It seems like content marketing has been a buzzword in the industry for decades now, but guess what? We are now constant consumers of ideas and everything we encounter is basically content in one form or another.
In other words, there is no “content marketing.” It’s all just plain old “marketing.” It’s our job as marketers to participate in a grand marketplace of ideas, where we all have the potential to inform, entertain and connect.
Content developers from across the country celebrated that potential with two days of presentations and discussions at Content Marketing World last month in Washington, D.C. Here are a few takeaways from the industry’s premier idea exchange …
Taking It Personal
There’s no doubt that this marketplace of ideas we all contribute to is at the same time vast and crowded. But it is the hope of every content developer, aka marketer, to inject information that influences action. This is done through data and personalization. In order to grab attention, every audience – every individual in that audience even – needs to feel as though the messaging is just for them. Content must speak directly to the individual, something marketers armed with data can accomplish.
Personalization is essential and the only way to achieve effective application is to produce content for each audience and, in effect, every individual. This, of course, requires quantity, but obviously not at the expense of quality. The marketplace rewards the good stuff with attention. So, not only do we have to create content for a wide variety of very specific user intent (the quantity), we have to give each piece an equal effort (the quality). So, if I want to reach a wider audience, I actually have to narrow the scope to a rather granular degree. For example, I can’t just take a broad search query and address that user’s intent. I need to consider all the variations of that request and produce content that addresses each potential question if I want to effectively personalize and inspire action. And this isn’t a mere tweaking of the root piece, this is fresh, quality content that addresses user intent from every angle.
Did COVID Kill the Sales Funnel?
There are infinite paths a consumer can take to conversion and you never know which content will trigger it. So, instead of that inverted pyramid we’re all so familiar with, marketers need to take a hub-and-spokes approach to produce a definitive network of personalized content and provide numerous entryways to engagement. Why?
Consumer behavior has changed since the pandemic. That’s when people began taking more time to self-educate, making hyper-specific content that answers their questions all the more important. Nobody is taking messaging at face value anymore. They’re digging deeper, thus the critical challenge to create as many pathways to conversion as possible.
AI Is Not Here to Take Our Jobs
Nope. In case you were wondering, you still need human creators to build effective art and copy. It’s not that AI sucks at creating content. It’s actually scary good at it. But, it lacks creativity. It’s not great at the personalization so essential to modern marketing. Creatives connect with their audience by appealing to feeling and you’re not going to get that from aggregating data. It’s also not recommended you trust unverified info that can undermine authenticity and break trust with your audience.
That said, the modern content creator can’t afford to live without AI as a tool. It’s quite frankly foolish to overlook the vast knowledge of AI technology. Its role as an assistant in concept and content development will quickly become invaluable. But those who simply prompt, copy and paste do so at their own peril. Today’s savvy consumer used to the constant influence of content can easily sense inauthenticity. Connecting on the all-important emotional level naturally needs the human touch.
So, both creator and consumer are challenged in the busy marketplace of ideas that is continuously evolving. But the need for great storytelling never changes even as audience tastes and behaviors adjust. Stories – content – are at the heart of all marketing and I hope you read a good one today.
About The Author
A journalist by trade, Shane tells stories that connect brands with target audiences and inspire them to act. He’s a writer, not a copy machine, and that approach brings exceptional content to every print or digital piece he pens.
Shane taps into his past as a reporter and editor to develop clear messages that resonate in every medium, be it blog or brochure, sponsored content or script.
Daily newspapers developed a habit for idea generation, attention to detail and knack for question-asking. His background as a magazine and web editor keeps client communications grammatically sound and effective.
Shane’s word-based deliverables range from long-form features to concise digital copy to persuasive prose. He’s been on both sides of the PR pitch and puts some muscle behind ABC’s media relations.