Take control of your digital content

Back in the mists of time, when I was a newspaper journalist, I spent my days parked behind a Remington typewriter, inserting slips of copy paper into its bell-ringing carriage, and tapping out quaint things called stories.

Then sometime in the last half dozen years stories were given a new name. Content.

Content used to mean that you were in a state of peaceful happiness, satisfied to the point of mollification, fulfilled and satiated like an overfed Siamese or a portly pollie.

Now in 2019, content is a digital currency – words, video, audio, photographs and graphics – that can make or break brand communication campaigns in the ultra-competitive global online marketplace.

As natural born storytellers we are more than comfortable with content creation. So, when the notion of content marketing (or digital content) came along, bringing together the power of a story and the control of owned digital distribution, we were among the first (in Adelaide, at least) to seize its potential.

Of course, the losers in this “people publishing” phenomenon were traditional media outlets – newspaper publishers, TV proprietors and radio stations – who saw their advertising budgets slip.

And in response, they’ve started selling customers their own form of content marketing.

But here in lies the problem – it’s theirs, not yours.

The digital content they produce features behind their pay-walled digital news sites and is distributed via their own social channels, giving them full editorial control over (and data ownership of) what is published.

So, if you’re weighing up whether you should invest in your own digital content, or a content package from a traditional media outlet, it’s worth considering this simple question.

Do you like to be in control of your brand?

If the answer is yes. Read on.

Control your own story

When you produce your own digital content (or get an agency like ours to help you do it), you have control over the type of content you produce – blog articles (like this one), videos, photos, infographics, podcasts. You name it!

You also have control over the concept and direction of that content. The topic, style, tone, look, feel and message.

A good agency will certainly advise you to think about content from your audience’s perspective, to be original, and to “engage first, sell second”, but the editorial planning rules and regulations pretty much stop there.

So, have fun, give your customers what they want, answer their questions in a way that’s unique to you and your brand, and the world is your content creation oyster.

Control your own SEO

Once you’ve carefully planned and written, recorded, filmed and edited your original content, the best thing to do is pop it up on your website.

By adding new content to your website regularly you will be rewarded by search engines (like Google) that trawl websites looking for useful information that will answer the many billions of questions people search the internet for every day.

“Where can I buy R.M. Williams boots in Adelaide?”

“Best cellar doors in McLaren Vale?”

“Which SA university has the best nursing course?”

This act of “answering the question” is what the digital kids call SEO (or search engine optimisation) and by adding new useful, keyword enriched, content to your website regularly you are more likely to encourage direct traffic to your website via search engine queries.

So, rather than using a third-party news media site to publish your content – where all of the SEO benefits go to them (and don’t they know it) – you’re much better off using the time and money you’ve invested in creating content to build your own web presence.

Control your own leads

In addition to publishing content on your website to keep it fresh and make Google happy, you can also use your content as “bait” to get new audiences back to your website, to learn more about your brand, and maybe even invest in it.

By distributing your own content via your own social channels, using advertising spend in a strategic way, you can drive new targeted audiences back to your website for a very minimal cost per lead, or “cost per click”.

Yes, this is advertising, but instead of taking out a full-page ad in a newspaper, or handing your money over to a media outlet without knowing how it’s being spent, content distribution via social channels gives you control over where your money is going and the type of person (age, sex, hobbies, suburb, income) it will reach, allowing a more targeted approach.

The other benefit of driving social traffic, or leads, to your own website (rather than a third party’s), is once again, control.

For example, if you have a savvy web developer (or millennial) around, you can add a little piece of code to your website called a “pixel” that allows Facebook to “tag” your website visitors and serve them with targeted ads for your brand (event, Uni-course, product) long after they’ve left the comfort of your homepage.

This is called “remarketing” and it’s a seriously useful direct-to-consumer marketing tool (if not a little Orwellian).

Control your own data

All of this control over your website, your social platforms, your advertising dollars, and your audience, ultimately gives you control of your own data – which will help you to make more informed marketing decisions.

By installing Google Analytics on your website, you can learn a lot about your audiences: who they are, what they’re looking for, the pages and products they like the most and those they don’t.

This allows you to make better decisions about what sales tactics to employ on your website and where, and how best to drive website visitors to complete one of a number of “conversion” goals – buy, subscribe, call, email etc.

You can also use Google Analytics to discover more information about who your audience is, their specific demographics and psychographics.

If your customer is a 24 year old female, gluten-free gin-lover, living in Balmain, who rides a Nixeycles classic to work and is dressed by Gorman, you can target her more accurately than an Exocet missile.

Using this data, you can fine tune your marketing strategy and digital content plans to become even more targeted, to answer your customer’s questions more effectively, and give them what they want.

Can an “off the shelf” third-party media site do all of this for you? If not, it might be time to re-invest in yourself, and get the control back.