According to the Content Marketing Institute, on average, it takes six to eight online content touches from a brand for a consumer to become a customer. Some industries can take up to 18, according to Google. Why?
There’s a dozen or so micro-reasons we can likely come up with but what it boils down to is one word – trust. Each time a consumer is exposed to a brand’s content (owned, earned or paid) that person becomes more familiar with the brand. Over time, with enough touches, a trust threshold gets breached and the likelihood of that person becoming a customer is optimized. Of course, this is assuming the content is good/helpful.
That’s precisely why we do content marketing today and why many companies started to do it last decade. Although, admittedly, some used it as an SEO tactic originally, myself included. These brands are what Marcus Sheridan calls “digital sooners.” These are the companies that started doing content marketing last decade in a time of online content deficits. Meaning: there were more people on the web searching for solutions to their problems then there was content to solve them.
This was all well and good for those brands and most were able to drive copious amounts of traffic, visibility and awareness. Many still benefit from this today. Unfortunately, the sooner land rush is long gone for most brands. The rush since last decade has created what most industries are facing today – content surpluses. Meaning: there’s more content on the Internet today than there are people that want to consume it. To put this in prospective, according to Cisco, in 2007 global Internet traffic was about 2,000 GB per second. It’s estimated to be over 105K GB per second by 2021.
Clearly, it’s getting harder and harder everyday to stand out in the crowd with these content surpluses. As marketers we used to be able to hit the publish button on our content and the search engines and social media would drive all of the touches we needed to build consumer trust for our brands. That’s not likely a reality for most companies today.
As a result, we’ve been forced to leverage earned and paid media distribution tactics to get the content touches we need today. In fact, it’s highly likely that content marketing caused the rise of both influencer marketing and native advertising. It had to in our age of content surpluses.
Both distribution tactics lend themselves well to helping build brand trust. It’s not just the content touch itself that builds trust, but rather, the delivery method. If an independent third party writes wonderful things about a brand it screams validation much louder than a brand could do itself. The same holds true with native advertising. Even if a brand pays the New York Times for sponsored content that content is still in the New York Times. That on its own is a huge trust factor.
Content marketers have a guiding light at the top of the pyramid – build trust with consumers. People only go to the web for two reasons – to solve a problem or to be entertained, quickly. Marketers who do one of those two things or both will drive the touches they need to succeed with the help of content amplification and influencer marketing, today. Last decade isn’t coming back and the era of content surpluses is here to stay.
Lastly, television executives spend $5.00 on distribution for every $1.00 they spend on creation. Based on my own research, content marketers do the opposite. This has to change if we want the touches we need to optimize consumers to potential customers.