It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun. Brands have been using content marketing to connect with new customers and maintain relationships with established clients for centuries. John Deere (the tractor company) started publishing “The Furrow” back in the 1890s. In 1888, Johnson & Johnson produced “Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Care.”
Both are early examples of content marketing because, although they did help to get the name of the brands behind them out there, the goal of the pieces was to inform and assist people, rather than simply promote a company.
What do those earlier pieces of content marketing have in common with content marketing today? A lot. Here’s a close look at how and why content marketing works.
It Builds Trust
The world is an uncertain place. People are skeptical of traditional ads, and they’re becoming ever more skeptical of news and stories, thanks to the rise of “fake news.”
Successful marketers need to establish a sense of trust with consumers, and content marketing is one effective way to do that. According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising study, owned media (that is, a brand’s website, social profiles, and emails) and earned media (such as reviews and recommendations) were the two most trusted forms of advertising.
Brand websites were among the most trusted forms of owned media, with 70 percent of survey respondents saying that they trusted the information they found on a company’s site or blog.
There are ways to make content even more trustworthy. According to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE), content written by a famous person known to the reader, or by an unknown person identified as a subject matter expert, is the most effective.
It Solves Problems
People who are searching for content online usually aren’t doing it because they want to stumble across an ad or learn more about a particular brand. Typically, people are likely to click on or engage with content that promises to solve a problem they are experiencing.
In the case of Johnson & Johnson’s 19th century wound care guide, doctors who used it were trying to find ways to perform surgery more safely. The fact that Johnson & Johnson just so happened to produce the products the doctors could use to avoid infecting or killing their patients was secondary.
When creating content, get in the minds of your customers or target audience. Know what they’re searching for, and what they want to find. Then create content that gives them exactly that.
It Lets You Target Your Audience
Excellent content marketing doesn’t use the spaghetti method — it doesn’t involve tossing stuff out there and hoping something sticks.
Instead, it allows you to identify a specific audience and then directly target that audience. How? By developing buyer personas and figuring out where the people you want to reach are hanging out.
That could mean finding crafty moms on Pinterest, trendy teens on Instagram, or nerdy gamers on YouTube. Brands looking to connect with multiple audiences can create a variety of content designed specifically for each type of persona.
It Has So Much Data Behind It
The most successful content is data-driven. Data lets you see what content is a hit, what’s a miss, and what could benefit from a new approach or some tweaking.
You can customize the metrics and key performance indicators you use to track your brand’s content marketing campaigns to allow you to see what needs to be done to help you reach your goals, or where your brand needs some help.
With data, you’re able to see where your audience is coming from, what type of content clicks with them, and what they do after looking at a particular piece of content.
They say that content is king, but it’s really the customer who rules when it comes to content marketing. Giving people what they want is the key to effective content marketing.