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Last year was a remarkable one for content marketing. Come the start of this year, 93% of B2B marketers were using content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy, and achieving some significant substantial successes.
As a result, hopes are high this year, with 90% of marketers convinced that content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months.
But the industry currently stands at a crossroads. Marketers may be increasing their spend this year, but only guarantees of concrete return-on-investment (ROI) will give brands the confidence to maintain this momentum and commit more of their precious budgets in the future.
There’s clearly a strong case for investing more in owned content strategies, but there’s never been more pressure for content to produce results.
So why has 2014 become a make-or-break period for content marketing?
Content is your first, second and third sales call
For today’s consumer, a purchase journey no longer automatically begins in a physical store, or with a direct conversation with a brand representative.
Our lives may be getting busier, but we’re consuming more content than ever before, and it’s transformed us into self-directed buyers making purchase decisions informed by our own extensive online research.
As such, content is now every brand’s first call (and often their second and third)and naturally it is under greater pressure to drive impact.
Enter video, an unmatched medium for both educating and storytelling, and one which is proving to play a highly valuable role in the content marketing mix, thanks to its suitability for social sharing and ability to win consumer attention (and, ultimately, to deliver solid ROI).
It’s for these reasons that 2013 saw organisations of all sizes and sectors investing in video to drive their businesses.
Conversion: marketing’s Holy Grail
With the pressure on for marketers to show how content is performing, increasing conversion rates is the number-one priority this year.
Turning prospects into customers is everything as brands look to use content to guide shoppers through the purchasing cycle. Best-in-class brands are already going beyond pure acquisition, using content throughout the consumer lifecycle to retain and grow the revenues coming from existing customers.
The key to driving greater conversion is understanding this consumer journey and serving the right type of content, to the right person, in the right place (and at the right time).
It’s about finding the intersection points in this journey, or the windows for engagement via interactive content experiences that can lead and guide consumers along a specific route (i.e. to your product or services).
Consumers at different points in this journey will naturally require different types of content in different mediums and places, so marketers must consider carefully what they are ultimately driving a consumer to do, and ensure this ties back to their business goals.
Video has a vital role to play at each of these intersection points in the consumer lifecycle and therefore is a very powerful medium for driving conversion.
Videos can operate on an introductory level, showcasing a new product range or collection or even just immersing a consumer in an overall brand experience, thereby driving their awareness of that brand (very useful when a consumer hits their product evaluation and comparison stages).
As a consumer draws closer to a purchase, 360° video views of products, testimonials, celebrity endorsements, offers and detailed specifications are perfectly suited for driving significant click-throughs to the final stage where the consumer makes an informed purchase.
Here Home Depot uses its staff to show the features of its fridges:
What’s more, in-player calls to action and interactive shoppable videos ensure the viewer is directly engaging with the your content, whilst a strategically placed ‘buy now’ button, for example, can help to capitalise immediately and seamlessly on purchase intent while it’s still fresh in the customer’s mind.
And it doesn’t end there. Many of the world’s top brands use video in the loyalty stages, ensuring customer retention and ultimately driving them to spend more money on additional products and services.
Hoover is a brilliant example, offering an array of support videos and user-generated content campaigns that enable customers to engage with the brand, and often endorse products to other prospective buyers.
It’s a critical year for content marketing, and especially for video. The growth of connected devices and platforms has opened the floodgates of opportunity for brands to engage effectively with their audiences, converting viewers into buyers, and buyers into loyal brand advocates and repeat spenders.
The task now is to drive greater conversions by ensuring that content integrates with consumers’ online lives, and serves them appropriately at each stage in the consumer journey.
Video will be key in showcasing the value of content marketing as we move forward. Thanks to its ability to tell stories and motivate audiences to take action, it’s at the heart of effective content marketing, something that’s generating real and measurable results.