By Ambika Sharma, Founder, Pulp Strategy
Do you give flyers and pamphlets a thorough read, or check out each and every promotional email that you receive? Have you sat through a TV commercial instead of flipping channels? Do you click on online banners and advertisements that often keep flashing on your screen while you surf the internet? The answer to these questions in most cases will be a strong ‘no’, underlining how you, as a consumer, have grown adept at tuning out traditional marketing efforts. And yet you share links to interesting articles, GIFs, videos and memes on social media, indirectly promoting brands with good content within your social circles. In light of this change in consumer behaviour, it would not be an exaggeration to say that marketing has well and truly flipped on its head. As far as marketing approaches are concerned, content has once again reaffirmed its position as the undisputed king.
Content marketing is defined as 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. This focus on greater engagement and value addition is what differentiates it from other marketing approaches, and what makes it so much more impactful. The quest for greater end-user engagement has also seen instances where brands take their content strategy beyond marketing and make their audience the crux of their messaging. Conversations are sparked, as consumers themselves assert the role of ambassadors for brands.
But what makes for a successful content marketing approach? While it depends a lot on how you want your brand to be viewed by your target consumer base, here are a few tips that can help you in identifying, devising and executing the content strategy that will be the bestfit for your brand:
• Define Your Content Pillars: The first part of any successful content marketing initiative is identifying exactly what you want from it. Do you want your content to drive more traffic to your website, or is your aim raising greater awareness amongst your target audience? Is your content meant to supplement your overall marketing, or is it the primary driver for your business? These are the questions that you need to answer before you kick-start your content marketing initiatives.
• Put Consumers at the Centre of Your Messaging: The difference between good content and spam is often the relevance of your content for your target audience. Listening to your consumers to understand what they want becomes vital in such a scenario. Initiate conversations with your consumers, invite their opinions and feedback, and establish two-way communication channels. Identify things that are important to them and build content that encourages users to reach out to you instead of the other way around.
• Create a Story: Engagement has always been a vital factor in driving consumer acquisition and retention for any business. Your focus with content, therefore, must be on creating narratives and stories that catch your audience’s attention. Encourage your consumers to co-create and give them a chance to be a part of the brand’s messaging. Not only will this drive greater visibility for your business, but will also help in establishing its positive, consumer-centric brand image.
• Incorporate Videos & Visual Content: With various studies indicating how visual content is much easier to comprehend and absorb than text-based content, incorporating visual tools such as videos, infographics and memes into your content strategy is a sound idea. These visual tools also have a greater chance of going ‘viral’ on social media platforms and can generate user interest in your business.
• Maintain Brand Positioning: Keeping your content relatable to your target audience is an ideal approach. However, you must take care that your content strategy does not stray away from the overall brand positioning in a bid to appear ‘cool’. Maintaining homogenous messaging across various marketing channels will help in creating a strong and uniform brand recall in the minds of your consumers.
• Keep it Mobile-friendly: With the rapid proliferation of smartphones, mobiles have essentially become the first screen that users interact with and the primary channel of content consumption. This is what makes keeping your content relevant to mobile devices so essential. Ensure that you have mobile-friendly content in formats that will allow users to access it anytime, anywhere in order to optimise the impact of your marketing initiatives.
• Test, Test & Test: Today’s world is a data-driven one, and your marketing approach should be no different. Analyse what marketing initiatives have worked for your brand in the past, and what has not. Doing so allows you to refine your content strategy to make it more relevant to the consumer, thereby, maximizing its impact.
New-age marketers need to understand that nothing that explicitly and aggressively says ‘buy’ can be expected to make an impact. Instead, the focus must be on making prospective buyers develop a brand affinity subtly and on adding more value to their brand experience through engaging content. If used strategically, content marketing can not only add greater momentum to a brand’s overall marketing approach, but can also help in driving business and consumer loyalty for the brand.