Content Marketing Research – Can we do more?
Updated: Feb 27
Content marketing is getting a lot of attention in the marketing circles, as most of the world has moved into online/digital era and a lot of brands – consumers interactions are taking place in a digital way.
There are people which are not there in this wonderful new world:
Older persons which are not digitally natives and not able to navigate the new world’s seas – but they are getting help from more tech savvy friend and relatives.
People living in still developing countries for which couldn’t afford any computing device – but this is changing fast with technology advance. Now affordable, even cheap smartphones are more powerful than ever and they offer a much smoother experience, allowing everybody to enjoy the benefits (and also the downsides) of the new and wonderful online universe.
There are a lot of recommendations related to content marketing production, for example:
Use relevant content
Use interactive content – starting recently, this includes VR content as well,
Use a data-driven approach – this includes introduction of AI tools as helpers
Continuous focus on SEO
and so on.
But I wonder: are we doing al it can be done to ensure content marketing is as relevant and as efficient as it could be?
What does “relevant content” really mean?
Who is assessing the relevance of the content? The content creators themselves? Marketeers? Top management?
How is the content assessed for relevance? By subjective evaluation performed by one or more of the parties mentioned above?
More specifically, how much of the new content driven marketing goes through a process similar with advertising testing – surveys designed specifically for evaluating content’s relevance and efficiency on the target group?
What does “data-driven approach” really mean?
Is it about using the tracking data related to online habits?
Is it about creating a more exhaustive profiling of the target population – such as understanding their needs, interests, lifestyle and opinions related to the brand and to the wider market?
More specifically, do the data used in the “data-driven approach” also include research data, first-hand information about how the people rate the content supposedly designed for them?
My feeling is that content marketing is currently in a phase quite similar with the one traditional advertising found itself decades ago, when advertising testing started to be the norm, rather than exception:
A lot of pushbacks from creative people, both from inside the organization or from outside parties (agencies), which questioned the surveys’ results validity
And a lot of pushbacks from various internal departments, starting with Marketing, which complained about the additional time and effort required by survey implementation and by the subsequent incorporation of the lesson into ad redesign.
Granted, there are new content marketing specific challenges, challenges which make more difficult to implement in a regular manner a test survey phase into the production process, than it is for traditional media:
Shorter production cycle, driven by teams being constantly under high pressure for fast time-to-market content delivery – leaving less time for surveys and for implementing lessons learned from them
Wider variety and larger volume than traditional advertising – requiring more resources (including time, which I just said in in short supply 🙂) to properly evaluate most, in not all new content (or reused content, for that matter – what worked before might not be so successful under new circumstances).
I’m convinced that all the additional blood, sweat and tears are worth it.
If including the content testing survey into the production cycle will become the norm, the whole process will become smoother as everybody gains experience with this way of working and all the dust settles down – exactly as it happened with traditional advertising.
If there’s too much content, you can carefully select which content pieces are the most critical for your business and which must be tested, thus keeping the resources’ usage under control and focusing them where they have the highest impact. If you can test additional content pieces, even better, but at least you assured your key weapons are as sharp as possible.
This is more critical now than ever, since online ad spending has already overtaken traditional ad spending in developed countries and the trend is inexorable – the rest of the world will surely follow.
Knowing directly from people what they resonate to, what they like to see and hear is providing you the means to ensure your content marketing campaign will provide good return on investment.
Basically, that’s a good way to find out that your money is not going down the drain.