Content = connections
Content is all about connection. Whether your content marketing goals are focused around increasing web traffic or creating leads, I believe the most successful strategies are the ones that create connections.
So, what do I mean by ‘connection’? The dictionary definition is quite simply:
Relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.
Alongside definitions you'll also see words like ‘attachment’ and ‘bond’. And for marketers, regardless of sector, this has to be the main goal - doesn't it? Because once you’ve created a ‘bond’ with your audience and made them feel ‘attached’ to your brand, it’s much easier to create content that resonates.
Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages every day. While it’s tough to put an exact figure on it, some sources say that we see an average of 5,000 messages a day. Whatever the number, we can be sure of one thing: it’s a lot. The number of brands competing for attention, the amount of channels and platforms content can be accessed on and the various formats it can be delivered in means there’s just so much information to consume. According to Social Media Today, here’s what happens in an Internet minute:
973,000 Facebook logins
266,000 hours of Netflix is watched
3.7 million Google searches
In other words, we’re more switched on than ever! And while this creates a real challenge for brands, content marketing is a great way to cut through the noise.
More and more brands are taking on the role of a publishing house, creating regular content that not only speaks about their business, but appeals to their customers' wider interests and lifestyle. One of the many reasons brands are making this shift is because traditional advertising (in isolation) doesn’t work:
80% of decision makers prefer to learn about a company through content rather than advertising (Forbes)
9 out of 10 buyers say content has had an impact on their decision making (Forbes)
Conversions are 6 x higher for companies using content marketing as those that don’t (Content Marketing Institute)
If you're thinking of following suit and publishing more content, it's crucial that you have a communication strategy in place:
Developing buyer personas and understanding who you’re talking to is an important part of any content strategy. Knowing the finer details about your audience will really help you to understand their wants, needs and any frustrations they might have. This will empower your strategy and help you create meaningful messages.
Audience research and insight can help you to identify where your target audience is. Are they predominantly using Instagram to engage? Do they respond well to email communications? Delve into the various channels and explore how you can use them to maximise impact and achieve your content goals.
While personalisation is undoubtedly important when creating content, relevance is even more important. Imagine receiving an email that has no relevance to you - are you likely to open the email and engage with the brand that sent it to you? Or would you delete it? And what's your impression of that brand now - are you likely to want to hear from them again? Creating connections through content only happens when you know what your audience wants and you deliver information that’s going to enhance their life.
We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.
Use a variety of content within your strategy. While video is a powerful format to use (Social Media Today reports that consumers are 64% more likely to buy a product after watching a video) it’s also crucial to mix up your content. What might get real engagement on one platform might not get that much engagement on another. Combine a variety of offline and online communications and test your strategy to find out what gets the most traction.
The idea of brand storytelling isn’t new and it’s something many brands explore when trying to create genuine connections. Storytelling is part of human nature, spanning thousands of years of tradition. Studies have shown that good storytelling increases the levels of Oxytocin in the brain, which is the hormone responsible for increasing feelings of trust, compassion and empathy. We also know that buying a product or making a decision is mostly down to emotion. So storytelling is an excellent way to make an emotional connection with your audience.
Wherever you are in your content marketing journey, once your strategy is in place your content will begin to grow automatically. From encouraging user-generated content to inspiring brand ambassadors to tell your story, content really can make connections.