Content strategy is now crucial to business success. Ever since Google updated its algorithm to move away from keywords, volume and quality of content has determined online visibility. Although statistics confirm content’s effectiveness, CMOs are coming under increasing pressure to show immediate ROI. The problem: quick conversion serves businesses, not customers and they know it.

Evidence of this cat-and-mouse litters the internet. Every few months, new trends claim to have cracked online marketing. The trend becomes saturated and consumers stop engaging, a new vogue appears and the cycle repeats again.  It may be easy to blame a disengaged and distracted generation. But whilst there is inconclusive ‘proof’ that attention spans have declined, this doesn’t solve marketers’ problems or explain why some brands are able to captivate this demographic time and again.

Made.com website homepage image featuring bed

‘There’s a mass of branded content out there… but does anybody care?’ – Jo Jackson, Chief Creative Officer, Made.com

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ROI has been an infamous term in business for years. Difficult to measure but essential to investment decisions, recent improvements in measurability seem ideal. For the first time, companies can identify what is working for them, but in a sense that’s the issue. The definition of ‘what works for companies’ differs greatly between legacy brands and new, millennial players looking to secure their place in the market. Content is a great proof of this.

What should companies do?

On the legacy side, companies need to demonstrate revenue growth over everything else. Therefore individual posts are only viewed as worth the effort if you get direct conversions from them. Newer brands, that are looking to cement their place in the market, need to retain customers for longer. This leads them to naturally favour lagging indicators like community building and brand preference.

Unfortunately for historic brands, this appears to be the approach that consumers prefer.

Here’s what David Newton, Senior Director of Brand Creation at Philips had to say when we interviewed him at the CMO Insight Summit in Scotland:

‘I think the strong leaders in marketing now need to keep protection for brand over short term conversion’ – David Newton, Senior Director, Philips

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Marketers at mature brands have a difficult task. They must convince the board to bear with a carefully designed content strategy that focuses on long term acquisition and retention, perhaps with smaller but more loyal numbers than they previously enjoyed.

Marketing is currently experiencing a dynamic shift in perception that needs to be headed up by senior management. As tools continue to improve, the relative meaninglessness of reach will become more obvious. If executives at mature brands can’t convince their board to stop assigning so much importance to short term gains, then they could find themselves becoming irrelevant to the next generation. By the time that happens it will be too late, and there won’t be any investment to return on.

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