Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 56 seconds

Content marketing is growing quickly as brands seek to attract customers and generate meaningful data about individuals that can be used for targeted communications. At the same time, many brands are struggling to efficiently create highly targeted content.

For 2018, nearly one-third of brands in a recent survey of 300 marketers are increasing their spending on content compared to 2017, reports Forbes.

The survey, conducted by Advisor Perceptions, found that only 8% of marketers will decrease their budgets for content marketing this year. Participants surveyed ranked native advertising as the most popular format.

Among survey respondents, 34% said improving brand awareness was the top objective for content marketing, while 24% said lead generation and nurturing was their primary goal. Customer loyalty, thought leadership and amplifying brand affinity ranked even lower.

Another study, conducted by Adobe, found that most marketers believe they can do a better job of producing more content that is better targeted. The study, called State of Creative and Marketing Collaboration, surveyed more than 1,000 North American marketers.

Marketing teams that create personalized campaigns produce an average of 28 pieces a week. A single piece can take up to 12 days to get ready to distribute. Among the surveyed marketers, 33% identified the amount of time required to produce content as the biggest challenge. Meanwhile, 20% said cost was the primary factor that limited content creation.

Content creation, of course, involves a variety of skills. Some marketers may believe the biggest challenges are writing and editing, but in reality, navigating the maze of internal approvals required to finish a project can be equally difficult. Internal debate often exists regarding which products or services to focus on and how to allocate limited editorial resources among campaigns.

Customization of content can help address some issues. In the finance industry, for example, firms may market to both retail investors and institutional investors. In such instances, executives focused on the retail sector may push to have content that is short and easy to read while executives focused on institutional clients may want content that's highly sophisticated.

Customizing content for each of those channels can help address this issue, but firms may not always have the resources to do so. In such instances, strong leadership is required to either forge a compromise between the two channels or to determine if a specific project will only target one channel.

Strong leadership may also be required to determine which products are marketed. Leadership is also required to ensure that senior subject matter experts contribute to content production. In addition to providing information on topics, subject matter experts should be available to review content. Without making content a priority, experts can delay projects by not being readily available to review content.

Those concerns, however, shouldn’t overshadow the importance of strong writing and editing skills. A recent column in Business to Consumer highlights the need for good writing and identifies warning flags.

Writing should be clear and easy to understand. With that in mind, readers shouldn’t have to read a sentence more than once to understand it. Another problem is writing that doesn’t make a clear point. When a reader finishes, it should be clear what the content is trying to express.

Writing that isn’t engaging, furthermore, will result in readers losing interest after only a couple of paragraphs.

Writing should also reflect how readers typically view online content. Writers should strive to make their headlines, subheadings and the first sentence of each paragraph the most compelling, because readers tend to focus on those items and then skim the rest of content.

Last modified on Saturday, 06 October 2018
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