Realities for marketers have changed dramatically with the internet age. The limitations which once existed for advertisers are no more and smart brands can take their own initiative to promote themselves.
According to the Pew Research Center, 78 percent of American internet users state they've occasionally researched products online. Today's consumer is a self-empowered multi- and cross-channel shopper who has a much better idea of what they want when they enter your store of for that matter, visit you online.
Product education (for the most part) has been taken out of the hands of the sales people on the floor and this means you have to be much more proactive about consumer education online. Retail has gone from shooting fish in a barrel to hunting tigers in the jungle.
Using content to promote your brand via e-marketing
Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, is one of a number of people who've been making the case that brands have to become media companies and use that content to market their products. Good content generates product and services leads which then you can turn into conversions. On the MarketingSherpa blog a good overview of the increasing role of content and content marketing was recently published. An overview.
Content comes in many colours with your blog being the hub for the spokes of content to radiate from. The source of this content is your unique experience, insight and knowledge of your product and/or services. Considering this kind information as trade secrets in today's world is suicidal.
Content comes in many forms other than blog posts:
- Videos can be anything from a product demo to something fun which might hopefully go viral
- Events can be done online or in the real world and can generate considerable buzz and revenue
- Social media provides you with a real time voice and should be used to engage people and when required, assist them to find the right content and answers
- White papers and slide decks can be distributed easily via your site and provide yet more fodder for blog posts and social media
- Ebooks and printed materials can be a great way for you to repurpose the content you work so hard to produce online. Get everything single bit of value you can from any content you produce by repurposing it on as many possible channels as possible.
There are also several channels and tactics to distribute and promote content: e-mail marketing is still the predominant one but more and more blogs and social media are used. People also increasingly use social sharing tools such as AddThis to share the content they like with their peers.
SEO and landing page optimization
Good content isn't worth much if no one sees it and that means you have to distribute it and promote it. The foundation of this is your website and the technology driving that site - the engine of your inbound marketing machine. Because, that's what content marketing does for you, it's an inbound marketing engine, driving leads.
At the very least use SEO plugins or some other tool to be sure you are creating content which is attractive to search spiders/bots. You may want to consider using an SEO consultant as well, at least to get things correctly set up to begin with. Basic SEO is not an arcane art and with some practice you will learn how to write better copy for the web.
Make sure your landing pages and forms are optimized and constantly tested. Try different layouts and calls-to-action - even changing little things in the layout and content can make a big difference. Those pages should be optimized to provide only the information which is relevant to visitors and their preferences. So, what's on the page can be dictated by any number of things, including referring links and past pages visited or purchases. Having the right technology partner to provide this functionality is a must in today's world.
And finally, make sure you have the technology in the background to ensure the choice of where and when information is accessed is left up to the consumer. It's a cross-channel world today and people expect a seamless and convenient experience with your brand. From mobile to social to blog, the e-marketing experience should be fluid and the mechanism behind it transparent to the customer. If you don't provide it, someone else will.