Friday, 4 December 2015

The Impact and Future Of Content Marketing

Can Content Marketing Have A Direct Impact On Sales?

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Although the main philosophy behind content marketing is not to push sales of a product or branding, this does not mean that content marketing cannot have a direct impact on sales. For example Jell O ran a range of content marketing activities based around recipes which used their products. This Jell O recipe collection provided a huge range of recipes, often highlighting new tips, tricks and treats to try. In fact over the 2 years that they ran this campaign it generated an estimated extra $1 Million in sales. So put simply yes, content marketing if done well can have a significant impact on your sales. It may not be the same as Jell O where it is directly tangible but good content will impact positively on sales.

We have seen many companies replicate this form of content marketing in a variety of formats. For example it is now common place for the likes of Heinz and Nestle to outline recipes using their product on the back of their tins and other products. As technology has evolved we have even seen this approach being adopted by powerhouses like Tesco and Walmat (Asda) who have a dedicated section of their website dedicated not only to providing recipes but also to encouraging and facilitating the sharing of recipes by customers. So how can they make this work for them? Its obvious with the likes of Heinz publishing recipes using their products; however, many supermarkets have taken it one step further, embracing the evolution in technology to allow online grocery shopping. So, when they publish a recipe on their website they add the functionality to allow the reader to instantly add the ingredients required straight into their shopping basket and checkout. Bringing a whole new meaning to the term 'impulse buy'.

Part Of Our Everyday Lives

What many people don't realise is that content marketing has influenced our lifestyles for decades, just as good marketing has impacted our day to day language. For example, have you ever used the term 'Hoover” or 'Sellotape'? What many people forget is that these are brands not the name of the product, but realistically when have you ever used the word 'vacuum cleaner?' Back in the early 1940's brand super power Proctor and Gamble (who specialise in household products such as washing powder) chose to take an alternative approach to content marketing. Instead of creating traditional paper based content they chose to create a radio drama series instead featuring their products and this was the birth of what we know as a 'soap opera'. This was completely revolutionary for the content marketing industry, the success of the 'soap opera' demonstrated that content marketing could be done in other ways and formats, to be blunt it opened up a world of opportunities to marketers about how they could communicate with and more importantly build relationships with consumers. The evolution of this would be the more current trend of 'product placement' in everything from your favourite soap like Coronation Street to your favourite artist's music videos and everything in-between. However, this would be considered cognitive advertising not content marketing as the focus is to sell and influence not inform or build relationships.

So What Is The Future For Content Marketing?

Although content marketing has been around for over a century it has evolved with the times. Content marketing spans a wide range of formats including:

  • Paper (publications, magazines)

  • Radio

  • Website

  • Blogs

  • Email

  • Text

  • Webinars

  • Phone

  • Infographics

  • Memes

  • Video

  • Social Media

  • Ebook

  • Case Study

  • Podcasts

  • Reviews

This is far from an extensive list and as technology and our society evolves this list will continue to evolve with it. Until recently social media has been the key buzz word when it has come to content marketing. However with changes in Facebook's algorithm, restricting how high company's posts can appear in a consumer's newsfeed, social media content marketing, especially from a company's perspective may begin to fade into the background Then companies will be forced to evolve and find new ways to communicate with consumers while still offering that 'non sales focused added extra' that should be the key impetus behind any content marketing.

In Summary

Content marketing is a fantastic tool in any marketer's arsenal and it can take a wide variety of formats from traditional paper to the vast array of digital formats available. What is most important is that marketers must remember that content marketing is there to offer the 'added extra' to your consumers. It is NOT a way to tell them about new products or sell products! This is your chance and opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and authority in your industry, give them tips and tricks, share information and keep them up to date with the changes in your sector. The main benefit of content marketing is to develop a relationship with you consumers, potential, new and existing. By developing this relationship of trust and demonstrating your knowledge and authority in your specialism you are encouraging these consumers to buy from you and maintain a buying relationship with you.

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