Recent research from the Brand Activation Association and Booz & Co. indicated that while both TV and trade promotions budgets are flat (and print is declining), content marketing is gaining in importance. More than 68% of those in the survey intend to invest more in content marketing over the next two years. This is consistent with other surveys that show more money pouring into content marketing. But it doesn’t address a critical issue. All the content creation in the world is only one part of the process. Companies that want to influence shoppers on their path to purchase need to distribute content effectively and learn from shopper interactions. Be relevant. Measure that relevance. Then do it again and again through automation. That’s sustained relevance.
It helps to look at content marketing through this lens before the content is created and distributed. Content is only successful in shopper marketing when it gets to the right shopper. Sending a vegetarian coupons for sausages isn't helpful. Sending empty nesters an asset for diapers doesn't quite work either. Syndicate your content all you want, but it's the consumer touchpoint that matters. The report’s observation that retailers must invest in “custom content… to jointly engage shoppers and create higher-quality experiences that build the brand and drive conversion” is not setting the bar high enough.
Let’s take a hypothetical example from the top. Suppose an OTC pharmaceutical company has created a campaign in which consumers who have allergies are driven to a website to learn about the new science of allergy testing. It makes sense. The customer who reads about allergy testing is a potential allergy medication customer. This content can even be customized depending on age, type of allergy or its severity. And it might work once.
But if a brand does not track customer interest and develop content intelligence, this well-thought-out website becomes irrelevant. Automate the process from the
beginning and the allergy medication brand can know the key phrases it is generating among the hundreds of pieces of content on its platforms. Maybe “allergy testing” is consistent with
the needs of its customers. But it’s also likely that it doesn’t resonate at all. Only by engaging in one-to-one conversations from the point of interest all the way through to the
desired action can brands use content to fulfill its goals.
If you want to engage shoppers and drive conversion, the content must create more opportunities to convert by bridging the gap between the top and bottom of the sales funnel. Brands can’t think they’re connecting to the shopper’s purchase journey. They must know they’re connecting. They can do this by generating as much content intelligence as they do generating advertising data.
Content marketing is a brilliant tool for the future of shopper marketing. Like anything else in digital marketing, it must be measured, automated and updated in real-time to keep up with dynamic consumer interests and movement within the decision process.