Is Content Driven Marketing the way forward?

Most digital marketers understand the importance of coming up with new & innovative ways to improve their ranking & overall website performance. Whilst brainstorming over a client’s digital marketing strategy do you ever stop to think ‘people these days know when they are being sold to.’ In recent years the online shopper has evolved from a once timid, somewhat naive consumer to a savvy, well informed & cautious buyer. In the early days of online shopping consumers we’re impressed by the sheer convenience of online shopping alone & the fact that some online stores even provided free delivery. However, nowadays expectations have risen dramatically & the seasoned online shopper is no pushover when it comes to purchasing.

The average online consumer will visit several websites including product review sites to make sure they are getting the best possible value & service available. People are taking advantage of the information hub that the internet has become. Also economic & recessionary factors have led consumers to be more cost & value conscious than ever before. Even people who plan to purchase in store do the majority of their research online in the comfort of their own homes. This proliferation of the ‘savvy online consumer’ means they are less responsive to aggressive display advertising as they know how to find exactly what they are looking for whilst avoiding unsolicited ads.

Their experience has taught them to stir well clear of pop up ads & the like. In order to stand out from the crowd in cyber space companies need to draw their customers in with engaging content, creating an overall experience akin to that of someone entering a real store. A highly engaging experience on a website including media rich content such as videos & interesting articles will ensure a high incidence of return visitors. Essentially if people enjoy visiting your website & see your company as a credible source of information & expert advice then they will surely return. Content marketing helps you build up your company’s reputation & credibility thus gaining their customers’ trust.

One of these valuable content driven marketing tools is editorial content. By creating up to date editorial content & delivering it online you can not only increase traffic but also increase your reputation thus gaining the trust of your online audience. When your readers scan the first few paragraphs of copy off your ads, they know that this is all marketing, and their brain goes “blah blah blah”, while they’re skipping ahead. They know that what they’re seeing is promotional, and they don’t trust that content. Because of this, your ads don’t work very well. Especially online, where people have the attention span of little squirrels, they are quick to dismiss any content they perceive as less trustworthy or otherwise low-value.

But as a marketer, you need something to get your message across to the readers. You want to engage them, make them feel something, make them aware that your type of product exists, and tell them how you are better than your competitors. How do you do this, when people online are banner-blind, and dismiss any content that they feel is promotional? Shift your marketing focus from promotional to editorial. If you think of trade magazines for example, these old paper based publications, filled with rich & relevant content, catering for a specific niche, where they are viewed as the most important sources of information about an industry. However, as we are all aware these magazines are dying as their readers are migrating online, expecting the content to be free. They keep up to date & informed about their industry using a wide variety of sources including blogs, online magazines, & discussion with their peers on online forums & through social media.

Therefore this growing need for credible content & information online provides an opportunity for companies to get on board & start providing what online consumers are looking for. It is mutually beneficial for both consumer & companies with an online presence.

Three reasons why you should use content marketing:

1. You will build amazing credibility within your industry

Your readers will start trusting you more than your competitors as the content you provide will be useful & valuable to the reader. This will help you build a loyal following within your industry.

2. This is the kind of promotion that has the greatest potential to work online

Search engines such as Google prefer long detailed content that people refer to as credible as opposed to promotional content
They place a much higher value on this type of content like reports, analysis, documentation, specification, videos & rich media therefore this content helps you rank higher thus reaching a wider audience

3. This content can often be best written by you

All you need is access to an enthusiastic employee who has a passion for the area that you’re in.
He might be a mechanic, a desk worker or a project manager. But he manages to get in touch with people in his field. He’s the person who would still be standing in the parking lot for half an hour after a conference, talking shop with his peers.

The ideal vehicle for this content is a ‘magazine’ themed website, in most cases running on blog software. Blogs are good as they allow people to subscribe using RSS feeds & the author/administrator can follow up on posts using the comment fields. It’s useful to experiment with different ratios between promotional & editorial content. Try doing half editorial & half promotional, or one promotion every two or three editorial stories. A good example would be if you have an e-commerce shop about cycling equipment, create a buyer’s guide about what to consider while choosing the perfect bike etc. Then highlight the different products available with links to buy.

If you can keep high quality, engaging & informative content flowing then you have the good stuff that Google likes & is craved by your targeted people in social media. Make sure to promote this content using your existing channels & get people to subscribe to it. Build a newsletter, get subscribers to your blog, & get followers to your Facebook & Twitter pages. After a while you will have a huge list of people & an engaged audience that really listen to you. By providing them with editorial content as well as promotional you will make them eager to consume your content & they will find it useful. This turns off their spam filter & instead they trust your message, viewing you as a credible source of valuable information.

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  1. Very interesting article about engaging your customers. You are right that it is about providing an engaging experience and that this will keep people coming back. Purchase decisions are driven by emotions which are created by good experiences. You must be able to measure what you are doing, get feedback in a professional way which is analysed, benchmarked, reacted to and responded to. By having continuous engagement in this way you will be enhancing the customer experience by focusing on their needs and gaining more trust and credibility.
    Questback are increasingly providing this kind of service through integrated feedback sytems, panel management techniques, and focusing on the individual – in other words send the right information, ask the right questions to the right person at the right time. That way you get engagement and actionable feedback which will enable you to improve content and the customer experience.

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