That’s roughly how long humans have been sharing stories (or, performing content marketing), according to a piece on ArsTechnica. Indonesian cave paintings were the first infographics, and they were the first recorded stories that were shared.
Hit the fast forward button to skip a few millennia, and we are telling more stories than we ever were and in a variety of different ways.
The digital world that we now find ourselves in is evolving at a breakneck pace. Content gathers dust on the digital shelf like fossils in some long-forgotten museum, and today’s trending hashtag is tomorrow’s meme shared as an ironic ‘do you remember when’ nod back.
Attention is at a premium now more than ever. A recent forecast by the data giant Seagate estimates that 75% of the world’s population will be interacting with data every 18 seconds, by the year 2025. That is an insane amount of digital interaction, by anyone’s standards.
Why are we so easily distracted?
The internet today is incredibly noisy: flashing banner advertisements, pop-ups, clickbait nonsense, and the usual spam all clamouring for our attention. In the tsunami of information, it is all too easy to see why people use services like AdBlock to keep the noise to a minimum and streamline their web browsing experience.
Unfortunately for you and your brands very carefully cultivated and calibrated marketing campaign, 2020 marks the start of an annual trend. A trend that is going to see well over 35 billion (insert local western currency here) in global advertising flushed down the toilet.
What is to blame? Advertisement blocking software. You can’t blame people for using it, the web is too noisy for all of us, but how to mitigate it? How do you market your content in these situations? That is the question.
With adblockers running amok, and with good reason, it has to be said, how does a brand today reach potential customers? To put it another way, how do you earn and capture the attention of an audience that could very easily ignore your advertising without even trying?
You give them what they want:
Content that matters to them.
So, what exactly is content marketing?
Content marketing is, essentially, storytelling. Albeit storytelling that is useful, relevant and captures the interest of your target audience. It is more than that though. Content marketing helps to solve a specific problem. Content writing and content marketing go hand in hand – Information Vs sales, essentially.
Whichever way you define content marketing, the main takeaway is that that it works.
Here’s why it works:
- Excellent content – that is to say, excellent content marketing – is genuinely engaging.
- Your target audience doesn’t need a gun pointed to their head to be convinced to read your content, they don’t need to be convinced at all.
- They actively seek it out.
- They can’t help but consume it.
- Your audience may not even realise they are being marketed to. And even if they do, they appreciate the goodwill shown by a brand that helps them make decisions ‘just because’.
Let’s say, just for a moment, that you’re a brand with deep pockets.
You could spend several thousand £s for pitch-side advertising during a Premier League game, and if you want an LED board that will be facing cameras then the price starts at £15,000 per game.
The viewing figures can make it worth it though, depending on your business, and if you manage to get an LED board during a Championship League game…
As fantastic as the potential rewards can be, do you really want to splurge on one advertising board for one game? Or would you rather use the budget available to you (whatever that budget may be) on building a consistently engaged readership-cum-community of organically sourced, voluntary brand loyalists?
- Large-scale customer events? Check.
- Hundreds of blog posts, social media posts, white papers, etc.? Check.
- Emails, letters, auto-responders… Check.
Wait, what the Hell happened to content marketing? Believe it or not, all of the above have a few things in common:
- Easy to action
- Google-friendly (even a physical letter can elicit an online review)
They also help to boost your SEO efforts, while capturing and keeping the attention of your prospects.
A deeper look at what successful content marketing looks like
Content marketing is more than ‘just’ blogging. While blogging is still a large aspect of content marketing, it is not the name of the game any longer. If someone describes themselves as a blogger, one of two things is happening:
- They are limiting their reach, scope and potential for success
- They are seriously underselling themselves, possibly without realising it
Unfortunately, it is usually the first of the two; either because they don’t have the skill-set to move forward or because they are not aware they are limiting themselves. Usually, it’s the latter rather than the former.
What is required is an active presence on all as many types of platforms as possible, this way we reach as many people as possible.
In short, your brand is using just one avenue to reach out then you are quite probably missing out on a huge potential audience.
Content marketing outreach avenues
There are lots of potential avenues that you can target your content at, such as:
- Social Media Posts
- Email Campaigns
- Influencer Updates
- Online courses
Moving forward, as technology and audience habits continue to evolve, you could also consider:
- Content that is voice search-optimized.
- Augmented Reality (AR) experiences.
- One-to-one conversations with customers through tools like Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp…
The scope of content marketing, as evidenced above, is practically limitless.
There is one thing that remains the same across all successful channels, avenues and platforms. And that is the dedication to including the brand’s audience in the conversation and the story of the brand. Through this, you lay the foundation for a brand community that is built on trust.
90% of all businesses today use content marketing, one way or another, whether they realise it or not. From Google to the local takeaway (those leaflets you get posted through your door, for example).
Curious about how content marketing can do for you?
The power of awesome content marketing (& why your audience will love it)
It doesn’t matter if your brand spans continents or barely covers your neighbourhood, your readers expect content this is in-depth (that is, explains things rather than being vague to the point of being pointless), well-sourced and authentic (just be genuine, honest and straightforward).
In the era of filters, deepfakes and outright lies coming from public figures, your audience (your customers and prospects) are looking for something genuine, and they deserve it. These days more than ever before.
They need something worth their time. It’s valuable, treat it that way.
If your particular business calls for it (not all do) then produce long-form content. This kind of content provides more information, cites more sources. Long-form content has a higher perception of value than short-form content does.
Even if your brand only needs little detail, include it and make it relevant. For instance, if you ship products overseas or around the country as a service, consumers and businesses may be more inclined to make use of your services, if you make it known that you use electric and hybrid vehicles wherever possible. That’s relevant information that could turn a prospect into a sale.
Are your takeaway products made using locally sourced produce? Say so, it’s relevant, and include the name of the farms if possible. People like to feel good about their purchase, and that is good for your brand if you can do that for them.
Transparency is key
53% of consumers expect businesses to show corporate responsibility on social media platforms, and this includes sharing information with regards to changes in products or services.
These things do take a little extra effort, there is no denying it, but transparency is worth it in the long run. For everyone.
Transparency is vital for public trust.
3 important reasons why great content marketing is worth the effort
If the above is not enough to convince you, then consider these 3 compelling reasons why content marketing is more than worth the effort.
Content marketing helps you connect with your consumer base
Technology is very quickly changing the way that your customers and prospects interact with available information and the way that they make decisions.
A 2020 Statista study projected there is going to be, by 2023, over 7 billion people that will own a smartphone.
Let that sink in for a second or two.
That is very nearly the current global population.
Now, more than at any other point in your business, your content has the potential to reach a truly global audience.
Take advantage of that fact.
Content marketing drives sales
On average, content marketing is responsible for 6 times more conversions for content marketers, than traditional strategies are for other marketers? (2.9% versus 0.5%). It sounds incredible, but it’s true.
How is that figure even possible?
Have a look at your customer base.
Whether you are in the B2C or B2B market, your prospects (and you) need content that stands out from the rest of the noise screaming for their attention.
Do you want their attention, or are you happy for them to go elsewhere?
Have you heard of the content differentiation factor (CDF)?
CDF is your brand’s new take on content that your audience has seen before. Find out what your CDF is, or could be, and you are well on your way to boosting those sales figures.
Content marketing saves money and makes it too
Regardless of the size, every business wants to save money and cut costs – without cutting quality, of course.
Content marketing is a powerhouse when it comes to saving money. It can cost as much as 62% less than traditional marketing and as many as 3 times the leads.
According to Google Trends, the interest in content marketing (globally) has grown nearly to 100% over the last 16 years.
Content marketing is not only going to lower your marketing budget but over time it is also going to generate more qualified, that’s to say better quality, leads.
How will it do this?
Using opt-in advertising (those ‘keep me notified’ notices on websites, for instance) you will save on the costs of lead generation and you will develop a network of followers who will start to think of your brand first when the time to make a decision comes around.
Are you ready for your business to take the next step?
With the development and new technology and the furtherance of existing tech, and a steadily growing global as well local audience, content marketing is going to continue becoming more important.
Are you ready to show off the value of your brand, build a community and convert an audience into loyal customers?
Make marketing human again, develop your content marketing strategy. Contact us for more info and a free quote.