These days, the importance of content for interactive marketing and communication is receiving a lot of attention. And I would say: it’s about time, even if the attention for content and content marketing is sometimes a bit too much. But then again, it’s about time we care about the content because we care about the customer. I’ve only been shouting about it from the rooftops for the past fifteen years or so.
Why has it taken so long for content to get proper attention? Simple. Everyone was so occupied with broadcasting, new marketing channels and proven techniques such as websites and email marketing (yes, once upon a time that was something new) and ignoring the needs of customers, that absolutely no attention was paid to the essence: aligning needs and preferences with business goals across all touchpoints.
Shiny websites and Flash animations mattered more than the simple question “how can I use digital marketing in a smarter way in order to better serve my customers, provide value to the people I want to reach and interact with, and generate more turnover?”
Most companies didn’t understand that preference-based, contextual, integrated and customer-centric content was a crucial part of that holistic effort. People were too busy investing in technology and applying conventional one-way communication rules to interactive media, which is already a contradiction in terms. They didn’t look enough at what customers want.
Content was seen as an expense.
Relevance and conversion: content and intent
Now this whole situation has changed 180 degrees. Content is suddenly the cornerstone of every form of marketing and communication, conversion, social media marketing, word of mouth; you name it. It is partially justified, although we mustn’t lose sight of the role of content, which is a huge risk when new terms are coined as is the case now. Content should not be the cornerstone. Needs, intent, touchpoints, customer top tasks, business goals and people should. It’s the context that matters, and it’s a complex one.
Content marketing is multi-dimensional and related to the online AND offline journey. Content marketing is by definition integrated and even channel-agnostic (although the shapes and forms content can take depend on the channel).
For the prospect or customer, content it is a matter of relevance depending on what he is looking for here and now. For marketers, it’s about nurturing, storytelling (which is not the same as telling stories or lies, let alone, seeding content wherever we can), dialogue, community, being found and conversion. And being found is a matter of enabling people to find what they are looking for. Intent matters, as does facilitation.
Whoever succeeds in bringing these two goals (the business and ‘consumer’ goals) together understands what online content is really about.
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