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The Secret To Effective Content Marketing

Data is the lifeblood of a content marketing campaign. It doesn't just keep it on the right track but also ensures greater return

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He's got the whole world in his hands - the old song if sung in today's digital context would get a whole new meaning. For 'he' is the person who can access any information he likes on his mobile, tablet or computer. That media itself has become so fragmented has posed as big a challenge as also an opportunity for brands. With the plethora of messaging consumers are bombarded with across media platforms, brands must realise the crucial importance of content marketing. Unless brands find something worthwhile to say, in other words offer quality content and place it right, getting consumers' eyes and ears will just be an elusive dream.

Think about it, we are living in times where everyone wants to skip through the commercials, install ad blockers, even pay extra to get ad free app experience on mobiles. Brands cannot sit and talk at consumers, instead, a two way dialogue has to start because today's consumer is not some passive viewer but an active participant. The younger generation is especially more open to what brands have to offer by way of "content marketing." For brands it is a strategic tool to create and publish content relevant to their consumers in highly targeted and a non-intrusive fashion.

With all the technology at their disposal and creativity brands are turning into publishers. Nescafe, for instance recently moved its entire web presence to Tumblr instead of sticking to the traditional website routine. Consumers began sharing personal experiences, pictures, videos and GIFs on this platform. Nescafe created a sense of community among its consumers for whom the coffee became more than a product. It became an experience, something they love. The brand got a personality that users were now engaging with across media formats.

Web has blurred all lines between text, videos and photos. Television too has moved online with Netflix, online web series, movies. Video production is being lapped up by both traditional and digital media users to get more eyeballs and ad dollars. As technology evolves creative opportunities in video are only going to expand. For brands it is an extremely effective tool to create engaging, entertaining and informative content.

The ultimate goal is not just to chase return on investment but create Return on Inspiration and the former will automatically follow. Brands have to communicate in a way that shows with great honesty that the consumer comes first. Content marketing campaign has to find ways of being relevant and useful to the consumer. Take for example our recent partnership with Madhya Pradesh Tourism. To activate their brand promise of 'MP mein dil hua bache sa' (i.e Reconnect with your inner child), we tapped into the creative community on Tumblr and commissioned four illustrators to create art-based travelogues. Over the course of the campaign, 32 articles will go up on - and these posts will be driven by paid native advertising and earned social reach, thanks to a fresh approach to content.

If done right content marketing translates into purchase, builds brands loyalty and grows the consumer base since it gets shared among more and more users. It should not be mixed with Native Advertising, which though similar is not the same thing. Native ads focus on the look of the ad acting within an experience a user is engaged in. Content marketing focuses on content itself while also ensuring it is not being disruptive. The content is such that it builds trust in the consumer about a brand's intentions. It is not some sales pitch but useful information which will influence a positive brand recognition and association.

Content marketing in itself is not enough unless combined with big in-depth data. In order to run a successful campaign brands have to know and understand their consumers. The content strategy would get a context if it is customised to the reader. Gathering all this information and data insights is imperative before a brand goes on to design its content. For example, When Accenture and Yahoo join hands each year for Innovation Jockeys, we tap into the zeitgeist and our data insights to create content that strikes a chord with students who want to drive a positive change in society. This year's stories highlighted how innovations can fight corruption, empower women and create a digital India. Inspired students submitted over 3,500 innovations to the competition, furthering earned social reach for the initiative.

Once published, brands should track how engaging their content is by measuring the feedback generated and frequency of sharing. Data is the lifeblood of a content marketing campaign. It doesn't just keep it on the right track but also ensures greater return.

A few tips to get the content marketing strategy right:

1. Knowledge empowers - Content must add value to the reader's experience, offer some new information, useful advice or tips.
2. Share stories - Connect at a personal level by telling actual stories that capture imagination.
3. Show positive intent - Choose consumer interest over self-promoting content. Show that it is not just about the brand but more importantly about the consumer
4. Aesthetics - Ensure that the design is 'open', use visuals in a fun way to engage and intrigue the user.
5. Build trust- Only if a consumer trusts your content and intention will he share it further.
6. Keep it simple - Light-hearted and easy to read content will engage a greater audience and help you go viral.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Gurmit Singh

The author is VP & MD, Yahoo India

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