The buzz behind the buzzword of content marketing
Written by Athar Naser, of Juice Content, a division of Primedia Online
Publishers no longer have sole control over the messages the consumer receives. The advent of blogs, websites and social media has put the power of communicating to the public into the hands of businesses, who have now become the gatekeepers to information about their products and services.
At the same time, the consumer has become more savvy and resistant to the “buy me now” message that traditional advertising puts across. Content marketing addresses this by providing useful content that users want to read.
While the term “content marketing” is new, the practice has existed for some time. It’s a type of inbound marketing that focuses on attracting the consumer by engaging them in a dialogue. Rather than passively consuming your message, the hope is that they will engage with your content, which will answer their questions about your industry and draw them back to you.
Rather than going in for the hard sell, you will become a valuable resource to them, which will make them want to do business with you. Content marketing is gaining in popularity right now for a number of reasons.
One is the fact that the consumer has lost faith in traditional advertising, which means it is becoming less effective. Another reason is the fact that people want good information. Marketers no longer have to buy this content and, at the same time, can have more control over the consumer’s experience of their content.
Frequently updated content also means better SEO rankings, which further attracts people to your website, building and developing your audience. Of course, content marketing is also a significantly more cost-effective solution to drawing people to your brand than “old school” advertising methods, which makes it a very attractive alternative.
Target your audience
To attract the consumer to your website you need to target your audience and know exactly what kind of information they’re looking for. Successful content marketing takes sustained strategic planning and execution.
The content you provide your audience with could be news, “how-to” guides or articles relevant to your industry but it’s not limited to print and could include video, audio, ebooks and podcasts, among other media. Before you decide what kind of content to provide your audience with, and what format they would prefer, you need to understand the kind of information they are looking for.
If the product or service you sell targets businesspeople, you can immediately assume that they will be interested in business-related articles and news. Content about finance, entrepreneurship, companies and thought leadership pieces might interest them.
Social media streaming
Once you know this, you need to go about creating great content that will keep your audience coming back for more. Streaming this content across social media will allow your content to be shared and “liked”, which will further grow your audience.
Your content needs to be monitored frequently to ensure that you’re catering to your audience’s needs. Using tools to track when your website is busiest, or taking note of which content is most shared or “liked” across social media, will allow you to adapt your strategy if necessary to stay in tune with your audience.
These details can also give you clues as to your audience’s demographics. If they tend to visit your website before 8:00 and after 17:00 it’s likely they’re office workers, for example. Details like this can help you further adjust your content to appeal to them.
Content marketing is not a once off. It’s an ongoing process that relies on a number of elements to be successful but, above all, it needs to offer the public something that they want. This is, after all, what differentiates it from traditional advertising.
Athar Nasar, a first class honours university graduate in Multimedia Design, Technology & Communications has joined Primedia Online where he holds the dual role of Juice Content, Primedia Online’s Digital Content Syndication unit, and Business Development.
Athar brings a wealth of global media and digital experience, adding to the already rich talent pool at Primedia Online, publisher of South Africa’s most established portal, iafrica.com
A recent import into South Africa, Athar was born in Iraq and raised in the United Kingdom. He was instrumental in the development and management of key tools used across print media, web, and mobile aspects of the Guardian Media Group, owners of the Guardian newspaper, in the UK.
Another key organisation where Athar honed his skills was GlobalRadio&Digital, where his key responsibility was to increase revenue throughthe portfolioofstations, attractingnewclientswhile developingexistingones. In addition to his role at the Guardian Media Group, Athar also carries a total of eight years of digital knowledge from the European market, which he believes is integral to all media operations.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”