Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Content Marketing for a Digital Era

Traditional marketers have long championed the idea that content is king, and for most, it seems logical that if you create relevant and valuable content, you are better positioned to engage customers and increase leads.
But how has this concept changed in a digital world which moves and churns out information at a pace that no one could have ever conceived? And how can companies continue to communicate in a way that is both impactful and persuasive?

The UK print business is a particular example of a behemoth industry which has had to dramatically adapt more than any other to changes in how we search for and interact with content on a daily basis. UK national newspaper the Daily Mail has always had a high circulation on UK soil, but it has been with the Mail Online that the publisher has been able to make its mark on a global scale. Last year, it was announced that the Mail Online receives more traffic than any other news site in the world, and with recent plans announced for digital expansion, it’s difficult to imagine its digital following wavering any time soon.

Meanwhile, online publishers such as the Huffington Post have had an enormous impact on the way we view news without ever having a hard printed copy to its name.

On the flip side, according to a recent report by Group M, it is predicted that spending on national printed editions of newspapers will fall from £1.2bn in 2012 to £1.1bn in 2013, a drop of 5%. This news comes following the Guardian’s recent denying of ‘absurd’ suggestions that it is to move online entirely, and much loved publications such as music magazine The Word and DC Thompson’s comic The Dandy bid farewell to print due to drastic changes in the printed media industry.

Yet digital spending looks unstoppable and is expected to exceed £5.3bn this year in the UK alone. With the BBC website receiving nearly 250,000 referrals from Facebook every day, it is crucial that social media and web content is recognised as having moved beyond being considered a fad to a serious opportunity.

However, if the average Facebook or Twitter user is faced with hundreds of messages and news stories every day, how much stronger does the content and its headline have to be to command attention?

“It’s about having that unique content” says Mail Online's deputy publisher Pete Picton. “The experience at the Mail Online is that we think there’s a market for our journalism [overseas] – if it’s good quality journalism. Good quality anything will have a market.”

But has the use of digital tools changed how we write? Digital advances mean that we email, text, blog and chat on social media on a regular basis throughout the day, demanding in fact that we communicate via the written word more now than in any other point in human history. As businesses and news outlets in particular try to create stories that get shared around, the ones who produce the best content continue to come up trumps.

As the internet continuously pumps out more unfiltered digital content, the significance of clear and engaging messages in successful marketing has never been more important. With digital spending growth already representing a quarter of the entire UK marketing economy, the power of good content has never been more important. Good content is credibility, especially on the internet. So whilst the world of communication moves at an incredible pace, it will never race beyond its own reliance on perfectly chosen content.