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Producing content is an expensive exercise – in terms of time, resource and ultimately marketing budget. So, how can you be sure your investment is delivering long term benefits? Not just initial enquiries, but much further and deeper than contact acquisition. An effective content strategy extends and strengthens customer relationships.

There can be no argument about the role content has within the technology sector, and how it makes up a critical part of the marketing mix. As early adopters of content marketing, the technology industry now faces new challenges as the late majority realise the value of content and joining the increasingly noisy party.

Content creation, if left unchecked, is in danger of losing its lustre. Coined back in 1997, CNet’s notion that ‘Everyone’s a publisher’ has definitely rung true. Content is no longer produced by niche teams, instead publishing sprawl has bled into other functions within the organisation. Now social departments, comms teams, product experts and business leaders all contribute to corporate content. This has resulted in variable levels of quality – in addition to moving us closer to saturation point where killer material is lost in the sheer noise of advertised ‘premium’ content.

So what are the essentials qualities for successful content?

What are the magic ingredients that make up killer content? Is it the promise of industry insight, best practice techniques, cutting edge research or inspiring thought leadership material that entice our target audience? Well, yes and no. These are all tried and tested methods, but how many times have you felt ‘suckered in’ after you’ve handed over your contact details?

Dangling the proverbial carrot of premium content often fails to deliver once we digest it; Regurgitated opinions, stale executions or uninspiring content leave the consumer feeling short changed and disenfranchised with your brand.

Too often, content is utilised as a contact acquisition tool, however if planned and executed from a 360° perspective the value can be increased exponentially. Applying more rigour outside the initial purchasing phase helps enable other functions within the organisation, including channel teams, field marketers, sales and account management. Providing progressively influential arguments accelerates the purchase cycle and even exploits customer relationships post acquisition.

How can those qualities be measured?

Making sure your message inspires interest and then maintains it is critical to how we measure the value of each asset. Ultimately, engagement, not just social metrics including likes, comments and shares, but more tangible measures (as stated in the introduction) are the benchmark here. Yes, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL’s) are important but they shouldn’t be considered the only yardstick to measure success (or failure). Content should be part of the marketing mix for the long-haul and should go much deeper than a data acquisition tactic. In reality, it’s not just a numbers game.

Prospects may have felt duped after the first wave of activity could, on the face of it, be considered a warm lead when in reality they aren’t. The key, is to ensure that you have a campaign structure that contains equally engaging, entertaining and useful content that builds brand trust, engagement and ultimately advocacy.

Producing ‘deceitful’ content may yield an initial response, but value to the business may be minimal. Being too populist could result in droves of unqualified leads, too niche and the number of relevant leads could be reduced to a trickle.

How can they be improved?

The answer is to look at the bigger picture not just individual assets. Just as you would with an outreach campaign, each stage should be evaluated. Who am I talking to? What is the message we want to get across? Is it pitched correctly? Is it engaging? Does it align with the business strategy? What do we want them to do next? Looking at your content holistically may add an extra stage to the process but in the long run it makes good business sense.

Failure to properly audit your content inventory could prove costlier in the long-run with outreach budgets and potential customers being lost.

To make sure your content isn’t in danger of turning bad, register for our unique M4 content audit.

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