Up Close @ SMX East: The 4th Wave Of Content Marketing

Speaker Scott Brinker discusses the evolution of content marketing, including the next wave: interactive content.

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[blockquote cite=”Scott Brinker’s session description for SMX East 2014″]”Content may be king, but content marketing is Game of Thrones — it’s a constant struggle to stay ahead. The cacophony is a challenge not only for marketers, but also for prospects besieged with a metric ton of reports, white papers, ebooks, and buyer’s guides. Innovation to break through this noise in content marketing has come in waves: first with SEO, second with rich content, and third with personalization. In this session, marketing technology advocate Scott Brinker will reveal the dynamics of the emerging 4th wave of content marketing – interactive content with marketing apps – that will help you conquer the kingdom.”[/blockquote]

Right now, everyone is engaging in content marketing. Everyone wants to create more content, and so they spend more on content. This leads to a vicious cycle. Only a small number of content assets will break through — most become part of the long tail and vanish.

Consuming the content isn’t much better. For the consumer, it’s an overwhelming and bewildering sea of information with no way to take it all in and no easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the buyer’s journey is done digitally, Brinker said. But what’s being lost in not having the sales engagement? Marketing’s version of talking “with” customers is more of a megaphone and flood of content with a nice form at the end of it.

Normal people see those forms as, “It’s a trap!” They know that the content they receive may not be worth the information they’re giving up.

What are the 4 waves of Content Marketing?

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  1. Web Pages – the foundation of digital marketing. It’s information on a page and people come to read it either through directories or search.
  2. Rich Content – video, infographics, ebooks – stuff that pops but most content is aspirational. They want to consume it but they find better things to do when it comes time to do so.
  3. Personalization – dynamically substituted content based on a user profile
    1. Need data about prospects
    2. New content
    3. Things change
    4. Still just a probabilistic guess
  4. Interactive — The first three waves were all passive; now, it’s time to think about interactive content and marketing apps (not just native apps, but responsive web apps that work on any device)

An example is the “Guess Which Won?” A/B test game which Ion Interactive hosts on its website. The results are fun and interactive — and hypothetically, once the user has finished, he or she will be interested enough to find out more about Ion’s A/B testing services. (This opportunity presents itself at the end of the quiz, in the form of a “low-hurdle” offer.)

What works about this sort of interactive content marketing?

  • No barrier to entry
  • Device agnostic
  • Invests users in the outcome
  • Doesn’t take very long but it’s memorable
  • Provides social proof and branding
  • Since it has a score, it appeals to the competitive spirit

If content marketing is about educating prospects, let’s take inspiration from great teachers. Active and experiential exercises work better than didactic learning. Asking students to predict the outcome of an experiment before running it, they will remember it better and longer.

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Freemium models of content marketing, in which a customer gets something before they are asked for a conversion as in the case of the A/B test game, have a lot of space for growth.

How effective is content at educating buyers and differentiating the company, and how much better is interactive content versus passive content? According to a study (funded by Scott’s company,) it is far more effective. Take that as you will, though what it suggests is compelling even correcting for the bias.

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Consider that while BuzzFeed is often given a lot of grief for its business model, it is also apparently irresistible. Even if you despise BuzzFeed, there are still lists and quizzes that may interest you. The quizzes are interactive marketing and they are very effective.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Susan Esparza
Susan Esparza is a Content Strategist for Trueffect, the leading first-party targeting and measurement platform for large performance advertisers.

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