So far, 2018 research paints an even prettier picture than the last couple of years for branded content. 62% report that their content marketing programs are much more successful compared to even last year, however, all report that those who’ve been at their content marketing game longer are outpacing those getting started or who are operating newer brands and startups.

“Success of content marketing comes down to a good content marketing strategy, tracked goals and metrics, and a good dose of insight, skill, and dedication.”

In 2015, a Microsoft study measuring the web user was reported to have an attention span online of about of 8 seconds. Just 8. And that’s down from 12 seconds in 2011. How long the user attention span is in 2018 has yet to be seen, however, one thing’s’ for sure: today’s online user lacks time and attention, and the amount of content consumed online is only increasing.

So, how brands get some of that attention boils down to their brand, branded content strategy, and investment in capturing that attention.

The data we have available today allows us to watch behavior patterns and target those patterns. Just five years ago, content marketers wanted eyes on their content. Today, we know that given dwindling attention, engagement, and changing algorithms, content strategies have adapted to find and connect with those who are most apt to connect back with them. What this means is the most successful content strategies target their most engaged users, rather than a broader-net approach to focusing on new ones.

Once those metrics are in, the key is to create customized communications, offers, and other programs to keep users engaged. Now, this isn’t to suggest brands don’t diversify their customer segments and grow. They’ll grow by focusing on what they do best and serving their customers right. After all, this has always been the tried and true way. The customer has and still will be the queens and kings, as will a focus on fanatical customer support and the utility that comes from brand building.

Today, the trick is finding out what your brand does best, connecting that with what audiences want, and providing it precisely where and when your audiences want it. This is the definition of micro-moments and small data. If your brand and branded content offers customers what they need and when they want it, they will come back. So, your brand matters. Your content matters. And, the relationship with your audience is now more critical than ever.

Branded Content: Brands are content.

In an environment where attention is a dwindling commodity, every interaction counts. The best-built branded content strategies will include getting to know your customer and putting them first. Brands can look at this in the following order: Customer — brand — market: Who are you serving and how; what are your brand needs and objectives; and finally, how is the market doing it now? You can then take those insights and loop them back through to do it better.

If brands can find what their customers want from their branded content and deliver it, they’ve found it. Here are four build-it-right strategies seeing success this year:

1. Create brand trust. Users online can tune out and avoid brands they don’t want to interact with. The exception is with brand trust. Those users who’ve developed brand trust have done so across channels, where a consistent and fluid brand experience is reinforced across each touchpoint – from the initial brand to the content they provide, every interaction is designed and built from one place.
2. Create targeted and convertible actions. With reach on platforms like social media dwindling, typical brands can’t afford to ‘stick it all on the wall.’ Instead, brands are finding success in targeted and intentional efforts with convertible actions. Who are you targeting? What steps should customers take on their customer journey with your brand? Invest here, and the right audiences will come.
3. Create relevancy. Users have increasingly become savvy in seeing marketing for marketing. Both B2B and B2C brands sell products. This is because today’s services have become commoditized. Based on a user’s location along their journey and their needs at that time, successful brands can begin to focus direct-to-consumer, with targeted email and even subscriptions to provide relevant communications to users who want them.
4. Create magic. Content is saturated; good content is not. This is where branding and branded content comes in. Creating brands with well designed and built diversified brand strategies start on the right foot. They’re able to communicate, review, refine and continue where you can, in a trusted manner, create targeted actions that are relevant and provide sustainable and measurable results. That’s where the magic’s at.
What successes has your brand and branded content seen? Share your insights in the comments below!