Let’s face it: content marketing is getting harder and harder every day. From the sheer volume of content available today to the proliferation of channels and platforms requiring content production, it can start to feel like the return on your content is not worth the investment.

To make matters worse, your prospects are encountering a phenomenon known as “information overload.” In this never-ending sea of content, your customers and prospects are drowning. In a 2015 study, more than 4 in 10 people reported feeling overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of information choices on the internet.We’re also more distracted; a Microsoft study found that it now takes 8 seconds for people to lose concentration.

Is it time to throw in the towel altogether? Or should we double down on our content efforts and invest in 8-second videos? The answer is neither. Content marketers need to instead take a new approach to content marketing that more closely aligns with your prospects’ and customers’ journeys and expectations.

How to approach content marketing in 2018

To increase the ROI on your content in 2018, go beyond content and start thinking context. How personalized is your content and what tools do you have in place to provide relevant content at the right time? It’s time to stop believing that your audience will browse lackadaisically through your website or blog and happen upon your content. Your audience today wants everything at their fingertips.

This expectation is only going to increase as personalization takes over every digital experience. According a report from Segment, 71 percent of buyers express frustration with generic content and 49 percent have made an impulse purchase after a personalized recommendation.

Most of us marketers already know this; the need to personalize with relevant messaging is one of the core principles of account-based marketing, search engine optimization and more. The issue is scale. How do you meet customers’ expectations for personalization without hiring an army of marketers to create personalized content?

  1. Start with your analytics – and not just your general website metrics. Assemble a more complete view of your customer by trying to identify exactly what customers need at every stage of the journey. Dive into the keywords that your customers are searching for, and examine the clickthrough rate, bounce rate and exit rate. Find out if you have a gap in content that doesn’t address your prospects’ questions.
  2. Create an internal keyword strategy with the same rigor as your external keyword strategy. Take a step back and put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. What is the person who is searching your most popular queries really needing to know? Spend some time with your call center agents, if you have a call center, and speak with them to get more context about these customer questions. Build out your content to meet the exact needs for each query, just like you do for your external search engine keywords.
  3. Unify all of your content from every channel, from the customer community to your product documentation site. Many marketers first approaching personalization make the rookie mistake of personalizing in each channel without seeing how personalization across the channels would create a continuous and relevant customer experience.
  4. Use site search to deliver content right when your prospects need it. Site search is a critical tool in your content arsenal. When website visitors really want information or products, they use your site search; in fact, one website found that site search users generated an overwhelming 40 percent of revenue despite only accounting for 10 percent of website users.
  5. Test, test, test. Your website visitors’ needs and behavior evolve quickly. Create an environment where you’re able to adapt quickly to new data and can verify any “hunches” with scientific A/B testing. Let the data lead every conversation.
  6. Break your search out of the search box. Your search box is your platform for having a conversation with your website visitor; don’t relegate it to a corner. Use your site search to deliver completely search-driven and personalized landing pages, product recommendations and more.

It’s not a matter of context vs. content marketing. It’s a matter of making sure your content is always relevant to the context of your users using powerful site search experiences.

Ready to take your content marketing to the next level in 2018? Get started on your context marketing journey by taking a look at this blog post, How to Use Site Search to Power Your Context Marketing.