The insightful words of wisdom uttered by Bill Gates in his 1996 article ‘Content is King’ continue to stand the test of time. Or so, we believe.
According to Mr. Gates,
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.
The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.”
While Mr. Gates may not have coined the phrase his compelling and well-referenced article is spot on. Today’s winners are those who deliver relevant information and entertainment to their respective audiences. And he’s not the only one that thinks in this way.
Some factual content
Today’s statistics support the need for content that is well planned and thought out for its audiences. According to Business 2 Consumer research content marketing is now being used by 91% of marketing professionals selling to businesses and 86% selling to consumers.
Three-quarters of marketers believe custom content is going to define the future of marketing, according to Demand Metric. Thanks to content marketing, 57% of the purchasing process is completed even before a customer reaches out to sales, statistics reveal. And, thanks to content marketing, the average website conversion rates increase from 6% to 12%. The statistics are pretty convincing.
So what exactly is content marketing?
Content is information and experiences that provide value for a specific audience and context. This includes written words, images, audio and video and even includes such things as apps, games, tools and even raw data. It’s delivered via any medium such as the Internet, television and events.
Beyond your product and service to your customers, content is pretty much everything when it comes to marketing, especially brand marketing on the worldwide web. For example, consumers generally prefer to do their own research online before making an important purchase, so relevant content can help to inform and sway the decision.
Tell me a story
And while content does indeed appear to be king, there exists a certain type of content that for centuries has also claimed the royal title of king – storytelling. Everyone loves a good story, be it around the campfire, with friends, through online news, or in a printed book or magazine – storytelling has been a human currency that sociologists, anthropologists and communications theory will explain. Many brands build awareness by using great story telling to communicate product/service benefits and build a unique brand image.
Think Innocent, the best in the smoothie making business – “…getting fruit into bottles and then into people” or so the brand book says is just the beginning of their intriguing story. Apart from delighting a variety of audiences, the book has been published and is available for sale, earning the folks at Innocent an extra slice of revenue and a dose of awareness. This is one small example how content marketing produces results.
And why do I need a content strategy?
Given the power of content to influence, it’s truly amazing that it is treated as an afterthought, by some. Creating a content strategy gives us the space to ask: why are we creating content? Who are we trying to talk to and what do they want from us? And what will it take – really take – to do this brilliantly?
Content strategy ensures that content, whatever its source, is executed in a coordinated way that contributes to the overall objectives for both the brand and its audiences. It balances the needs of stakeholders, audiences and disciplines. Meaning, you can achieve greater control, coordination and impact when looking to your various specialist agencies for solutions to a marketing challenge. Don’t rely on the solutions presented by the SEO agency, they will give you an SEO strategy. Likewise, the media agency will talk about which media to buy – what you are looking for is an overall strategy – one that speaks to your audiences on their terms.
Take for example a potential customer online. When users feel they’ve been misled into viewing a sales-focused page when they were researching a product, for instance, they will – at the very least – feel frustrated by the brand having wasted their time.
When a brand is also selling direct online, it must balance its approach to the sales funnel by considering how it can support users at the awareness, interest and consideration phases as well as at the final conversion stage. Giving content consideration early on in planning and allocating proper resource to it will help to develop a smarter approach.
Content should not just be a necessary component of the marketing strategy, it should be in the driving seat. Fail to engage and inform and you fail to convert. That’s our honest opinion. We’d love to hear yours…