We live in a constantly changing world, and the rules around here dictate that if you don’t get with the program you’re left out of it.
Either change with everybody else, or else!
This “or else” is what everyone fears, especially us marketers because it is this tiny two letter phrase that takes us away from our audiences, takes us far away from them to a dark place where there are no green pastures, no sales and no conversions.
The marketing world is no different, there are changes happening in it every hour of every day. As soon as a new technology or a new trend springs up, it spreads like wildfire consuming everything in its wake.
But let’s not get off track; what we’re going to be talking about here is just copy- more specifically the evolution of content, how we as marketers have evolved at writing and how our customers have forced us to do so- from cave drawings all the way to infographics, the content paradigm has shifted because the users got immune to generic, salesmany content.
What’s up with this sudden content debate
Everyone nowadays seems to be talking about content, some declare blogs to be dead while others attribute this fatality to just SEO-centered content. What has occurred here actually is what Mark Shaefer has termed as Content Shock.
What content shock essentially discusses is a mixture of economics and content marketing; it posits that because they are only a finite number of people that exist in the world there is only a finite number of content that they can actually consume.
According to Mashable 347 WordPress blog posts, 48 hours of YouTube videos and 571 websites are published every minute of every day.
Content that’s not high volume but high quality. Content that has evolved over time and has become what customers want to read, what they anxiously wait for because it inspires them not just to buy a product but it makes them think about things in a different way.
There’s a lot of content supply (not always of high quality) and not that much of a user demand. Want proof, Business Grow explains the phenomenon with a graph.
The four evolutionary stages of content
Just as amphibians evolved from fish to adjust to their surroundings- content marketing has evolved into what it is today adhering to the desires of the customers that it wishes to dazzle.
To make the post more readable I have divided the changes of content into four distinct evolutionary stages, every stage has its own positives and negatives, and every time user behavior is what rushed it into a new era.
1. Company Centric Content
The ancestor of all content strategies is the company centric content, copy that was written to please the CEO because he was the one who gave everyone their paychecks. This type of content raved about only one thing- the product that the company was trying to push.
It didn’t care about audiences or demographics; it only cared about praising the product- so if no one really found anything informational in it, it’s their fault not the content’s.
Surprisingly, this type of content dominated the marketing arena for quite some time, then came the internet and the search engines- the empowered well researched customer and finally the demise of this type of mattress salesman solely company centric content because the search engines failed to register its existence.
2. Insincere Corporate Mumbo Jumbo
This type of content still had some of the characteristics of the CCC (Company Centric Content), what had changed was the content strategy. Websites had blogs on them, blogs that apparently appeared to be present for the benefit of the user but were actually only doing one thing- shoving the various company products down visitors’ throats in a slightly less explicit manner.
This type of content was ripe with keywords; sometimes so much that one could find the keyword in almost every sentence of the meager 300 word post.
The content did account somewhat for the customer, it had a better research audience element than the CCC- still, it wasn’t created for informational purposes but for ranking purposes instead, hence the keywords.
However, Google and other search engines got the better of such type of content, new algorithms were developed and soon just having a company blog and keyword rich articles didn’t do the trick.
The insincere corporate mumbo jumbo content was soon sent to the depths of Google’s search page results.
3. Content Marketing
With content marketing, audiences and marketers saw the morning of a new era for content everywhere. Every customer no matter what the demographic knew what he wanted to read and did so wholeheartedly throughout the day- soon blog posts and articles weren’t enough if you wanted to make an impact.
You had to go the whole nine yards, develop entire social media campaigns, produce infographics and create landing pages.
The idea behind all this- give your customers interesting, unique and high quality relevant information without pitching your product explicitly and they’ll become so impressed by your expertise that they’ll want to buy from you.
However, because content marketing was so vast, every component of content marketing had a different purpose, for example a landing page’s purpose is to overtly offer a sale through its five elements (the copy, graphic, lead capture form, heading and CTA button) and get a conversion in return but a slide deck or a blog post didn’t have the same purpose.
Content marketing pleased the customers and when customers where pleased they bought stuff that marketers were selling and hence made them happy. The cycle got a little longer than it was with the CCC but the rewards reaped were monumentally higher.
4. User Centric Pictographic Content
This form of content is an offshoot of content marketing, this type of content caters only to the user, before it is created, thorough research is done on the audience it is needed to be created for so that they are completely satisfied by it.
This content doesn’t only have strings of words on it but images that help either quantify or explain the idea being discussed. This content succeeds because it’s of high quality and is relevant. Customers eat every single word up because they know that it was crafted just for them.
The perfect example of this type of content is a landing page like the ones we offer on Instapage, not only is it user centric i.e. it is only created after extensive audience research, but it is also pictorial. Landing pages only work if you make your customer the king, frame the headlines in a way that appeal to your target audience, write copy that talks about them not just your company or product.
See this Klout landing page.
Notice all the “yous” and “yours”.
It is user centric pictographic content that you see on Google’s first search page, it is this content that customers go browsing for every day and like and tweet it as much as their heart fancies.
Hopefully you’re not still stuck in the CCC phase, if you are, there’s your reason for not getting any conversions. Get with the times people, develop content that helps not just sells!
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