Chocolate Milk and Content Marketing
Marketing Content Strategy

The New Content Marketing (Hold the Cookies and Milk)

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For years, content strategists have defined content marketing as “corporate storytelling.” To be sure, storytelling is a powerful way to connect with people once you have their attention. I recently shared a story about my dishwasher misadventure, for example, to explain how retailers and brands might connect with customers through informational content.

That definition is far too limited in a wired world. In our wired world, search and social have become the primary method of information discovery. Search connects people directly to the information they actively seek. Social allows us to learn about the things our friends think are worth sharing. Americans search for information 18 billion times each month. We share what we find 36 billion times on social platforms. In a digital world, then, when we think about marketing through content, we need to think much more broadly.

Content enables retailers and brands to provide the information their customers search for each day. By creating useful information in brand-aligned spaces, by answering their customers’ questions or solving their problems, marketers can deliver value to them in ways never possible before. And when they do it well and in a systematized way, they can reach a broad audience of potential customers more efficiently than through other digital marketing means.

Marketers must change their approach to content to capitalize on the massive opportunity that natural search and social present. Modern content marketing requires that marketers understand the breadth of information that their customers seek, create content at scale to meet those needs, optimize that content to appear prominently in search, and socially promote that content to reach customers via social cascade. Storytime’s over, kids–it’s time to get down to business.

In a retail context, that means creating informational content that teaches your customers how, when, and why to use the products you sell. It also means creating unique, search-optimized product descriptions for each product that you want to sell. For more on the retail model, please check out my post on how retailers can capitalize on the ZMOT on Social Media Today.

For brands, it means providing content in brand-adjacent spaces that meets customer needs. IBM, one of Skyword’s clients, does this well on MidsizeInsider.com. Here, IBM delivers industry news on topics like technology security, cloud computing, and remote user enablement, keeping customers and prospects informed about ways they can spend efficiently, increase productivity, and keep their businesses secure. They find IBM when searching about malware attacks, cloud computing breakthroughs, or new apps that make sales teams more effective at selling. Though this content, IBM demonstrates industry knowledge and begins delivering customer value through that expertise.

As retailers, brands, and their agencies move from storytelling to the kind of scaled content creation that search and social demand, they need a new approach to content strategy, production, management, and measurement. Skyword’s content production platform is designed to help companies understand what content their customers want and manage the creation and delivery of that content:

We’re still in the early stages of this rapidly evolving space and we’d love to hear from you, our partners, clients, prospects, and friends in the industry. How are you connecting with customers through content today? Do your customers want or need you to share information with them that you haven’t shared in the past? How are you connecting with them socially? What kind of content has brought qualified prospects to your site to date? Are you addressing the breadth of related topics in that space? What content has resonated with your customers? Is it bringing them back more often?

These are the kind of questions we’re asking every day at Skyword. If you’re asking them too, please give us a shout to share your thoughts.

Tom is founder and CEO of Skyword. Outside the office, Tom wanders the beaches of Cape Cod with his pup, Phineas. You can follow Tom on Twitter or on Google+.

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