For the past decade, Nate Riggs has helped companies produce content for the web for midsized and large businesses. Currently, he is the Director of Social Business & Content Marketing at The Karcher Group. He speaks at conferences on social business- and technology-related topics and regularly contributes content to his blog nateriggs.com as well as to the Content Marketing Institute.
I had a chance to ask Nate some questions regarding the importance of developing and maintaining a content marketing strategy.
What is the benefit for brands to create regular content?
Nate: Brands that put the time and resources into creating regular content have the advantage of staying visible in their marketplace. Visibility leads to top-of-mind brand awareness among current and potential customers and ultimately to more people signing up to become customers.
Regular frequency is just as important as developing quality content that provides readers and viewers with information that helps them make decisions.
Why is content marketing so important for companies?
Nate: I think there is some dissonance in the marketing industry around what content marketing really is. On one side, it could be defined as using content to market a company. On the other, you could describe it as marketing and promoting the content itself as a product. Both apply.
In the end, what both definitions have in common is that content becomes tied to generating revenue. For companies in today's competitive environment, content marketing becomes a critical component to generating more dollars.
ROI for a content marketing strategy can be difficult to measure. What do you see as ROI for content?
Nate: ROI is a simple equation: return on investment. With that in mind, the answer depends on your goal and the level of the investment of time, money, and human resources that you are willing to dedicate to any content marketing effort.
For one of my previous clients, content marketing tactics were applied to enhancing internal communication efforts related to employee recruitment and retention as well as training and development. The program resulted in a reduction of the turnover rate from an average of 26% to about 12%, saving the company more than $250K in training costs annually.
I always challenge companies to focus first on clearly defining their goals for content marketing, before ever talking about ROI. The returns on your investment don't always need to be tied to generating new revenue.
What specific departments should be involved in content strategy?
Nate: The act of developing a content strategy should ideally be a cross-functional effort. There are experts, storytellers, and epicenters of organizational culture found in all departments and all levels of a business. Smart marketers make a point to tap those sources and bring them into the content planning mix.
When considering an overall marketing strategy, where does digital content rank?
Nate: Again, completely depends on the business and the business's goals and objectives. If you are a small local B2C service-based business, search engine optimization and good website conversion are critical to your success. If you are a midsized B2B service-based business targeting a vertical audience, your sales personnel and C-Level's time on the golf course is what will most likely drive the lion's share of your business.
At any rate, the web applies to every business in some way. Failure to explore and adopt digital marketing strategies and tactics will most likely result in the stunting of growth for your company.
How much of a marketing budget should be spent on content?
Nate: That depends as well on the size, nature, and type of business and their goals. A recent survey of 1092 B2B marketers by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs (B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends) showed that these marketers dedicated around 26% of their marketing budgets toward content-related initiatives in 2011. Nearly 60% report they plan to spend more money on content marketing in 2012, and with that, 62% of the respondents use outsourcing for content marketing.
Are there any particular brands that stick out in your mind as content innovators?
Nate: Lots of them-in fact, too many to choose from. Here is a list of some of the brands I think have been doing a really nice job recently.
- Edison Research-Under the direction of Tom Webster, the firm develops and markets some annual studies that have resonated well with online audiences. The Social Habit is one of their benchmark studies that compares trends between the American mainstream public and the American social media user. They do a nice job of marketing this and other studies online, offline, and in live presentations and events.
- Coca-Cola-I thought how Coke uses their strategy as fuel for additional content marketing objects was stellar. You can see various iterations of their plan as well as some very well-developed videos on the CMI case study on Coca-Cola.
- Dollar Shave Club is one that has risen to popularity this year. While it's debatable whether this campaign could be considered content marketing or simply a crafty form of online video advertising, it's still commanded enough attention to begin to cause a shift in consumer behavior. For years, men have bought razor and shave products at the store and paid a premium price for those products. Dollar Shave Club has opened consumers to a completely new way of purchasing these products. As effectiveness goes, using content to engineer that type of a shift is no small feat.