The most common challenge we see brands of all sizes struggling with is how to progress from simply ‘doing’ content to embedding a sophisticated content marketing strategy they can scale and monetise – ideally, as quickly as possible.
Larger brands, in particular, are impatient to move from experimentation to sophistication. They aspire to emulate marketing behemoths such as one of our content crushes Santander (more on them below). But they often lack a clear blueprint on how to fast-track their strategy and maturity as a result.
This is understandable because unless you’ve lived and breathed the experience of building a content operation, plotting the granularity to transition from one maturity phase to the next can be somewhat opaque.
And too often, the pivotal – yet unsexy – foundations such as strategic alignment, organisational integration, technology and measurement are underestimated.
This conundrum is particularly relevant right now, given that 59% of B2C marketers and 46% of B2B marketers expected their content marketing budget to increase in 2020, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 B2C and B2B benchmarks.
According to a recent NewsCred study, this sentiment has accelerated since COVID-19, with 72% of US marketing leaders expecting to notably increase their online content budget.
However, extra budget alone won’t solve the content and brand marketing puzzle. Instead, organisations need a clear strategy and maturation roadmap to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality.
Accelerating your content marketing benchmark: A blueprint for success
Ubiquity Lab has developed a four-phase roadmap to help organisations evolve towards unlocking the true power of their content marketing ecosystem.
With ‘walk’, ‘jog’, ‘run’ and ‘sprint’, each stage is interdependent, and the journey isn’t necessarily linear – you can straddle several stages at once.
We developed these steps to help organisations benchmark their content marketing, strategic integration and operational capability, to plot the journey forward.
Our content marketing benchmark provides an unbiased assessment of your maturity based on 16 questions.
It’s important to note that there’s only a handful of organisations in Australia that can say, hand on heart, that they’ve reached ‘sprint’.
In many instances, this stage may only be aspirational, or it may not make commercial sense for organisations to reach it.
However, large corporates that are investing heavily in content production, social, search, performance marketing, EDM, owned communities and other core elements that work in unison with content marketing should unequivocally be operating at ‘run’.
Walk: Grappling with the difference between content marketing and content production
It may surprise you to know that when you dig deeper, many big corporates are only at the walking stage – or at best, they’re straddling ‘walk’ and ‘jog’.
‘Walk’ is typified by:
Jog: Embedding a data-led content marketing strategy
You haven’t reached ‘jog’ until you have a sophisticated content marketing strategy.
Our free eBook How to build a sophisticated content marketing strategy details a 20-step methodology to achieve content utopia, which we won’t rehash here, but there are two points, in particular, that are worth reaffirming when it comes to nailing this stage.
Firstly, your content marketing strategy must be integrated across the customer journey and the various marketing disciplines that touch it.
Similarly, embedding a content marketing strategy often requires a cultural change within the business, whereby customer intent and creative development start to power a cohesive content marketing ecosystem.
To that end, the internal change agent must embrace the fact their role is now as much about evangelism as it is delivering a strong content marketing benchmark.
‘Jog’ is typified by:
Run: Integrating a content-led paid, owned and earned marketing ecosystem
This is where life gets fun. Paid, owned and earned media channels truly start to converge, enabling an organisation to start nurturing and influencing customer journeys across multiple touchpoints in a far more effective manner.
The content marketing ecosystem that teams have spent so long nurturing is now a living, breathing organism that delivers substantial value to the business.
A core component of this stage is earned media (people talking about you, and sharing your content). This becomes increasingly important – something that can only be achieved consistently off the back of exceptional owned content, amplified through paid distribution.
The other key advancement at this stage is being more focused on the ever-increasing importance of data and technology.
‘Run’ is typified by:
Sprint: Achieving content marketing nirvana
This is the sacrosanct content ground, where only the best of the best can play.
Very few Australian organisations have nailed it yet, though there are several on the precipice.
Equally, content and the data it generates is leveraged to make data-based decisions at scale, and ultimately, to monetise the content marketing ecosystem.
‘Sprint’ is typified by:
Set the benchmark: Santander is one of the best global content marketing examples
Santander, a global financial services company, typifies an organisation that has reached the ‘sprint’ phase.
Its Denmark team won the Content Marketing ROI/Measurement Program prize at the recent 2020 Content Marketing Awards (CMA), and is a finalist in its soon-to-be-decided Project of the Year category. (Full disclosure, Matt is a judge for the CMA awards, but isn’t judging the Project of the Year).
We’d need an article at least this long to profile their activity and results, particularly given that their UK, USA and Spanish teams are all market-leading.
However, here’s a snapshot of some of why we have such a content crush on Santander:
We can’t all become like Santander overnight. However, you need to start the journey somewhere – ideally with a clear content marketing strategy and maturation plan.
The most important first step is to benchmark your content marketing capability and pinpoint exactly where you sit on the road to achieving nirvana.
Once you’re clear on the direction you need to take and the marketing potholes that have been hindering your progress, the road to domination becomes a lot smoother and your content marketing ecosystem more holistic and self-sustaining.