Today, consumers are more savvy than ever about understanding their options when buying a product or service. And that’s why content marketing is so important to be included as a part of a company’s marketing plans.
In the past the sales funnel consisted of many steps and most were directed by the seller. A company would advertise to build awareness and interest. The advertisements would continue to encourage you to visit a location for a free trial or demonstration to further build your interest and desire in the product. And once in the store their salesforce would move you to actually buying the product or service.
Today, much of the sales funnel process is done by the prospect themselves with little “sales” input from the company. The prospect does their own research before they step into a store or click add to cart. That’s where content marketing comes in and why it’s so crucial to the overall success of a marketing plan today.
What is Content Marketing Today?
Content marketing today is providing useful, neutral information about a product or service so that prospects can make an informed buying decision. And more than that, content marketing today is about engagement with your target consumer. Think about all the websites, apps and social platforms your target can interact with before making a buying decision. And even if they do go to an actual location before buying, they can still reconfirm their decision by checking in with websites and social media platforms on the spot.
And what if you aren’t there? Or, what if all you are doing is advertising or selling your product or service? If that’s all you are doing, then you need to think again.
So what makes a content marketing strategy successful? First and foremost, whatever content you put “out there” you must make sure it is relevant and valuable to your prospects. If not, you are just trying to sell your products. Consumers are so smart today. They know when they are being “sold”. And today, they just don’t want to be sold.
Consumers Want Information Not a Sales Pitch
Consumers want to understand the overall benefits that a product or service may provide to them. In other words is it going to be useful to them? And they don’t want it in “ours is the
best” lingo they want an honest overview. Testimonials, case histories, stories of usage in addition to overall stories about the company that include their goodwill and volunteer efforts are key elements to a comprehensive content marketing strategy.
So why do you even want to consider a content marketing strategy? Because there are some very long-term negative effects if you don’t. You may actually become irrelevant to a portion of your customer audience.
Top content marketing benefits
- Increases brand affinity (a “if they know me they love me” process)
- Increases your web traffic (others love your content and share it)
- Helps you grow your social audience
- Improves brand awareness
- Creates loyalty and trust
Consumers are searching the universe for information, good and bad so every brand needs to be visible without it always being a self-promotion. With that in mind, it’s best to determine what you hope to accomplish before you even get started.
You want to ask yourself, will using this strategy enhance existing marketing elements?
If the answer is yes, then you want to dive deep into who your customers are and how they research their product purchases. Because just throwing content out there isn’t going to be successful. The content needs to speak directly to your customers with relevant information they can use. If you don’t know who that customer is, then you won’t speak to them in the style or manner they want.
You want to make sure that your content will ultimately make them care about what you are saying. You want to create a unique voice and style. And that is built over time. You can’t expect to post the same content across multiple mediums and that’s all you do. This is a long-term strategy.
Create brand awareness and loyalty with Content Marketing
One very successful cosmetic company has used the content marketing strategy for several years with great success. A key element was developing an online make-up competition for beauty vloggers to share their skills. Granted the vloggers weren’t required to use this cosmetic brand only, but it increased their general awareness. The competition got the audience involved and participating they became very invested in the competition’s success. The brand not only increased their brand awareness and affinity they have developed tremendous loyalty from a key target audience.
While it can be difficult to determine the ROI (Return on Investment) for a content marketing program I think the example above shows that you can ultimately determine if a content marketing strategy is successful.
Another great example is for a fitness company that started a blog providing health and fitness tips (yes there are a ton of them out there).Part of their initial success was their discipline in developing a content marketing calendar before they ever launched their blog. They wanted to make sure they were hitting all the elements on a consistent basis.
And it paid off as the company quickly grew to more a million monthly users. And in 2016 they decided to expand that content. So now they’ve introduced a standalone digital magazine that provides content on more than fitness including science, travel, nutrition and more. They’ve also been able use the editorial in podcasts, print and other mediums.
They also turned this “content” strategy into a revenue generator of its own and they now sell advertising and sponsorships in their digital magazine.
So, as you can see, having a content marketing strategy is worth exploring and is probably good for your business.
Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More