As they are gathering information to help in day-to-day brand decision-making, consumers want, crave, desire, seek, and value content from marketers – as long as it is reasonably altruistic, informative and objective, and minimizes the ‘look of sponsorship’ and the three most readily identifiable sales ‘P’s’: push, pitch, and puff. Estimates are that 9 out of 10 organizations are now utilizing content in their marketing programs, devoting one-quarter, or more, of their marketing budgets to this component of communication.
When we look at the tactics, or types, of content marketers are applying, studies are showing that social media has become the most popular, knocking articles out of the leadership position. Print magazines, still actively used, have remained about the same in terms of percentage of marketers including them in their content program. Research reports, presentation content through online sites such as LinkedIn-owned SlideShare (which gets close to 60 million visitors a month and has over 15 million registered users), and virtual conferences and webinars have seen significant increase in application.
In addition, consumers themselves are contributing to the explosion in available content. There’s social media, of course, in the form of micro-blogs and blogs, but also community involvement, articles, and product and service ratings. One piece of evidence in how quickly consumers have become more active in generating content is the morphing of Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell’s ‘ 90/9/1 rule’, where 1% of consumers using the Internet were actively blogging and posting other types of content, 9% of consumers were commenting on the content, and 90% were just observing this activity, aka ‘leering’ or ‘lurking’. According to studies, it has now become the ’70/20/10 rule’, where 10% of Internet users are posting, and 20% are commenting. The 70% who are just observing is declining all the time, as more people dive into the deep end of the consumer-generated content and comment pool.
The element of content getting the most attention – and the greatest year-to-year rate of increase – is video marketing, aka rich video. Why and how? Cisco anticipates that video will represent 70% of consumer Internet traffic by 2017, up from 57% now. For example, YouTube is actively used as a source for consumer content. It’s the third most visited site in the world and the second largest search engine. That’s a lot of people getting information. YouTube is also set up to facilitate easy sharing. In addition to YouTube, videos are available in other venues on the Internet (Instagram and Vine), plus mobile and TV. Videos have been found to be four times more engaging than static content, and three-quarters of C-suite execs view industry videos online at least once a week.
Video creates consumer involvement, conveys rich information, and builds an emotional connection with a brand or company, often through advanced neuroscience approaches. And, video is an excellent, highly productive marketing tool. In one study, it was found that video embedded in an email improved campaign effectiveness by 88%, click-through rates by 76%, and disposition to buy by 72%. In another study, embedding video on site landing pages increased conversion rates by 80%.
Beyond video, there’s documented proof of how all elements of content can effectively leverage customer behavior. The ongoing challenge for marketers is to not be tempted into overloading their content with overt sales or promotional propaganda, because that can quickly erode consumer trust.
As noted, video is perhaps the fastest growing element of marketing content – and we are using it, too! For those of you who can invest 7 minutes of your time, I think you’ll be interested in viewing my recent podcast for Target Marketing magazine (one of a series on new marketing realities) which addresses the growth and impact of content as a powerful marketing engine: http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/video-trusting-customers-how-marketers-can-use-content-earn-loyalty/1