This is the third and final installment of our Content Marketing primer. Part one, Content Marketing: Social and Written Content, offered strategies for getting your content marketing strategy off the ground. Part two, Content Marketing: Influencers, Affiliates and Collaborations, explored ways to create greater brand awareness and increase sales. Part 3 shows you how to use video and branding to increase engagement.
The Ubiquity of Video
Once upon a time in ecommerce, success in marketing came easy. Simply launch a paid search campaign and count all the sales. One channel, one ad type, one acquisition strategy.
Now brands need to be everywhere, and video is the consumer’s top choice. Adding to the complexity, video has a short half-life; you can put a video on Instagram, enjoy great engagement rates, and the next day receive absolutely no views or clicks. It’s the nature of the beast. Success with video comes with frequency and consistency, which is why you’ll need to create them regularly.
On the flipside, video will earn you excellent engagement rates, and because consumers in general prefer video, social media algorithms tend to prioritize them. So, while doing anything in video takes 10 times longer to complete than anticipated, the results more than justify your efforts.
And, as I said in part one of this series, you don’t need to fret about perfection. Good enough will still deliver great metrics, and your skills will improve with each video you create.
Video Rules of the Road
Creating videos sounds horribly expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. All you really need to concern yourself with is following rules of the road:
- Select a suitable camera. The best camera to shoot videos happens to be the one you already have. If you purchased a smartphone sometime within the last three years, then rest assured you have an excellent camera tucked into your pocket. I’m blown away by the quality of video that comes from a phones’ camera, and yours will more than suffice for your initial efforts. At some point in the future you may decide to buy a high-end video camera, but that’s not necessary at this stage of your content marketing.
- Shoot your products in natural scenarios. What to shoot? A quick video of your product in its natural environment is all you need to get a higher level of engagement. If you sell children’s clothes, take a quick video of toddlers running around in cute outfits. Don’t sweat your first ads; you’ll improve over time, and you’ll come up with new and innovative approaches as you go along. Trust the process.
- Speak to many personas. As mentioned in part one, your brand has multiple types of customers, and it’s a good idea to create content for multiple personas. Going back to our shoe example, fashion-oriented customers will purchase based on style, but others may be concerned about orthopedic issues. You can create video content for each and target them on social media and other places on the web.
- Use Closed Captioning. This is an absolute requirement, first to be ADA compliant, and second so that any user in an office, subway, crowded restaurant or any other location where his or her hearing may be impaired can still engage with your video ad. You have a lot of options for closed captioning. At Something Digital we use Sonix. YouTube offers automatic, multi-lingual captions for on-demand videos for free, and it’s an absolutely perfect option if you intend to use that platform to distribute your content. Or you can download the captions from YouTube and insert them into any one of the free video suites on the market.
- Edit your videos. Video suites let you edit your video, but you do not need to spend a ton of money on one. Many are free, and you can find editing functionality in a variety of places. For instance, Twitter lets you edit the length of your video right on the platform, Adobe Premiere Rush lets you edit right from your phone. At Something Digital we use Adobe Premiere Pro, which is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud.
Nick Graham, founder of Boxer, once said in an interview, “The brand is the amusement park, the product is the souvenir.” This sentiment is spot on. Your brand can be summed up in a product, but the product itself is not your brand. Branding transcends products and speaks to what it’s like to live with your brand.
Take Nike. You’ll never see Nike selling sneakers based on its technical achievements (unless there is some breakthrough innovation). Yet Nike’s quality is never questioned. Why? Because Nike sells aspirations, the athlete you wish to be. It’s a brand that works.
Brand Identity Rules of the Road
Always remember your brand.When creating content marketing pieces, don’t forget to infuse everything you do with your brand messages. All too often this is overlooked and that’s a shame. Brand recall is critical in changing consumer behavior, and that means giving your customers reasons to remember your brand.
When expressing your brand identity, use the same tactics and tools presented in part one and part two of this series.
Mine user generated content for brand identity insight. If you’re not quite sure how to verbalize your brand identity, look to your customers for answers. Chances are you’ll find nuggets of insight buried in user generated content, such as how they feel about your brand, and why they buy from you rather than one of your competitors. Let’s say you discover via social media listening that your customers get a burst of happiness when they see your packages at their doors. If that’s the case, joy is an integral part of your brand, something you may not have realized on your own.
Reinforce your brand with every content piece you create. Deb Garbor talked about the irrationality of brand loyalty in her book, Irrational Loyalty: Building a Brand That Thrives in Turbulent Times, an assertion that made quite a splash. Although brand loyalty may very well be irrational, it’s something we all feel. For brands, it’s a value multiplier that enhances the products you sell. Use every opportunity to articulate it to your customers.
Think an entire product category. Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crushing It, has excellent advice for all entrepreneurs: envision your brand as an entire category, not just a single product. Take Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese. Annie’s was never just about mac and cheese; it was launched as a healthier option for comfort foods. The message to the market was essentially, comfort food is important, and you deserve to have better quality ingredients in yours.
I feel like brands fail when they spend too much time debating the merits of a single product. From a content marketing perspective, think about an entire product category.
Amp Up Your Content Marketing
Congratulations, you’ve just completed Something Digital’s Content Marketing 101. If you can find ways to do everything, we’ve talked about over the past three blog posts:
- Create content that’s targeted for specific groups and personas that speak to their needs
- Leverage influencers, provide avenues for your customers to share their brand experiences
- Create written audio and video content
- Tell your brand story
Your end result will be a valuable and effective content marketing strategy that delivers long term dividends for your brand. If you need help telling your brand story let us know.
Written by: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist