“Can you send me a brochure?” said nobody in 2015.
Static, print-driven content marketing is in its death throes. It is stiff, passive, one-dimensional. It is literally and figuratively flat. Taking its place is a rich crop of highly innovative, highly personalised content marketing strategies and tactics. What’s driving this content marketing evolution? The buyer, of course.
The customer journey has changed in massive ways.
It is more digital, more research-driven, and more social than ever. Buyers are still using content to inform their digitally driven purchasing decisions, but it’s not the content of yesterday. As Jeremy Bevan, Vice President of Marketing for Cisco’s EMEAR region, explains in a recent blog post on content marketing: “Marketing has always featured content. But what we have all woken up to is the fact that content must be authentic, relevant to your audience, and human if it is to stand any chance of being conversational.”
Marketers are cutting through the content clutter.
To help buyers through the journey – and to spark conversations along the way –marketers are developing new forms of content marketing that are dynamic and personalised. They’re highly visual. They’re fun and humorous. What’s more, many of them are not even created solely by the marketing organisation.
What’s hot in content marketing?
Let’s take a look at the new kids on the content block…
1. User generated content (UGC)
UGC is content that’s created by consumers or end users and is publically available to others consumers and end users. It can take many forms – from photos and videos to reviews and forum posts. A recent study by Ipsos MediaCT found that millennials are spending 30 percent of their media time engaging with UGC. The study also found that this type of content is 50 percent more trusted and 35 percent more memorable than other types of media.
Two great examples of UGC are Cisco’s “Office of Life” and “Wish You Were Here” campaigns. Office of Life (#officeoflife) features people’s takes on weird and wonderful places to work outside of the office.
Wish You Were Here (#WYWH2015) is driven by salespeople who are competing for a trip to the Seychelles. Both campaigns harness the immense power of users to create original content to fuel marketing campaigns.
UGC is a great option for adding an element of fun to your content marketing. Don’t underestimate the power of fun: if it gets your customer’s attention, they’re more likely to engage with your company.
2. Employee-shared content
In my blog on employee advocacy (Employee Advocacy: Marketing Engine of the Future?) I mentioned that employees’ social posts generate 8X more engagement than posts from their employer. That’s because people are increasingly influenced by other people, not by corporations. So put your employees front and centre and let them shine!
Cisco has done just that in its “I Chose Cisco” campaign (#ichosecisco) which features photos and videos from Cisco employees explaining why Cisco is a great place to work.
The campaign enables recruiting to reach its audience on a personal level. Cisco is a B2B company but in the end, we’re really a human to human (H2H) company made up of people who are talking to other people.
3. Hyper local content
In the old world, content was created at the corporate marketing level and pushed to the regions to translate and distribute. Today, locally created content is rising in importance. Why? People living and working in a particular geography have the deepest insight into the wants and needs of others in the geography.
Case in point: A series of videos produced by Cisco’s UK and Ireland marketing team (@ciscoUKI) that were inspired by the Rugby World Cup. These videos were a huge hit because they capitalized on a local event that was highly relevant to people in the region.
Hyperlocal content works particularly well on social and mobile platforms. But keep in mind that it can be tricky to create. You’ll still need guidance from corporate marketing on messaging and creative frameworks. You’ll also need a local team that has the right combination of subject matter expertise, writing skills, and publishing experience. But if you can get it right you’ll raise the content marketing roof in terms of engagement, relevance, and fun.
4. Content with personality
All the forms of content I mention above share a common thread: they have personality. However, savvy marketers are pushing the envelope even further by using content marketing techniques that speak personally to their buyers. Check out this exchange between LauraEllen, Kit Kat, and Oreo.
What would you rather see? An advertisement for Kit Kats and Oreos? Or a fun, real-time conversation among these companies and one of their biggest fans? Me too.
Knowing what makes your audience tick is critical to developing content that they respond to. This is true no matter what your business or industry – whether you’re B2B or B2C, selling products or services, supply chain software or spaghetti sauce. Case in point: A blog post from SnapApp, “6 Boring Companies Making Amazing Content,” showcases content marketing campaigns from less-than-sexy companies like McKinsey and General Electric. If they can do it, so can you.
So it’s time to step up. Give consumers and employees a voice. Get out of the traditional marketing comfort zone. I know it feels risky, but the pay-off is huge. If you demonstrate that you “get” your buyers, and enable them to interact with you in real-time ways you are one step closer to having long-time loyal customers.
Are you using more personalised content marketing approaches to make a bigger impact with your audiences? I’d love to hear your stories!