Last week was very out of the ordinary and out of the (regular) office for me. I spent 3 days discovering beauties of Romanian city Cluj-Napoca as much as exploring the beauties of Evozon office. Reason for leaving my home desk at Inchoo was a mission of delivering my first ever training on content marketing. This blog post serves as a reference point for all of you who are interested in what was I talking about in Romania and at MM16CZ – the short version. Also, it’s for all of you who are curious to find out why are eCommerce and content marketing a match made in heaven.
Marketers are well aware of the fact that era of content marketing already started and that it started yesterday. They no longer question the “Why?”, they question the “How?”. How can marketing departments generate the high quality and quantity of content necessary to succeed in the new marketing era?
If you’ll ask me what is content marketing, I can give you two very different answers. One of them is a theory based answer you get when Googling the phrase. According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is
a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Other definition I can offer you is based on my own experience and that one is plain and simple and can be understood by anyone, not only marketers. Content marketing is communication.
It’s that simple?
Yes, it really is.
Why? Because, the truth is, today’s consumers react to completely different kind of marketing – what worked for previous generations won’t necessarily see success with them.
Content marketing is based on the premise you’ll answer your customer’s needs when he’s in the search of a solution. He might not know he needs your company, but he’ll learn that he does when he realizes he needs your expertise or relates to your story. (We’ll get to that later.)
Today, it’s all about killing interruption marketing with quality content. That should be reason enough to, please, already, stop with the pop ups!
But, what does that have to do with eCommerce?
Even better, how can you make sure your customer finds exactly you and your service (product) in the wild sea of Internet produced memes and cat pictures?
Even though content might be a hard sell for a lot of eCommerce sites as it may seem auxiliary to the primary purpose of the site – to sell products – in reality it helps to bring in customers, convert them and then retain them. That’s because creating valuable free content creates trust, builds your brand, keeps people informed, gives you something to share on social media and helps you rank in search engines.
Unfortunately for you, there is no easy answer which comes across as a perfect piece of advice when you’re deciding on content you should distribute. But there are definitely some tricks which might help you with making a rationalized decision.
So let’s start with several things you need to keep in mind.
Whether you are an experienced marketer focusing on delivering quality content for years or you’re just starting with the adventure, these might come in handy – as a guidance or a friendly reminder.
When I was preparing for delivering a training at Evozon, I asked myself a couple of questions we all need to know the answer to. Before going around and promoting your service or your product, make sure you know how to explain both of the following – what’s your products value and what are its benefits.
Value is what customer perceives as a relationship between what he’s paying for your product (or service) and the benefits he’s getting. And it’s important to note that benefits don’t explain what your products do, those are features. Benefits are positive results which occur because of those features.
For example – if you decide to get a training from Inchoo, features are content and skills you’re being delivered with. Cheat sheets, notes and materials you could use after the training has passed. But features include applying that knowledge to get better content which will help generate leads or achieve higher profit.
That’s why marketing shouldn’t be about pushing people to buy things, it should be about drawing them in to listen and consequently, helping them to find value in what you have offer to them. After all, a customer could get a product just like yours from the competition – the question is why should he get it from you.
Now we come to the interesting part…
People don’t buy what you do. Not exactly. They buy why you do it. Whatever it is they’re looking for, whether that’s a feeling or a sense of brighter future, there’s already someone who could sell them exactly that.
So, tip number one – be clear about what you’re selling. Remember that the added value is rarely the product itself. Only after you’re aware of those two you’ll be able to focus on your messaging.
Once you go over the initial hurdle of what story you’d like to tell, you have to examine what are the building blocks of your story and what will make it truly engaging.
Kevin Spacey (also known as Francis Underwood from “House of Cards”) summed it up nicely in his keynote from “Content marketing world 2014”.
- Create conflict. Make your customers the heroes of your content by sharing how they overcome problems.
- Authenticity. Share what you know. Your expertise and internal knowledge can answer your audience’s questions which will make you a problem solver in their eyes.
- The audience. You need to work for them in order for them to work for you. In today’s content ecosystem you can no longer throw up a blog post and walk away.
Keep in mind that this means creating value in your brand, not rushing the stories you want to share. Give yourself enough time to engage with your readers. Advice number two is, as follows – start with what you want to say and you’ll figure out the most authentic way you can deliver that to your audience. Make sure to listen to them and iterate accordingly!
Through all of those it is important to remember that keeping an eye on the vision – what kind of content and for whom – is equally as important as crossing off daily tasks. Embracing the fact that customers hold more power than brands do in a world of infinite information and product choice is exactly what should get you geared up.
So, to sum it all up, here is the advice number three.
Make sure you’re there for them now, cause there may be someone else later.