Reading the marketing trades online, one would get the sense that every brand has gotten wise to the value of content marketing and is busy shifting budget dollars from ineffective display or interruptive advertising to juicy content. But attend a few marketing events where brands are presenting their progress or even their commitment to this area and you quickly see things are moving more slowly.
Working inside brands is a process. There are few lightning strikes of wisdom that shift behavior overnight. Rather a steady effort of communicating the benefits – and addressing the risks – of new marketing approaches may take hold over time. That means the sales pitch for content marketing is never done. Here is a compilation of what I find the most compelling reason to shift dollars and expertise to content marketing from some other marketing practices (those we do automatically, less because they prove themselves more effective).
Customers (B2B, B2C) research their purchase decisions online before, during and after the purchase and/or interaction with the brand.
Buyers go to Google before they know your product or service solves a problem they are researching. That’s the opportunity to get in front of them and earn their attention. A new report from Blue Nile adds some color to these behaviors:
“The ease of access to information in the Internet economy means buyers are fully prepared to leverage all channels available to them and more than 70% (76% B2B) use three channels or more when researching a purchase. 45% of buyers (46% B2B) want data and stats to help them make a buying decision, more than any other content type”
Great search results will always favor highly relevant content
While Google alters its algorithm seemingly all of the time, causing most brands to invest in persistent efforts to understand these laws and strengthen their results, the theme of good results remains consistent. Content others authentically share and link-to rise to the top. Fresh content and even longer content seem to do well. If all you provide is content that describes what you sell, you can dominate on brand searches. If you provide highly relevant content on broader topics that garner more interest – business problems and solutions, for example – then there is a greater opportunity for you to connect with buyers. Check out Neil Patel’s summary of some of the more recent history of organic search that affects brands.
Native advertising works and requires user-valued content & content marketing discipline
Banner advertising is a disappointment. Ad blockers are a threat. For brands who want to work with media properties or even ad networks to reach specific audiences, the remedy to this deterioration is partly found in native content. Partnering with a great content property like Businessweek or CNET, for example, means access to a great audience. But it requires brands to get behind creating strong user-valued content. That is a different skill set than designing a package of banners. Just take a look at these videos – including this one on creating a dog washing station - inside the Instructables Web site for Moen. My experience has been that great native content cannot be completely outsourced to a partner. It requires the brand to think and apply value like a content marketer.
Brands can realize efficiencies creating user-valued content for both their sales and marketing efforts
Content that helps buyers make great business and even purchase decisions has a place both in the hands of a salesforce and via direct online channels. The explainer videos on tough subjects like Nonprofit Directors & Officers Liability (if you serve on a board, you should care about this) are valuable, relationship-builders than can move a customer towards a purchase. When a salesperson (independent agent) shares that content, she strengthens her trusted advisor role. When the brand shares via digital channels, it aims to help buyers make more informed choices and earn perefence. Using content for both channels can be more efficient.
Buyers are increasingly demanding video and rich-media content (not ads) to help or delight them
People are consuming a lot more video online and via mobile. That’s an irrefutable trend. Interestingly, that same Blue Nile study revealed, “B2B buyers actually preferred video at a greater rate than B2C.” As soon as you acknowledge this trend and embrace the challenge of delivering valuable video, you require a new of content marketing skills. TV spots generally don’t do it. Even the wonderfully emotional John Lewis holiday spot is pure delight and entertainment. It’s more than a TV commercial. Brands who want to achieve a marketing result via video, need to think about how to make that content useful and/or desirable in some way.
What are your compelling reasons for investing in content marketing.