Content; a clarification

by Sophia Parsons on Monday 29 October 2018

When my family ask me, time and time again, ‘what do you actually do for a living…’ it’s a) offensive, because it’s been 5 years of my life now and 2) always slightly hard to answer. So, for years thanks to my convoluted response and their small attention span, my mother has been telling close friends, colleagues, down to the postman that I simply work for ‘the internet’.


Even though she’s technically not wrong, I’m obviously not employed by the mass conglomerate that is ‘internet.org’. So, this blog post is to set out to give insight to what a content marketer ‘actually does’. Not just to prove to my family that I do more than shout buzzwords at people, but also for anyone else out there that switches off when they hear the first utterings of ‘consumer funnel’ (me, most meetings)



The dictionary definition of ‘Content Marketing’ is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. A lukewarm description at best; if you think that we turn up to work every day, come up with some sort of cat meme with the aim of going viral, then you’re wrong, but please tell me where I can find that job.


Content marketing is the creation of owned content, which seeks to attract and retain customers by curating content that can both enhance or change a consumer’s behaviour, and a site’s performance. It’s a strategic blend of creation, curation and syndication.  


But how do you cook up that secret blend of strategic herbs and spices? Below are three main components, that I believe give a little insight into what we do as a department and helps us create the content.


1) Ideas


Sadly, coming up with ideas doesn’t consist of us sitting around in a circle on beanbags, throwing a ball at each other and shouting out hashtags. Thank god, because I am legitimately terrible at throwing. Content is an amalgamation of creating something fit for the client, the consumer and SEO.


Unfortunately, content today is becoming rather saturated, and trying come up with that never-been-done-before-ground-breaking-gonna-get-all-the-backlinks campaign happens less than you like. We are living in an age of content, where we wake up in the morning and are presented with some new and shiny content that intends to enhance your life in a way you didn’t think fathomable. For that day anyway.


To try and counteract this, we research into media and social trends surrounding both the brand and the product we’re targeting. We then delve into audience data to help us get a clearer picture of the customer we’re aiming for, tied up with keyword research to inform us of queries we can point our content towards. Competitors are also crucial when it comes to ideation because it’s likely they’ve been given a similar brief to us at some point down the line, and hey, you can always learn from anyone, even your enemies. All put together, this enables us to present the client with a well-informed content idea they’re willing to throw budget at.

 

2)  Performance


When coming up with your ideas though, there is one vital part you can’t forget. KPIs for content vary widely and are often different client to client. However, there is a usual preconceived target, and that is the B word, backlinks. When a backlink target is mentioned, it’s like the ghost of Christmas past is coming back to haunt me. A few years ago, you could throw out a gift voucher and schmoozy email to a website and boom, backlink acquired. As the industry develops though, backlinks are becoming continually harder to get and therefore targets harder to meet, and as an external influence you can’t control this. So, when all those top tier sites don’t provide your campaign with a backlink, what do you do? Well, our content is now propositioned to not only generate backlinks, but to meet several targets that can help increase a sites performance and a brands value.


One of our most successful campaigns, and one I like to harp on about is #ThisIsNewLook. In all honesty, when the campaign launched, it didn’t receive a ground-breaking number of backlinks. Despite this, it was still one of the most engaged with pages on the site for the first month of launch. It also increased homepage conversion by 8% and average order value by 18%, and it had a social reach of over 7.5 million. We even had in-store pushes. I could honestly write another blog post on why this campaign was so great, but it’s been 2 years now people keep telling me I need to find something new to talk about.


My point Is that if a campaign doesn’t achieve that many backlinks, it’s not the be all and all for us anymore. That’s why when we create content, we ensure it has the capacity to boost other variables, as well as attempting to push Brexit off the front of the BBC homepage.

 

3)  Integration


In order to hit the KPIs your content is targeting, you have to be collaborative. Getting the content on a client’s site is an all hands-on deck process, but it shouldn’t stop there. Both creation and amplification from all relevant client and agency side teams is needed for a campaign to be fruitful. I’m not saying let’s get everyone down to the IT department involved, they ignore my helpdesk tickets as it is, but content is an integrated effort from design, development and SEO, to email, social, brand and PR.


Within content, people often focus on ideation. Ideas are what excite clients, and the fun part of the job for us. Whilst a good idea is essential to content marketing, Integration is what takes up most of our time. What is the point of amazing content if no one ever sees it? Conversely the simplest piece of content, with the right timing, in the right hands, can be a roaring success.


If ‘content is King’, then distribution is Queen- because I am all about gender equality and corny one liners. Successful content can never exist in a silo, and our jobs as content marketers is to identify and involve the right mix of stakeholders to reach our clients performance KPIs and create a successful content campaign.

 

All in all, content marketing is now a mixed bag. It’s moved on from the link orientated campaigns of yesteryear and we are now presented with continuous challenges thanks to everchanging industry. This, alongside the jack of all trades mentality, is why it’s hard to give our job one central definition, but also why I love my job. However, if none of the above still really makes any sense as to what we do, then at least there’s the last resort of ‘I work for the internet’.