Content marketing is reshaping ecommerce for companies large and small. That's because marketing is about trust first and foremost and marketers are realizing that quality content builds trust quicker than traditional advertising. Tim Turner Forman of a new startup called The Tot and Matt Osias of Hawke Media recently discussed how to start a content-driven marketing strategy.
Why is it important to resist the urge to have your content do the selling?
Tim: What we do at The Tot is provide trust and advice and mindfully curated products. For it to be considered trusted advice it needs to come from a credible real place. It needs to be authentic and it needs to come from experts, people who know what they are talking about. At The Tot we work with a network of experts around the globe to create parenting content. What first-time parents are looking for most is information and they are just as likely to turn to a website as they are to go to a doctor and they are even more likely to go to a website than to ask their own Mother. If we are able to develop and curate content of moms sharing to other moms, that develops a relationship and provides values for them.
How do you measure the success and performance of a content-driven marketing strategy?
Matt: When you consider measuring in general, there are so many different formats that are out there that people can leverage. Oftentimes, people are saying... well I want articles for my blog. What type of article are you looking for? What is the goal of that piece of content? Are you trying to drive organic search and bring in new audiences so they can learn who you are or are you trying to engage them a bit more with videos and infographics? Every single format has a very specific measurement.
Beyond that, your measurements are somewhat different than your basic media buying for example, where you spend a dollar and hope to make back three, or some version of that. When we are looking at content marketing, especially when it is brand agnostic, the real important ideal there is to think about how can I actually give something to my audience that resonates with them, teaches them and solves a problem. Then ultimately, your brand is there waiting for them.
Awareness, Engagement, Advocacy
The three things that I look at are awareness, engagement, and advocacy. The first thing you would want to do in building a content marketing strategy is to consider the idea of awareness, giving awareness to the people you are working with. Then having intent-driven content. People are asking questions in Google all the time and they are getting answers. If your site has the answers in its content, especially if it's early stages, then that's going to do something that most (ecommerce) sites aren't doing, which is to put eyes onto your site, without the brand and product coming into play at first.
With this brand agnostic content, the bulk of your content is primarily text-based content. With measurement I look at eyes on site and what they are doing when they get there. Are they jumping around to different pages or are they bouncing right away? When you bring in somebody to your site where it is solving something you have to have something that is engaging to keep them there and keep them coming back.
Tim: We definitely watch inside of Google Analytics to be able to see the pageviews, what people are doing, and how they move from the editorial side of the site to the product side of the site. We also use content as part of our marketing program. It's definitely an upper funnel prospecting piece.
Quality Content is Just as Important as Ad Spend
Tim: As somebody who came from an ad agency working with clients who had large ad spends and then coming to a start-up to help them grow and find customers, we didn't have a large ad budget. What we did have though is this wonderful bank of content. This quality content has become just as important as the ad spend. Every month we put together a new prospecting campaign with a variety of articles and then we keep some evergreen pieces of what performed and that gives us a really good indicator of the type of people we are able to draw and attract to the site. It's very contextually targeted so somebody that is clicking and looking at an article titled, "9 Ways to Prepare for a New Baby," is probably going to be our customer.