The next article in our Q&A content marketing series produced by SmartCompany’s content agency, Bureau, features Suncorp’s Executive General Manager Brand & Marketing, Mim Haysom.
Mim leads Suncorp’s network of brands, which include Suncorp, AAMI, GIO, Apia, Shannons and Vero. She’s responsible for setting the overall brand strategy and the end to end marketing program across each of the brands including strategy, digital and programmatic marketing, marketing automation, social and content, sponsorships, 1:1 customer lifecycle management, and master media management.
Prior to Suncorp, as General Manager for M&C Saatchi, Mim was globally awarded for building the brands of some of Australia’s most recognised companies including ANZ, CommBank, IAG.
What’s your definition of content marketing?
It’s the creation and distribution of content by a brand to attract, engage, convert and retain audiences.
How does this method work without overtly promoting a brand’s product/service?
One of the reasons why it works so well is because you don’t have to be overt about selling a brand’s product. Great brands have always been built by having great customer insight and through that insight connecting with customers on a more emotional level.
We now have so many channels at our disposal that we can create content that’s great storytelling, entertaining or that provides utility for our audiences. Through that approach we can create a stronger connection with our audience and our brand.
From my perspective, content is brilliant when it’s not overtly salesy but it still generates brand awareness and consideration and when done really well can engage the audience through the content funnel to conversion.
There’s a huge role to play for utility content which includes the how-tos but they are incredibly rational. From our experience building brands across the Suncorp group, where we get higher levels of engagement is when we’re tapping into more emotive content that our audience is interested in on a personal level.
How has content marketing changed over the past five years?
The entire marketing sector has changed significantly over the past five years. Content marketing has seen a seismic shift due to tech capabilities and the pace of change. Compared to five years ago we have access to far more data on our customers which can help us tailor our content to what they want to know about so we can make it more engaging and useful for them.
What’s interesting is the volume of content in the market coming from brands, bloggers, content creators and influencers. Marketers need to be far smarter at how we build and distribute content to get it into the hands of our desired audiences and to make it really meaningful for them.
Is the B2B audience consuming content differently than previously?
All audiences are consuming content differently than they did in the past but in terms of the B2B space it depends on what industry or vertical. Many B2B audiences are now realising the power of content for business growth as well as professional growth. There’s great opportunity for B2B brands to engage and target audiences on platforms like LinkedIn.
People are also increasingly time poor so it’s important to think of the value exchange when considering content creation. For our intermediary brand, Vero, we pull together conference style events for our brokers where we share with them interesting business content, professional capability building and we take content from those live events and extend it out over a long period of time.
We’ve found there is a really high engagement level from the B2B audience if there is a value exchange for them and they can see it as helping them grow their business. That’s when you have strength in your content strategy, when you’re building content for the long term.
For SMEs with a limited budget, what are the best tactics to use?
Invest in content that isn’t short term. If you build on meaningful content in the longer form and have a long-term strategic view, you can then extend that and take it into different channels and formats.
Building communities on a platform like LinkedIn is a cost effective approach for SMEs if it’s the right place for SMEs. SMEs can still get organic reach which you don’t get on the likes of Facebook anymore.
Content is more pervasive than ever. How do you ensure your content gets cut through?
There’s so many ways so this is a tough question to answer. The way we get cut through is by making sure our content aligns with our strategy. Having a content strategy is critical. Secondly, tapping into your data is vital.
Use it to inform what resonates with your audiences and then with those insights build content that’s fit for the audience and fit for the channel. You need to test and learn and experiment with different content types and different creatives so you know what works before optimising towards that type and format.
There’s a lot of brands that don’t have a content strategy and you need to be clear about what your content pillars are and have consistency with your message and themes. It needs to be part of an overall integrated marketing plan to be effective. If you’re not targeting your content to your customer’s behaviours around their insights, interests and how they engage with different channels and formats, you won’t get the right cut through.
Has content moved beyond awareness and vanity metrics to more lead generation and ROI attribution models?
We have far greater sophistication than we had five years ago. With the advancement of marketing attribution models, we can actually see what’s happening in all stages of the funnel.
Each stage of the funnel has specific performance metrics. If content at the top of the funnel has been done right then it absolutely has the opportunity to push a customer further down and ultimately lead to a sale. More sophisticated marketers can track that user journey through the entire funnel and then assess what ROI they are generating.
What brands are doing it well and who isn’t doing it well?
In terms of categories travel brands do it really well. They’ve got a great subject and they focus on interest as opposed to the product. Some of the publishers do a great job because they have quality content and they know their audiences really well.
I really love the New Zealand police recruitment campaign and the content that supported that. Some of our brands in the Suncorp group do it really well, especially our intermediary brand Vero and our motoring enthusiast brand, Shannons.
We have well defined niche audiences for those two brands. You have an unfair advantage if it’s an area people are passionate about and its part of their hobby set. That’s why travel brands do so well because lots of people are interested in travel and destinations to visit. Similarly with Shannons and motoring enthusiasts, that group of people are incredibly passionate about cars so it’s a category with a real head start.
Can you quantify the importance of video and voice over the coming years?
Voice is going to be massive. You can look at it in terms of search or you can look at it in terms of entertainment content. We’ve seen such a surge in the growth of podcasts for example. For marketers moving forward you have to adopt video and voice strategies if you’re going to be where your customers are.
I recall seeing a stat that in the age group of 25-54, the monthly podcast listening has grown from 16% to 31% and that was back in 2017 but in the past two years it’s exploded event more. You need to have a strategy around how as a brand you’re going to use that format to drive engagement because that’s where your customers are going to be.
Read more from Bureau‘s content marketing series here.
Bureau is SmartCompany’s content agency helping brands attract and connect with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. Bureau creates articles, ebooks, videos, podcasts and infographics from data-led insights to achieve marketing ROI for businesses.