Content production is a huge priority for brands looking to keep their consumers engaged and inspired, but this can sometimes take a toll on the quality of the message brands spend their talents curating. Dan Yeo, Head of Media and Online Relations at Search Laboratory, has some top content marketing tips to share ahead of his presentation at the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference. Find out how you can make your content work harder to inspire leads and drive towards success.
FD: There’s currently a great deal of debate as to how marketers should be producing and distributing content. What’s the current state of content marketing, and what challenges are content marketers facing as they compete for the consumer’s attention?
DY: “Content marketing has evolved rapidly over the last few years, and the environment is more competitive than ever before. Brands and agencies are being forced to become savvier, and they’re now tailoring campaigns to newspaper editors and huge catalyst publications, rather than just pitching content to individual bloggers or independent sites. The biggest challenge is cutting through this noise and forging lasting relationships with the right journalists and influencers, so you don’t get lost in the thousands of emails they receive every day.”
FD: How can marketers keep their content fresh? Is it possible to repurpose pre-existing content?
DY: “Reserving budget for testing new ideas is vital for keeping content fresh, where you take the pressure off your teams and allow them the freedom to try something innovative and different. With results targets and the consequences of failing in mind, we’re programmed to stick to proven ideas and techniques, but we need to balance this evidence-driven approach with more of the creative stuff to stay ahead of the competition and keep content fresh.
“It’s absolutely possible to repurpose content. Our industry evolves so quickly that campaigns from only a couple of years ago can already seem really dated to us looking back, but often there’s still a great concept there. Think about how you can take this and update the way it’s presented, source extra data to support it, or tweak it to appeal to a wider range of niches.”
FD: What kind of content is driving the best engagement among consumers?
DY: “Looking back over our ten best performing content campaigns from last year in LinkLab (our media database that stores all of our contacts and results) it’s image-based and data-driven content that’s driving the best engagement. Infographics can be overused but, done well and for the right reasons, they can be extremely shareable and keep users really engaged.
“We recently calculated the cost of the damage caused in the Fast and Furious films for a car insurance company and presented this in infographic form. Because there was a story there and it was the most suitable way to visualise the data, we achieved over 500 pieces of coverage for the campaign.”
FD: Viral marketing campaigns are elusive and unreliable things- what are your three key ingredients for producing viral content?
DY: “For me, the three key ingredients are the angles, the format, and the relationships. It all starts with the angles, and building enough strong ones into your campaign so that, if an idea doesn’t resonate with one niche as well as you thought it would, you’ve got plenty more markets to fall back on and promote it to. If we came up with the best idea in the world, but there was only one potential community it was relevant to, we’d adapt it until we could cast our net wider to maximise impact and reduce risk.
“Next, the format of the content has to be right for the readers you’re targeting and the story you’ve created; it should add something significant and give all the sites you pitch to a reason to link back.
“Finally, the relationships you nurture with key industry influencers will be the difference between a reasonable success and a viral sensation. By building up a really strong and reliable book of contacts at major catalyst sites, you can predict the viral impact and spread of information that a campaign will have, and minimise the ‘elusive and unreliable’ elements as much as possible.”
FD: How can marketers optimise digital PR to reach their audiences, particularly in lower-interest industries?
DY: “Particularly in lower-interest industries, applying an SEO approach to digital PR is really important. If your industry is restrictive or dry, you can take a longer-term approach to reaching your audience by branching out and getting coverage and links from different niches.
“While the brand coverage might be of negligible valuable outside of your target demographic, the links will drive more authority and allow you to rank better for the terms your audience are searching for. You’re still reaching your audience, but the way you get to them and the way you approach PR is different.
“A good example of this is a campaign we ran for Tiger Sheds, when we launched the world’s first zombie-proof log cabin. Now, we knew that people who liked zombies weren’t necessarily going to buy sheds, but we also knew that Tiger Sheds needed more authoritative links to outrank their competitors for search terms like “garden sheds”. (If you’re searching for that, you probably want to buy a garden shed.)
“So, leading up to Halloween we created a full zombie-proof log cabin product page, and pitched the story to international media, massive tech publications and viral news sites. Not one person bought that £60,000 log cabin, but it didn’t matter; the campaign earned over 600 links and allowed Tiger Sheds to rank far better for the key terms their audience were searching for.”