Strong brands have used the power of storytelling to attract and retain customers for years. Riding on the tailwind of the digital marketing explosion, content has become the most efficient way to connect a brand with its audience for measurable results.
Today, how consumers interact with brands is constantly evolving as new social technologies gain momentum. Content is influenced by the same digital trends and an ever-changing marketing landscape.
So what does the future of content look like? What are the key trends we need to keep front of mind to keep up?
While desktop internet users are still growing – 10 percent in the past year - the main growth in recent years has been dominated by mobile usage. Since January 2015, mobile social media has grown by nearly 20 percent, adding just under 300 million new users globally. Even digital powerhouse Google has acknowledged the massive shift in mobile users by releasing Mobilgeddon, an algorithm that prioritises mobile-friendly webpages in search results.
Mobile phones are no longer just a means of internet access, they’re changing people’s behaviour and how they connect with things they care about most. If you’re still worrying about optimising your website and media for mobile, you haven’t kept up. Brands need to be considering their mobile capabilities for CX, as well as creating personalised content to connect with customers in a mobile-centric world.
Personalising content gives brands the opportunity to pose differently to millennials versus baby boomers, meaning an interesting and personally relevant CX is much easier to achieve than it has been in the past. The customer’s experience and the content to support it continues to harness the most opportunity for brands. But if we look ahead five years, the opportunity that excites us the most is data-driven marketing focusing on the individual. Does this mean that we believe our discipline is going to become even more mature and our content even more personalised?
Now more than ever, companies need to familiarise themselves with how consumers interact with brands. Customers don’t dissect a brand into different touchpoints and channels, they think generally about the experience, so marketers need to be more integrated. A content strategy should be the heart of an overarching digital master plan.
The principles of direct strategies aligned with all too rigid corporate opex controls and responsibilities can often result in, many ideas being too siloed and directed into specific channels. Brands still rely too heavily on their own social platforms for reach. Contrary to what many believe, it’s easy to avoid this mistake with the clever use of content.
The success of content relies on the optimum mix of digital strategy and good ol’ creative thinking. And it doesn’t necessarily mean endless expense on new content assets . For example, why not reuse, recycle and repurpose? Turn existing content into a new medium, take that old DM piece and transform it into an eBook, an infographic, a webinar, a slideshare, a 30 second video, a podcast… Red Bull continues to be the pioneer brand showcasing the value of content repurposing. People digest content differently and recycling content allows brands to distribute messages across different platforms to reach customers at different touchpoints.
Effective and measurable content distribution is critical if your strategy is to be a success . Creating good content isn’t enough. If you want those eyeballs, be prepared to explore and spend money on distribution.
A recent successful example of being innovative with distribution is Bacardi’s graphic novel. Bacardi wanted to share their epic brand story and history with 20-something-year old guys but soon realised there were a few obstacles standing in their way:
- A 20-something-year old will not consume material unless it’s on a smartphone or tablet.
- It would be near impossible to get a 20-something-year-old to visit their website.
- Most 20-somethings don't want a history lesson.
So Bacardi teamed up with with online magazine Vice to help transform their rich and colourful history into an action-packed graphic novel. The partnership with Vice enabled them to leverage their blogger network exclusively releasing the final graphic novel one page per blogger at a time. The novel was downloaded 50,000 times on bacardi.com, with a reach of 700 million.
As the world is becoming more mobile, brands stand still at their peril. People anticipate and expect their experiences will be personalised, but many companies still struggle to reach the right people with the right message at the right time.
With such drastic changes to consumer behaviour there is no wonder that the conventional strategies of the past cannot keep up. Marketers need to use content as an enabler to evolve existing strategies in a digital environment. It sounds simple, but many brands are still waiting for the right time - and unless they act now, may never catch up.
- Mel Moss is a senior account manager at Chemistry Interaction (firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared in the March/April edition of NZ Marketing.