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Content Marketing & Content Strategy: Identification of Research Trends, Best Practices, and Directions for Future Research

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posted on 2023-08-30, 18:58 authored by Rebecca Lieb
The very small body of existing literature on content marketing consistently echoes the refrain that more research must be undertaken on the topic. My research, published since 2013, comprises the largest body of work on digital content marketing and content strategy. I have conducted and published more marketing-oriented research on digital content than anyone else in the field. Current literature examines content in narrow tranches, such as by platform or industry vertical. My research considers content as a practice, discipline, and strategic approach to marketing unto itself. This work provides an overview of digital marketing’s evolution and illustrates how it has diverged from initial expectations and offline corollaries: from advertising-centric marketing to new models in which advertising and media buying is either absent from the equation or constitutes a smaller proportion of strategy, which has shifted to owned and earned content models. My exploratory studies are collectively a holistic examination of content strategy and content marketing: creative and form factors, content’s intersection with other marketing forms, the evolution of technologies from publishing tools to more sophisticated applications of artificial intelligence (AI), Beacons, and sensors; the institutional and organisational challenges inherent in shifting organisations to become publishers and producers; and new forms of metrics and analytics. My research encompasses the following five areas: 1. People: How executives, employees, and consumers ideate, create, publish, amplify, and consume content. 2. Organisational Ecosystem: The roles played by brands, agencies, and technology vendors. 3. Technology: I have mapped and created a framework for content technology, assessing how content technology relates to and integrates with other marketing technologies as well as with enterprise software. 4. Strategy and Process: How content is conceived, created, disseminated, and functions within the paid, owned, and earned ecosystem as well as within the real- and near real-time enterprise demands. 5. Measurement: I developed a framework of ‘metrics that matter’ for content, relating content performance to enterprise strategy rather than the ‘soft metrics’ of likes and shares. Marketing that entertains, educates, informs, or provides utility meets consumer needs. This increases with the evolution of technology. Content (and marketing) now bleeds off screens and begins to permeate the physical world as everyday objects become ‘smart’ and imbued iii with content. Content is learning how to create itself, primarily via AI. My research scrutinises the implications of this evolution and content’s future state for consumers, brands, and businesses. Much of this work consists of firsts: the first research-based definitions of content marketing and content strategy; the first detailed study of content technologies and how they interrelate with other marketing and enterprise tools; the first research on native advertising and realtime marketing; the first research on where content resides within the enterprise (organisationally, globally, and interdepartmentally); and the first research on meaningful content measurement. While these areas are constantly evolving, my work provides the baselines and benchmarks to inform future research in the field.



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