5 Reasons Why ‘Content is King’ in the Future of Digital Marketing
By Jithendrie Gunasena.
March 2, 2022.
Having weathered the storm of social media ads, every consumer begins their purchasing journey with a simple online search to find out as much information on a particular product as possible. This is where content comes in.
Now that your consumer is ready to take a deep dive into all the blog articles, social media posts, pictures, videos, review sites, infographics, books, and any other content available online, you have to ensure that your brand’s content is visible on that SERP (Search Engine Results Page) in that good old strike while the iron is hot fashion.
As Rebecca Lieb, a strategic analyst, researcher, and author specializing in all things Digital Marketing puts it, ‘Using content to sell isn’t selling, or sales-ey. It isn’t advertising. It isn’t push marketing, in which messages are sprayed out at groups of consumers. Rather it’s a pull strategy – it’s the marketing of attraction. It’s being there when consumers need you and seek you out with relevant, educational, helpful, compelling, engaging, and sometimes entertaining information.’ (Lieb, 2011)
What is Content Marketing?
According to Joe Pulizzi, one of the world’s leading content marketing authorities, ‘Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action’. (Pulizzi, 2012)
So, here’s a look at why content will continue to dominate the sphere of digital marketing in the years ahead!
1. Mobile Use is on the Up and Up!
The numbers are in and with 6.4 billion smartphone users recorded worldwide in 2021 (Ericsson, 2021) , and with that number projected to hit a whopping 7.5 billion by 2026, it’s self-evident that you can now reach almost anyone, anywhere, at any time at lightning speed.
And if your brand is not taking advantage of this gold mine of a digital space by prioritizing the creation of mobile-up based content to reach your target demographic, don’t be surprised when you’ve been relegated to extinction along with the rest of the intransigent dinosaurs of your industry.
2. Content Fills the Gap Between Consumer Problems and Solutions
Content is a powerful player in influencing consumer decisions along the Cycle of Buying’s Four Stages:
- Identification: The consumer’s purchasing journey all starts with identifying a need.
- Research: With a lack of answers, the consumer then ventures out into the unknown to identify solutions through online research and word of mouth referrals.
- Decision: With a plethora of information at their fingertips, the consumer then compares prices, product reviews, product quality and more to decide which brand’s solution is the best to address their problem.
- Purchase: The consumer then purchases their product of choice to complete the Cycle of Buying. (Schaefer, 2018)
Despite the advent of ad blockers, the use of ad blockers is experiencing a downward trend (AudienceProject, 2020), possibly owing to improved personalization of online ads. So, with a tide of information being hurled at consumers during the Identification and Research stages of the buying cycle, your business needs to formulate a seamless and relevant ad campaign along with an intuitive content marketing strategy specific to your business’ product or service in order to navigate consumer attention towards your brand’s offerings and seal the deal!
3. Content Can Help Build Your Brand Identity
Content has evolved to be more than just a marketing strategy used to attract eyes on your product or services but has stood the test of time to claim top spot on the mantle of marketing genius as a viable strategy in developing your business’ brand identity.
How does content marketing strengthen brand identity? The content your business produces is not just composite of information-driven insights but reflects your brand’s voice, core values, and expertise in the field. By prioritizing quality content over quantity, your business can gain credibility over and above the sea of brands swimming around in the internet’s open oceans, motivating consumers surfing the web to catch a wave with your brand amidst the fray. Your business can use content marketing strategies to create a powerful narrative that conveys your brand’s ethos and identity.
By securing a seat at the table, you have to make sure your content is not just occupying that seat, snacking on appetizers and waiting for the next course, but is engaging with rest of the dinner guests with credible and relevant information based insights that make your product or service stand out among the sea of brands vying for consumer attention.
4. Content Strengthens Consumer Experience in the ‘Messy Middle’
Google researchers have come up with a new marketing model called the ‘Messy Middle’ which refers to the time and space between a consumer’s interest for a product being triggered and its ultimate purchase from the point of exposure. Evolving off of McKinsey’s consumer decision making model, the ‘Messy Middle’ refers to the consumer’s purchasing journey where the consumer oscillates between two mental modes: Exploration and Evaluation. (Rennie, Protheroe, Charron, & Breatnach, 2020)
While the Exploration mode is expansive with consumers wondering aimlessly through endless meadows of information, the Evaluation mode is reductive as consumers whittle down their options through a process of comparison and elimination until they decide on their purchase of choice. Applying principles of behavioral science, Google researchers propose ‘Authority bias’ as one of the 6 biases that influence the consumer’s decision making process within the ‘Messy Middle’. This means that with the creation and promotion of clear and comprehensive content from thought leaders along with expert reviews and authoritative information backed content, your business can control which way the pendulum swings in the consumer’s decision making Exploration and Evaluation stages.
COVID Induced E-Commerce is Here To Stay
With entire states and nations put under sporadic lockdowns between the doomsday ‘Rona plagued years of 2020 and 2021, businesses had to adapt and evolve to reach consumers in more ways than one. This correlated to a rise in global e-commerce sales which experienced a growth of 27.6% in 2020. (Cramer-Flood, et al., 2021)
This COVID induced business model is certainly here to stay with businesses revamping their websites to incorporate and better facilitate e-commerce frameworks. Why is content important for e-commerce? Well, it’s one thing to get your e-commerce website up and running, featuring a cohesive product catalog, and incorporating intuitive UI/UX design principles but it’s a whole other ball game to build awareness and loyalty between your business and your target demographic.
Content is certainly king in achieving the latter. For instance, through a simple social media post coupled with an omnichannel marketing strategy, you can get the word out about your e-commerce website and inform consumers how to purchase your products or services online. You could also feature blog posts on your e-commerce website that portrays your business as an industry leader.
What’s more, with Google and Ipsos Connect, US revealing that 76% of online users enjoy making unexpected discoveries when shopping, and with nearly 60% of people having discovered their favorite brands while: catching up on news feeds, watching videos, reading emails, browsing text or image-based search results, searching lifestyle sites and apps, checking what influencers are saying (Google & Ipsos, 2018), it’s clear that content can not only help you create greater proximity with your consumer but can even put you on the map and lead to brand discovery.
Long Story Short
With a mobile phone in almost every pocket; consumer reliance on content during the ‘Cycle of Buying’s Four Stages’; content contributing to the creation of brand narrative and brand identity; the significance of ‘Authoritative bias’ based content in influencing consumers within Google’s ‘Messy Middle’; and business models being revamped to facilitate e-commerce frameworks requiring content to attract consumers to e-commerce sites; it’s evident that ‘Content is King’ in the world of digital marketing.
So, let’s get to work on your content marketing strategy:
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- AudienceProject. (2020, August). New study: Has ad blocking peaked? Retrieved from audienceproject.com: https://www.audienceproject.com/blog/key-insights/new-study-has-ad-blocking-peaked/
- Cramer-Flood, E., Bruce Jr., O., Liu, C., Shum, S., Lau, B., & Newman, P. (2021). Global E-commerce Update 2021. e-Marketer.
- Ericsson. (2021). Ericsson Mobility Report. ericsson.com.
- Google, & Ipsos. (2018). Consumer Discovery Study, n of 2,001 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 54 who go online atleast once a month. Thing with Google.
- Lieb, R. (2011). Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media. Que Publishing.
- Pulizzi, J. (2012, June 6). Six Useful Content Marketing Definitions. Retrieved from contentmarketinginstitute.com: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/06/content-marketing-definition/
- A., Protheroe, J., Charron, C., & Breatnach, G. (2020). Decoding Decisions: Making Sense of the Messy Middle. Think with Google.Schaefer, J. W. (2018). Content Marketing: Essential Guide to Learn Step-by-Step the Best Content Marketing Strategies to Attract Your Audience and Boost Your Business. E.C. Publishing.