typingAccording to the 2014 Marketing Budgets report by eConsultancy/Responsys (February 2014), almost 75% of companies in the UK intend to increase their spend on content marketing. But the problem with this fact is, many people are focusing on the wrong benefits of content marketing, which is having a negative impact on their campaigns’ effectiveness. And the answer to making it effective lies in its history.

Content Marketing Isn’t New

Despite everyone claiming content marketing is a ‘new trend’ that has taken the digital world by storm, it is in fact a strategy that has been employed in many different forms with varying benefits for years.

Consider PR for example. Distributing press releases and gaining editorial and features in print media such as newspapers and magazines has been around for as long as marketing, if not longer. And isn’t the overall outcome the same as today? Your company name gets seen by a large audience in line with a piece of interesting content and this boosts your brand’s reputation and value.

Content marketing as it is called today is simply a digital spin on this, with added benefits that are unique to digital, such as search engine optimisation and social media sharing, but the underlying aims are the same. To promote your company and gain customer loyalty.

So Why Isn’t Your Content Marketing Working?

Let’s make one thing clear, you can’t do content marketing ‘wrong’. There is no wrong and right way, because the internet doesn’t allow it. But you can improve the return on content marketing by changing the way you view it.

Just for a moment, forget that SEO and social media sharing are aspects of content marketing, in fact let’s pretend they don’t exist for the purpose of this exercise.

No consider that you not only have to win over your audience’s attention, but you have to make your content appear in a 40 page newspaper, that can only hold a maximum number of words and articles.

This newspaper’s editor is being bombarded with article pitches for this one particular topic, in this instance fashion. The newspaper can only include one or two fashion articles at most in its lifestyle section, and it’s got 100 pitches to choose from! Which article will make the cut?

The one that stands out and offers something unique to the reader that they can’t get from the other 99. The one that will peak the reader’s interests because it tells them something new or covers new ground on an old topic.

Improving Your Content Marketing

The problem with content marketing in the digital world is that the internet is unlimited. There is no editor that approves everyone’s content based on quality and newsworthiness; we are free to post what we want because there are no word counts or page limitations.

So with the previous analogy in mind, take a look at your current or past content marketing ideas. Would your ideas pass the editor’s test? In most cases, the answer will be no. But that doesn’t mean the ideas are wrong. It just means they need to be brought out of their shell, and you need to look for the new angle in an old or common topic. Here are some tips for improving on your content marketing ideas:

  • When you have an idea for a topic, search it on Google. It will show you all the most recent and probably even older versions of content surrounding the topic. It will also show you what you’re competing against if your target audience were to search the same topic.
  • When you have an initial topic idea, create a brainstorm or mind map of all the different directions it could take you in.
  • Look for inspiration from current news and events. Often you can find a current angle that could loosely be linked back to the topic you are writing about. This, when done well, is likely to improve the article’s newsworthiness and boost the SEO and sharing on social media.
  • Use content curation sparingly. Because there is so much content on the internet it is easy to take someone else’s ideas and rework the concept with your own stamp on it. But this just contributes to the hundreds of very similar articles on the topic. Try to use other people’s articles more for inspiration than a form of actual content, and use this as a springboard for your own new ideas on the topic.
  • 80% of content online is curated, with only 20% being original. Fall into that 20% and you will instantly improve the value of your content and impact it has on your audience.

There are millions of articles floating around on the internet, but only a tiny proportion are worthwhile reading and bring new, interesting ideas to the table. If you want to improve your content marketing strategy’s return, then you need to be aiming to be in that tiny proportion and contributing fresh ideas to a highly oversaturated medium.