With so much content being shared and repurposed across many platforms, online marketers are catching the discerning user’s attention with a few tricks, namely the customization of content itself and how it is tracked and measured, and creating “sponsored content” rather than relying on consumers to spread the message on social media.
Users know what they don’t want.
Users are becoming more sophisticated, expecting access to vast amounts of information, anytime, and on multiple platforms. They also have a lot more say than before in shaping how content is delivered and consumed.
As CMSWire‘s Marisa Peacock points out, “users are overwhelmed and have trained themselves to know what types of content to pay attention to and which to ignore.” [emphasis ours throughout]. As consumers, she writes:
We need to help [publishers and brands] understand what works and what doesn’t. Never before has our influence been greater. Now that our behaviors are being tracked and measured, it’s essential that we demand the best customer experience content marketing can deliver.
Social listening out, content analytics in.
How consumer behaviors are being tracked and measured is also changing. Brands had always been interested in learning about their customers, gaining insight from demographic data and purchase history.
However, as Jonny Rose points out in The Guardian, what you have bought in the past doesn’t shape the rationale that would affect your future purchases. People’s circumstances change: they go broke or get better paying jobs, get married, become parents, move, age, etc. Rose writes:
For a moment, it looked like social listening — where brands start to track and analyse what you are saying on social platforms such as Linkedin and Facebook — would supersede demographic and transactional data. Indeed, what we tweet often gives a fuller picture of our current contexts than merely our date of birth and address.
At the same time, Rose argues, the profiles of ourselves we present to the world are hardly accurate reflections of our “true selves.” Those “curated selves” are merely who we want to be, not who we are.
So, Rose asks, where can the brands turn to for “a more truthful and more useful reflection of the customer?”
You are what you read, according to Rose, and relevant insight the brands are seeking can be obtained through content analytics. Rose writes:
[B]rands are starting to see the value of understanding what customers are reading and engaging with online. By tracking consumer interactions as they browse and engage with content, brands can begin to reveal current and evolving interests, inclinations and needs — sometimes before the individual knows themselves! […]
Imagine how useful it would be for a consumer goods brand if they knew you were preparing for an upcoming wedding or were a vegan, based on the lifestyle columns you were reading. […]
Whether you are browsing to kill time, entertain yourself or researching for a friend, what you are reading right now is incredibly indicative of who you are as a person and this is immensely useful for brands.
“Sponsored content”: Effective if you target well and share generously.
Peacock mentions another interesting content marketing trend: publishers are marketing more like brands, and vice versa. “Sponsored content” has changed the way publishers and brands market themselves online. She writes:
Whether it’s using Facebook’s sponsored stories or Twitter’s promoted tweets, publishers are acting more like advertisers. And it seems to be working. […]
As for brands, it’s no secret that most consumers have taught themselves to tune out traditional advertising. Millennials won’t even look at the side bar in Facebook. As a result, brands have started creating unique content in an effort to appeal to their consumers interests and behaviors to get noticed. This too seems to be working.
William Launder, who writes about the media industry for The Wall Street Journal, seems to agree. He notes that more marketers buy space online to promote “sponsored content” — ads disguised as blog posts and articles — “using the same kinds of automated trading platforms and other ad technology typically used for display ads.” “It is a more aggressive effort from past strategies of placing a story or video on sites like Facebook and hoping consumers share it with their friends,” Launder writes.
This way, brand promotion resembles traditional digital advertising, but is deemed a more effective way to reach consumers, Launder says, “because it appears less overtly promotional. […] While still a small category, sponsored content is one of the fastest-growing ad segments, expected to draw $1.9 billion in ad spending this year, up 22%, according to eMarketer.”
The trick is, he says, to target the right websites and online publications, sharing generously on social media, while not relying on consumers to spread the message.
As for the proven, lead-generating strategies, this one isn’t new: Post better content. Make it current and relevant, interesting and polished, and give extra.
As Chris Ourand, Account Director at a marketing firm Hinge, writes in an article for Social Barrel, “these days, buyers are looking for education.” He writes:
[I]t takes a tremendous amount of commitment to do right. Companies can’t be like a New Year’s Day blogger, resolving to post daily and then tapering off after a week. […]
In a recent joint study with RAIN Group of more than 700 B2B sales covering $3.1 billion in annual purchases, buyers identified the number one thing successful buyers did right: ‘Educated me with new ideas or perspectives.’
Image by opportplanet.