Money & Business

Content Is King, If You Use It Effectively

By / Jan 24, 2013 (Stockphoto/Thinkstock)

It’s one thing to create content, but it’s another to use it strategically to drive your mission and business goals. A new study illustrates a few ways associations can get more out of their content-marketing strategies.

Associations are right to keep counting on their content to be an important part of the solution moving forward, but the approach to it must evolve to mirror the constantly shifting ways that information is shared and consumed by members.

This year, roughly 54 percent of business-to-business marketers will invest more in content marketing, but only 36 percent said they believe they are effective at it, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute.

A recent Ad Age survey of 600 marketers also found that more than half of respondents plan to spend more on content marketing in 2013, but many are unsure of the best tactics to use or whether or not it is even effective.

For associations, content marketing has been a common practice (whether they called it “content marketing” or not), and, as a recent study by Bussolati Associates [PDF] found, there’s a definite consensus among association professionals that their organizations’ content is tied to their ability to retain members. But with changing business models and technology, associations, too, are facing the challenge of making the most of their content.

“Associations are right to keep counting on their content to be an important part of the solution moving forward,” the study notes, “but the approach to it must evolve to mirror the constantly shifting ways that information is shared and consumed by members.”

The study, “Associations and Content: An Evolution in Progress,” which surveyed 62 association professionals on their content-marketing habits, determined that most respondents understand how content can drive member retention, but it found a few things associations could be doing differently.

For example, only one in three associations is regularly tracking its content—an important gauge for determining whether it is effective or not.

For a successful content strategy, you need to “define what your key performance indicators are within your organization,” Kristina Halvorson, CEO of content strategy consultancy Brain Traffic, told Associations Now. “What is it that you are trying to do as an organization? How is your content going to support those goals?”

Also making it difficult, or at least ineffective, to reach business goals is the lack of an organization-wide content strategy. Only one in four survey respondents said their association has and follows such a strategy. Similarly, more than half of respondents said that cross-department content collaboration is not the norm within their organization. The study recommends removing silos and barriers for a better content-creation cycle.

Additionally, just half of respondents believe their editorial staff view themselves as marketers. Those in the content-marketing school, however, would tell you that all content creators are behavior influencers. And some suggest that all of your staff members could be content creators.

“The world has changed how we share information and how far and wide that information can spread,” the Bussolati study notes. “As a result, every content creator is now marketing—with all of the responsibilities that come with it.”

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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