5 Actionable Content Marketing Insights
If you are running a business in the 21st century, then you must be dealing with the Internet. If you are using the Internet, then you better be keeping track of Mary Meeker’s legendary “Internet Trends, 2019” (total of 333 slides) presentation to understand its impact on your business. Meeker, also known as Queen of the Net, has been releasing an annual report which we voraciously read for the last 10 years or so. Her research is both qualitative and quantitative and filled with relevant data-driven insights. We do a teardown of this year’s report to find that its a treasure-house of actionable content marketing tips. We summarize the top five and share them with you.
Our core focus is driving customer engagement for creative businesses which include brand, boutiques, retail, and publishers. Slides #18, #19,#20 of Mary’s deck clearly highlighted that there is slow growth in sales at department stores in recent years (leading to mall closures) while a consistent growth in e-commerce. These slides will provoke a good marketer to dig deeper and uncover how many brands are migrating to direct-to-consumer-models (D2C) and/or e-commerce marketplaces in their quest to manage slower store sales, increase their unit margins while controlling brand image and managing precious customer data.
On this new journey, filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, the marketing function of creative businesses has a critical role to bring in a sense of optimism for the leadership. There is a clear mandate for marketing in these companies (including retailers, brands, boutiques, and other creative businesses) to rapidly change from a cost center to a profit center. This new playbook has already been successfully created and adopted by marketing leaders driving the growth of newer brands like Bonobos, BooHoo, Casper, Chubbys, Warby Parker, Nordstrom Local, Nike innovation Shop and more.
Here are the top 5 actionable Content Marketing insights we discovered from 2019 Internet Trends report.
#1 Everything is digital, so should be your content strategy
Everything is digital.
You are spending time looking at videos on your smartphone, your car is connected to the internet for finding places to go and you are doing group gym classes on a connected bike at home while your exercise information is on the cloud.
You live in a digital world and so your marketing spends need to be digital. Your content strategy needs to embrace digital even at the expense of shifting budgets from print and TV. If you are not immersed yet in digital, maybe you are #toolate.
This is about going beyond simple websites but actually embracing the internet in all its glory and make/deliver branded + user-generated content with integrated e-commerce experiences, via newsletters, emails, and social media posts.
This is about understanding the data generated not only from your store sales but making sense of the digital footprint created by your current and future customers and respond to the market accordingly.
#2 Video is ruling the internet
Videos are exploding across all digital channels as they are usually engaging, processed faster than swaths of texts and happens to the preferred medium of the internet.
Cisco estimates that more than 80% of the internet traffic will come from videos making it increasingly important for marketers to wrap their head around video marketing.
If you have a smartphone, you have shot a video and shared it with someone (not just social network) — that is video marketing 101. Video marketing sits between TV and digital performance marketing and exploding everywhere.
Videos, on multiple separate research, have proven to generate serious improvement in customer engagement leading to new product discovery, thereby validating the ROI on the initial spend. Most consumers reported watching a video before making a purchase decision and hence the content of the video and the context of the delivery are of the utmost importance when outlining a video strategy for any brand. Don’t stop at adding videos to your landing pages, extend the use of videos across the entire customer life cycle.
#3 Customers expect interaction everywhere
Growing up on mobile and video games, digital natives love interactive content.
Talk, text, watch, click, touch, share, has become the new normal for this generation. And they also want it for free, most of the time. Slide#30-#35, plus slides #99 of the same deck explains the importance of releasing your branded content to the wild — unless you have super specific high-value premium content (say a fashion week footage), its good to distribute all your visual content (say weekend trunk shows) for free and not try to put a gate between your content and your target audience.
In our work with brands and retailers, we see that brands are working hard to transform that somewhat boring e-commerce experience and investing in interactive media — both online and physical stores and they are making it available for free.
Interactive media offers a great opportunity to tell a visual story while offering a personalized selection for the like-minded. Next-gen marketers working at these creative brands understand that growing both a brand and a business requires them to invite the consumer into the brand-building process. They are finally committing to creating seamless access to information and products as part of their video strategies.
Interactive content also allows the brand to get that essential data around customer preferences and behaviors and make sense of the data. Then only it's possible to engage in contextual conversations with multiple customer segments.
#4 Visual content across the customer lifecycle from brand awareness to purchase and advocacy
Today, a customer’s product discovery and interaction journey have become much more complex, cutting across different digital marketing channels.
The brand building process is a horizontally integrated marketing discipline and part of the ever-evolving customer journey — it’s not a one-step process. We believe that the marketing strategy and execution have to be fluid enough to allow for conversation, customer preference, and ROI performance. It is imperative on brands to use visual communication, particularly edited images and videos, across the entire journey and keep them hooked.
Customers are becoming more open to experimenting with innovative services as they get fluent with digital tools, even if these new offerings are created by smaller and newer organizations.
#5 Measurement is the code for success
Data + video are becoming a critical asset for the retail business to create and nurture new communication strategies.
Data, data-driven video content, data-inspired monetization have become the focal point of every digital marketing conversation these days and trillions of dollars have shifted from traditional media and retail companies to consumer tech companies in the last 5 years. As consumer values coalesce around authenticity and individuality, brands will value customer data even more to tailor recommendations, engage influencers and personalize experiences.
Gone are the days of traditional boring surveys that most customers do not want to complete and proxy data collection which is inherently incomplete. Having a clear understanding of customer behavior such as, when did they find out about a brand, which campaign they like the most, what attributes of your products they admire and what are their future needs, is essential for businesses to build context over the raw data layer. Once the context layer has been created, machine learning and advanced analytics can be used for recommending new products/services or to personalize conversations.
Content identification and attribution will change the ways any media is produced and shared, and customers will engage with visuals differently than what is prevalent now. Well-honed analytics and the capability to interpret that and turn them into timely market actions is invaluable. Focus on completion rates, click-throughs, and conversion besides the audience segment demographics.
We believe that by analyzing, adopting, and tailoring a marketing playbook that centers on well-honed analytics, legacy businesses can effect bold change with minimal risk and become digital winners.
..So what’s the essence
While there is a general deceleration of social media usage, videos and interactive media are gaining momentum. If you are not convinced yet on the need for videos to drive the customer experience across the entire journey over an extremely fragmented digital landscape, then have a look at digital-first e-commerce companies from Amazon to Zappos and Alibaba to Net-a-Porter and FarFetch. They are continuing to raise the bar for gathering data across the entire customer journey and driving timely intervention based on insights discovered from the analytics engine. These organizations are inspiring a new breed of marketing initiatives that are digitally native, driven by video, and many times co-curated with influencers.
As such, there is enormous pressure for marketing leaders to conceive, build and launch digital-fueled programs that effectively will transfer billions in legacy marketing budgets to a severely fragmented and mostly uncharted digital landscape where the rules of engagement are being written from the bottom up — the customer determine the taste and not necessarily the brand.
So are you ready to implement these 5 content marketing tips to drive customer engagement?
RealValue is an AI-company that is helping brands and boutiques refine customer engagement while on their digital transformation journey. We blend creativity with AI and data analytics to reimagine retail experiences.
Drop us a line here if you are inquisitive and/or have a comment or two about the five themes mentioned above.