Brands across industries are trying to capture the attention of their customers all the time, irrespective of the geography that might be operating in. The challenges have multiplied with the rise of the internet and social media, that has resulted in an information overload for the customers. While companies have been investing huge amounts of money in digital marketing, it does not have much role to play in customer engagement and building brand equity.
Over the years, the companies have transformed their marketing strategies to cater to the new age of customers who are digitally savvy and well informed. Content marketing has emerged as one of the most integral pillars of brand communications and customer connect. Across industries, Content Marketing has seen an exponential rise, with businesses racking up their interest in this. According to a study by the content Marketing Institute, over 89 percent of brands use content marketing to grow their business.
Companies are focusing on putting a content strategy in place. They are extremely proactive and are aggressively posting on their social media channels, building a robust team of in-house and external content experts and working round the clock to churn out content that can be pushed to the customers across multiple channels.
Right content makes all the difference
There are billions of content pieces that hit the internet every day and businesses are trying different ways to get heard. If you are publishing an array of unnecessary content, it is not going to have any positive impact. Neither would spamming your social pages with irrelevant and repetitive information. What will in turn happen is that the customer will move away and may end up not even buying from the brand.
First and foremost, it is important to understand the customer and what works for him. It is important to understand the customers’ needs and work on a content strategy that is in alignment. Brands should aim at delivering valuable pieces of information and devise their content strategy in a way that they touch the key nuances across their customer categories.
Do not over push your brand
It goes without saying that content marketing should not be a ‘hard sell’. Companies should focus on giving valuable, educational and compelling information to customers. Content should be aimed at solving the customer’s problem.
If a brand is able to create a campaign that drives emotional connect with the customer, then it may work in its favour. However, it is important to keep it balanced at all times.
Content can be in many forms
There are various forms of content that can be created- from blogs, testimonials, customer success stories in video format, infographics, branded games, mobile apps, comic strips, animations, live telecasts, online events and webinars, podcasts, newsletters, to name a few. Storytelling is the key and companies should focus on creating a compelling storyline that touches the hearts of customers.
Videos are the top trending content marketing tool
In today’s times, videos are seen to be a top performing content marketing tool. They perform much better than written or creative content. Companies should focus on creating videos for their key products- around features, how to use and the top differentiators. Also, they should leverage videos to communicate about their work culture, their vision, what they strive to achieve, how they want to transform the lives of their customers etc.
However, a few tips need to be kept in mind. Firstly, videos cannot be long. The average viewer span for videos is fast decreasing. Hence, there is a need for smart storytelling. Videos should not be a ‘me too’ and companies should try and think out-of-the-box and launch video led campaigns.
Taking a couple of examples from successful video led campaigns by IKEA. The company’s ‘Home Tour Series’ videos on Pinterest are a big success story. Another example is the ‘Square Metre Challenge’ by IKEA that included video series for small living spaces on the social media. While these have no direct connect with iKEA’s business model or products, the campaigns were designed to engage with the audience and create content that is consumable by a variety of audience. This, in turn, helped the brand to create brand equity and positive brand recall.
The advantage of videos include easy communication and better connect. People tend to relate more to a face in a video than written content. Videos get higher social media engagement, leading to more conversions. Also, shareability potential is high.
Live videos have emerged as a new channel for brands keen to drive customer engagement. A number of B2C as well as B2B brands are using channels like Facebook and Instagram run live video series for their target audience.
Innovate, innovate and innovate
The key is to innovate and evolve your content strategy in line with the customer behavior or topical challenges. For example, if you are a furniture or furnishings retailer, you might want to run a content series around tips and tricks/do-it-yourself hacks for your customers who are currently unable to shop due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
Content strategy needs to be rejigged keeping in mind the customer response. Companies should use analytical tools to understand which content channel works well for their audience. Also, they need to evaluate what is the kind of content that the customer is spending more time on. There is no one-type-fits-all. In-depth analysis can help rehash the focus of content marketing and ensure it is more impactful.
Time is the essence
Content marketing will not show results in a day. It is not digital marketing. If you want to really see impact, give it atleast 6 months to see a noticeable and sustainable increase in the organic traffic, SEO and referral traffic to your website.
Also, companies should deliver as per time commitments they set out for themselves. For example, if a customer newsletter is sent in the second week of every month, the same should be done without fail. This will ensure that the engaged customers do not feel dis-engaged.
Content marketing can help increase customer lifetime value (CLV)
With good quality content, companies can ensure that their customers spend a lot of time on their website/social pages/apps, in turn impacting the Customer Lifetime Value in a positive manner. The reasons to keep visiting the brand’s online channels are aplenty, and not a function of the customer’s intent to purchase. High level of engagement has a high impact on sales as it drives repeat purchase.
Paywall is a good idea but..
Paywall or paid content is a good idea but only when you have a critical mass of engaged customers. Also, paywall may work for some select categories of customers who are well-read (say CXOs) and spend a lot of time on the internet. If you are a B2B brand that works with kirana store owners, then paywall will not be a good idea as these are not net savvy customers who would like to pay to consume content.
Content marketing can be a very powerful tool for brands. They need to ensure that they carve out stories that are interesting, surprising and engaging. Brands should not make the mistake of using content marketing channels to harp about themselves. It is important to humanise the content and ensure people are connected to a brand and its story.
It goes without saying that the better the brand’s understanding on its customer expectations, the better it will do in the content marketing space. Content marketing can do wonders for companies, irrespective of the size of their business. Companies need to ensure that they publish content consistently. If done right, content marketing can really be the biggest success story for a marketing team and can help take the business to the next level.
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