If content is the new ad, then engagement is the new click-through. In other words, it’s one the benchmarks advertisers are striving to reach. Content, and the hope that it will lead to some other action, is the hook that goes hand in hand with engagement.
“Content is currency,” said Bryan Rhoads, who works on global social strategy at Intel, according to a blog post by CopyBlogger’s Frank Strong. But engagement is not. It cannot be bought. It must be earned. Content is the catalyst that leads to engagement.
According to a survey by Wyzowl, 63 percent of respondents feel that content on their website has led to an increase in site conversions and 64 percent believe that content marketing has increased their organic traffic.
Marketers are seeing value in creating content, but creating more and more of it is not the answer.
Content itself doesn’t get things done. Content marketing alone does not pay the bills. It must work as part of an overall marketing and/or advertising plan. Be strategic about the content and to whom you’re delivering it. Always answer the question: How is this useful to my audience?
1. Content removes the pressure of the hard-sell.
Content enables a company or brand to add value by being practical and useful. Seventy-six percent of content marketers agree that content should provide actionable information, according to Wyzowl.
What doesn’t work:
- Content that serves no purpose. It needs to answer the question: Why should my audience care?
- Gotcha content that’s meant to shock or excite, but has nothing to back it up — no message, no
thought behind it.
- Creating content without a plan, goals and measurements in place to gauge its effectiveness.
What does work:
- Content that addresses a need or pain point.
- Content that delivers value using information, analysis and expertise.
- Content that sparks next steps — a conversation, filling out a form or some sort of action.
2. Content fosters engagement.
Content is a means to engagement. If engagement is a means to an end — whether the goal is higher traffic, sales leads, etc. — content is what gets your audience there. But much like social media equity, engagement must be earned.Compelling content — which can live on digital, social, mobile platforms in the form of text, photos, video, audio — can spark further action by the audience. Quality content makes for quality engagement and interaction. Always be engaging.
“The challenge is that you can’t seed engagement,” Jay Baer, author of “Youtility” and President of Convince & Convert told Rock Content. “Engagement is not a currency. And often I think, unfortunately, it is thought of as such. We hold up engagement as if it’s somehow a business metric. And it’s not. You cannot pay employees with retweets. So engagement has to be a means to an end. You have to be engaging for some greater purpose otherwise you’re just wasting time and money.”
3. Content is relatable and responsive.
Can a 15-second ad spot do that? Not always. Traditional ads that basically tell the audience to buy the product simply don’t cut it anymore. After all, what’s more memorable, saying here’s our product, buy it, or something like a real-time display of concert fans’ photos and videos in a digital pinboard display on a wall?
“If you think about how you were marketed to, it was always around features or products,” said Rock Content CEO Vincent Mifsud. “That’s how the traditional marketer tried to get your attention. In today’s world, that doesn’t work anymore because everyone has those features. That’s essentially the challenge.”
That’s where content comes in. Well-crafted content can attract audience by doing a variety of things such as connecting with people, fostering engagement, addressing a problem and identifying a solution.
4. Content can hook people in.
Content is an ideal hook to build audience, especially with storytelling. Personalizing a complex topic or company makes it relatable and can connect people to a narrative. There isn’t a formula to making it work, but including key elements to get content grab your audience’s attention does work.
“I think as marketing and advertising evolves and gets more digital, people are getting completely overwhelmed with the noise of it all. The story line and narrative is something that in the world that we live in people can resonate with. It’s intrinsic in our human nature for story lines to resonate. So it’s just of way of engaging with people as individuals in a way that they can relate to,” said Michelle Killebrew, Social Business Strategy Program Director at IBM. See tips from Killebrew and author David Meerman Scott on making storytelling work for your brand.
5. Content is less limiting than a 30-second TV spot or a banner ad.
Depending on what digital or social platform you’re using, content is less restrictive than a fixed ad size or TV spot. Content gives you the opportunity to take a unique angle to a common or even complex subject. It allows you to add your own analysis, explanation or context in a way that a traditional ad typically can’t.
Content marketing is one factor that is changing the role of marketing. Brands are taking notice and working to adapt.
“[The quote] ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ is alive and well, and the biggest hurdle right now is changing the culture of the purpose of marketing in the organization,” said Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute and author of “Managing Content Marketing”. “For the longest time — forever really — marketing’s job has been to, in clever ways, describe the value of the product or service being offered. When content becomes a strategic effort in the company, marketing’s purpose changes, and it is to create value in the organization that is separate and distinct from the product or service being sold. And that is a huge cultural hurdle to get over.