If there is one thing I’ve been ranting about on Twitter, (actually, I rant about a myriad of different things) it’s been trying to get the few marketers that follow me to realize that content marketing is the most powerful tool in one’s arsenal to create lasting connections with customers. So to kill two birds with one stone– I’m going to review the basics of why content marketing is the most cost-effective tool in a marketer’s arsenal while using this post to get my resume in front of potential employers.
First, the basic principle. With 6+ years of experience using paid media to try to “move the needle”, I can tell you that with the exception of a few exciting product categories, there aren’t many brands that can get the kind of tangible response from a paid impression that they demand of their media teams. Sure, SEM has a high ROI and is ripe for advanced optimization techniques. But in every marketing plan, there has to be attention paid to the top of the funnel– that is, creating relationships with NEW consumers who will eventually be paying customers. Very rarely will someone search for your brand and convert immediately into a paying customer. And it’s true, you may see higher CTRs on remarketing campaigns, or more engaged visitors from PPC social ads on Facebook and Twitter. But more often than not you’re simply annoying your existing customers or driving traffic from people that would’ve visited your site anyway. To truly grow your business, you have to find a way to turn a complete stranger into a consumer engaged with your brand.
So how do we achieve this? Well for years, it was simple. Spend $15MM, buy premium paid media on TV, OOH, and Print, and essentially reach all of America with your advertising. This worked, because there simply wasn’t as much noise to compete against in the media, and people actually watched the commercials on the TV. They had no way to combat the high frequency we achieved through other channels, and had no idea that we were driving up or measuring brand recall. In today’s age, blowing through $300K to put a roadblock on the Yahoo homepage and a one day takeover on YouTube don’t have the same effect they did even 4 years ago. The display media industry used a tried and true model for the past decade to duplicate what Ad Agencies made infamous in the 50s and 60s: Great copy + Mass Media = ROI. What we’re seeing now, is that modern post-digital consumers are sick of the annoying and disruptive advertising that is plaguing the internet. “..Internet users want to learn about a product through content” (iMedia Connection), not through an interstitial that prevents them from watching the latest cat video. And even if you do make these ad buys, as many as 1 in 5 consumers will use Ad-Blocking software to ignore your ad (Quartz), and people are less likely to pay attention to your ad even if they do see it.
The good news is, this trend presents an opportunity, not a problem. Every brand that has the money for these kinds mass digital media campaigns already has a social footprint and the beginnings of a content marketing strategy. All you really need is someone on your team or at your agency that understands what content is useful, interesting, or entertaining for your consumers. Then, you need paid media professionals who understand the latest and greatest ways to disseminate your content through native advertising. This is an uphill battle, because CMOs and CEOs only understand ROI as it relates to a gagillion visits in 1 day or week from one media buy. In the content marketing world, it’s not about how many people view each post, it’s about how much traffic your diversity of content drives in aggregate month over month. Every content item you release has returns over time. Take this meager attempt at a blog for example. My first post Do Display Ads Influence Search was posted in April and drove 22 visits in the first two days. But according to Google Analytics, it’s driven an additional 25 visits since then. That means that over 50% of the traffic that I received from this content came significantly after the initial post. This is not a unique trend to my blog. On Tumblr for example, we know that “Almost a third (29%) of all reblogs take place more than 30 days after the initial post”. (MarketingProfs.com) So, content marketing is an investment that has real long-term returns, not instantly available PowerPoint bullet stats.
In the end, learning how to utilize content marketing is simply learning how to communicate in today’s world. More people are relying on news and entertainment they are finding in their feeds, and less on portal pages that tell them what they should care about. Marketers have to update their thinking to get into consumer’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest feeds. So that the message your brand conveys to users is consumed in the same way they engage with other media. If you need someone on your team who understands these principles and can lead a team to create returns through these strategies, why not take 5 minutes to look at my experience? If you’re not hiring and you like this post, I certainly wouldn’t mind if you took the time to share it with a friend or colleague in the industry. And congratulations, you are a stranger that I just created a connection with using content marketing.