It is said we live in The Information Age, but sometimes it seems more like ‘The Age of Information Overload’ as we are bombarded by a constant stream of data.
Much of the demand for our attention is made up of marketing messages – almost 3000 a day by some estimates. Yet ironically, the more marketers reach out, the more their messages are being tuned out as background noise by overwhelmed consumers.
People are becoming wiser to marketers’ tactics and more cynical about their intentions than ever before. According to marketing strategist Joe Pulizzi, “Every consumer now controls their own information flow. That means our customers can ignore us at will.’’
And ever since print and broadcast marketing channels have been overshadowed by the internet it has become all too easy for consumers to disregard messages that don’t appeal to them.
Breaking through the chatter
Businesses need to tell stories that consumers want to listen to. This has led to the meteoric rise of content marketing. Content marketing means creating valuable content – whether it be interesting, educational or entertaining – and publishing it for free where it will catch the attention of your target audience. Rather than pushing messages at consumers, it’s a pull strategy – the marketing of attraction.
Content marketing is “Producing and publishing information that builds trust and authority among your ideal customers”, says marketing guru Neil Patel, who consults to companies including Amazon and General Motors.
Good news for SMEs
The good news for small businesses who can’t afford a marketing budget is that content marketing levels the playing field by making it possible for them to compete head on with the biggest organisations.
Although content marketing is a big business – predicted to be worth $US300 billion by 2019 – savvy SMEs can quite easily use it to build their own audiences and reach more buyers and customers for little or no cost.
Because it is so cheap, customisable and highly effective, content marketing is suitable for virtually all businesses and industries.
Take the lead
Many surveys show that marketers rate lead generation as the number one goal of content marketing.
But content marketing is about much more than leads, and it should not be seen as a short-term strategy to boost sales. While content marketing improves SEO, boosts social media awareness and feeds native advertising, at its core it is about building your brand’s credibility, trust and authority.
As people gradually learn more about you through your content, they will come to feel they know you and they’re more likely to want to do business with you. Results will be small at first but they will steadily grow, and content marketing continues to pay dividends for a very long time.
Channel your message
There are many channels you can use to share your brand’s story with the world, including:
- Blogs: Businesses that blog get more website traffic and leads.
- Email: Email marketing is one of cheapest and most effective forms of content marketing, by some estimates generating $38 in ROI for every $1 spent.
- Social media: More than 40 per cent of major brands use Instagram for content marketing. With over 450 million members, Linkedin is widely considered the most important B2B content marketing channel. For B2C, Facebook is the most effective paid distribution channel.
- Videos: Visual content captures attention far more effectively than words. Think how-to tutorials posted on YouTube, or about-us videos hosted on your own website.
- Podcasts: Audio content (for example interviews with thought-leaders) is easy to produce and publish.
Whatever channels you use, remember content that generates emotion or highlights strong contrasts, such as rankings and comparisons, always drives more engagement.