Not all marketing strategies are made equal — effectiveness depends on how you create your content, how you promote it and what your business goals are. A survey of 300 marketers in U.S. enterprise companies, conducted by Clutch, was able to identify which strategies were most widely employed, and which were rated the most important or effective.
Knowing what your competitors are doing and what strategies are thriving in the industry can give you a leg up in business. You can keep up with trends or develop strategies to counteract popular trends with effective data about what the people around you are doing. Here are five content marketing strategies that companies have reported using in 2017.
1: Developing Brand Awareness
According to 49 percent of companies surveyed, brand awareness was a top priority. For all but the most popular businesses, gaining customers and attention is a critical part of success plans and development plans, which means content should be created that attracts people that don’t know about your business.
Although focusing on your existing customers is cheaper than wooing new customers, a larger base of shoppers is high on the list of wants for most small businesses. Large companies like Apple and Microsoft don’t need to worry about brand awareness, but smaller companies like a locally owned restaurant will need to help customers find out about them through interesting content.
2: Constructing a Convincing Brand Story
A convincing brand story is crucial to having customers internalize the content you produce. A story will help turn content into a coherent narrative in their head, making them develop an emotional attachment to your business based on a reinforced idea.
Companies like Johnnie Walker create an interesting narrative that customers can get invested in — the story of the liquor company’s founder is easy to embed in a customer’s mind. It’s interesting and engaging for a viewer to think about, and it embeds the company in their memory, which can help them consciously or subconsciously lean towards your product. In general, a good brand story should be topical and relevant, unique, have an element of conflict and contain a human element in order to attract an audience.
3: Sales as a Success Metric
For most companies, determining the success of a content marketing strategy comes down to the numbers: was there a bump in sales?
According to the Clutch survey, 32 percent of companies said they determined the success of their strategy by whether it increased sales. While it’s true that sales are a valuable indicator of a campaign’s success, it isn’t the sole indicator. Other factors a company should look at include whether content generates new leads or word-of-mouth advertising, whether it gets shared and how many people lay eyes on it, and how many people actually look at the content thoroughly.
All of these measures help indicate how the general public feels about your content, including whether most people who see it are reacting to it or if only a select group is.
4: Paid Advertising Isn’t Going Away
According to the Clutch survey, nearly three in four companies surveyed said they used paid advertising as one of their top strategies for promoting content, and with good reason. The development of social media advertising, the ability to insert advertisements into phone apps and websites and the ubiquity of technology has made online advertising incredibly cost-effective for the audience it reaches. Companies aren’t going to step away from paid content anytime soon, despite the popularity of alternative strategies such as blog posts, journalism and live events.
5: Research and Original Data Sways Audiences
Customers aren’t responding to blog posts and videos as much as they are original research presented in PDF books and infographics. It turns out that for most customers, presenting content as factual information, particularly scientifically backed information, sways people quite effectively. This is likely due in part to a growing trend among millennials to distrust advertising, trust science and not necessarily identify when the two overlap. As a result, original research that presents facts and studies to make a case becomes a powerful content marketing tool for companies, who can gain legitimacy in the eyes of consumers by providing scientific proof or research.
Businesses looking to appeal to customers should ensure their content marketing strategy focuses on presenting factual information, a cohesive story and purpose and developing brand awareness. Companies will continue to use paid advertising, and the definition of success for now is still sales. Content that convinces customers is king in 2017.
Read more about how marketing is evolving here on Tech.Co.