OPINION: Why content marketing campaigns don't work

Fergus Stoddart
By Fergus Stoddart | 20 June 2013
Stoddart: Content marketing campaigns don't work.

Marketers are often lured by the excitement and sense of high return, short-burst content marketing campaigns can create.

While content marketing can involve campaigns, it should fundamentally be a long-term strategy intended to elicit positive behavioural change in target audiences over time. As such, the best long-term results come from adopting a continuous, ‘always on’ approach based on a clear strategy and measurement rather than short-term campaigns.

This means that as well as specifying monthly and annual goals for content marketing, the strategy should justify the business case for it over a two- to three-year time frame.

Such a long-term focus on your content marketing strategy will create the brand image, customer engagement, behavioural change and customer loyalty that will deliver the ongoing results your business is after.

Brand image
Although a short campaign may help create a favourable impression of your organisation, it will likely last just as long as your initiative. Customers are exposed to such an incredible amount of information, it is impossible to create long-lasting awareness based on quick exposures.

Only long-term content marketing strategies have the power to enhance your image and set your brand apart now and into the future.

Customer engagement
Short burst campaigns generally receive high engagement because they are exciting, interesting, entertaining and they have that sense of urgency with an immediate call to action. This engagement however is only short lived. For customers to feel engaged with the brand on a deeper and more sustainable level, they must be able to really experience and understand the brand and what it stands for over a longer period of time.

Brands need to connect with audiences via a range of touch points, over and over again. It is this repetition that will help customers form a long lasting opinion and a desire to engage with a brand that obviously wants to engage with them too.

Behavioural change
Most content marketing strategies aim to drive customer action – whether that be for them to register with your organisation, buy your product or service or refer a friend to you. Ultimately, marketers aspire to see responses to their call to action in a way that will impact revenue.

But behaviour change doesn’t happen overnight. It first requires trust to be built and the relationship to be nurtured, which generally takes time. Customers must feel your content will continue to add value to their lives in the form of entertainment or information. To achieve this, high-quality and relevant content must be delivered consistently and frequently across various platforms. As organisations often go silent once short-term campaigns are over, it can hurt their brand equity and damage the trust and perception customers have of their brand.

Customer loyalty
Short burst content marketing campaigns are resource intensive. So clearly, being able to retain the customers you’ve worked so hard to obtain is just as important as getting new customers – it’s also often cheaper to hold onto an existing customer than to recruit a new one. If done effectively, a long-term content marketing strategy that aims to encourage repeat business and build a community of loyal advocates will have a significant financial impact for your business.

Due to the nature of short-term campaigns, which happen at a specific point in time and require little trust from customers, it is difficult to build customer loyalty and encourage referrals during such initiatives.

Adopting a long-term approach to content marketing will help you to achieve a positive brand image, customer engagement, behavioural change and customer loyalty necessary to drive continuing and meaningful bottom line results for the business.

Fergus Stoddart
Commercial director

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