Content marketing is still king. The discussion among professionals is not whether to incorporate content marketing, but what it should be used for. The modern world of marketing is always moving. The purpose of today’s content marketing is different from the content marketing of the past.
What is Modern Content Marketing, Really?
As it is defined today by many industry experts, content marketing is a strategic marketing vehicle that is used to deploy value through content. This content is meant to appeal to and retain a specific audience and drive that group down the sales funnel. The main focus of content marketing is to take the focus off of marketing and place attention on the value based relationship between customer and company.
Although this is well and good, the problem is that content marketing starts to become long winded very quickly. Podcasts, online events and even short videos all stretch out the time that a customer has to pay attention to a single stimulus over a direct ad. If you can retain the attention of that customer for the proper length of time, your marketing efforts will be very successful – much more successful than with direct ads.
Content Marketing and the Modern Consumer
However, the attention span of the average customer is short and getting shorter. (A Microsoft study showed that humans are now actually less able to focus than goldfish – this is no longer a joke.) Long winded content marketing may garner more attention after your customer has committed him or herself to your brand a bit more. This commitment does not usually occur at the beginning of the sales funnel.
The classic buying cycle still consists of the same steps: 1. becoming aware of a product, 2. researching a product, 3. considering that product, and 4. the purchase. It may be completely possible that content marketing is more efficient during the consideration process than during the awareness phase.
Moving Content Marketing Into its Most Effective State
Continuous engagement is just a shorthand way of saying that a marketing campaign keeps a customer interested throughout the sales funnel. The classic stages of the buying cycle tend to overlap – they do not occur in distinct sections. For instance, during the “research phase,” a prospect must be constantly reminded of why a product is worth researching. This reaches over into awareness “Now what was the name of that new lawn care company again?” and consideration “Oh yeah! That’s the company with that funny meme about the rabbit on Facebook. Let’s see what they are doing.”
If the lawn care company uses the funny rabbit Facebook meme once and expects all customers to remember them a week later when the grass is actually in need of a trim, that company will likely lose business to the market leader.
SEO and Content Marketing
Google is just as forgetful of old content marketing as people are. In order to maintain a decent search position, a company must consistently provide new content marketing to be crawled. This makes content marketing just as important to maintain during “stage 3” as it is during “stage 1.”
The Content Marketing Bottom Line
As new technologies continue to introduce themselves into the marketing conversation, the uses of content marketing will continue to adapt. With new ways of increasing awareness on the table, content marketing will continue to move down the sales funnel and serve as a vehicle for other efforts.