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A Consumer Content Marketing Conundrum: More or Less Content from Brands?

Content Marketing Conundrum | Marketers from MarsAccording to the latest content marketing research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, brands are significantly increasing their investments in content creation and distribution. At the same time, the most recent research from ExactTarget says that consumers don’t want content from brands.

Say what?

You read that right… but did you, really?

When customers were asked where their favorite brands should invest their marketing time and resources to improve customer loyalty, just 6 percent answered that they want related (or helpful) content from a brand. In fact, more than double that number of consumers actually wanted to receive product-related content.

Content Marketing | TIme and Resources Chart

At the same time, consumers want more email marketing (33 percent), website content (24 percent), and even more content from brands via Facebook (22 percent).

More or less content?

So, do customers want more helpful content from brands or don’t they? Jeff Rohrs, Vice President of Education and Research for ExactTarget and author of the research, helped translate the seemingly conflicted consumer response.

“If you really take a look at the research, consumers are actually desperate for content from brands, but like marketers they are fixated on channels,” says Rohrs. “When consumers ask for more email and Facebook, they are asking for helpful content through those channels. What are marketers going to put into those channels… air?”

The term content, without context, is then generally meaningless to consumers. CMI consultant and author of “The Now Revolution,” Jay Baer, believes that “Youtility,” or truly helpful content in multiple channels, is the future of marketing: “In a world where every prospective customer is facing an invitation avalanche, where every business is asking people to follow their tweets, read their blog, or watch their videos, you must resist the temptation to communicate solely and endlessly about your company, hoping for a quick sale,” says Baer.

What can marketers learn from this?

Overall, the research shows that consumers want lots of content from their favorite brands in lots of different ways, most of it in the form of helpful content. With this in mind, consider the following:

  1. Develop a content marketing mission statement: Brands cannot go from zero to helpful without a plan. Before you look at any sort of channel development, or even a basic content strategy, start with your mission statement about how you can truly be useful to customers. Constructing a mission statement will help your team decide which stories and which product content gets included in your channel strategy.
  2. Where are your customers hanging out?: Depending on your audience, you can determine the order of importance in your channel focus. Is it website, email, Facebook, or is it website, email, in-person events, LinkedIn? Find out where the party’s at so you’ll know where your conversations should be taking place.
  3. Marketers are, in fact, from Mars: The ExactTarget research states this many times, as marketers often project their own usage onto their customers. Just because you use Twitter doesn’t mean your customers do. Just because you don’t prefer print, doesn’t mean a print content strategy shouldn’t be an option. Make sure you take your own personal behavior out of the equation before you make any type of content marketing channel decisions.

For more insight into the latest content marketing and consumer trends, check out CMI’s research coverage