Do you hear that? It’s your wake-up call. Astonishingly, 84% of people expect brands to produce content, yet 60% of all content created by brands is poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver (Meaningful Brands, 2017). That leaves a lot of room for marketers to create impactful content designed to educate and inspire potential buyers.

84% of people expect brands to produce content, yet 60% of all content created by brands is poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver.Click To Tweet

 

Our mission as public relations practitioners has always been to reach as many relevant people as possible with our messages in order to create awareness and engender trust. While that hasn’t changed, people’s expectations and consumption habits certainly have. The fact is the media frequently isn’t the best place for the type of content buyers seek. Empowered by technology, they’re taking to Google to find content that helps them solve problems. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon us as brand stewards to ensure our brand can be found for those searches. And when we’re found, it’s imperative we present the buyer with an accurate, unbiased and informative pieces of content that aren’t designed to sell, but rather to cultivate trust and to establish a relationship.

Top 3 Content Marketing Trends for PR Professionals in 2017

Adapt to the modern buyer’s journey. Historically, the buyers’ journey was a linear path from attention through action. In contrast, the modern version can be an intricate and tangled web of possibilities. As marketers, we must be prepared for potential buyers who can and will enter and exit at any point in the funnel. Our goal as marketers and communicators (generally speaking) is to attract (visitors), convert (leads) and close (customers). And we’re increasingly responsible for bottom-of-the-funnel metrics. This means building resources for each stage of the buyer’s journey, not just the awareness-level content we may be more experienced with.

Marketers should consider the entire spectrum and create content that addresses specific buyer personas and their pain points (one at a time). By helping target buyers identify their symptoms, understand possible solutions and make a final decision, we are able to gently guide them through the marketing funnel while providing them the insight they need every step of the way. While we understand it’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario, it’s helpful to think about some of the most common problems or questions your audience typically has and reverse engineer the content from there.

Incorporate data analytics consistently. One of the greatest benefits of content marketing (as opposed to more traditional channels, such as media) is the ability to measure, analyze and adjust each component of your campaign in near real-time as it unfolds. It’s important to align your campaign metrics with each stage of the buyer’s journey (see above), but don’t get carried away. Select a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relatively simple to track, and make sure they are tied to your team’s more broad marketing goals. Whenever you put out new content, be sure to revisit these metrics and make adjustments where things aren’t playing out as expected.

Change your perspective on SEO. The reality (for better or worse) is that SEO, and our ability as marketers to influence our organic search rankings, still plays a huge part in our success. We do, in fact, have some control over our destiny! SEO today looks nothing like the keyword-stuffing, link-farming, shady black-hat practices that were much more prevalent in the early 2000s. While certain ranking “signals” haven’t changed, such as domain authority, backlinks and good use of anchor text, a lot has. Critical (and new, but increasingly important) ranking factors now include semantic (natural language) content, mobile optimization and encryption. It’s an old cliché, but it’s never been more true: content is still king. And we don’t see that changing any time soon.

At the same time, we’re becoming an increasingly hands-free society thanks to the emergence of Google’s “Assistant,” Amazon’s “Alexa,” Microsoft’s “Cortana,” Facebook “M” and others. Marketers should take note as people move from query-based searches to questions, the key difference being a focus on search driven by natural language rather than keywords. Marketers can stay ahead of the curve by making sure they create content that’s genuinely helpful (rather than promotional) and answers their buyers’ most pressing questions. Note that the most helpful answers are typically shown in answer boxes in Google search results – the same ones read by voice-based assistants when those questions are asked.

When thought through strategically and executed correctly, content marketing trends can be a powerful way to connect directly with your target audience. But keep in mind it’s still only one possible approach, and it doesn’t mean other strategies don’t work anymore. As the role of PR in the larger marketing spectrum continues to evolve, don’t be afraid to experiment with new tools and techniques or simply to refine your existing process and ensure you are maximizing return on investment. A well-balanced, holistic approach will almost always yield the best results.

How to Launch a Content Marketing Strategy in Eight Easy Steps [Guide]
Justin is responsible for leading overall direction on all digital programs and projects as well as overseeing and advancing the agency's digital competency and teams. He works alongside our senior management team to provide strategic and tactical client counsel; help set client expectations; and collaborate with account teams on project implementation and competency training. Justin holds a Masters in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Marketing and Management Information Systems, and a Bachelor of Arts in English, General Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University.