Content marketing is now mainstream. Everyone is doing it, and everyone understands its importance. A growing divide is opening up, however, between those who are doing it really well in a global context, and the rest. The best content marketing companies are better able to make their content relevant globally, and compare impact across markets.
How, though, are they managing this? There are a number of areas where there are real differences between the best and the rest.
Globalisation and localisation
Leading companies are twice as likely to have a global content marketing strategy, because they believe that it is important for customer experience. They are much more likely to believe that internationalisation of content is vital for creating a global brand. But they also recognise that content performs better when it is adapted for local markets: it is how they achieve the balance between the two that is crucial.
These companies, are, for example, highly focused on getting materials right in the first place. Their global materials use simple language, to make them easier to translate. Content is ruthlessly mapped against the company journey, and targeted appropriately. It is also tightly controlled at global level: over 70% of leading companies said that they ran tight controls, with little or no local autonomy. However, a significant proportion of leading companies, 8% vs. just 2% of the rest, said that materials were entirely devolved. Sometimes localisation is vital, and the key is to know when.
Another important difference is that leading companies had a clear and allocated responsibility for internationalisation of content. A massive 85% of leaders, compared with just 54% of others, agreed or strongly agreed that there was clear ownership of internationalisation. We have noted before that the CMO is a bit like the conductor of an orchestra: there is a key co-ordination role, but perhaps more importantly, they are visibly in charge.
Leading companies are also more likely to ensure that analysts own the responsibility for measuring and reporting on content marketing. This, of course, means that these companies are better able to provide detailed analysis of the outcomes of their activity, and therefore identify areas for improvement, and areas to share and promote as best practice.
Systems, budgets and performance measures
Responsibility is one thing, but leading companies also had systems and budgets to match. Leading companies were twice as likely to budget for international websites based on their understanding of the likely revenue uplift. Although they were also more likely to say that budgeting was a bit ad hoc and based on gut feel, they had avoided the ‘part art, part science’ approach.
More importantly, perhaps, even than budgets, leading companies were much more likely to have a standardised platform in place to provide the infrastructure for expansion into other markets. This makes internationalisation of content significantly easier: multiple websites will take much longer to update than a single, adaptable platform.
It is probably not surprising to learn that leading companies were more likely to be using all types of key performance indicators to measure the value of their content in local markets. Across the board, not a single type of indicator was being used more by mainstream companies than leaders. After all, you cannot assess the effectiveness of your activity if you do not try. Similarly, leaders are far more likely to benchmark against other leading companies or their vendor partners, or even against their own internal standards. This suggests that they are far more likely to be looking to improve.
The quest for excellence
This is, perhaps, the biggest lesson from this report: the best companies continually look to improve their performance. They are constantly seeking new ways to measure progress, and to improve their customer experience. They may, for example, be carrying out reviews of their content marketing work, and ensuring that it is up-to-date.
And this ongoing search for improvement is the real reason why the gap between the best and the rest first opened up, and now continues to widen. It is, of course, possible to improve what you are doing and become a leading light. The practical activities required are clear. But probably the most important aspect to remember is that being the best requires ongoing work. In particular, it requires a change of mindset and approach, and a relentless focus on improvement and excellence, as shown by the leading content globalisation companies.