This post provides a slideshare deck and transcript from my speaker presentation at the IMPACT13 conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 26th.
Thanks for the introduction. And thanks to everyone attending this session – I think you guys will get a lot out of it and have some great takeaways. We have had some great speakers covering awesome topics so far, and The topic for this session however happens to be one of the biggest buzz words in marketing right now. And while content marketing isn’t necessarily something new, how brands and marketers approach this strategy, especially from a digital perspective, is quite new. Especially as it effects SEO, Social Media, and PR.
The effectiveness of the traditional interuptive approach to advertising and marketing is has declined significantly due to ad overload and the customers desire for transparency and to build a real relationship with the brands they like. Buyers are now in control of the buying cycle – not the sellers. Brands need to focus less on purchasing media, and more on earning media, becoming the media, and to start “thinking like a publisher” and connecting with prospects at all stages of their buying cycle:
- During the awareness stage you can hit them with blog posts, infographics, guest posts, and social media updates
- When they in the Research phase you can use content like eBooks, whitepapers, webinars
- When being compared to other vendors – cases studies, demos, testimonials
- And when it comes time for the customer to make a decision, you can use Detailed product/service descriptions, buyer manuals, process guidelines, etc.
According to a Forrester survey, buyers are now finding 70% of the content they need on their own, with the rest provided by the sales and marketing teams of the brands they are researching. That means of course that your content has be easily accessible through multiple channels.
Before we dive in, I wanted to tell you a quick story. Prior to joining the wonderful would of digital marketing I spent several years as a Navy SEAL. Before 9/11 we pretty much remained behind our veils of secrecy but as the war on terror waged on, DOD demanded that we increase the size of the SEAL community. At any given time there are only a couple thousand SEAL operators in the world. We could make training easier so we had to deploy better marketing and recruiting tactics. Since then we have been using various forms of content marketing with blogs, micosites, event promotion, providing training guides and videos. The movie Act of Valor started as a recruiting video but was then developed into a major motion picture with actual active duty SEALs staring in it. The result has been an extreme increase in the competitiveness to get into the SEAL teams and candidates are coming in better prepared and more knowledgeable. So instead of graduating 30 students out of 250, we are graduating 35 to 40. Again, training hasn’t gotten any easier, if anything harder, but we are filling the top of the funnel with better more qualified leads.
Of course approaching content marketing the right way takes total buy-in from the top down, significant resources, and a commitment to consistency and measuring its success.
So let’s look at some of the reasons content marketing has become so important…
Facts About Content Marketing
Content marketing builds trust. When executed properly, content marketing shows your current and potential customers that you care about educating and even entertaining them, and that you are a thought leader in your space.
Effective content marketing takes rhythm and consistency, and usually, a customer will have consumed and shared multiple pieces of content before purchasing from you.
A study from TMG Custom media showed that…90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.
As most of us in the room probably know, content marketing is the new SEO. Some of the best SEO strategies are when the focus isn’t on SEO, at least not in the traditional sense of how we used to think about it. As Google continually updates its algorithms, brands and marketers have to continually adopt new strategies to stay relevant in Google’s eyes….and that is where content marketing comes into play. Real companies doing real things and generating real, and compelling, content.
A study by Content+ shows that…Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
But blogging alone only fulfills some of your on-page SEO strategies. What about generating quality traffic and inbound links through infographics, video, guest posting, blogger outreach, podcasts, etc?
But, just like any other marketing strategy, you ultimately have to tie it back to a desired ROI metric. Similar to SEO, content marketing in its early stages will generate a lower ROI and have a higher cost per acquisition, but many studies are proving that over time, it has a higher ROI and a much lower CPA than paid search, display, and other forms of digital marketing.
A study by the Custom Content Council shows that….61% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company delivering custom content.
To dive a bit deeper into the comparison between content marketing and traditional outbound marketing…hubspot did a study that actually showed…That content marketing costs 61% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing.
Measuring Content Marketing
So how do we truly measure the effectiveness of content marketing? Like all marketing, what you measure should be tied to your specific business goals and objectives. KPIs and the desired ROI metric will be a bit different for every company. So it starts with setting the right goals and objectives.
From there you can measure: impressions, traffic, social shares, conversions, and so on.
AMC Theatres Case Study
To give you a more specific example, AMC Theatres hired IMI specifically for content marketing. Our initial strategy started with infographics and motion graphics (video).
When discussing success metrics we discussed traditional KPI’s; site traffic, link acquisition, but the clients main goal was ticket sales. Not surprising.
This of course was not an ideal success metric for this type of marketing. After some brainstorming and thinking about how we could best measure the impact these pieces of content we came up with the idea to treat this content the same way one would measure the impact of display advertising when accounting for view through conversions.
If we pixel the content (infographic) the same way we would embed a pixel within a display banner, any fan who viewed the infographic then went on to make a ticket purchase a correlation could be made that the marketing piece influenced their decision to purchase a ticket.
eComm tracking is configured on AMC’s site all the way through Fandango’s checkout process. We know by use of the Customer Variables how many users have ‘touched’ our content due to the code we placed and can report on that number v. those that purchased tickets and never interacted with our content.