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Why Content Marketing is a Must

5 Research-Backed Reasons Why Content Marketing is a Must-Do

By Karen TaylorNov 3 /2020

The value of content marketing has more than proven itself over the years as a workhorse that helps organizations achieve a wide range of benefits — from attracting quality leads to supporting a higher rate of conversion. Consistent, high-quality and engaging content marketing impacts audience decision-making more than any other marketing strategy.

Today, the value of content marketing has taken on new urgency. More organizations than ever are digging deeper into this discipline to improve their marketing programs. Many are finding that they have to make specific modifications to their traditional strategies in order to gain the maximum results in a new environment.

A wide range of research is showing marketers the way to marketing in a world changed by a pandemic. Among the findings are insights on the new way organizations should create content for their blogs, emails, social media platforms, thought leadership initiatives and webinars.

Here are findings in these five critical areas of content marketing that can help guide organizations in the future.

1. Rethink Your Blog Content

Marketers will invest resources across the buyer’s lifecycle more than ever before in a post-COVID world, as retaining and growing customers becomes the foundation to pandemic recovery.Forrester

One tried-and-true avenue aspect of content marketing is publishing a robust company blog. Blogs are integral to organizations’ content strategies. Yet, they are often under-utilized for achieving a wide range of objectives across the buyer lifecycle. B2B marketers should view blogging as an opportunity to offer highly researched information to their target audiences.

On this owned media platform, organizations can talk directly to their target audiences through blog posts designed to achieve a wide range of purposes. In particular, during the COVID-19 era, hot topics have included relieving anxiety, breathing in much-needed positivity, and sharing insight on products and services that can impact their customers’ lives. This direction has already been proven to help engage and deepen customer and prospect relationships.

“The big impact will be in moving from customer retention to advocacy, since even in early-stage lead generation, marketers will produce programs and content with more customer insight and empathy to build credibility and trust, and set the expectation that the customer’s journey reaches its zenith when they become advocates, not just loyal or satisfied buyers,” said Forrester.

Tips to Boost the Impact of Your Blog

  • Keep your blog active and relevant. While you might want to consider toning down the “selling” component of your blog, you should blog with the goal of coming across as a brand that cares about its customers.
  • Create value for your audience. Finding ways to educate your readers will engender greater trust. Examples that are achieving this objective include sharing insight on healthy habits and disease prevention, and how to successfully navigate a new working environment.
  • Share your blog content across multiple platforms. Reach your target audience where they are. This requires expanding the content you create for your blog across multiple platforms, including everything from branded publications to events to social media.

2. Add What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) to Your Emails

Open rates were up year-over-year in general, with February to March experiencing a 16% boost, indicating that audiences are interested in what businesses have to say.Campaign Monitor

Among the many changes organizations have experienced over the past several months, one of them was the impact on email marketing — which achieved greater success than normal. A boost in email marketing success rates reinforces the fact that email is still what consumers depend on to gain insight straight from brands.

This change may have been impacted by consumers having an increased interest in learning how organizations are changing their business plans and products, and how they are responding to the new way of life since the pandemic hit. The takeaway for email marketers is that, while consumers may not always want to know about your products, services and solutions, they welcome valuable insight, news and updates from your organization.

Gartner shared a caveat to marketing through email during a crisis — avoid virtue signaling, which is the practice of saying one thing, but doing another. While a click-bait headline might get your emails opened, a virtual signaling message could greatly increase your unsubscribe rate. Instead, approach email marketing from WIIFM approach.

To that end, Gartner shared these questions marketers can ask before hitting send:

  • Am I telling customers something unique from my competitors versus saying the same thing as everyone else?
  • Am I telling customers something they don’t expect from my company or brand?
  • Is the WIIFM conspicuous in the subject line and opening paragraph?
  • Is the WIIFM aligned with what our customers need now?

3. Think Heart, Not Head, in Social Media Content

56% of marketers have adjusted their content marketing strategies to create more social media content because of COVID-19.LinkedIn and Vision Critical

A theme has emerged across the marketing world since the advent of the pandemic: spend less time talking about your organization and your solutions, and more time focusing on your customers’ emotional needs. For example, about 47% of marketers say their content and creative have become more emotional and less rational because of COVID-19. Further, product-focused content has seen the largest decrease at 19%.

To make the most of the intersection of creating more emotional content and less product content means that now is a time for organizations to connect, converse and be there for a human audience of customers and prospects who are searching for the information and resources they need and can trust.

Here are three ways marketers can make the most of this new direction:

  1. Post in real-time based on trends. Marketers should employ social listening to scope out conversations, trending topics and consumer habits. Then post real-time with tailored messaging. This will make posts more relevant and more likely to be seen.
  2. Prioritize conversations over clicks. In these uncertain times, social media starts with conversations, not click-driven posts. Lean into what social media does exceptionally well, which is driving conversations, building community, supporting each other, storytelling and entertaining.
  3. Leverage your community. Reach out to your employees, influencers, advocates and biggest fans, and ask them to interact with you in ways that are meaningful to your audience.

4. Commit to Thought Leadership

Thought leadership delivers significant ROI for companies — nearly 70% of executives decide if an organization can deliver on its promises based on its thought leadership — and 75% saying thought leadership leads directly to contractual commitments.LinkedIn and Edelman

In today’s marketplace, thought leaders are sought out for a variety of reasons, including, for example, their ability to make sense of what is happening in the marketplace, to make informed decisions and to predict what the future holds.

In two separate studies on the impact of COVID-19, LinkedIn and partners found that thought leadership is a powerful content marketing tactic. Among the findings of a study with Vision Critical, 84% of executives said they needed to strengthen their position as a trusted thought leader who can help customers solve immediate problems.

Building a robust thought leadership program is not an easy undertaking because it requires a long-term commitment to generating the time and resources necessary to achieve and maintain the status of a thought leader in the industry.

Promoting a thought leader is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s are some salient tips:

  • Identify your organization’s thought leaders. Your thought leader(s) need to have a clear message and voice that is different from the competition and is a good representative for your brand. Think beyond the C-suite.
  • Play to your thought leaders’ strengths. How do your experts prefer to communicate? Use them where they are strongest, such as podcasts, webinars, videos, articles or other platforms.
  • Strategize your expert content. Plan the best use of your thought leaders’ time to optimize content creation. Try to create a reservoir of ideas and content that can be tapped at the right time and place.

5. Webinars Are Up as Events Are Down

In March 2020, we saw the number of webinars hosted on our platform jump by more than 330% — and the number of attendees at these events double year-over-year. — ON24

As the business world knows well, in-person events are on hold indefinitely. In their place, organizations are conducting more webinars than ever before. These digital events are filling the gap as a means to demonstrate technology and services and share critical industry best practices.

In a survey, LinkedIn and Vision Critical asked marketers how their tactical mixes are changing for the present and future — 67% of them cited the biggest increases in webinars. These marketers are experiencing the advantages of online events firsthand, such as broader reach, better attendee data acquisition and value of the content beyond the date of the event.

Webinars provide a safe way to keep professionals engaged while still sharing and learning — and their usage has changed significantly since the advent of the pandemic. For example, ON24, a personalized webinar, content and virtual event experience platform, reported that before COVID-19, audiences tended to avoid webinars held on Mondays and Fridays. But now, webinars held on every day of the week are all well attended.

Webinar advice from ON24’s 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report includes these tips:

  • The best day for webinars is Tuesday. Before COVID-19, the best days for webinars were Wednesday and Thursday. Now, nearly any day of the workweek will net a solid number of attendees, but Tuesdays are performing slightly better.
  • Send promotional emails on the right date. Early to mid-week are the best days to send promotional emails to drive webinar registration. Avoid sending promotional emails during the weekend and on Fridays.
  • Run webinars at 2:00 p.m. EST for best results. This time remained the best time before and after COVID-19. However, now earlier in the day is also a good time.

The Future of Content Marketing

Marketers in every industry have had to deal with dramatic changes in their content marketing plans, strategies and tactics in the face of a global pandemic. Many acted quickly to pivot their content marketing programs in ways that helped them stay relevant in an ever-changing marketplace. Insights provided by marketing industry leaders — like those shared in this post — are helping shed valuable light on the best direction forward, so that marketers can develop content that meets both their organizations’ needs and the needs of their target audiences. This win-win will be the backbone of the future of successful content marketing.

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Karen Taylor
The Author

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor is a professional content marketing writer with experience writing for over 100 companies and publications. Her experience includes the full range of content marketing projects — from blogs, to white papers, to ebooks. She has a particular knack for creating content that clarifies and strengthens a company’s marketing message, and delivers optimum impact and maximum results. Learn more at KarenTaylorWrites.com.
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