Content marketing has become one of the key marketing vehicles for brands in different sectors, with budgets ranging from zero to many millions!
This revolution and realization has come into effect when businesses saw that connecting with customers is not different in B2B set-up than in a B2C set-up because we are essentially dealing with like-minded people. For any brand to click with potential buyers, it needs to speak their language – it could be a local salon, a health-club or a real estate agency, the first and foremost requirement to get the business rolling is to connect!
It is important to develop the relevant content, to use the right media vehicles and support it with perfect visuals and videos! Let us discuss it in more detail.
Increased focus on content marketing tactics
According to some research findings shared in a recent blog post by MarketingProfs, most marketers (71%) plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014, as per a recent report from Curata. The report was based on data from a survey of 502 marketers conducted in fall 2013, with 53% of respondents focused on B2B marketing, 12% on B2C, and 28% on both.
Respondents see content marketing as being most effective in the upper part of the customer acquisition funnel—especially for awareness-building and customer engagement. However, its impact on the lower part of the funnel is also quite significant, with nearly two-thirds of marketers indicating they’ve seen an increase in lead quality and quantity due to content marketing.
The ideal desired content marketing mix for 2014 consists of 61% created, 27% curated, and 12% syndicated content which is not very different from the content mix desired currently.
Add value and eyeballs with curated content
Do you think curation is easy? It is a tedious task that involves going through large amounts of information and filtering key elements, arranging them and publishing them in proper channels. Content curators pick the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community. Marketers are slowly starting to like curated content as they feel it helps increase their brand visibility, thought leadership, aids in search engine optimization and increased web traffic at the same time improves customer and buyer engagement.
As explained by Beth Kanter, Content curation is a three-part process: Seek, Sense, and Share. Finding the information or “seeking” is only one third of the task as Mari Smith points out in this video about why curation is important and some tools for doing it. Making sense of the information is just as important. Sense making can be writing a blog post using the links (like this post) or summarizing the key points in a presentation. However you create meaning, but it has to support your organization’s communications objectives. Finally, the sharing – is about giving the best nuggets of content to your audience in a format that they can easily digest and apply it.
Express distinct points of view to draw feedback
While sharing content, you can produce original content along with curating existing content by other authors and/or marketers. Adding your distinct points of view to curated content can add an extra edge to your content marketing strategy and could work very well in drawing out people’s opinions and feedback making it more like a discussion instead of a monologue. This is especially appropriate when a brand may want to “bundle” three or four articles in a package and then, perhaps, write a short post contextualizing these articles with an opinion. Or, the brand may want to provide a complete “event” as a bundle and package it as a microsite. As Beth states you could also storify your content. It is a way to add context to content collected from various social media vehicles. You could use social media data such as tweets, photos and videos and collect and use individual elements into your story. You can re-order the elements and also add text to give context to your readers.
Empower and engage audiences
The CMI/Marketing Profs study shows that 52 percent of marketers “want to produce the type of content that engages”. Content marketing needs to be done in the context of the user by creating experiences for users informed by the terms they type into a search box, their previous purchases, even their social network history and preferences. It’s about connecting with users exactly where they are comfortable instead of pushing generic messages onto prospects. And that requires creating a personalized and engaging experience.
To cultivate engagement, Coca Cola has re-launched their corporate website, Coca-Cola Journey, as a highly visual, sharable digital magazine. Featuring content themed around pop culture, social media, brand history, marketing campaigns, recipes, career advice, and more the website presents content that resonates strongly with its core audience.
Brand stories like background on marketing campaigns, historical stories about Coca-Cola, or information on the jobs people have within the company, all generate a high level of readership, proving that company specific stories still have a relevant place on the new website. Strategies like these are paving the way for future communication with more about the customers and less about the brand. After all, brands are people first.
Let visuals do all the talking
Image-based updates have engagement rates that are many times higher than posts that contain only text and video content is close behind. This gap is only getting smaller with time. Whether it’s infographics, GIFs, still images or video, visual content is driving brand interactions online. This is not to say that text or other content types aren’t worth sharing, but visually appealing posts are likely to become the bread and butter of content strategies.
Visual content isn’t just for the visually based social networks, such as Pinterest and Instagram, it improves your interaction rates on pretty much all social networks. For example, simply attaching a photo to a Facebook update generates 53% more likes than the average post, and this can be done simply by sharing a link to a blog post or news article and uploading the image from the post along with the text update. Instead of creating a text-only status update, upload the photo or video from the post, and then include the post title and link as a description of the photo/video.
By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled. In case you don’t have the time or resources to regularly post photos and videos on social media, then at least shoot some simple product videos or videos of your store, some team events, etc. and if that seems difficult then you could add a few photos on your website’s landing pages (generally pics from your actual operations or products have more impact). Landing pages with a video increase average page conversion rates by 86%. While photos don’t produce results that are as dramatic, but landing pages with pictures still do better than ones without any visual content at all.
Which content marketing strategies are you using and what kinds of returns have they produced? I shall look forward to hear about your content marketing experiences.