In this piece, we’re going to talk about how traditional marketing channels are becoming less and less effective, as well as look at the way consumers are becoming “advertisement blind” – in other words, the way in which people on social media, searchers on Google and visitors to websites are consciously (and sometimes unconsciously) ignoring those blatant “in-your-face” ads.
To begin with, let’s provide you with some eye-opening statistics:
According to the results of the Goo Online Advertising Survey conducted by Goo Technologies, 82-percent of Americans ignore online ads, ahead of television ads at 37-percent. Meanwhile, 92-percent of Americans ignore at least one type of ad seen every day across six different types of media. The online ads Americans are most likely to ignore included online banner ads (73-percent), followed by social media ads (62-percent) and search engine ads (59-percent).
After seeing these kind of numbers, you’re most likely wondering “what DOES work then?” when it comes to marketing online. The answer, my friends, is content marketing; the present and future of online marketing. Now, before diving head-first into the deep end of the “future of online marketing” pool, let’s first answer the question, “what is content marketing?”
Content Marketing 101
Content marketing refers to the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without actually selling – a process that is also known as “non-interruption marketing.” In other words, instead of pitching your products or services, you deliver information that educates your visitors and gives them the feeling that they’ve benefitted from visiting your site, all while planting a seed in their minds confirming that you are an expert at what you do.
The purpose of content marketing, as far as we’re concerned, is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. This ongoing process – which is best integrated into an overall marketing strategy – involves attracting and acquiring a clearly-defined audience, with the objective being to drive profitable customer action.
Consumers “Blind” to Ads… Especially on Social Media
As we hinted at in our opening sentence above, consumers have already learned to ignore branded (advertorial) content. In fact, new research from Havas Media and Crowd Emotion, which measured consumer responses (or lack thereof) to branded content using technology that can determine emotional responses based on subjects’ facial expressions, indicated that a mere 20-percent of branded content posts appearing on Facebook generated any emotional response at all…meaning the large majority were completely ignored.
This phenomenon is being coined “blindness” by experts in the marketing sector, and if it sounds familiar to you, there’s a good reason: This same phenomenon has developed around more traditional forms of advertising, as we have reported on, wherein consumers have learned to “tune out” TV and radio ads, in addition to earlier online advertising channels (in what was called “banner blindness”). Perhaps even worse, the paid ads on Facebook received even less of an emotional response from subjects in the Havas-Crowd Emotion study…actually, to be precise, none at all.
In further studying this “blindness,” it has become a fact that visitors to websites, searchers on Google and even those on social media either consciously or subconsciously overlook every piece of information that even remotely resembles an advertisement. Since banner blindness has been defined by some sociologists, working in conjunction with marketers, as a “defensive reaction to information overload,” the answer tends to be found in user behavior.
Eye-tracking findings show that the following design elements are most effective in “attracting eyeballs”:
- Elements that don’t resemble ads
When it comes to using people photos, research has shown that visitors pay more attention to “real” people photos as opposed to the obviously stock photographs of “generic” people, which generally are ignored. (Unless they are the “women laughing alone with salad” stock photos. I LOVE those) In product photos, quality images boasting more product details are welcomed, while a similar approach can be taken with text formatting and choosing expressions for a commercial; big, fancy titles with over-decorated fonts and lame marketing phrases do not grab much attention.
Traditional Marketing is Becoming Less and Less Effective
There’s a prevalent theme that runs rampant throughout our blogs, but for good reason: We want to drive home the unavoidable fact that consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They fast-forward through television commercials when able to, hover over that “skip ad in 5 seconds…” button on YouTube videos, flip past magazine advertising altogether, and now have become such Internet surfing experts that they can absorb information without a single thought for banners or buttons (thus making them irrelevant).
Smart marketers have already accepted that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective nearly by the minute in today’s world, and that there has to be a better way. Of course, as we suggested, content marketing is the answer. This strategic marketing approach focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and RETAIN a clearly-defined audience…and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
So why is content the present – and future – king of marketing? Think logically about all the companies attempting to send us information all the time…most of the time, that info is not very relevant or valuable, is it? Well, that’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day: GOOD content marketing forces a person to stop, read, think and behave differently.
Thought leaders and marketing experts from around the globe, including the likes of such gurus as author Seth Godin and hundreds of the leading movers and shakers in marketing, have concluded that content marketing isn’t just the future…it’s what presently drives successful modern-day commerce platforms.
What am I saying, essentially? Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not looked at as a separate entity. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing, including:
- Social media marketing
- Public relations
- Inbound marketing
- Content strategy
MVMG Power Stats: According to Roper Public Affairs, 80-percent of decision-makers in business prefer to receive company information in a series of articles instead of an advertisement. What’s more, 70-percent say content marketing makes them feel “closer to the sponsoring company,” while 60-percent say that company content helps them make better decisions regarding product.
5 Examples of the Most Popular Avenues for Content Marketing
If content marketing is a brand-new concept to you at this point, the first thing you need to do is launch a blog and start writing…after all, you came to OUR blog here and were intrigued, right? When your own blog is established and running on its own steam, so to speak, we recommend throwing in new types of content – and we predict that you’ll immediately see a difference with fresh traffic, targeted visitors, higher conversion rates and better SEO.
Here are five examples of the most popular avenues for achieving content marketing success, and what they entail:
You can believe us when we tell you that many bloggers fail to take advantage of the enormous marketing potential of blogs. In fact, a recent study by blogger.com indicated that although roughly 60-percent of businesses host blogs, 65-percent of them haven’t even updated the information in the past year. By providing fresh, relevant content and performing basic blog post optimization, you can take advantage of the many benefits offered by blogging.
In your optimization, be sure to do your research, utilize keywords throughout your posts, optimize your images, reference others with links, and give readers the opportunity to subscribe to your blog and use social media to broaden the reach of your blog posts.
With a staggering number of information generated daily, it is more than likely for your content to get lost in the “Internet content jungle” and ignored by most users – specifically your targeted audience. One of the ways to create epic, noteworthy content is to use infographics, an innovative method that converts ordinary text information in a presentable and more visually-pleasing way.
An infographic is a visual representation of a data set or instructive material which takes a large amount of information in text or numerical form and condenses it into a combination of images and text, allowing viewers to quickly grasp the essential insights the data contains.
In improving content marketing performance, you need to use and integrate infographics into your current marketing campaign(s) because they:
- easily catch your targeted audience’s attention.
- can increase your brand awareness.
- can make your content really go viral.
- can increase your search marketing results.
- can help you increase your subscribers and followers.
- are portable and easily embeddable.
- can make your content more understandable.
- can expand beyond digital marketing.
- position you as an expert.
- are easy to track with analytics.
In case you haven’t heard, more and more companies are discovering the power of online video…especially as a powerful addition to a content marketing toolkit. Video provides a unique and compelling platform to showcase your expertise and set you apart from the competition, and the benefits are nearly infinite; today, most people would rather watch an online video than read pages of text on a website.
Using video in your content marketing provides another way to reach your audience and set your company apart from the competition. It’s easy to retain, sharable, entertaining and provides another way for prospects and customers to connect with your brand. Indeed, there are countless ways to use video in your content marketing, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Quick tips
- Customer testimonials
- Employee introductions
- Behind-the-scenes tours
- Event promotions
Case studies are a critical part of any B2B content marketing strategy because they provide a number of benefits including:
- Guides and tips
- Unique content
- Reusable content
In developing effective case studies, it’s important to secure client agreement, enter awards, conduct an interview and get quotes, structure the case study and create a compelling one-line story headline. Your case study is more likely to be picked up, read and shared if you boast a compelling headline which can often take the form of a one-line story, such as “how company ‘x’ increased sales through marketing automation.’”
Once your case study has materialized, you should spend some time crafting this one-line headline story; it will reward you in extra visitors and help ensure the content gets distributed.
This solution presents the perfect opportunity to expand on different facets of your business or topics in your industry that you feel people will benefit from understanding. Beyond offering the chance to go into detail, EBooks also provide several benefits that will strengthen your content marketing efforts, including:
- Establishing your “expert” status
- Offering a perceived value
- The ability to be distributed in a matter of weeks
- Sale subtlety
What’s more, integrating EBooks into your content marketing strategies will afford both your business and your customers something valuable that cannot be achieved through articles and blog posts alone. Your customers receive detailed information and solutions to their problems, while you receive contact information and qualified leads to render your marketing efforts successful.
Here are my final thoughts about the future of online marketing: It’s common to hear entrepreneurs say “execution is all that counts” – but it’s not. The premises under which you are executing count even more. Taking your content and adding a unique twist to attract customers to your product/service is a tremendous move in the right direction.