Content has always been essential in online marketing. When I started in online marketing now (too) many years ago we called it king. For a good reason: everyone was focused on shiny websites and design but few businesses cared about the content. It made us mad, really. All those budgets marketers spent on websites and then just using them to put up a brochure. Emails without decent content, no focus on the user experience, you name it.
Everything was about what the corporation wanted to say instead of what people wanted to find. And design was more important than actual value. So we said ‘content is king’ (and of course the customer was king as well).
These days, it seems a bit silly to say content is king. It’s not like we live in 1996 anymore and content has become more important in all forms of (interactive marketing). But that does not mean it’s the only thing that matters. Believe it or not: now that content gets the attention it deserves, there’s a new risk: marketers focusing on the content while forgetting what it’s about: the context, the customer, the purpose. Context is essential. If content is king, customer is emperor, context is queen and clear goals are God (change order at will). Though content is crucial it’s how your business and people use it that truly matters. The context within which content is created and shared, is essential for the impact of the content on conversion, interaction, reach, engagement and in the end sales.
People are increasingly seeking information themselves and use ever more channels to do so. Marketers have to make sure the information and thus content (potential) customers are seeking, is available to them when, where and how they want.
Good (read customer-centric, preference-based, efficient and contextually relevant) content is a challenge for email marketers; especially as they finally discover the power of personalization that goes beyond simple email marketing l. Content of course also remains key in domains where it has always been crucial such as search engine marketing. The context in which content exists is defined by the technological environment, the life cycle of the prospect or customer, his needs, the interaction channels he uses and much more.
Content and context: when relevance becomes business
Obviously, content is key in social media, social sharing and word-of-mouth marketing, where relevant content has the potential to become a story that gets shared or the information a buyer wants when and where it matters for him – and for you.
Businesses don’t – only – “produce” and provide valuable and relevant content for the sake of being regarded as a valuable and relevant partner. It’s not just about the brand.
As such, content has no value. Just like we don’t “join conversations” for the sake of these conversations that have no business value as such either.
Content only has business value if it is valuable for both your business and the people you create it for. The value of content purely depends on perception and relevance at any given time in any given context so content marketing requires a very good understanding of your customers and touchpoints.
The keyword here is relevance or pertinence.
The aim of business, marketing and thus content marketing is simple:
- Increase profits by generating more revenues (and lowering costs) to be able to better satisfy the customers in the broadest sense (“real” customers, employees, shareholders,…) and to be able to innovate and grow. Aroad to doing this is tapping into the power of word-of-mouth and thus stories and content, by increasing customer value and loyalty (where content is crucial as well) and by generating leads and nurturing them using, among others, relevant and adapted content.
- Increase customer satisfaction to keep existing customers, have them buy more and motivate them to share their stories and satisfaction with others, what we call brand advocates sometimes. If the customer satisfaction is really good, we don’t even have to motivate people to do it and get all too obsessed with identifying influencers (although that never hurts…). Ultimately this is the same as increasing profits if you think about it.
Relevance, context, touchpoints, preferences and content are your partners to engage people in a more customer-centric, personalized and efficient way.