35 million views and counting, the feel-good viral video of Christmas was a brilliant example of content marketing; if you haven’t seen it, click here: WestJet Christmas Miracle. Only the most hardened of souls would not find the story inspirational and feel more positive towards the brand. However, the question we should be asking is ‘what about relevance and reach’, a question we’ll come back to very shortly.
These days, content marketing is one of the highest trending marketing themes and some argue it will be the biggest. By way of an example, Econsultancy’s trends and predictions report for 2014 placed content marketing third behind customer experience marketing and mobile marketing in terms of marketing priorities but ahead of multi-channel campaign management, personalization, social and big data! When it came to the biggest trends or changes, content marketing actually led the results as the number one theme people are turning towards. But what is it and how do you make it work?
There are more scientific definitions that largely overlap but put simply, content marketing is content, often video, interactive tools and often games, that engage audiences and both help them through the marketing funnel and leave them with an improved perception of your brand. Indeed, it’s interesting to note the overlaps between content marketing and the other themes above. Sharing content creates more big data; most of it seems to be shared via social, often on mobile devices and often to further the customer experience.
As marketing becomes more complex in many ways, I for one can’t help think the answer is in simplification, namely recognising, understanding and engaging audiences, customers and prospects in a way that’s rewarding for both. Central to that and a great advantage of content marketing is its storytelling abilities. We have been conditioned to understand and appreciate stories for most of our lives, it speaks our language! It’s therefore hardly surprising that intriguing content that takes us on a story telling journey is resonating so strongly with consumers, whether educating, entertaining or informing us.
Now what about Relevance and what about Reach? Think back to WestJet’s brilliant video. There’s no doubt the content is a triumph, a brilliant idea, but who has the story reached? It may have been a huge viral success story with terrific reach in terms of numbers, but who did it reach? Sitting here in the UK, I now have awareness of the WestJet brand and if I were to travel to the US, I’d surely consider them, but today, I cannot reward them for their marketing efforts other than to further the story. The content reached me, but in terms of relevance, it was next to scoring a zero.
This may be a little unfair on WestJet. The video enjoyed such phenomenal reach; it almost surely was relevant to enough to make it worthwhile. What is also worth noting is the messages of the content reinforced their brand and guiding values including being appreciative of customers and fun and friendly. It also resonates well with their awards for service overall and their leadership in adopting social.
So in terms of how to make your brilliantly designed, beautifully animated, cleverly interactive, right on-message content really make a difference to your bottom line, you cannot duck the questions of Relevance and Reach, i.e. which audiences would not only enjoy this but could actually act on it at some stage in the foreseeable future and how to I get to them, where can I reach them?
This is where audience platforms come into play. It’s important to bridge the gap between the insight-rich CRM world and the fast paced but info-thin digital world to ensure your content can get to the largest reach of key targets and influences, for which the content is relevant. This is at the heart of a marketer’s need to achieve 1:1 marketing at scale regardless of the numbers of media, channels and devices. Considering content marketing without considering relevance and reach is to leave everything to chance, something marketers are increasingly unable to do.