to be GREAT is has to be engaging and tell the story in a simplistic way. Samantha Amjadali, Content Director at Watermelon Media says consumers are no longer quite as susceptible to, or tolerant of, traditional forms of marketing. The emergence of Content Marketing means brands must promote their offerings in a far more imaginative and authentic manner.”

Julia expressed this perfectly saying that “every content team needs a poet”, suggesting that they can turn a seemingly boring piece of information into an engaging story prompting a consumer to act.

The future of content 

Increased appreciation of great content

An appreciation of great content is certainly on the increase and something that is important for attracting great people to a career in content marketing. 

Julia said she'd like to ‘see more investment into content marketing with the same budgets as traditional advertising, allowing content to take more risks as a result’.

To really drive content forward; large-scale investment needs to take place to cover all the various digital channels. I think this will further feed specialisation within the field, from social content specialists, to web content specialists etc. This will result in much more relevant content for those channels.

Public sector taking strides in content 

This was something very specific to Julia Scott. The fact that a lot of what the government does in terms of content is not as engaging as it could be, or is simply revolved solely around crisis communications. This is also relevant to Universities, which are now becoming much more engaged with content, but further strides in terms of investment would make a world of difference. 

Content is key within universities as a massive revenue platform is international student recruitment. Therefore providing valuable content to that audience is business critical for this huge market potential. 

Short content for short attention spans 

There is so much content, and people are so time poor in this hedonistic world this will certainly become a “thing”. Samantha Amjadali relayed “content will become shorter or offered in easily digestible morsels. Users will also want content to be more interactive rather than purely static.”

Content marketing and the UX process

Does the UX process incorporate content sufficiently? 

There have been numerous case studies showing that the most amazing looking website will fail if the content is not up-to-date and engaging. However traditionally UX has been a completely separate process from the Content Strategy.

The pervading theme from Julia and Samantha is that whilst they are separate, they need to collaborate much more effectively. i.e. during the build a developer, UX designer, and content specialist should work together ensuring that everything is integrated and flows smoothly.

Julia stated, Unique content expertise needs to sit within design and UX project teams to ensure that the content strategy is never lost, and to help tailor content for a web build.”

What is certainly evident is that design and content are starting to become synonymous with new developments such as Interactive Infographics and Branded Comics

Want a career in content marketing? 

Breaking into content marketing is like any career within the creative marketing sector. Here are 3 key things you must do: 

1. Education

With courses at places such as General Assembly, and various free MOOC’s including our very own Aquent Gymnasium, there is no excuse not to hone your skills. Develop that basis first before jumping in headfirst.

2. Examples, Examples, Examples!

If you are just starting out as a Content Specialist/Copywriter you need to build a Portfolio developing a style. If you are unable to gain paid experience then volunteer somewhere or create your own campaigns, taglines, and blog posts. All clients when they are recruiting a content specialist need visual representations of your work. 

Julia Scott suggests you “create blogs about what interests you, show your flare, and you can turn any degree into a career in content providing you have work to show”.

3. Network

This is still underestimated in building a career. Meet Ups are an excellent way to connect with like-minded people in the industry who along the way may be able to give you an in. LinkedIn and Twitter are also a great way to make yourself visible and get your work out there. Do it right, and it could pay dividends.

One thing is for sure - the future is bright, the future is Content Marketing. 

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