One of the biggest reasons, in my view, that there is so much utterly crap content out there is a failure on the part of the people producing it to:
- Set meaningful and measurable objectives
- Truly spend time understanding the audience
But the Content Crapocalypse thing is a whole other discussion for a whole other day. Right now, I want to talk about one of the biggest misconceptions about content marketing; that your content marketing has failed if your content’s viewers don’t become customers.
Frankly, that’s rubbish.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be amazing if everyone who turned up and watched your videos or read your blog when went and bought something from you the same day…the same session, even! And indeed, content can win you customers (albeit often with a few additional touch points from initial content view to becoming a customer). This presentation from the Content Marketing Institute sums up really well metrics to measure how content marketing performs in terms of ultimately driving new custom.
However, content doesn’t have to win you customers to be worthwhile, successful or to have an impact on revenue.
Of course, there is content that companies might produce that doesn’t have a revenue based goal. For example, companies might invest in great content to attract new potential staff members. (Ok, ok… you only recruit staff to run an effective and efficient business and therefore indirectly generate revenue, but you get what I mean).
But what about investing marketing budget into content specifically aimed at people who’ll never be your customers?
I’ve been involved in a ton of projects where the target audience is not the same as the target customer. A good example is this Tecmark survey project I ran late last year. At Tecmark, our customers are businesses. That survey wasn’t something that was ever going to directly appeal to those people really. It was designed to be of interest to national journalists and tech bloggers (which meant it had to be mass appeal to make journalists think their readers would give a crap).
It worked. We were covered in the Daily Mail, Telegraph, scores of other national and international publications and even got a slot on ITV’s breakfast show. We were referenced as a source in a BBC article and continue to be so every single day.
It’s highly unlikely that the journalists or bloggers that covered us will ever be a customer of ours. And the majority of their readers (consumers rather than businesses) are highly unlikely to ever be our customers either.
And more to the point, I’ve worked on projects of a similar nature for our clients.
Yes, I sometimes encourage our clients to invest in content that might never, ever be viewed by a potential customer.
No, I’m not high or just having a laugh with this content malarky.
The Indirect Benefits
Often, when I run projects like this, I am targeting links, social shares and brand searches. Oh, and that somewhat-ominous-and-tricky-to-measure metric of brand awareness.
This in turn can have SEO benefits (which can mean relevant traffic and therefore sales). In other words, we can demonstrate an indirect benefit in revenue terms.
Being covered in the national press or being talked about on the telly can be a huge credibility and trust builder. People searching your brand (maybe because they are considering a purchase from you but haven’t bought from you before) will come across mentions of you in credible publications. Surely that can assist in building a picture of credible business?
Many Types of Content
I’m not saying that all content should be content that targets an audience of people who won’t buy. That’s ONE type of content. And of course, if you’re investing in content a part of this should be content that does drive relevant eyes – eyes from the demographic you target with your products and services. Similarly, some of this should be investment into content that wins loyalty amongst existing customers or content that seeks to enhance the conversion rate of people who’ve arrived on your product or service landing pages.
All I am saying is that there’s a place for content that targets an audience of people who’ll never become your customers.
It’s all about goals. Whatever the type of content, whatever the format and whoever the audience, it all comes down to goals.