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Ben Heiser, Copywriter

06 June, 2016

It’s no secret that content marketing is the belle of the advertising ball. Headline after headline proudly trumpets the promising future of content marketing, but if you’ve read any of these articles then you already know that the majority are about as deep as a puddle. And while I firmly believe that no one should hold your average thought leadership piece to exacting standards, the trend does reveal something startling.

We’re stuck in content 101.

It seems that most people can’t pass the prerequisites. The industry’s growth is stunted by a false sense of confidence that emboldens people to execute content without having a firm grasp of the fundamentals. Everyone’s jumping into the pool, but no one knows how to swim.

That’s not to say I’m writing this after gazing into a content crystal ball (far from it). This article has actually been rewritten at least four times because it kept saying something that’s already been said. So while we don’t have all of the answers at Hiccup, we know what we know: Content Marketing is not only an executional art. It’s a strategic one.

I know why many content programs fall short, and why there’s a constant fight to create content the right way. I know what we need to do to fix that. And oddly enough, you do too.

Set goals that are linked to strategic objectives for your business.

Some advice, huh? I bet some of you are already contentiously muttering under your breath about how you do set goals and how they are linked to objectives. Well, I’m here to tell you they’re not—at least not enough. The industry is furiously chasing its tail after short sighted, shallow KPIs that will never measure up, instead of focusing on metrics that truly indicate success.

But before we get into solving that problem, we need to understand why the industry is focused on yesterday’s past-due metrics.


Reason One - The Internet Has Evolved

At Hiccup, one of the things we know best is video, and if you look at the history of digital video, views, as a metric, were the original standard for success. Back in the day, just getting someone in front of your video on YouTube was a small miracle. So views reigned supreme. But as the internet evolved, content evolved with it and the way we engaged with content changed.

Part of the reason most people haven’t graduated is because the industry grew up citing measurements that aren’t valuable anymore. Or, I should say, there are better measurements that do a better job of proving effectiveness than views or likes or comments.

Face off

Reason Two - It’s All In Our Heads

I’m no psychologist, but I am fascinated by cognitive biases. There’s one in particular that I think perfectly describes why everyone’s stuck in the muck. It’s called the Self-Serving Bias:

Any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem.

To me, it means we want people to like what we do, so we search for the easiest ways to prove that they did. Look at it this way: say you created one video that was seen a million times and another video that was only seen five thousand times. Which was more successful? What if the video with a million views had zero conversions, and the one with only five thousand views actually converted nine hundred people. Now which is the better video?

That’s the answer to getting off the content 101 merry-go-round. You have to look beyond the basics. You have to define the goal you want to achieve and ground it with the right KPI’s. Ask if the content you create is able to link to a business objective.

Ask your team and your agency the hard questions that put your content to the test, because that’s the only way to graduate from remedial content mediocrity.

Welcome to Measure Up, our venue for continuing this conversation. And we do mean “conversation.” The kind that includes us both. Come here to get insights and advice on content marketing. It’s not for the masses, it’s for those who want the truth and want to learn how to use it.

So do you think I’m right? Think I’m wrong? Wanna just let loose the dogs of war and skewer me with some good old fashioned internet hate? Don’t keep the comment box waiting.