The Evolution of Content Marketing With the Consumer at the Center
Consumers are at the crux of marketing today. They are much more involved in a brand’s marketing plan than they used to be without realizing it. After all, they are the ones who create, shape, and consume the brand culture today.
Digitization and the rapid proliferation of social media made it possible to allow interaction between service providers and consumers effectively. According to Dipashree Das, Senior Marketing, Netflix India, “The curtains between the consumer and the brand have slowly lifted.”
While this was bound to happen eventually, the COVID-19 pandemic sped things up! This was when brands and customers were almost forced to converse and engage purely over the content when hard-selling was at the bottom of the list of any brand’s marketing strategy simply because it wasn’t what the customer wanted at the time.
And this changed the face of marketing and how it is today.
Content Marketing Trends: 2020-2022
The internet saw 40 million new users in just the past two years. Hyper-digitization became standard and contributed to trends that continue to rule the roost today. The following are some trends that brands follow even today.
1. Creating value
This involves ensuring that your audience and customers get their money/time’s worth in their interaction with your brand.
2. Brand authenticity
Ingenuity and authenticity have gained immense value in the marketing sphere today. Customers filter out brands that do not bring value and have a hidden agenda.
3. Clear messaging
Brands can no longer afford to have a cluttered image. Consumers want to know precisely what they are looking at, what the brand wants from them, and how they can engage.
Backing a cause simply for clout or marketing purposes rather than genuinely being passionate about it is no longer a favorable tactic. Today, collaborators and influencers are discerning enough to pick the right brand for the right consumer.
5. Choosing the right platform
Every social media platform offers a unique set of advantages to different consumers. While Facebook is considered to appeal to a more senior audience, Instagram and TikTok are more relevant to Millenials and Gen Z. Trying to be active on every social media channel, even when they are not suited to the brand image or marketing style, is redundant today.
6. Paying heed to the customer
Listen to the customer/audience so that you can effectively cater to their needs. Understand exactly what their demand is. Marketing is about the customer, not the brand.
So, you see how customer-centric marketing has become? And how much more about value than it ever was?
Now let’s understand the rules of developing a content marketing strategy keeping the current trends and practices in mind.
3 Rules of Developing a Content Marketing Strategy
Irrespective of the kind of business and brand, the following rules need to be kept in mind while engaging in content marketing today.
Putting the customer first rather than the brand and providing as much value as possible is paramount to an effective marketing strategy.
Leveraging social listening to stay relevant to the customer’s experiences is integral in enhancing the brand’s interactions with the audience/customer base.
Content marketing is a long-term game and can only be fruitful if you maintain consistency.
Balancing the Creative and Analytical Aspects of Content Creation and Marketing
When we talk about content marketing, we cannot dismiss data, which is crucial. Without data, you cannot build a customer base, and neither can you focus on what to do next if you don’t know how your campaign is performing. All this information comes from data.
Hence, it is essential to balance the creative and analytical elements of content marketing.
● Data and content creation are not mutually exclusive. Data can be used as a compass to guide the direction of your content creation and marketing strategy.
● “An idea without an element of danger is not an idea at all.” Creative risks are essential to the world of content. However, overriding the guidance provided by data can only be fruitful if you have the confidence to pursue that risk. That confidence can only be acquired through experience, consumer and brand knowledge, and knowledge of your craft.
● Ensure that your objective in taking a creative risk is crystal clear. Weigh the outcomes of the risk to ascertain whether the risk is worth the effort and the possible losses that may result from it.
Building a Buyer Persona in the Consumer Age
Today, many marketers face a considerable challenge in creating a buyer persona based on target audiences available on different platforms.
A customer persona is essentially a fictitious proxy for your ideal customer. Analyze the demographics and behaviors of your perfect customer on different platforms and use this to help you better engage with real-life versions of these personas.
Dipashree believes it is important to leverage available data to prioritize customers based on their likeliness to engage with the brand. This can be further divided into a short-term and long-term audience.
Three tips for creating buyer personas:
● Try to understand who your different audience sets are.
● Create buyer personas for both short-term and long-term audiences.
● Leverage online buyer persona templates.
The Future of Content Marketing
Dipashree enlightens us about the future of content marketing. She says, “The lines between creation and marketing/advertising will become a lot more blurred. Our patience with advertising is wearing out. Hence, storytelling is going to take a front seat.
She offers a couple of tips for content marketers to adapt to.
- Refrain from trying to master just one aspect of the job.
- Broaden your horizons since content marketing is a multifaceted job.
- Marketing across industries is evolving into a merger of storytelling and strategy, so creators need to jump on that ship.
Note: This blog is an excerpt from a session on The Evolution of Content Marketing with Dipashree Das, Senior Marketer, Global OTT Platform, India. The session was part of Elevate–a global virtual content summit organized by Pepper Content, which brings together industry leaders in content marketing.