Content marketers love trends and buzzwords.
Digital marketing is a culture that is changing as fast as the technology that informs it. Blink and you might miss the next Meerkat. But with all the different terms, concepts, and opinions floating around, I believe the whole maelstrom is based in marketers’ honest desire to deliver their products to the right audience as simply and effectively as possible.
There are two big ideas currently making tidal waves in the content marketing world. I’d like to bring the two of them into parallel focus in order to create a vision of the “sweet spot” for content marketers to shoot for when building a strategy and creating content for a brand. They are: build trust and harness data.
The Case for Building Trust
In the warm and fuzzy corner, we have the trust builders, the bleeding hearts. These are the proponents of the “new style” of H2H (Human to Human) Marketing. This school of thought says that all selling is essentially making a connection between humans. True brand advocacy is organic and comes from knowing your customer and speaking to them on their level.
These marketers are likely to point out that a massive increase in site traffic doesn’t guarantee an increase in quality leads or customers. Once you convert your traffic into trust, that’s when you’ll start to get the benefits you really want: a devoted customer-base who will share not only your online content but positive ideas about your product in the real world.
The Case for Big Data
And in the cold, hard corner we have the number crunchers and the pi eaters. They argue that harnessing as much raw data as possible and analyzing it is the way to get to know your customers. After all, there isn’t time to take each one of them out to dinner. If marketers want to target accurately and land the leads they target, they need to use all of the analytical tools available to them.
As more data becomes available, and more quickly and cheaply than ever before, the question is less if brands should be harnessing data than what kind of data, how much of it, and to what end?
Trust and Data in Parallel Focus
I think it’s pretty clear at this point that neither of these content marketing styles constitutes a strategy on its own. We are seeing massive changes in the ways technology can be used to access and analyze data. But we’re also experiencing a shift in the way consumers relate to brands. As marketers, we’re getting better at counting the cattle but worse at keeping them penned in.
Data wears a cloak of infallibility. As hard and convincing as numbers can seem (60 percent of the time, it works every time) anyone taking them as gospel may need to have their head examined. Yet an exclusively human approach inevitably leaves you looking for a foothold in the clouds.
What is called for is a strategy that makes regular usage of customer data while maintaining an active interest in the human qualities of your audience. Seeking too much proof can kill an innovative idea, while eschewing technology entirely will not give you enough information to act on.
My advice: don’t put yourself in either corner. Only collect data you know what to do with. And do your due diligence on your customers so that you know how they want to be reached. With a good balance of these two tactics, you should be that much closer to building your stable of lifelong advocates.
Image credit: CC by terren in Virginia