Content is no longer novel; just having it provides no value to consumers. Marketers must produce content that adds value in order engage customers.
While researching the rise in content marketing, I came to a realization. Content is not king, and companies that operate under this assumption may actually be hurting their brand more than helping it.
The true measure of content is the experience the person has with it. My recent research showed that 64 percent of buyers would only be slightly likely to ever read content you produce again if their first experience with your content was disappointing. Understanding why consumers feel this way, and learning to produce quality over quantity, are the keys to a great content strategy.
By looking at the reasons consumers are so sensitive to content, you can easily understand their reaction. There are more than 152 million blogs in the world and more than 1 billion emails sent every day - meaning that consumers are being exposed to more content than ever. Think about it! At the height of physical printing (2008), there were more magazines and newspapers printed than ever before or since. At that time, the total number of publications in circulation was roughly 22,000. The average American spent 33 minutes per week reading and 6.56 hours consuming digital content (TV, Internet, or mobile content). As of this year, that number has reached 12 hours - an increase of almost 100 percent in four years.
The fact that a person is subjected to this much content creates a few economic changes in the ways they perceive content and what they expect from it. First off, the basic economics of supply and demand are fairly easy to understand. In an elastic market, the more of something you have, the lower the value of each individual unit. Content is an elastic market because you will not die without it, meaning that the more content choices a person has, the less value each piece of content has to them. Content is no longer novel; just having content provides no value to them. In fact, your company is expected to have content, because it is both necessary and ubiquitous.
Due to the amount of content consumers are exposed to, they get to see really amazing things, and they expect to have similar experiences with your content. They do not expect to have their minds blown with visual appeal, or movie magic, but rather want authentic and helpful experiences.
The other thing we need to remember about content is that we are usually asking for something in return. This is the foundation of content marketing, as taught by Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing. We are asking the consumer to give us something in exchange for our work. This means that for them to be willing to "pay," you must prove you can provide them with something of value, i.e. your content.
I wanted to prove this was the case, so I set out to survey a group of 417 B2B buyers. In the survey, I asked how many people had ever been disappointed by content, and 71 percent responded that they had. Of these respondents, 64 percent of them said they would only be slightly likely to ever engage with content from that vendor ever again. It's easy now to understand why. You promised them value, but failed to follow through on your promise, and with so many other options, it is easy for them to not have to engage with you.
From now on, when you are creating content, think about the following: What is your relationship with the consumer at that point in their engagement cycle? Make something of value for them, and then follow up to make sure you provided that value. If not, you may end up driving traffic only to never see your consumers again. Good luck with your content strategy, but remember it's about providing value, not publishing content.
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Mathew is the head of thought leadership for B2B marketing at Pardot, a Salesforce.com Company. A consummate writer, he has been featured in numerous publications such as Marketing Automation Times, DemandGen Report, Marketing Sherpa, ZDNet, and is the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies (published by Wiley February 2014). As a speaker Mathew speaks around the world at events such as Conversion Conference, Dreamforce, SugarCon, and to companies including Microsoft, Investec, NetJets, and Restaurants.com, to name a few.
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