Content Marketing Debunked: What Are the Different Types of Content Marketing?
Leading-edge companies are realizing that traditional marketing, sales, and customer-support practices are losing effectiveness in driving the bottom line. As content marketing has taken over, it has become much more important to engage your customers with relevant, helpful information rather than focus on pitching your product. A study Adobe conducted last fall found:
- Consumers use an average of six devices and consume 12 sources of content; millennials use an average of seven devices and 14 sources.
- Smartphones are the device most frequently used by millennials.
- Nearly nine in 10 consumers (88 percent) say they multiscreen and use an average of 2.42 devices simultaneously.
- Forty percent of consumers report feeling “distracted” when multiscreening; millennials report higher levels of distraction (48 percent) than other generations.
- With time at a premium, consumers must prioritize. When limited to a 15-minute window to consume content, 66 percent would rather watch a video on breaking news than read an article.
Marketers everywhere are realizing that, if they don’t consider the whole customer journey and provide engaging content every step of the way — from lead generation through post-purchase customer support — they may be unwittingly gifting their customers to their competition. It pays to remember that your competitors are not a drive clear across town — they are but one click away!
**Questions Every Marketer Asks When Crafting the Customer Journey
**Consistently creating engaging content for targeted buyers at all stages of the buying process — from initial brand awareness to brand evangelism — is content marketing. With an information-saturated Internet, brands must compete for potential customers, devise ways to drive interaction, and battle to keep existing customers. Developing engaging content is the name of the game.
Marketers are looking at the customer journey and asking themselves:
- How engaging is my customer journey?
- Is my content consistent, relevant, and authentic?
- Have I segmented my audience, and do I truly understand my customer’s journey with my brand?
- Am I choosing the right content based on the audience segment at each touchpoint of the customer journey?
- Am I targeting the audience segment in a way that matters to that segment?
The types of content marketing available are evolving every day; each of them can be used at any stage of the customer journey, but they need to be carefully customized to match the touchpoint, channel, and moment. Relevance and context are everything. It is vital to remember that your content — whatever form it takes — must be useful for your audience as well as engaging and honest. A basic, partial list of content-marketing forms includes:
- Explainer and viral videos
- How-to guides
- Blogs that help solve relevant issues
- Audio files
- Coupons and giveaways
- Interactive media (e.g., interacting with images to obtain more info)
- Social-media engagement
**Tools for Each Step in the Customer Journey
**Each step in the customer journey is distinct and must be handled differently, including:
- Building Brand Awareness: Written content should be as limited as possible for sales leads who know nothing about you. Landing pages, videos, and possibly even engaging games are premier choices. It is estimated that over 70 percent of the world’s 2,000 biggest companies deploy at least one simple, targeted game for unqualified leads.
- Increasing Brand Interest: You have their attention, so what now? According to Visually, “45 percent more web users will click on a link if it features an infographic” or checklist, and “30 percent of those will forward it even if the information is pointless.” Of course, please don’t try to create pointless data. Data visualization — a potentially powerful tool — taps in to the brain’s informational, visual, and emotional centers. Quizzes are another way to build interest.
- Boosting Prospect Engagement: When leads show interest, they become sales-qualified leads, and most companies then refer to them as prospects. Diverse classes of prospects exist, and each one requires different engaging content. At this point, you must build trust and customer faith in your expertise. Offering how-to guides and free, helpful advice via blog posts or videos can be good choices. But nowadays, your prospect also needs to see substantial social engagement, so you’d better have great reviews, an engaging Facebook page, an active Twitter feed, and some impressive Instagram pictures.
- Understanding Consumer Intent: Once your prospect is convinced that you are knowledgeable and trustworthy, you must prove that you are, undoubtedly, the greatest choice in vendors. How? By banishing their fears, of course. You might offer longer-form content like webinars, whitepapers, or short e-books. Certainly, your choices depend on your demographic. A millennial might not gravitate toward a whitepaper, preferring a dynamic webinar or video instead. However, a millennial from the university demographic may believe a good whitepaper to be the right choice. Understand your audience, segment, and then target.
- Conveying Brand Evaluation: Your prospects may be convinced that they want your product, but with access to abundant digital resources, they will continue shopping to find the best deal. You could display a comparison chart that shows how much you outshine your competition or steer consumers toward your fun YouTube channel — and awarding new consumers with a first-time purchase coupon couldn’t hurt either! Testimonials and case studies are helpful, but don’t rely on them too much, since most potential customers will be suspicious of their authenticity. Third-party review sites are also helpful, but never solicit reviews from customers or offer goods or services in exchange for positive reviews.
- Maintaining Customer Dialog: Once prospects officially become customers, the hard work continues! Reassure them with customer reviews (you want them to be repeat customers). Ongoing social-media engagement, blog posts, and newsletters are important. Maintain a dialog with customers about innovative ways to use your product or service.
- Retaining Brand Advocates: Your best, long-term customers are also great brand evangelists. Contribute ongoing, helpful information they can share with others as well as offers, contests, and freebies for loyalty. This phase of the customer journey must be considered as significant as any other.
Your customer’s journey with your brand and content may be different today from what it was just a few years ago with all the electronics, channels, and touchpoints now available; however, some things will never change. Offer great quality products; treat every person like he or she is not only your first, but also your best consumer; and take advantage of every opportunity you have to communicate with your customers, always providing honest, meaningful information that enriches everyone’s lives.