Why engagement needs to be primary when it comes to content marketing

Recently published research from the World Media Group – the organisational brainchild of some of the world’s most prominent media companies – found that although marketing campaigns were heavily supported and driven by content, their engagement metrics were only a secondary concern when it came to assessing KPIs (key performance indicators).

This is especially surprising, considering that the survey’s respondents demonstrated largely positive views regarding the use of content marketing in their campaigns. The results in the report showed that 17 per cent of those polled believed content was responsible for building brand awareness, 28 per cent said it was key in changing an audience’s perception, and a whopping 49 per cent termed content marketing as vital in fostering brand engagement. This figure even rose to 60 per cent from an advertiser’s perspective.


Then what’s the problem?

The issue lies in the fact that content campaigns are not being measured or valued independently, but rather in lieu of other traditional advertising methods. Indeed, public involvement with brands and their perceptions are assessed more critically, but are only slowly followed by “time spent with content” as a measure of success. In fact, only 20 per cent of those surveyed stated engagement as their top KPI.

But it looks like things are changing.

The need for content is on the rise, especially as its demonstrable importance in marketing campaigns is highly correlated to the success of a company. Out of those surveyed, 78 per cent were confident that content marketing would grow over the next two-year period, with 85 per cent of agencies stating the very same. In contrast, only 5 per cent believed it was on the decline.

Despite these positive figures, the fact remains that only 45 per cent of survey respondents said their marketing campaigns were fuelled by content and engagement, and this is precisely where there’s room for change.


Creating content that engages

To understand the type of content that circulates, engagement ought to be measured through brand alignment, and the relationship the content has to the brand’s core values and story. Following this, the reach of the content needs to be considered; the potential for circulation should be assessed, whether more ‘evergreen’ and relevant content is required should be considered , and the use and quality of the content in question must be determined.

Thinking about the actual content of the content (excuse the pun), the top priority is the story, with 71 per cent of those surveyed saying that the story is the most important part of creating a content-driven campaign. Authenticity followed closely at 62 per cent, with creative execution coming in at only 38 per cent.


But where does it go?

For content to work, it needs to be on the right platform and in the right environment for it to have the desired effect on the target audience. In fact, 66 per cent of those polled said it was the single most important factor in ensuring that content and engagement was maximised in marketing campaigns.

According to the newly appointed president of World Media Group, who is also the head of client sales and services at The Economist, Alex Delamain, commented: “The fact that advertisers and agencies expect investment in content-driven marketing to grow reflects our own experience at the World Media Awards […] But what is really interesting is that they are recognising the impact of quality journalism on content campaigns.

“This sentiment matches independent research carried out by Moat last year which confirmed that readers display higher attention levels when viewing content within a trusted editorial environment.”


Content vs marketing strategy

The combination of lacking substantial media support and a weak marketing strategy can lead to published content yielding little to no results. After all, if engagement is lacking due to poor outreach, it is no wonder that content is often overlooked as a valid KPI.

All this leads us to realise that content and its engagement ought to be a fundamental priority in a company’s marketing campaign as its scope for supporting conversions measuring performance is unlimited. Leaving content as a secondary concern, or to be evaluated alongside other more traditional advertising KPIs, reduces the unique and independent value of content in its own right and its ability to engage audiences for the sake of building brand awareness and loyalty.

Content needs to be primary; it should be at the forefront of a marketing campaign for top performance results.


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