As an upcoming digital marketer have you been hearing the term ‘Content Marketing’ all over the place and wondering what the fuss is all about? Content, you may say, is obviously needed in marketing – so what’s new? Nothing actually.
The exact term ‘Content Marketing’ came into existence only in 1996, but the idea that marketing needs to be about rich content has always been there – it is probably just the formats of content and the medium of distributing the content that have changed.
The gradual metamorphosis
The last 5-10 years or so have seen a clear shift in the format of content that is being widely consumed digitally or through the internet – video content and mobile content are today by far the highest consumed forms of content and marketers are scrambling to reach audiences through these.
1. Offline to Online
A few years ago reading articles and news was mostly and offline activity, but today with multiple gadgets and high speed internet available to most of the urban population, we are seeing a shift towards online content not just for news and information but also for entertainment. TV, which was so far the Holy Grail of communication, is now facing tough competition from online video, mobile apps for online TV, Podcasts etc. Devices like smartphones, tablets and the Kindle are now being used to read digital content and YouTube videos are an everyday consumption for housewives looking for recipes, to toddlers learning rhymes, children clarifying science concepts as well as youngsters looking for their music fix. E-books and audio books are today becoming more popular than physical hard or soft cover books.
2. Influencer Marketing through Blogging and Vlogging
Blogging and Vlogging have exploded in the last few years and many have successfully been able to monetize their blogs. For example, Amit Agarwal’s tech blog called Digital Inspiration is one of the most cited examples of an Indian blogger’s success. There are also now a significant number of highly viewed Indian YouTubers, for example, NishaMadhulika with her famous cooking videos or Suresh Menon with his channel called ‘Arnab Frankly Speaking’, which has hilarious spoofs on TV news anchor Arnab Goswami.
Twitter, the popular micro-blogging platform is today used by more than 22 million Indians and many companies and even government agencies to disseminate information to the public. PM Narendra Modi has one of the highest follower ratings in India and Reliance Mobile is one of the most followed Indian brands on Twitter.
3. The Visual appeal
The use of images in content marketing is on the increase – Think about Instagram – an almost completely visual experience which is today being enjoyed by teenagers, retailers as well as fashion enthusiasts, fitness trainers and big brands alike.
Infographics have also caught on in a big way in the last 5-odd years. They present abstract and complex data in an easy-to-scan visual format. This not only makes it faster and easier to assimilate information, but also makes it more memorable. Companies are now widely sharing branded info graphics with data that is valuable and relevant to their target audience.
The Expert Opinion
We spoke to Suhasini Kirloskar, an ex-CMO herself and co-founder of MarketAxis Consulting, one of Pune’s leading consultancies in strategic content development and digital marketing. Suhasini has extensive experience in content marketing for B2B companies, especially in the IT sector.
She says: “Content is vital for B2B marketing. A B2B purchase decision is usually a long and complex one, and buyers want vendors to be knowledgeable and trustworthy. However, content creators often don’t have a strategic view of content and most Indian businesses are struggling with the creation, publishing and promotion of high quality content… In my view, investment of senior leadership focus is more important than just putting down money for content. Overall, a lot of work that needs to be done to really harness the full potential of Content Marketing and I think the field is rich with opportunity for young marketers who can deliver quality content which is valuable to their audience.”
Trends to watch out for in 2018
1. Location optimized content
Creation of high quality, rich, relevant and local content is also very important from a search engine optimization perspective. Appearing in local and national-level searches if of vital importance to business websites and advances in search engine algorithms have ensured that there are no shortcuts to achieving these page rankings (SERPs) – the only way is to provide high quality, rich, relevant and valuable content on your website and be seen as the authority on the area in which you deliver your products or services.
2. Content optimized for Voice Search
It is said that voice searches account for about 20% of all Google mobile searches and according to ComScore, 50% of consumers will be interacting with voice-activated technology by 2020. Most of the marketers are yet to be prepared for voice search optimized content. Voice searches are typically conversational in nature, so it is important to understand the intent behind the content and customize it accordingly. Most of the content curated for Voice searches should be tailored as answers to critical questions on consumer’s mind.
3. Use of Artificial Intelligence in Content marketing
AI and Machine Learning are trickling to all parts of the digital sphere. In the days to come Artificial Intelligence will be used to know the interests, preferences and intent of the consumers with a greater degree of precision. This will help a lot in focusing the marketing efforts to the target audience and reaping the desired results.
Over the years Content Marketing has evolved to offer rich consumer experience. In future also the aim continues to remain the same with more focus on personalizing the content, making it more engaging and optimizing it with the changing technology. By keeping a constant tab on the most preferred ways in which content is searched and consumed, digital marketers can be better placed for further evolutions in content marketing.
So go out and grab the content marketing opportunity! Remember, keep your audience in mind always and create content that they will love… and the results will definitely follow.