content marketingA few weeks back I was talking with somebody about what an inbound marketing agency does and whether it was just another buzz phrase for something that already existed, or if it was actually worth knowing about. It was one of those conversations that started with general interest, even suspicion, and soon became a detailed journey of discovery and realisation.

Just when you think you know a subject along comes a different view, or way of doing things that takes something we had and gives us a much better way of getting more from it, which in turn helps us get closer to what we really want. In business that’s leads, sales and loyalty.

For sometime now we’ve had internet marketing, however its roots were deeply embedded, and still are to some extent, in the traditional marketing and advertising worlds. Over recent years its become apparent however that the internet has given such freedom of exploration to people that the old ways of marketing, advertising and selling just weren’t working, and so things had to change.

Stories Are More Influential Than Things Which Is Why Content Marketing Is Important

What we were witnessing was the return back to what the original markets were like all those thousands of years ago when modern civilisation began, where the real influence started and that’s with the art of conversation.

Conversations would happened at places where people had travelled from all over the world to come and share their stories, views, opinions, exciting tales of adventure and display new discoveries, treasures and facts unearthed from journeys to far and distant places.

These “things” carried from far flung lands, were by themselves not enough to create interest or excitement. It was the stories that went with them that gave them a special meaning in the hearts and minds of people that later coveted them.

People don’t buy things, they buy stories and stories build relationships. Always has been the way, always will be the way. Somewhere along the lines though we got distracted, even blinded by beliefs and opinions and so we strayed off this well beaten track onto side roads and into dead ends in the belief that other things were more important. Sure things get commoditised, but even commodity products like water, an example I wrote about in the the most important factors in branding can be made appealing in markets dominated by established brands through the creation meaning relationships in modern terms with specific groups that understand and related to the conversation and story surrounding a particular product or service which they share and believe in.

You may think that stories are childish things, yet even those of us in retirement read books, go to the theatre and watch films. A list of facts or data is uninteresting to many, yet when we weave it into a story like the ones David Attenborough tells about nature over land, in the air and beneath the waves. Or Patrick Moore, who takes us into the nights sky and deep into our expanding universe. We get a taste of what these other worlds are like from a human perspective, and so we can relate.

For those that have cared to be concerned by what was happening to the world of marketing and business and who took the time to study, research and test where all this was leading to, its been proven that the internet is now making story telling accessible to a global market and highly influential to those that are grasping the opportunity.

Content Marketing Can Help You Bridge The Silence In Your Buyers Conversation

With buyers choosing to engage suppliers in the final stages of their buying cycle, estimated to be the last 30% of the process, businesses have become disengaged from a probable 70% of the early stage conversation which is crucial in establishing a supplier as a credible source for a buyers.

The only way to bridge this gap is with content which is how the person I mentioned earlier in this article finally realised the importance of content and what what inbound marketing was all about.

She was an avid cupcake baker and was looking for some ideas. Naturally she powered up her PC and went online to start the search for some recipes and eventually came across a few she liked. Amongst those article were some recommendations for ingredients and equipment and suppliers which just happened to solve a needs she was thinking about. Clicking on the first link she went through to the website, liked the supplier and product and made a purchase there and then. However a link further down the page was for a large purchase she’d been considering for some time, spurred on she downloaded a guide from that website signalling her interest in the product.

Content influenced a sales and created a lead for a future one, without it that “internal” conversation would never have engaged and nothing would have happened, and its the same for B2C as it is for B2B.

Content Marketing Stastistics

Nielsen Online and AOL April 2011 report entitled “Content is the Fuel of the Social Web” showed a detailed analysis of 10,000 social media messages to decipher the methods used for sharing content online.

The overall findings showed that internet users (now in the majority) shared content using multiple methods;

  • 93% preferred using email
  • 89% preferred using social networks
  • 82% preferred using blogs

Users selected their method of sharing depending on the people they were sending content to.

For example when sharing content with friends;

  • 92% used social networks
  • 89% used email

However with family members the preferences weighted as follows;

  • Email 86%
  • Social networks 77%

For colleagues there was a significant bias towards email.

Publicly though;

  • 51% chose message boards
  • 41% preferred blogs