This holiday season, consumers are counting themselves thankful that businesses are taming down on overt self-promotions. Over are the days of companies bombarding consumers with advertisements solely focused on telling them to “buy now.” We are entering a new era of useful and—dare I say it?—interesting content for consumers.
With the holiday season officially upon us, so is shopping season. From Black Friday to the New Year, consumers find themselves more occupied than ever with the search for perfect gifts. Unfortunately, in the past, holiday shopping usually consisted of a stressful two-month-long endeavor where consumers not only had to search for gifts, but also had to sift through and ignore promotion after promotion.
Research has proven that consumers today are more incentivized to buy when a brand educates them with a relevant article or content that is of interest to them as opposed to overt promotions. Thankfully, marketers have taken note of consumers’ changing expectations and turned to providing interesting content with content marketing.
Content marketing, unlike traditional promotions, focuses on providing the customer with relevant content that is designed to add value to the buyer’s journey. Implementing content marketing into one’s marketing strategy can increase customer engagement, build customer loyalty and increase the overall success of a marketing strategy.
This holiday season, share the gift of valuable content with your consumers.
Know what your audience wants for the holidays
Imagine buying holiday gifts for people you do not know. What would you get them? How would you even start to understand what they wanted? You would most likely try to figure out details about them like what their gender is, how old they are and what they like to do in their spare time. Knowing the answer to all of these questions would ensure that recipients actually enjoyed their gifts.
Marketing without a specified target audience is very similar to buying a gift without knowing who the recipient is… a veritable disaster. Therefore, before businesses can share content with their customers, they first have to understand what consumers are interested in and focus on first getting to know them.
In order to get to know their customers, companies can create buyer personas to represent their ideal consumer. Buyer personas outline specific characteristics, demographics and interests of the consumer. According to a recent report from Experian Marketing Services, 32% of marketers said the lack of a single customer view was the top challenge to their marketing efforts. By implementing buyer personas, marketers can define their customer base and target their content at the right consumer. By doing this, businesses learn how to speak directly to their customers with content that the consumer wants to read.
Use a variety of content
In addition to understanding the customer, businesses also need to provide the consumer with a variety of content types in order to maintain their interest. Think of it this way: Imagine only getting socks as your holiday gift. You wake up to find your stocking chock-full of socks. While I am all for the occasional pair of festive holiday socks, if I woke up to only find socks under the tree, I would be filled with disappointment, and Santa would not be getting any cookies the following year.
Providing customers with content is the same way. While consumers may find a blog article interesting, they will lose interest if all a business is providing them with is blog article after blog article.
Therefore, marketers should experiment with new content types such as ebooks, infographics, videos and more.
Research has shown that visual content types are currently one of the most successful forms of content. According to Zabinsco, 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. With consumer interest evolving to more visual content, many marketers have begun to create more image-based pieces such as infographics, image-based blogs and checklists.
This holiday season, provide your consumers with a variety of content that is sure to get their attention.
Build long-term relationships
While the holiday season always seems to come with coupons, discounts and rewards, the truth is short-term promotions such as these fail to create a relationship with consumers as they only focus on closing one sale and not building an ongoing relationship. The makeup of buying has significantly changed today in that businesses need to begin to engage with consumers and build a relationship even before they are ready to make a purchase. According to the Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University, up to 15% of a business’s most loyal customers account for 55-70% of the company’s total sales. With this in mind, building a loyal customer base yields a much higher return on investment than one-time promotional tactics. Therefore, the key is to build a customer relationship that extends beyond the holiday season.
Content marketing is built upon the knowledge that marketing is about relationship building. Like any relationship, it takes time and effort. In order to create a deep level of engagement with consumers, marketers must work to answer the consumer’s questions while also establishing thought leadership on the subject matter. By becoming industry thought leaders, businesses are able to connect with consumers early on in the buyer’s journey.
For example, say consumers read a company blog article in hopes of gaining insight on how to save energy during the holidays. While they may not have read this article with the goal of making a purchase in mind, this article familiarizes consumers with the brand. Therefore, once consumers are ready to make a purchase, they will most likely turn to the company as they have already begun a relationship with it.
This evolution from promotions to modern marketing tactics has resulted as consumers expectations have shifted. As consumers grow more accustomed to ongoing relationships with businesses, it is important to provide them with valuable content. Since the holidays are a time for giving, there is no better time to start providing your customers with the relevant content they are searching for.
To learn more about content marketing and how you can build strong customer relationships, download J&C’s “22 Great Types of Content Marketing” guide. This guide will help you form your own content marketing strategy and target the best content options.
Topics: Inbound Marketing