Should I Create Original Content or Curate It?

Before the digital explosion, marketers weren’t expected to create original content on a daily basis. Whenever a new product, service, or promotion was developed, the marketing team would work together to create a campaign that included a series of tactical assets that reflected a defined theme, including: 

From start to finish, this process could take weeks or even months to launch — and devour all of the marketing team’s resources in the interim. Yet, while getting all of these assets in good shape required a major lift, once they were locked in, they were locked in — until it was time to begin planning the next major campaign.

Today, however, in addition to delivering assets to support major go-to-market campaigns consistently, content marketers are also tasked with producing assets on a near-daily basis to support brand awareness, thought leadership positioning, social media marketing, and ongoing demand generation campaigns. 

These materials usually come in the form of:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks
  • Success stories 
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • PPC/Social ads
  • Social media posts
  • Datasheets
  • Interviews
  • Gifs and memes

So… yeah, that’s a lot — especially when you’re also trying to create compelling assets for specific go-to-market campaigns. Throw in the fact that most marketing teams are pretty small and have limited budgets, and you start to understand why creating original content on a daily basis can be difficult. And, oftentimes, when things get difficult for content marketers, quality begins to suffer in the name of quantity, which basically defeats the purpose of the content in the first place. 

As modern digital marketers, we can all appreciate the need for original content, but at what cost (both literally and figuratively in the sense of fatigue and morale)? It truly does take a village to constantly create quality content, and even large marketing teams struggle to put out great work consistently. Therefore, many companies now rely on curated content to help fill the gaps.

What Is the Difference Between Original Content and Curated Content?

Today we’re going to examine the pros and cons of original and curated content, but first, let’s gain a shared understanding of the differences between the two. Whenever asking a question like this, it’s best to break things down into neat definitions and then work from there.

  • Original Content: Developing and distributing new and innovative content that is unique to your brand and organization and created by current employees or partners. This content can focus on either your unique products and services or industry-specific thought leadership material (although we recommend focusing heavily on the latter).
  • Curated Content: Appropriating existing content that is related to or aligned with your industry, mission, or perspective and then distributing that content (with attribution) on your website, social media platforms, and automated email drip campaigns. This content will usually include mostly thought leadership assets, but if someone is out there singing your praises, by all means, share that with the world!

Simply put, original content is that which you and your team have personally created, whereas curated content is borrowed from others within your niche or industry — always with distinct and prominent attribution.

Pros and Cons of Original Content

In this marketer’s opinion, all things being equal, developing original content will always win out over curating existing content, but it’s never that simple. Since there are just so many variables at stake in any discussion of original vs. curated content, we decided to break down several advantages and one considerable drawback of each and allow you to come to your own conclusions. 

Pro: Develop Original Content to Promote Brand Awareness

For new companies, developing a strong and recognizable brand is paramount. And for established companies maintaining and improving on their existing brand is just as important. Regularly creating and distributing original content that warmly and accurately reflects your organization and your brand is a great way to develop trust with prospects and customers alike, while also helping you become a household name with new audience segments.

Pro: Drive Website Traffic With Original Content

As the master hub for all of your marketing activities and initiatives, your website is your most valuable asset. But if you’re not consistently ranking high for keywords related to your brand, products, and services, you’re missing out on valuable inbound traffic and a golden opportunity to direct potential consumers to view everything you have to offer. Creating original and high-quality content in the form of webpages, blogs, success stories, and videos can help you achieve great positioning on search engine results pages (SERPs) to drive more traffic with longer time spent on the page and more conversions (sales, form fills, etc.). 

Pro: Original Content Places You in a Thought Leadership Position

Modern content marketing is all about thought leadership. This content highlights your knowledge and expertise within your field to support more informed purchasing decisions and showcase you as an innovative force that’s ahead of the competition. Building compelling and visually engaging eBooks, infographics, and webcasts that are focused on educating your consumers will help you position your organization as true experts in your industry — allowing you to guide prospects through a more gentle and informative customer journey that builds trust and gradually leads to more closed deals.

Pro: Create Original Content to Generate Demand

Modern consumers don’t want to give away their valuable contact information for free; there’s just too much digital noise out there, so marketers have to give them a compelling reason to turn up the volume. By offering “free” original content in exchange for contact details via form fills (email, phone number, business size, etc.), unknown prospects are far more likely to convert. This is especially true for pay-per-click campaigns, which is an area where you could waste a lot of your budget if you don’t have valuable collateral to entice users to take your desired action.

Con: Developing and Distributing Original Content Requires a Lot of Resources

The most obvious drawback of consistently developing original content is that all of these deliverables take a lot of time, money, and effort to produce — and that’s just to create the assets. By the time you’ve strategized and launched organic and paid campaigns to get these materials out in the world, you will have spent significant budget and man hours with no guaranteed results. This is true for companies and marketing departments of all shapes and sizes, so regardless of the firepower at your disposal, you should scale your original content marketing gradually based on each campaign’s results

Pros and Cons of Curated Content

While original content is ideal, it’s not always practical to deliver new and compelling marketing assets on a consistent basis. If you’re struggling to keep up with the increasingly heavy burden of developing original content regularly, there are several reasons to focus a bit more on curated content — and a few good reasons not to overdo it as well!

Pro: Curate Content to Conserve Resources

As mentioned above, creating really great original content can quickly eat up a marketing department’s resources. By curating content, however, you’re able to spend less time finding interesting material to share with your audience. This is especially true if you have limited writers and designers on staff. Look for content that is produced by trustworthy organizations and is especially relevant for your industry and offerings.

Pro: Build Relationships With Other Content Creators and Brands

Sharing another company’s content on your digital properties with proper attribution will put you on their radar. Whenever sharing another company’s content on social media, be sure to @ mention them and/or use their organization’s hashtag to grab their attention. They might even reach out to you to ask if you’re interested in co-marketing opportunities like sharing backlinks, developing co-branded materials, or regularly contributing to one another’s blog. Establishing a co-marketing relationship with another company is also beneficial because it enables you to capture the attention of target customers you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. 

Pro: Use Curated Content to Reach New Audiences

Curating content allows you to get a little outside of your comfort zone and share materials that might not be on-brand for you to produce. For instance, if your industry is pretty technical, you likely create detail-oriented pieces that reflect your prospects’ needs. By finding additional content online in the form of gifs, memes, and satirical blogs, you’re able to reach new audiences and show the world a different side of your organization (without having to claim the content as your own).

Con: Curating Content Doesn’t Help Your Demand Generation Efforts

Sharing curated content is one thing, but passing it off as your own is something else entirely. And that’s where the biggest downfall of curated content lies: you can’t use it as a demand generation asset because, well… it doesn’t actually belong to you. But that’s okay. Smart marketers use a healthy dose of original and curated content to satisfy all their needs, including demand generation, sales enablement, brand awareness, and more!

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Marketing Automation Frees Up the Time You Need to Create and Curate Content

Now that we understand the benefits and drawbacks of original and curated content, let’s discuss how marketing automation can help you do both while conserving valuable resources and freeing up time to develop more creative and compelling campaigns. 

One of the primary benefits of marketing automation is that it allows marketers to replicate campaign assets such as landing pages, emails, forms, and much more. When you don’t have to reconfigure the nuts and bolts of every single component with each new campaign, you can focus on delivering original content with better messaging to your ideal audience segments.  

Another way marketing automation can help your content marketing efforts is through personalization. By using this software to identify your website visitors, you can turn unknown users into known prospects and begin tracking their digital behavior. Once you’ve collected a bit of data on your potential consumers, you can begin tailoring customized user experiences to guide them through a personalized customer journey. This way, you can create customer-oriented content broken down by audience segment without having to be all things to all people all the time. Not only will this result in more site visits, longer time on page, and increased conversions, but it will also help you develop and fine-tune your content strategy in the future.

Some marketing automation platforms (like Act-On, for instance) have built-in social media tools that include insightful social listening tools. Social listening empowers brands to monitor all of their social media channels and scan for mentions, discussions, and customer feedback related to your organization, your competitors, specific keywords and topics, and industries as a whole. Good content marketers use this to their advantage by developing material related to these mentions and answering key questions relevant to their products, services, reputation, and industry. By knowing what your audience wants, you can use your time wisely by focusing on creating content that is relevant to their needs and interests.

Partnering with a marketing automation vendor with a built-in social media tool also helps marketers curate better content. For example, Act-On allows you to set up content feeds based on your unique interests and then share that material directly through our advanced social media module. So, since I’m a content marketer for a marketing software company, I’ve set my interests to “customer journey,” “keyword research,” “omnichannel marketing” — you get the drill. Whenever I click on one of these interests, I’m greeted with dozens of recent articles that I can easily share on Act-On’s social accounts. 

Use Act-On to Create and Curate Better Content Marketing Assets

If content is king, marketing automation is its vast and diverse empire. Our clients use Act-On to create, distribute, optimize, and repurpose their content to increase brand awareness, draw more site traffic, convert more prospects into leads, and close more deals. 

If you’d like to see how Act-On can help improve your content marketing strategy and execution, please schedule a demo with one of our skilled strategists today.

Or, if you’re still in discovery mode, you should download our eBook, “Making Marketing Automation a Reality.” This helpful guide has everything you need to know about marketing automation and how to implement it as part of your scalable MarTech stack and enjoy lightning-quick time to value. 

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