Content marketing series, part 1: Why content marketing is worth your time

In the digital era, content marketing can yield powerful results for your business, if implemented the right way. In this introduction to content marketing, we put the spotlight on Wild Earth – a perfect example of content marketing done well.

In 1996, Bill Gates famously declared “Content is King”. Two decades later, we can all agree. Content as a method of marketing has grown from being a buzzword to a powerful marketing technique. Its non-invasive nature allows businesses to attract and retain customers through relevant, unique and consistent content creation and distribution.

For a majority of businesses, both big and small, content marketing tactics such as social media, blog articles, newsletters and videos have become a key priority in the last few years. According to the 2015 Content Marketing Institute report, 70 per cent of content marketers in the US are creating more content than they did a year ago. In fact, the allocation of content in the total marketing budget has increased from 25 per cent in 2014 to 32 per cent in 2015.

While the statistics signal an increasing confidence in the returns on content marketing in the form of brand awareness, website traffic, customer engagement and conversions, there is a definite lack of understanding on how to do content marketing well.

Chris Somerville, General Manager at Wild Earth, an Australian adventure gear store, reveals how to go about it.

Why did you decide to take the content marketing path for Wild Earth?

Providing relevant content to the members of the Wild Earth community, via our website and social channels, is key to not only developing an engaged group of people who are inspired by the outdoor lifestyle, but also to maintaining their connection to the Wild Earth family. We want to encourage them to share the content with their family and friends, which in turn inspires more people to “get out there” and explore our beautiful world.

How do you budget and set aside resources to execute your content strategy?

That is difficult. But I would ask you this, when you spend time with your friends or sit down and have a conversation with your loved ones, do you ever consider the cost? Put simply, if you don’t invest time and energy and, in the case of a business, money into your relationships, you won’t have those relationships for very long. When it comes to allocating budget and resources to creating and sharing content, the effort and cost required are directly related to how close you are with your community of followers. At Wild Earth, there is nothing more important to us than our relationship with our customers and we do what it takes to remain a part of that family on a daily basis.

What type of content resonates most with your customers?

People love videos. There’s nothing better than getting a video post or blog from one of your favourite brands at a key time of the day when you need a break from your inbox, and just sitting back in your chair for a few minutes and getting lost in the moment. We try to post videos that provide that little escape, get people on the edge of their seats with their hearts racing or provide inspiration for a weekend getaway. That said, we also find that any content that polarises people’s opinions gets great engagement.

Can you share examples of the best-performing content on your website?

Content that isn’t directly product related is great. We offer a range of blogs on the website that we syndicate across multiple social channels. Some of the best performers from the last 12 months are the Get Wild With series, which focuses on extraordinary people who we support. Other examples are Best Campsites in Australia and the Easter Holiday Camping Gear Checklist.

How has content marketing helped you grow your business?

I think the best way to grow your business is to keep your customers engaged with your brand. The more your members hear from you about things that are relevant to their lives, things that empower them or things that inspire them, the more likely they are to continue to engage with you as part of their life, and share your content with their peers. You have to always remember that the people who come to you for information, service and products could choose to go anywhere. It’s a privilege that they have chosen you, and it is up to you to respect their choice and define the level of gratitude your business should show that customer. Gratitude can be shown in any or all of the following ways, by saying “hey, here’s something I think you’d like to read or watch”, or “let’s help you make a decision about a product that’s right for you”, or “here’s the item you want at a great price”. If you take that engagement to the next step and commit to delivering great products and exceptional customer service, then that is what will give you a competitive edge and, most importantly, earn the trust and loyalty of your customers.

For content marketing newbies, Somerville suggests the following tips.

Define your purpose: As a business, you need to decide where you want to be on the content marketing adoption scale: are you an early adopter or a laggard? It also makes sense to find out how your customers will view you if you invest in content.

Start small: Don’t try and deliver multiple pieces of content immediately. Start with a single piece of content each week and utilise the content that you have already created for another purpose by tweaking and syndicating it across your social and e-commerce channels. And don’t try to make it perfect – if you try to make it perfect you’ll either never finish it or you’ll do it once and decide it was just too hard.

Be patient: Stop trying to get an immediate ROI from content marketing. It’s not PPC advertising or email – you are not going to get any immediate, measurable metric that will unequivocally endorse content marketing as part of your marketing spend. But by engaging in content marketing, you’ll have more engaged and loyal customers than your competition.

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