Chitraparna Sinha, Director, Esmee Network
Despite us being the land of the great storytellers, we don’t comprehend the art of storytelling and its association with brand building. Content marketing is the fourth wave of strategic brand value building. It is an art, the art of stringing together words, which not only promotes the brand but creates loyal evangelists. As Bill Slawski says, “Content marketing isn’t about marketing your content, but instead about using content to market some thing!”
Unknowingly, our companies are victims to certain misconceptions, stalling them from exploring the full potential of content marketing.
Content Marketing Value is Immeasurable
It is n’t. A 2015 study by Content Marketing Institute on B2B brands finds only 35% marketers accurately documenting their content marketing results. The dismal numbers are due to a lack of awareness among marketers about tools to help measure the impact of content. It’s easy to become frustrated and distressed without perceptible results. Google Analytics, Serpstat. Clicky, advertising data on Facebook and other mediums, targeted blog publications with identifiable URLs are some methods to measure. Create a comprehensive pipeline in-house or use external tools that sync all the data points to give a measurable value of your content output.
Content Marketing Delivers Instant Results
It does n't. The sooner brand marketers understand this truth, the easier it is. Businesses have morphed into the digital system.
Earlier, people understood revenue. A local business knew the number of products sold in an area, the mark up percentage, the operational costs of running a store, and deducting all these; the local business had a solid profit. Marketing channels were different then. Word-of-mouth marketing worked best, and lesser options pushed buyers to throng on to the same store repeatedly. Business was smooth.
Things have changed. Now, the same local business has ten more competitors in the area and to survive; our local business has to extend its net far and wide, selling interstate and sometimes international. The costs increase exponentially. The local business upgrades their infrastructure, hires employees, and starts to invest in marketing, and we can empathize when the business owner rues that their content marketing strategies isn’t producing any results.
The lack of results is due to two reasons: one, completely wrong audience profiling to deliver the marketable materials and two, misplaced expectations.
Content Marketing is about Building Relationships
Let me lead with an example. I am a member of a local fitness club for women. They have three branches and a substantial number of members. They wanted the number of memberships to rise; leaflet distribution and prodding the members to refer the club to others weren't working. They had a poorly made website and an inactive Facebook page - two strong Internet properties which they were n't utilizing. Why? They were aware that their target members (college girls and working women) were on Facebook but didn't have the knowledge to capitalize on the audience profile.
It took me a month to consult them on the benefits of Facebook advertising, its ROI possibilities, and how a sleek user-friendly website is a must to remain ahead of the competition. We developed a strategy where they would post workout videos of classes with their members, and promote it via Facebook in a selected geographical location and it's working amazingly.
With one strategy, we took cognizance of the two reasons I mentioned above which causes lack of results with content marketing. The fitness club was aware of the target market, and their Facebook advertisement customization followed the targeted audience profiling. Further, promoting via videos made more sense because it's a fitness club. Potential customers would be interested to know about their fitness services and the best way to show this is via real videos. It was about creating a relationship, which would n't have happened by showing just the fitness experts with perfect bodies. It happened by showing women,not in the best state of health, who were confident to move out of their comfort zones and push their limits with the sweat and struggle, for the prospective consumers to see. Second, their expectations were sorted. They wanted paid members, not email list subscribers. The videos included a contact number connected with a two step IVR leading to the receptionist for sharing further details. Results started showing in two weeks and it was fully trackable.
Content marketing is solely about building relationships. In real relationships, do we expect instant results or do we expect a lifelong journey of mutual companionship? The same applies to content marketing.
Content Marketing = Brand Marketing
It is n't. Content marketing moves beyond the agenda of improving a brand's image. Rather, it should be a fiercely aggressive strategy to address customer needs, engage and persuade them to make a purchase. Brand awareness could be a goal; however, its impact is the hardest to measure. Content creation is the core aspect. Its marketing isn't simply about bringing customers to the first level of a sales funnel. When yours is a completely digital business, an intuitive content marketing strategy should measure each footprint of the customer. Technologies like heat maps, retargeting, email capture modulesnd form submissions are few methods to understand these footprints and engage with the customer.
Mediums of Content Marketing
Let’s understand the content marketing ensemble cast: texts, graphics, audiovisuals and apps/ games. Texts are newsletters, web copy, articles, guides, white papers, eBooks, case studies, and micro content from social media. Graphics are Infographics, slides, GIFs, images and other frameworks. Audiovisuals are webinars, podcasts, interviews, and video demos.
Owned media comprises of print collateral, websites, microsites, digital media center, communities, press room, emails, online training, mobile, virtual events, and webinars. Paid media comprises of print collateral, radio, TV, mobile advertising, social advertising, and native advertising. Earned media comprises of user generated social media content, review sites, third-party communities, and organic media mentions.
The options are endless. Align these web assets to the expected outcome and move ahead with content marketing. Surely it does consume a large chunk of a marketing budget but the results are exceptionally amazing.
On a closing note, it will take businesses some more time to understand the merits of content marketing. The latest LinkedIn report of content marketing predictions for India shows that brands have begun to unveil the aspects of influencer marketing and user behavior and profiling, which will certainly help businesses to surge ahead. It’s not enough to hire a content marketing manager; the upper management should be educated about the concept because only then they will lose their apprehension to invest in content marketing.