Traditional advertising methods have lost ground in recent years to the emerging technique of content marketing. The term encompasses a broad range of activities including blogging, informational articles, image or video creation, tweeting and more, distributed via sources such as social media platforms, websites, and email. This piece explores why content marketing is having success where traditional approaches have faltered and explain how to make the approach work for you.
1) Distrust of Traditional Advertising
Statistics demonstrate that consumers today have lost faith in messages received via traditional advertising methods. 90% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations vs. only 33% who trust ads. 90% of millennials would prefer engaging with a friend vs. a brand on social networks. 90% of consumers would consider purchasing a brand on the recommendation of a peer.
This preference on the part of consumers for taking action on the basis of influencers, whether those influencers are their peers or authorities in a field, has opened the door for companies looking to spread the word about their products and services via non-traditional marketing methods. Disseminating content through or with the recommendation of influencers allows companies to both target a specific audience and to avoid having that content rejected as “just advertising.”
2) The Media Technology Revolution
As consumers have gained control over their consumption of content via ad blockers, DVRs and new content sources such as social media, attracting the interest of consumers requires content that speaks to them directly rather than addressing them as faces in a crowd. Gone are the days when advertisers could assume that a captive audience had no alternative other than to pay attention to their ad.
With DVR use widespread, time shifting consumers are able to simply fast forward through ads. On the internet, ad blockers allow motivated surfers to avoid ads altogether. Even if ads do get through, click-through rates indicate that material identified as advertising on the web tends to have very low rates of audience acceptance.
When a company delivers a message in the form of content, however, the dynamics change. If the content is of value, consumers have demonstrated that they are willing to take the time to view or read it. As a result, the content marketing industry has expanded rapidly, as companies interested in expanding awareness of their products and services have turned to this new method of connecting with their audience. This leads to the next point: the rise of new media platforms and how this phenomenon has assisted the development of content marketing.
3) Social Media and Content Marketing
While content marketing has clear advantages over traditional advertising when it comes to consumer acceptance, it has taken the introduction of new media platforms to help the process reach its full potential. Content marketing can involve short, pithy articles or videos, however, where it differs from traditional advertising is its ability to produce lengthier material that examines a subject in-depth.
High-quality content of this type is of limited utility if it doesn’t get in front of a relevant audience. This is where social media comes in. Whether using Twitter to tweet about a piece of content, Vine to host a product teaser video, or Instagram or Pinterest to show a photo of an influencer using a product, social media provides an ideal launching pad for product awareness efforts. The potential for content to spread virally across social networks has also played a part in content marketing’s popularity. If consumers like a piece of content, social sharing can dramatically increase engagement levels.
Another factor that has helped propel content marketing to success relates to its ability to help build a brand. If a company provides valuable information or some other benefit in the form of content, consumers are likely to be favorably inclined to that company. When this is the case, the natural tendency to want to reward a company whose content has informed or entertained a person can lead to reciprocation in the form of doing business with the company in question. Similarly, if a company’s content serves to establish it as an authority in its field, the trust this engenders in consumers is likely to generate business as well. Both of these activities represent steps in the building of a brand identity that resonates with consumers. The stronger the brand, the more likely a company is to experience repeat business and social sharing activity as consumers tell others about the brand.