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I recently stumbled across an article on AdAge that caught my attention. The article title, “Enterprise Companies Continue to Invest in Content Marketing, Despite Challenges,” immediately intrigued me. I wanted to understand what the biggest challenges are for companies investing in content marketing and what solutions there are to combat them.

So what was the biggest challenge for marketers? According to AdAge, marketers are challenged by producing engaging content.

But why?

The problem, in my opinion, is twofold.

Problem #1 – Mass Content and Targeting

We are experiencing an information overload. More content is being produced than ever before, making it even more challenging for marketers to create meaningful content and break through the masses. While, as consumers, we are able to effectively ignore the majority of messages we receive on a daily basis, we don’t ignore them all. We focus on the timely and relevant pieces of content that align with our interests and passions. I can’t even tell you how many irrelevant ads I ignore daily. But where many marketers are challenged is identifying their customers core interests and passions, and then tying these insights to strategy.

Sure, marketers may be able to tell you that their customer base is men aged 18-32 in North America. But what does this really tell you? While using demographic profiles may show some marketing results, it is not a sustainable targeting strategy. In fact, it’s a gamble. Audiences expect customized content that relates directly to their diverse interests, wants, and needs. Unfortunately, demographics such as age and income do not necessarily correlate to the interests and passions of an audience. It is in this way that demographics are extremely limiting. Consumers are diverse and what is relevant to one group of eighteen year old males, may or may not be relevant to a male in his mid twenties, despite the fact they are viewed as one demographic group. By guessing at what your customer may or may not like, you are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

 

In order to produce engaging, relevant content, marketers must have a foundational understanding of their customer and know what makes them tick.

Problem #2 – Ineffective Measurement

The second problem is defining the word “engaging” and how marketers are benchmarking their success.

One common mistake marketers are still making is getting hung up on (and chasing) vanity metrics. This means defining their content’s success or failure by the number of Likes, retweets, followers, stats, etc. Why do we care? Because we’ve been accustomed to thinking that the bigger, the better. Unfortunately, while vanity metrics might look good in reports and on paper, vanity metrics can be easily manipulated (e.g. Click Farms, fake engagements, etc.) In addition, vanity metrics do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that truly matter – active users, revenues, profits, return customers, etc.

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The new standard of measurement should be the value of your audience and who exists within it. A high-value audience is comprised of your ideal buyers. By using tools like Affinio to understand your audience, marketers can easily develop accurate, data-driven buyer personas they wish to target. These are the individuals that will likely reach the top of your funnel, and then convert.

If a benchmark for success is +300 likes, but only 20 of those “likers” are actually part of your ideal audience… then has the content done its job? While content may appear to be successful and engaging based on vanity metrics, it really doesn’t mean anything. People who engage with a brand are often not customer and are also not qualified to become customers. It’s the age old matter of quality versus quantity… and quality wins. Who cares if you have 300 likes if they never convert into customers? ROI is the ultimate metric for success.

At Affinio, the marketing intelligence platform, we believe in taking an audience-first approach. This means moving away from simple demographics and vanity metrics. We leverage the social graph to understand today’s consumer to help agencies, brands, and media companies create data-driven content that resonates with their core consumers.

Let’s face it, content Marketing isn’t disappearing…it’s growing. While companies are still continuing to invest in content, despite their uncertainties, it is the marketers that take an audience-first approach that will ultimately win and convert the right customers.

To learn more about Affinio’s audience-first approach and how it can help your content marketing, request a demo.

Originally posted on the Affinio blog, “AdAge Says ‘Marketers Challenged By Content Marketing’ – How-to Improve It”