Delivering Content Marketing

Perhaps it’s fitting that ‘content marketing’ has been left to the last as a route to consumers. It was always present, but its prominence is currently skyrocketing. It’s likely been only lip-serviced by many up until now, simply because you can’t fake it. It demands to be built well, but with so many jingles and bells for enterprises to latch onto, attach, apply, or otherwise service in the name of online sales or presence, content seems boring, dull, and a hassle.

Much has been made of the evaporating attention span of online users, so it’s been understandable that long form content particularly has often been relegated to the lowest priority. This has proved a great irony, however, as all these last years when fancy apps and messaging routes to sales have been falling over each other to become flavour of the month – particularly in e-commerce – we’ve had the statistics that show long form content to be one of the best engagement and conversion tools around. 

It’s therefore more than a little ironic that content is only now getting it’s due. It’s indicative of having eaten the icing first and now being left with the cake. Whether because of too much glitter elsewhere, or simply because people often don’t know what or how to write, it has become – as Seth Godin recently said – “the only marketing left.”

For content’s prominence, look at IT Support 

A very apt and interesting development has been the evolution of content as a marketing tool within the IT support fraternity itself. If we were to look at a company such as as an example of a dynamic IT outfit in a major metropolitan area, we’d see that their blog page is now populated with a large amount of useful intel. Rather than the old model of on-site technicians trying to get clients up to speed (with or without a user manual in play), the IT fraternity – along with almost every other – has realised that rendering conversational, easily absorbed information around relevant topics in long form is bridging the gap between tech savvy and client application. 

Support tickets pertaining to a myriad of what-if and what-about topics are dwindling, as the IT arena starts developing a library of content in a form that end users can assimilate. It might seem obvious now, but a look at the past via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine would demonstrate the stark contrast between technical sites of yore and the current user friendliness. Modern content in the IT fraternity has found the right tone and level of engagement to make the dissemination of technical concepts regular, sufficiently detailed, and most important of all, understandable.

So what? Does it lead to sales? Does it educate people and up the global savvy? 

Actually yes, on both counts. 

Consumers, be they B2C retail customers or B2B clients, value content that leans just the right distance into unknown arenas, content that spells it out without talking down, and content that makes them feel just a little smarter after reading it. Therein lies a far broader human trait – the desire not to feel stupid in comparison to others – but it’s certainly not as cheap as that – it’s not a play on FOMO. 

For instance, to a large extent the available IT content is indicative of the acceptance by the human population of the fact that we are, indeed, living in the digital age – the tech arena. Tech issues and realities are a component of life now, and as such deserving of a mainstream bank of information that is engaging, articulate, and edifying. And what of the dwindling attention spans of online shoppers and other surfers? There are indeed shocking yet true statistics on some online behaviours, but they’ve been inappropriately applied to content as a phenomenon. Users might indeed bin any site that takes longer than seconds to load, but that has nothing to do with content.

That reality can’t be superimposed upon all online behaviours. It’s content’s job to present relevant issues, engagingly, and to leave the reader better off at the end of it. If good, engaging content with the potential to cement brand image or otherwise funnel to sales is lost on a lousy technical build; those are two separate issues.

The death of fluff – it’s content or a blurb, please

One fantastic upshot of content’s value rising has been the death of fluff pieces – filler rubbish that does nothing but gush about nothing substantial. We have Tik Tok for that, and good luck to everyone in their teens, but online content as a thought-out input is nowadays either valuable in words or entertainingly visual with a blurb. Looking to the ‘marketing’ aspect of content again, it’s also an incredibly soft sell. If Inbound Marketing has value – and it certainly does – content is an ideal tool to manifest its first dictate: engagement. 

Truly skillful content ‘grabs’ a user by speaking either communally (the consumer in-group) or empathetically (addressing user pain points). Words might still seem boring when there is so much potential for in-your-face graphics and thrilling visual material, but most often, once engaged, users will shut out any other inputs and follow an engaging piece to its logical conclusion. Otherwise, they might enjoy a video of something with an explanatory blurb beneath that simply allows them to remember the brand, while enjoying themselves, watching something entertaining. Either way, no one follows fluff anymore unless, of course, it’s Tik Tok – but then that platform (and a few others) have made a brand out of being indulgent nonsense.

For the more business minded online presence, whether it be a quest for credibility and authority, or sales (and really, those are ultimately the same end), content truly is king and now finally able to sit on the throne.

The technical how-to of content delivery is so well mapped – and platforms so numerous – it remains the easy part of content marketing. The hard part is still what to say, in an engaging manner, and to what end (and it must add up to a customer benefit). Now that content is so integral to online marketing, however, people are finding their voice, companies are looking at the statistics, and spending on the right stuff – content that is useful, authentic, and ideally suited to an internet generation.

Ryan Kh

Ryan Kahn, known as a career coach and television personality. Ryan Kahn is founder of The Hired Group, author of Hired!