Marketers deploy – measure ‘Non-Promotional’ Content.

Brands are looking to content marketing both to deepen engagement with their customers and prospects and to break through digital marketing’s clutter and audience indifference, according to a new eMarketer report, “Best Practices for Content Marketing: Engaging Consumers Across Multiple Digital Channels.”

With the rise of content marketing, some brands are now behaving like media companies, producing content across various media, including video, photography, infographics and articles. Video is increasingly the prime outlet for content marketing. Nearly 87% of US brand and agency marketers polled in January 2012 by Outbrain said they created video for content marketing.

However, many brands find this shift of perspective difficult, since effective content marketing demands turning away from conventional self-promotion. The lack of overt promotion helps attract an audience to consume the content, share it, comment on it, and even create it.

In its report, eMarketer defines several factors that help brands create great content marketing. Best practices include creating value, telling a story, choosing the right channel and building traffic. But perhaps the key for generating great content is for brand marketers to put themselves in their customers’ shoes.

“Think like a consumer. You know, would I pin this? Would I ‘like’ this? Would I comment on it?” said Emily Schildt, director of digital communications at yogurt maker Chobani.

Once marketers have created or curated content, however, a further obstacle remains: quantifying success. Because so much of content marketing relies on content that resides on external sites, marketers face obstacles in measuring the impact of their efforts.

Some brands equate sharing with engagement—if the audience cares enough to pass along the content, it is engaged with the brand. In the Outbrain survey, nearly 89% of US brand and agency marketers surveyed cited social media engagement or referrals as a metric they used to measure online content marketing efforts.

For other marketers, content engagement can occur simply when people consume it. That was a metric cited by nearly 76% of respondents.

Considering that content marketing’s success depends greatly on reactions to it in the social sphere, measuring sentiment is a key soft indicator. Some companies have found sentiment metrics—mentions both positive and negative—effective for understanding how well their content marketing is working.

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