Today, however, there is so much information available digitally, that consumers can afford to be more discerning when it comes to engaging with brand-sponsored content. People are now able to conduct their own research online and via their social media networks. If they’re considering buying a particular product, for example, they can read the product website, compare competitor prices on various e-commerce platforms, and access product reviews that have been posted by their peers and other sources they trust.
In the Age of Information, why should consumers take everything that companies tell them at face value? And more importantly – why should they take the time to listen to and engage with brands that are essentially only interested in talking about themselves?
This perspective – and content consumption power – has shifted the way that customers interact with businesses. It has also changed the way that forward-thinking brands communicate. Instead of only focusing on creating marketing material that sells solutions to customers, brands have begun to invest their time, energy and digital marketing budgets in content marketing.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as follows:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Essentially, content marketing aims to provide carefully segmented customer groups with content that is relevant to their needs and budgets, means something to them, and adds value to their lives. The goal is to engage with a specific target audience by offering them something that they want to read, watch, listen to or interact with – whether you’re creating:
- Social media posts;
- Blog articles;
- How-to guides;
- Or something else entirely.
Good content marketing is not just a once-off – but rather part of a holistic digital marketing strategy that is designed to engage your audience and nurture lasting relationships with these individuals, by providing consistently interesting, high quality and valuable content on a regular basis. This will help to position your brand as a subject matter expert, a thought leader, and a company that rewards its customers.
Content marketing goals
This approach to digital marketing communication shares many of the same goals as traditional advertising. Content marketing campaigns aim to:
- Create brand awareness:
This happens in an indirect rather than a direct way. For example, a company could publish a blog article on a topical issue in their industry that is of interest to their target market. But instead of just focusing on brand and product attributes, the company could write content that offers a unique perspective, new research, useful advice or practical step-by-step tips.
- Generate leads:
By asking customers to fill in their contact details to register for a webinar, download a white paper or complete a quiz, for example, they are providing their personal information and getting something valuable in return. The company can then send further marketing material to these prospects, provided they follow the relevant data protection laws.
- Increase brand credibility:
By providing news and thought-provoking information on topics that relate to the solution or industry, brands can showcase their expertise and knowledge, which helps to position their solutions as industry-leading choices.
- Build a community of engaged consumers:
By offering regular content that is consistent in quality and relevant to the brand and its ideals, a company can keep consumers interested in its value proposition and encourage them to keep consuming more content. Unlike one-off advertising, content marketing is an ongoing exercise driven by brands that care about their customers and want to build communities rather than make sales.
Turning engagement into conversions
Once a consumer trusts your brand as an expert provider of valuable information, you are more likely to win their loyalty next time they’re in the market for a product or service like yours. Why would they choose to go with a competitor when your company and ethos is already familiar to them?