As human beings, we are literally hardwired to respond to stories: stories that educate, entertain, intrigue or shape our perspectives. So if stories are one of the most effective methods to reach people, why do so many brands struggle with telling their narratives through content marketing, of which storytelling is an important part?
Well, the reason could be the sheer scale and speed at which brands need to engage with their audiences to retain being top of mind. Churning out new, interesting content to keep the audiences engaged as well as differentiating with competition becomes an arduous task for marketers.
According to a report by Hubspot and Survey Monkey, content marketing leads to the biggest commercial impact on incremental leads and sales for businesses in Asia-Pacific. Marketers in APAC are actively looking for ways to improve their content, as many businesses feel they have not yet cracked content marketing; 70 percent of businesses surveyed in the report felt their content marketing efforts were limited, basic, or inconsistent.
This isn’t surprising since the play today is about feedback in seconds, updates every minute and going viral to thousands of connections in just under an hour.
Consumers are getting better at filtering out ‘noise’ and are less tolerant of intrusive advertising. This combined with the fact that at least 16 percent of smartphone users are using some form of mobile ad blocking technology means that brands in APAC can ill-afford to rely solely on display ads to reach their audiences.
Here are five useful and actionable tips that brands can leverage for a successful content marketing campaign:
- Be an individual and ready to evolve: Brands need to temporarily remove themselves from their roles as brand advocates, and instead stand in their customers’ shoes to understand what kind of content is engaging. Acting like an ‘individual’ means knowing when to evolve your communication to stay relevant and engaging enough to keep your audience wanting more. For instance, fitness enthusiasts don’t want to hear about new sportswear, but they will be excited to read about the latest extreme sports.
- Go where the user is: It is not enough to have compelling content, you need to distribute it fast—across the web, mobile and the multitude of social networks. In Singapore, over 60 percent of the population access the internet through mobile devices, spending an average of around two hours a day on their mobile phones. This is not to say that desktop browsers are irrelevant, rather that marketers need to ensure that their content is optimised, regardless of the screen it is being viewed on.
- Content needs editorial insights: Editors have incredible insights about their audience and know how to grow them on a sustainable basis. With their knowledge and understanding of the reader, they can find interesting stories, angle them and plan for how they will be told in the best way. In Singapore, for example, Yahoo and Chanel came together to create ‘Beauty Hacks’, a website dedicated to style, skincare and beauty to inspire style-conscious urban women in Singapore. The editors understand that on this side of the world, women would need tips tailored to their upwardly mobile lifestyles and the hot, humid weather of the country.
- Deliver on an emotion: Content marketing campaigns should be comical, emotional or absolutely bizarre. Remember that you only have 15 to 20 seconds to inspire an emotion in the user. According to studies, humorous content drives a 50 percent lift in brand familiarity with millennials, compared to overall viewers. This will not only ensure that the user remembers your ad but also that they will most likely tell someone else to watch or read it. Your content can also be a powerful message, or something that is thought provoking. Don’t hesitate to take a stand and offer an opinion.
- Getting customers to take the next step: The final piece of the puzzle: How do you get customers to move from great content to something more tangible for the brand? While call-to-actions can be simple, such as a link to an online shop, other methods can introduce additional elements that drive greater engagement. For instance, we recently ran an AirAsia campaign in Singapore where we developed a flight booking search module on the article pages, where readers can proceed to search for tickets immediately after being engaged by the content.
Rico Chan is Yahoo vice president and head of India, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong