How Content Marketing Is Changing The Game, and It’s Benefiting Everyone
Did you tune in with the rest of the nation to watch Super Bowl XLVII back in 2013? As Baltimore took the lead over the 49ers, the power went out at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, suspending the game for over 30 minutes. In this timely moment, Oreo took advantage of the opportunity. They quickly created content that proved the power of real-time messaging and connections with customers.
Power out? No problem. “You can still dunk in the dark,” read a simple design of an Oreo spotlighted in the dark. The dunk in the dark tweet received over 15,000 retweets and attracted the eyes of America that day. This all happened because Oreo took advantage of the moment that millions were tuned in for. They became a shining brand in that moment of content marketing.
Content Marketing In This Decade And The Next
The rules of content marketing have changed. It was once all about publishing as much as you could in the hope of generating as many leads as possible. There was little strategy and minimal value to anything brands put out to their audience, and the content wasn’t adding much value to consumer lives.
Now? Content marketing is a whole different game. It’s about tracking performance and audience interests and creating personalized content. Keeping up with what’s going on right now and staying relevant is the name of the game in addition to finding what Hubspot calls “the happy marriage of content and context”.
As the year and the decade come to an end, you’ve probably noticed that everyone has hopped on the content creation train. But why? Has content marketing really changed the landscape of all marketing that much? And who is it benefiting?
The Role of Content Marketing in Overall Strategy
Content marketing has changed the landscape of overall marketing. It’s opened the eyes of many business owners who’ve had the mistaken impression that conversions happen immediately. They don’t.
Think about the last time you stumbled upon a great piece of content. Was it helpful and enjoyable? If the answer is yes, what did you do next as a consumer? After finding some kind of useful and free information from a brand, many consumers will dig further. What else can they find that they enjoy and can put to use? When they find more, they continue to dig deeper, revisiting that helpful brand and continuing to find value in its content—value and trust.
Now imagine the work, time, and strategy that went into creating that piece of content for you. Content marketing is a long-term game that takes a long-term strategy. It’s not as simple as spur-of-the-moment information or posting on social media every day on a whim—content marketing takes far more than that. Yes, Oreo hopped on the opportunity to develop content in the moment during Super Bowl XLVII, but they don’t operate on a whim all the time. They too have a strategy, a long-term one.
So here’s how content marketing really works—here’s how create content that benefits your brand and your customers.
1. Lead Generation
You’ve probably heard it before, but we’re going to tell you again. Getting in front of customers with salesy pitches won’t get you as many sales as you’d like. Today’s consumers (millennials especially) don’t want to be sold to, they want value from brands before even thinking about making a purchase.
Lead generation all starts with content marketing. As consumers are in search of information, brands are being forced to recognize those needs and provide for their audience. If you continue to determine how you’re able to help your audience with free information and supply that information for them, they’ll keep coming back.
As a consumer comes back again and again for more information and more content, a relationship gradually begins to form. Then, only after you’ve built trust with your audience will they dive into what else you have to offer them—products or services. Your content is your lead generator.
Another great reason to have confidence in content marketing is that the people who are viewing your content are your ideal customers. They’re the people who want to view your content, are taking the time to do so, and will eventually be loyal, converting customers.
No blasting out expensive ads in an attempt to catch attention from a fraction of those people. With content marketing, you already know the people viewing your content are your people, and they do (or will) want what you have to offer.
2. Ads Look Nothing Like They Used To
Mass media—television, radio, outdoor billboards, and print—it’s what advertising was. The landscape has changed, which means that traditional ads aren’t effective like they used to be. There are many reasons for this shift—decline in TV viewership, the short attention of consumers, the fact that consumers just don’t connect with the traditional ads they are seeing.
The way we buy, the way we seek information, the number of interruptions we experience every day, it’s all changed, and it’s changed the way advertising works too. Consumers no longer have the attention span to watch a full 2 minute TV commercial, especially when they’re not the ideal audience for that commercial. And the amount of time brands have to catch a person’s attention is getting slimmer and slimmer.
Even digital targeted advertising isn’t working the way that it did just a few years ago. Go ahead and open up your Instagram app. Scroll through your feed. What’s the second post you see? An ad, right? People are being consumed with digital ads every second they’re online. Frankly, they’ve had enough. There are now numerous options for adblocker technologies so consumers aren’t forced to come across ads, and they’re only getting smarter. So what’s the alternative? Content that gives them value, rather than a sales pitch.
Quality content can provide much more substantial value and information than a traditional ad ever could, and that’s exactly what people are wanting. Consumers don’t want to be sold to, they want to learn from you. That’s where valuable, informative content comes into play.
3. Personalizing Customer Experience
Today consumers are actually expecting to have personalized and relevant content put in front of them on a regular basis. So how do content marketers do it?
Personalizing a customer’s experience with content is all about putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time. This all starts by really getting to know your audience. Pay attention to insights and develop content that will secure and nurture relationships with loyal customers.
Though it might sound like a challenge to accurately predict what your customers want to see all the time, there’s plenty of technology to help you do so.
Plus, starting out small with apparent personalizations can be simple to implement on your own. For example, imagine your goal is to target millennial consumers. Utilizing mobile content marketing should be one of the first things to consider. As millennials have a phone in their presence during most of the day, they do much of their online searching and shopping on their mobile devices. Make content easily accessible via mobile so their user experience is customized to their needs.
4. Customers Have More Access to Information
Google is a powerful place full of information about pretty much anything, including your brand. Good, bad, reviews, questions, feedback, UGC—all of this information is out there for your customers to find.
A whopping 97% of consumers read reviews for small businesses—yes, 97. Consumers want to hear from other customers about a brand, they don’t want to hear from the brand itself. Take advantage of this and create and curate content that surrounds what consumers are saying.
If you find that people are asking the same questions over and over again, create content that supplies them with the answer. Curate great reviews and utilize the content consumers are creating for you. Answer those FAQs and give people access to what they’re looking for. The easier it is for a consumer to find the answer they’re looking for the better—remember that the attention span of consumers is minimal.
5. Positioning Company as a Thought Leader
When you think of a brand you really trust, what makes you trust them? Oftentimes, part of the reason is that you value the knowledge and expertise they have. They’re a thought leader in their industry.
Incorporating a thought leadership strategy into your content marketing is a great opportunity to show your audience your brand’s promise and expand on the knowledge and connection you have with that promise. If you’re all about using organic materials in your products, let your audience know. Then consistently educate them on why and how you use organic materials. As your audience is probably filled with people who feel the same way you do about keeping things organic, they’ll love the information you can provide and will look up to you as a thought leader.
6. Consistent, Excellent Branded Content Improves Brand Value
The overall purpose of content marketing is to provide informative material to your target audience and add value to your overall brand. In order to do this, content should always be consistent and authentic.
Consistently displaying your voice, values, personality, and purpose is the number one rule of content marketing. Do you know what your brand stands for? And are you communicating that throughout your content properly?
If you need to check in with your brand and the consistency and authenticity of your content, a Brand Scan could be the way to go. Have an outside creative comb through what you currently have going on in your content. Find out where you stand and how you can improve to get the most value out of your content for your customers.