Growing investment in the content ecosystem has given rise to a variety of companies that do some facet of content creation. This means that marketers are faced with a dizzying array of companies offering to help spend their dollar. There can be confusion about which services address which needs across the marketing ecosystem, so Skyword has prepared the Content Marketing Ecosystem SkyScape, a look at the companies in the industry and what they do.
We believe that content marketers benefit when best-of-breed solutions connect to share information and create a seamless business process. Skyword’s strategy is to continue to connect with leaders within the ecosystem, providing a unified content marketing infrastructure for our customers.
As background, a recent Unisphere study commissioned by Skyword provided hard numbers behind the growing awareness of and investment in content. Of 217 marketers surveyed, 46 percent reported having a content strategy now in place, while 37 percent said they have a content strategy under development. While just a handful had heard of the practice a few years ago, more than four out of five marketers are now using content or planning to use content at the center of their digital strategy. Budgets are shifting toward content creation as their new strategies are deployed.
We’ve organized the content marketing ecosystem into the six major tasks required for success:
- Content strategy: The first step that marketers must take is to develop a content strategy. To build that strategy, marketers need to understand who their customers are and explore their information and entertainment needs and wants. To do so, they must use audience/site analytics to identify customer segments, then employ search analytics to understand what those customers look for, and social analytics to see what they share. Often brands turn to leading agencies for that strategy work.
- Content creation: Once a brand has understood its customers’ content needs, it must either create or curate content to meet them. In our study, 87 percent of brand marketers turned to original content creation, while just 17 percent relied on curation. Those surveyed explained that content creation allows them to establish and differentiate their brands in the marketplace. Original content has the added benefit of driving natural search traffic, because Google features original content and removes duplicate content from its index.
- Content curation: Brands on limited budgets or those seeking to expand on core content creation programs may turn to content curation. This practice comes in many flavors. The most basic form of curation is where brands simply provide a list of current reading that customers might enjoy from across the web. Brands may also buy copies of web content published by leading publications, placing that content into a space they host.
- Content hosting platforms: Regardless of whether they create or curate content, brands must house it somewhere for their customers and prospects to consume. Brands turn to traditional CMS platforms to publish articles on the web, but often rely on social channels to house their rich media content, publishing video directly to YouTube, photos to Facebook, or infographics to LinkedIn.
- Content distribution and amplification: Once a marketer has committed to the steps outlined above, she wants to maximize the return on that investment. This begins with ensuring content is search optimized and socially promoted to drive significant organic traffic. Marketers then develop paid amplification campaigns using social ads, search engine marketing tactics, and content discovery networks to increase reach. B2B marketers also rely on marketing automation systems and email platforms to execute campaigns that feature their content.
- Content performance measurement: When content is in the field and a variety of amplification methods have been employed, marketers must measure what works. A variety of platforms show success in specific channels (e.g. search or social). A broader content production platform like the Skyword Platform will track success across all channels and provide a strategic perspective to inform future planning.
We welcome your feedback on what partnerships and investments you might find most beneficial. We also hope potential partners with complementary products and services will reach out to explore future opportunities with Skyword.
Please help us improve this map for others. The SkyScape is a work in progress, to be sure. Each time we have shared a draft, we receive valuable advice about companies that we have missed, and suggestions that others may be categorized differently. We also have had partners suggest new potential categories that Skyword falls under.
For more information about each of these categories, please see our detailed content ecosystem descriptions.