Marketing takes many forms, with content marketing rising the ranks of importance. A recent Columbus Startup Week panel sought to define the practice, and provide some tips for using it effectively.
Sharing insights were:
- Melissa Rogner of Crimson Cup
- Brian Zuercher of Seen
- Carolyn Kent of Ologie
What is Content Marketing?
Why is an important word when it comes to content marketing. Brands use content to tell their ‘Why?’ developing awareness and driving conversions.
Content marketing should do three things for a business.
“First and foremost, create and distribute compelling content that is aligned with your users’ needs and brings some benefit to them instead of just pushing out your priorities and messages,” says Kent. “The second thing is attracting and retaining the best-fit audience for your brand, and then the third thing is really about driving profitable customer interactions.”
Content marketing makes “advertising not suck” as described by Zuercher, and it often takes the form of storytelling. It’s fostering a human connection that tells stories to bring people in instead of trying to push information out at consumers.
You don’t need a strategy for every channel.
In today’s digital world, the channels to deliver content are abundant…but that doesn’t mean a business needs to tackle each and every one.
“It’s best to pull back and focus and really build some equity in a certain content type, a certain channel, with a certain audience before you branch out,” Kent says.
She provides an analogy. If a person has 15 ping pong balls and throws them at someone all at once, they likely won’t catch any. One ball thrown directly at that person and they are likely going to catch it.
Ronger and Kent determine what channels are most effective by monitoring what is driving traffic to their sites. What links are people clicking on? Where are the opportunities? A business doesn’t need be everywhere, producing every type of content for every type of audience.
Different channels warrant different content.
While it might seem like the easy thing to do, “I highly discourage reusing content across channels,” Kent says.
Instead she recommends starting with one channel, focusing on building it up with a single content type, figuring out what’s working about it, and repackaging it for another channel. Many consumers find it off-putting to see the exact same thing splashed across every channel.
Yes, everyone can create content. No, everyone is not a content creator.
The ease in which people can say something about your business online means it’s just as easy for you to read it. It’s overwhelming to know everything that everyone is saying about you, but as Zuercher points out, even if it’s negative, it’s not always cause for worry.
“While everyone has ability to publish a piece of content now, that does not mean they are content creators, because while they may be able to publish the content, they have to have the audience,” he says.
However, keeping an eye on comments can help a business stay abreast of any issues. If several people are posting the same thing, is that a you problem? Is your business delivering on what’s advertised? Does the experience match the marketing?
Measuring your content marketing ROI takes time.
“It takes time to convince people to buy your product,” Zuercher says.
From candy bars to houses, every path to purchase takes time and takes the consumer on an emotional journey. Zuercher says the first time you hit a consumer with content, they are not going to buy that product. Instead a business should think about where that content falls on the path to purchase.
Ronger says getting the most ROI bang for your buck is often a process of trial and error and examining what has worked before. Look at triggers like what keywords drove traffic to your business’ site, or that a consumer has gotten to a certain point in the path to purchase that signals a continued opportunity for conversion.
Be strategic about calls to action.
Calls to action are a delicate thing when it comes to content marketing. Kent says because of its emotional and compelling nature, a firm call to action can be a jarring disruption from the emotional experience. Instead, it’s more appropriate use soft transitions like, ‘To read more stories like this,’ or ‘To learn more,’ and provide further content to keep moving a consumer on their decision-making path.