Tuesday 23 February 2016,

Content marketing is often portrayed as the Holy Grail of marketing: it builds brand and generates leads. So why is it that so much content fails to achieve its purpose?

At a seminar hosted by Bilfinger GVA, Andrew Rogerson of Grist and Nathan Hambrook-Skinner of Willis Towers Watson spoke about how marketers can make their content marketing programmes more effective. Andrew presented the results of a snap-survey, which revealed that only 13% of respondents rated their content marketing as very effective. Key obstacles were lack of budget and skilled resource, with secondary obstacles being lack of senior buy-in and proof of concept. However, given that budgets are always a constraint, this raised the question as to whether proof of effectiveness would secure senior buy-in and so give access to greater budgetary resources.

This problem is compounded with the fact that, where research is carried out, marketers are producing content that does not engage. To highlight the disconnect, Andrew cited a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit: it found that 93% of B2B marketers link content to services whereas 75% of B2B clients turn to content for ideas.

The starting point, he said, should be detailed client personas (in the Grist survey, only 38% of marketers used them). This should be followed up with a robust editorial process to create content that meets a specific brief.

The key to achieving proof of concept is by measurement. Find out which media channels your audience wants to use for consuming content. This led to Andrew’s description of the PESO model – content distribution through Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media.

A client perspective

Nathan Hambrook-Skinner, provided an example of a successful content programme with Resilience, a Willis Towers Watson publication.

Following the merger between Willis and Towers Watson, the combined firm created a client-centric organisation. It committed to putting client needs at the heart of the business, so the content marketing programme focused on addressing the issues most relevant to clients. Demand for services then came as a by-product of addressing these issues.

Nathan also explained how Willis Towers Watson demonstrated proof of concept through research. It tracked the actions that people took after reading a piece of content – for example, subscribing to a newsletter, reading another article, making contact etc. It also measured website performance, which improved as user sessions went up by 129%.

Tom Govan