Blog | 27 March 2015

The science of content marketing

In the first Contentology bulletin, The River Group considers the past, present and future of content marketing, starting with the meaning of data…

And so March is nearly over again. The month that was named after a god and inspired a chocolate bar is also the month of the first day of spring. Historically, it was also the month in which Julius Ceasar was warned to beware the ‘Ides of March’, which falls on the 15th. Sadly he must have paid no attention because it was on this day that he was stabbed to death.

Fortunately for us contentologists, more cheery stories abound. We’ve rounded up a few and parade them like models on a catwalk for your viewing and reading pleasure, enjoy.

Opinion – My data is bigger than your data…

…might be the sort of playground conversation our descendents will be having in years to come. Big data, or MASSIVE data as it will then be known, will be the panacea for all that troubles marketers. Indeed it will be a panacea for everything from National Government to Personal Health.

But this is not some future scenario, we already know that a huge amount of information is being created and stored at this very moment and yet as marketers is it perhaps dehumanising us in some way?

Meeting the customer used to be a pretty big deal. Unless you worked in frontline services, the closest you’d ever get to one would be at a focus group. Where you’d observe them behind a glass mirror, like a trip to the human zoo.

But it was as scientific as putting a group of strangers in a room, filling them with wine, their pockets with tenners and getting another stranger to ask them questions about what they liked about your magazine cover.

One could argue that to find out what consumers really think, what brands they like, what service they have received, what issues they have in their lives, you need look no further than the Internet and the data it generates. Conversations started, opinions offered, searches made, and products purchased are everyday occurrences. Right now it is like a mirror.  Some would say there is no distinction.

And yet there is.

The point to make is that people behave differently in person from when behind the screen – (which reminds me, I must delete that video). Ultimately both data sets are valid if viewed in the correct context.

So what does this mean for content and content marketing?

At the risk of not answering every single issue in the next paragraph available I would say this. Technology in marketing will become more and more integral to operations. Helping us make sense of the growing number of channels, contexts and occasions we will be faced with. It will help us to filter the data available to deliver the right content to the right person on the right platform in the right context at the right time.

But, aside from the challenge that presents to marketing structures and functions, there will always be a need for human understanding and insight to help shape activity.

As the old adage goes: rubbish in, rubbish out.

Content we like
John Deere – you know the tractor people (although they are a bit broader than that now) – are arguably one of the pioneers of branded content. They first produced their customer magazine The Furrow in 1895 and it’s still going strong.

You’ve probably seen this one but it makes us laugh hard every time. And it’s not just entertaining. It worked. Did you know that in the two days after it launched, it got them 9.5 million views, 23,000 followers on Twitter and 76,000 Facebook fans. Oh, and 12,000 new customers. Not bad for a piece of content that cost £3k.


Impress your mates or just widen our horizons with our carefully harvested statistics

  1. Online video will make up nearly 70% of consumer internet traffic by 2017 – source: CISCO
  2. 80% of internet users own a smartphone bringing it almost to parity with pcs– source: GlobalWebIndex
  3. 47% of internet users own a tablet – source: GlobalWebIndex
  4. 9% of internet users own a smartwatch – what already??
  5. The fastest growing demographic on twitter is the 55–64 age bracket
  6. 49% of european marketers spend 20% of their budget on content – source: HubSpot
  7. 58% of marketers rate strategy as a top priority in 2015 – source: HubSpot
  8. 44% of uk content marketers use print magazines – source: CMI/DMA
  9. 40% of uk content marketers hold webinars – source: CMI/DMA
  10. 82% of content marketers cite twitter as their top social media platform – source: CMI/DMA
Alex Marks
Alex Marks

Alex supports the strategic development of River's business and acts as an experienced marketing partner for our client teams. He is a regular commentator, writer and conference speaker on a wide variety of digital,  marketing,  and content strategy issues.

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