by Evelyn Ho at International Institute of Digital Marketing ™
Have you just heard someone mention “Content marketing” and you thought you understood it, but you had difficulty explaining it to others. If you happen to be in this situation, then this post is for you. It aims to share and build an understanding of customer-centric content marketing and to consider implementing content marketing in the near future.
Content marketing is the new trend in today’s marketing world. Companies utilize it as a powerful marketing strategy to achieve their business goals. In order to have a better understanding of content marketing, I am going to start with an examination its core principles, followed by input on marketing strategy from carefully chosen theories to provide a diverse perspective from experts in the field. I hope it will give you a bigger picture of how marketers around the world are perceiving and experiencing this new form of marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
There are many similar definitions of content marketing. Defining the term from a certain perspective is crucial before proceeding with it. In this blog, I carefully chose the conception of content marketing from Mandloys Digital Agency.
“The creation of content that is relevant, compelling, entertaining and valuable and this content must be consistently provided to maintain or change the behavior of customers. Content marketing is an essential marketing activity that helps retain customers, acquire new ones and helps companies to build a strong brand.” (bold intended)
It is suggested that the key to content marketing is to communicate with customers by providing entertaining and valuable information, therefore to call an action from consumers.
For example, if the content posted on social media, such as Facebook, provides sufficient information (i.e. compelling and valuable) in order to solve customer problems. Then, the audience will be more likely to digest the content and the prospect will be converted into a call to action. Resulting in a purchase decision being made because of the added value it brings to audiences.
Also, the brand image the audience perceives tends to be more positive. As we can see from the journey above, content marketing is not only delivering content on the marketing platform to expand customer base by solving their problems, but it helps an organization to create both tangible and intangible value through increasing its brand credibility to develop customer relationships and add value.
Why do businesses need content marketing?
There are two main reasons. First, content marketing is the most accessible and efficient way for organizations to reach customers. It helps to build awareness, increase customer engagement, generate business leads, and improve brand loyalty with targeted audiences. Social media is a proven platform to successfully implement content marketing because of the mass users online. There are now 4.20 billion social media users around the world. The number of users is equivalent to more than 53% of the world’s total population. Content marketing on social platforms empower organizations to reach a desired viral scale. The following graphic general statistics about content marketing in the current business world.
Source: General statistics of content marketing usage by companies. (Demand Metric, 2013)
In short, if you do not create content, no one will find you. If search engines cannot find your content, your business cannot be found by the customer either.
Second, content marketing results in higher Return of Investment (ROI). Kapost shares a graph of the ownership benefits of content marketing below. They compare the ROI (the cumulative number of leads per 1000 USD spent) between the study’s content marketing operation and its paid search campaign. It shows that content marketing generates three times more leads per dollar. It is worth noting that once you have built your audience, your ROI goes up since you no longer have to pay rent to the media.
Source: Ownership Benefits of Content Marketing (Kapost, 2012)
How to form the content marketing strategy?
Marketers are not a stranger to the four P’s of marketing, Price, Promotion, Product and Place. They are suggested by Jerome McCarthy in 1960, a marketing professor at Michigan State University. A popularized marketing mix is still used today to help organizations to make strategic decisions while launching new products or revising existing products to overcome the physical barriers that prevent a product being widely adopted.
Today, the Internet plays a significant role in integration between business and customers. It also allows companies to have more access to reach their target audiences on a viral scale in a comparative low cost and less time. This indicates a golden opportunity for organizations to come up with content marketing strategies that are more relevant to the current trends in marketing.
According to Eduardo Conrado, Chief Marketing Officer for Motorola and one of the authors of Harvard Business Reviews study, the current marketing landscape needs to be reinterpreted. Business owners should look to the S.A.V.E framework, aka the new 4P’s in marketing. The framework focuses on the Solution, Access, Value, and Education.
Comparison of traditional 4P’s model and the S.A.V.E. framework
Products VS Solutions
“Define offerings by the needs they meet, not by their features, functions, or technological superiority”
Content strategy must focus on customers’ active and inactive problems. It should be customer-centric as a company is looking for solutions to underpin customers’ problems. Meanwhile, it is necessary to encourage customers to give feedback on solutions, so the company has space to enhance and improve solutions. This would be a process of the co-creation of value that is generated through the two-way communication with stakeholders. Also it is important to point out, a short-term gain via persuading customers into buying products without understanding the reason behind is not a strategic and sustainable decision to develop a long-term customer relationship.
Place VS Access
“Develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers customers’ entire purchasing journey.”
Knowing your customers is the key to plan content strategy to specifically target customer groups. Organizations should focus on understanding their potential customers demographically (i.e. age and income), behaviorally (i.e. lifestyle and usage), and psychographically (i.e. interests and values). Then developing a customized content strategy, planning distribution channels to deliver the message and implementing communication to customers and latent customers. Remember, a company should make itself accessible across the internet where it is relevant to their customers.
Image credit: Albert Ong
Price VS Value
“Articulate the benefits relative to price, rather than stressing how price relates to production costs, profit margins, or competitor’s prices.”
Great content marketing can be comparable to a sales team. There is a frequent mistake that sales people keep emphasizing, a competitive price overshadows the value of the product itself. According to Sharon Tanton, valuable content is helpful (answers questions), entertaining (provokes a reaction), authentic (genuine and original), relevant (tailored for the audience), and timely (at the right time when the audience is most receptive).
Apple is a high-profile example on selling its value. If you go back to watch Apples’ new product launch, price is normally coming after the demonstration on what problems Apple can solve for users, and what added value Apple can bring for users. Finally, they shock you with the buying price. And you have possibly generated a self-perceiving unit price on Apple “value > price” already.
Promotion VS Education
“Provide information relevant to customers’ specific needs at each point in the purchase cycle, rather than relying on advertising, PR…”
Education is the most efficient way to help prospects or customers to know their needs, especially inactive needs, and explore their wants. They are expecting content that is helpful, relevant and timely in order to confidently make a purchase, starting from building awareness, consideration, purchase, retention and advocacy.
In addition, educational content could be a fundamental touch point to create accountability and credibility towards products and brand identity. Valuable and educational content drives customers to proudly share it within their networks. It could achieve the Word of Mouth (WOM) in the community. As suggested by Bowles, shareable content is often actionable, practical and personally useful. As a result, more business leads are possibly created through cost-zero WOM. Most importantly, customers will keep coming back to develop brand loyalty.
Image credit: Wright Studio
The S.A.V.E framework is just one of the tools to form the content marketing strategy. It shows lots of similarity to other available content marketing frameworks. Any successful marketing strategy requires it to be adjusted and refined as the market changes, dynamic demand surges, and throughout a product’s growth, and even potential buyers change. However, content marketing heavily relies on the distribution channels (relevancy and accessibility) and the quality of contents (entertaining and valuable) to help customers to realize inactive problems, call an action for active problems, and stimulate their wants.
How to implement the strategy?
Setting a goal of content marketing is a must before implementing the strategy. In this case, virality would be the highest level to achieve in a content marketing strategy. Virality enables content to spread like wildfire to deliberately achieve viral status. The more viral the contents are, the more people to consume them. Therefore, the more efficient the marketing campaign becomes. Berger and Milkman proved that viral content tends to be surprising, interesting, intensive and positive and actionable.
Two take-away messages from this viral content. One, make it emotional. Ideally triggering emotions like excitement, anger, anxiety, and awe when you create a blog post or press release. Stories that evoked intense feelings were more likely to be shared. Two, making it positive. A specific thing you can do is to craft contagious content that targets “influentials” or opinion leaders. Research suggested that it may create more reliably viral content.
When a clear goal is set, a measuring of the effectiveness of content marketing is necessary. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and ROI are the typical methods. There are quantitative and qualitative methods to measure content marketing effort on social media. It is essential to have a benchmark in order to make adjustment and future improvement. Such as sharing of voice and audience engagement. Here I am going to share several formulas of the social media KPIs below.
A quick wrap up from the four main points of content marketing. First,content marketing is one of the most efficient approaches to reach target audiences to achieve higher ROI. A customer-centric content marketing strategy is not about what your products or services are, it is all about how much you know about your customers.
Second, it is important to know your customer better through demographic, behavioral, and psychographic segmentations to explore their background, lifestyle, and self-perceived value. Because it determines the quality of the content marketing strategy.
Third, forming a content marketing strategy by opting for a marketing mix that works to your original goals the most. It is suggested to emphasize the value your product can bring for prospects or customers through delivering accessible, valuable and educational content. Notably, there is one thing to keep in mind when choosing a framework, marketing mix is not intended to be static, and it is meant to be adjusted and refined.
Last, organizations need to understand that content marketing takes time to produce results. It heavily relies on the KPIs through continuously notifying, reporting and modifying.
For more details and blogs, visit: https://thedigitalmarketinginstitute.org/
International Institute of Digital Marketing ™ is a certifying body founded in the USA by several long-standing marketers. We have years of experience in business, marketing, and more, and have put forth our combined experience to develop DMI. Digital Marketing is something that’s all around us, yet there has been no solid foundation for marketing in many, many years. In the news, there are blunders again and again by companies, failing some of the core aspects of modern marketing. Because of this, the need for a solid, stable foundation for marketing in the modern world is needed– a foundation with the ability to be built upon and developed with time.
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