With constant pressure to get quick results it can be difficult for marketers think about longer-term results for their campaigns.
Content marketing is no different. Search traffic, conversions and social media shares today will often take priority over building relationships with people who might become customers in the future.
But a new study might help marketers win the argument to extend the ROI window beyond the current 90-day reporting period.
Researchers in the US have discovered that companies focussing their advertising and marketing dollars on brand differentiation rather than cost leadership were likely to see a more positive impact on their share price.
“Advertising can increase awareness: it can increase sales regardless,” said Niket Jindal, a professor of marketing at Kelley School of Business in Indiana and lead researcher. “But it’s only for those companies that have a differentiation strategy where advertising’s going to build up brand equity… and shareholder value.”
He added: “That’s not to say that it’s wasteful spending for those cost leaders – there’s still value in that it’s increasing their sales. But those kinds of companies shouldn’t expect to see an impact beyond the current year’s sales.”
Boosting the stock price is likely to be high on the list of priorities for decision makers in publicly-listed companies, which makes this study useful ammunition for marketers.
Brand differentiation isn’t the right play for every firm. Companies operating in commoditised markets might compete on convenience or price rather than the less tangible brand equity.
Whether you want to push your latest special offer or take a softer approach, perhaps just making your target audience aware of the high-quality resources available on your website, content marketing has a useful role to play.
How content marketing supports brand differentiation
One of the great benefits of content marketing is the opportunity it provides for you to influence what people think of your brand.
However people hear about your business it is likely that they will take a look at your website, Google you and maybe have a look around on social media to learn more about what you do and how you do it.
Creating and promoting your own content is an excellent way to influence what these potentially important people think.
If you want your customers, staff and other stakeholders to associate your brand with the best customer service, the strongest environmental credentials or the most-advanced technology then talking about those topics on your blog, on your landing pages, on your social media and in your emails is a really good start.
So, once you’ve decided on your point of differentiation your content marketing strategy needs to be built around it so that the content you invest in and the promotional tactics you choose can regularly hit the right notes.
How content marketing achieves long-term value
As well as helping to establish what it is that makes your brand different to the competition content marketing can also help build awareness, affinity and eventually loyalty towards your business.
Content marketing can achieve quick wins: someone sees your amazing blog post on Twitter or in a Google search; they come to your website to read it and fill in the lead gen form in your sidebar when they’re done.
But it doesn’t always work like that. Content marketing is more often a slow burn. Creating and promoting regular, high-quality content grows your brand’s presence in search and social media. It introduces people to your business for the first time or provides them with something useful (a whitepaper on a topic they’re researching or a blog article that explains how to do something, for example).
Once introduced, your email marketing – if you have the right content to power it – can provide regular touch-points with your target audience, maintaining contact, reaffirming what a useful resource you are, until they’re ready to make a purchase.