Why Content Marketing is the Future
(for now at least)
1. Web 2.0 and User Generated Content (UGC)
2. Digital Media and Deregulation
3. Google and the Hummingbird algorithm
Web 2.0 and User Generated Content (UGC)
I first studied marketing with the Open University in Prague in 1996. I was running my own business as an incoming tour operator to Eastern Europe (called Tailor made Travel) and I wanted to get some ‘theory’ to complement my real-world experience. I loved the course and was instantly hooked on marketing as a discipline.
In 2009, to keep up with the times, I completed an MA in Marketing and followed that, in 2013, with a Diploma in Digital Marketing. Today I attend events (both real and virtual) throughout the year to keep up to date with the ongoing changes and developments in the industry – but even with this education, it can be head-spinning at times.
And, looking around me today, I can’t help but feel amazed at how much things have changed.
The old vs the new
With the arrival of the internet and access to the world wide web, much of traditional marketing theory has been thrown out of the window. The old model of a few mass-market broadcasters and newspaper groups has been replaced by, well, a new world order.
What Web 2.0 and User Generated Content mean for businesses today
The internet became widely available in the early 90s, with static, brochure-style websites as the norm. Then, as the second generation of web development came online in the late 90s, website visitors began to be able to leave feedback or comments online.
User Generated Content (UGC) had arrived.
Sites evolved from one-directional communication, where websites broadcast a message to the world, to two-directional communication, where sites broadcast their message – and readers responded to that message within the site.
A further more recent development into multi-directional communication, where the message delivered by a website became of secondary importance, has revolutionised the online space. The focus has shifted yet again. This time the emphasis and drive is on user-to-user communications where we, the readers, want to be able to connect with each other.
This multi-directional communication means that we’re able to indulge our every whim, at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Think about it.
Do you even log out any more?
Today’s internet user has digital connections with dozens, perhaps even hundreds of other people, whose feedback and opinion they will seek on brands, products, celebrities, destinations, entertainment, problems and more.
Indeed, this phenomenon of “social proof” has been found to be more trusted by us, as users, than many of the promotional and marketing messages that brands will broadcast to us.
The genie is out of the bottle.
Today’s consumer has an immense and unprecedented power in terms of the information and choice that’s available to them.
This means that we, as businesses who are still broadcasting our messages, have to work harder than ever to gain our customers’ trust.
Digital Media and Deregulation
When I was a child, there were three main television channels. And a handful of newspapers, radio stations and weekly magazines. Today, we have more of every kind of media, and all those old ‘broadcasters’ have joined the online space too.
Media is rented, downloaded, shared.
Audience participation via #hashtags is the norm.
News is reported in real-time by the people at the scene.
Revolutions ‘break’ on twitter.
Advertising has become targeted. Defined by the audience or ‘user’ – and is trusted less than ever before.
The average Click Through Rate (CTR) on digital display advertisements is just 0.2%. And just 30% of people will click on the ‘paid’ spots at the top of the Google search returns.
Add to this the fact that our ads, comments and sales promotions keep ‘getting in the way’ of all the other things our customers want to do on their devices. Multi-screening is the norm: we surf, we text, we tweet, we like-share-and-comment, all whilst watching the television.
We now have to work harder than ever to gain our customers’ attention.
Google and the Hummingbird algorithm
“An algorithm (pronounced AL-go-rith-um) is a procedure or formula for solving a problem.”
Hummingbird. The name of Google’s latest algorithm. A beautiful metaphor, for a string of software code. The latest algorithm that underpins Google search has dramatically changed the way that search results are displayed. Increasingly, Google will try to answer web searchers’ questions with an answer, making search returns as relevant to them as possible.
Each day, thousands of search unique queries are typed into Google’s oblong search box. Unique in that they are being searched for, for the first time ever.
So, where does this leave your website?
How carefully have you tried to anticipate and answer the potential questions your customers might have about every aspect of what you do or sell?
If you can’t address these questions on your website – or on your other online (social media) platforms – and if your focus is on what you want to say, instead of what your prospective customers want to hear, they will move on. For good.
We now have to work harder than ever to gain our customers’ engagement.
Which is where Content Marketing comes in to play.
So what do we need to do, to market ourselves successfully?
I believe that in order to succeed in business, we have to embrace change. Often it is beyond our control and we can either explore the opportunities that change presents, or stick our heads in the sand.
Content Marketing isn’t just about Facebook posts, blogs and e-books. It encompasses your website and everything you write or say about what you do. It’s user-focused, non-salesy and has your customers’ needs and desires at its heart.
Oh, and by the way, it works.
At Dolezal Consulting our approach to Content Marketing is based on the production of high quality material that’s relevant to your customers and answers their needs, desires – and questions.
And it’s about working to produce this material in a way that is manageable within the demands of your business.
With your website as the starting point for your content, your communications can extend into many possible different forms of content, be that social media posts, blog, videos, podcasts, white papers, email campaigns, e-books or downloads.
And by focusing in on the details that make you stand out from the crowd, by finding your niche and by answering your prospective customer’s questions with content marketing, you’ll establish your authority online and build a solid web presence that means people – and that means customers – will be able to find you online.