Content marketing. If put together, these words are two of the most popular terms in today’s marketing industry. However, the whole idea of using content to market your business depends on your location, your exposure and at the same time, the audience you are targeting.
Nevertheless, content marketing is the king of today’s marketing environment. All brands, companies, businesses, and marketers are creating content on a daily basis and they believe that this strategy will allow them to grow and develop as mainstream popular brands. Did you ever ask yourself why?
The power of valuable content
Well, content adds value to the general audience in terms of information, knowledge, data. It involves the audience in the marketing process in a positive way and it allows you to promote your brand or products without actually becoming annoying or intrusive. People nowadays are able to smell promotional materials from miles away. They are turned off by advertisements and sale pitches. They do have questions, however. There are a lot of things they do not know, things they might want to learn about. And, there are news, technical information, tutorials and answers you can give instead of coming up with a CTA and a colorful banner. You can be informative and helpful and become part of the community. This is where content outperforms traditional advertising.
A recent study published by Oracle will most certainly answer all your questions regarding content marketing effectiveness. In fact, it shows us that this strategy is less costly than any other type of advertising or marketing and it generates 4x more leads at the same time. In terms of awareness and traffic, content can also prove to be a precious asset.
55% more visitors than businesses who do not engage in content marketing.
Based on the report, they have 434% more indexed pages that lead to a better ranking in Google and other search engines and as a consequence, to more leads coming from organic search.
This is quite normal since most of today’s people are still reading blogs and other similar websites through which they get informed. In fact, 70% would prefer to learn about a company or a product through an article than an ad and this says more about the importance of content marketing than any other statistical data.
Content marketing strategies
We know that marketers are using content and this strategy has proven to be effective during the last decades. What types of content are suitable for this type of work and what channels should one use in order to get the most out of their efforts?
The dissemination of the content, however, depends on the chosen strategy which also depends on the audience and the channels they use in order to get informed.
Blogging is still the main channel when it comes to content distribution. At the same time, audio and video channels are gaining in popularity and they have what they need to eventually take over textual based information. Consumers prefer to get informed via videos and podcasts now more than ever.
Before anything else, however, I suggest performing a basic content audit for your blog or website. It will help you assess all your strong points, your vulnerabilities, the types of content that perform better than others and how to adapt to your audience with best efficiency.
Once you have completed the audit, you can take a look at the European Market as a whole.
The European environment
Unlike other markets, the European market is defined by diversity. It is not homogeneous when it comes to languages, customer behavior, and market availability. Brands and companies, therefore, need to adapt to this environment and produce content for different languages, content that appeals to people coming from different ethnic backgrounds and social statuses.
Thus, you can either create a strategy based on the general knowledge that appeals to everybody or, you can create different strategies for each region you are addressing. The choice depends mostly on the type of product or service you are marketing.
Strategies that were chosen by European brands
So, how did they adapt? What are the best strategies for European brands?
Well, the best way to understand this market is through working examples. To this end, I have asked a series of European marketers working for European brands to share with us their stories. The next part of this article will present therefore their views on content marketing in Europe.
The GDPR issue
As most of you might already know, The General Data Protection Regulation came a couple of years ago with a set of rules that are applicable across Europe. Companies from EU or who are providing services for people living in the EU region must comply with the rules and adapt to them in order to be able to operate. The GDPR covers the collection, handling, and processing of personal information and applies to all websites since all the major CMSs that are being used today collect personal data in one form or another.
Aazar, co-founder at ECOMPLY.io explains the process through a case study. Basically, they conducted a cold calling campaign using third-party data from LinkedIn and Xing. They choose not to store any personal information and tried to form mutually beneficial relationships with the respondents.
“We successfully reached 29% of prospects we reached out to. This was pretty good taking into account how people usually ignore sales calls” he said. “Of those that we reached, we were able to qualify 69% of them, meaning they were a good fit for our product and we knew we solved their problem” he concluded.
The niche approach
“As one of the most popular retail businesses in Europe, H&M has much influence in the fashion world. To stay one step ahead of their competitors, this company runs the digital content publication, H&M Life where editors invite influencers like Elodie Russo and Celia Ellenberg to write about the latest fashion trends and news.
It helps to enter an already established-community and be an expert in the niche, so people start associating this brand name with the fashion niche. If you’re a small business owner with a limited budget, you can implement this strategy on social media – collaborate with niche-focused micro-influencers to feature your product on their pages and use their content on your resource to prove the quality of your products, and therefore drive e-commerce sales”. Hugh Beaulac, content manager.
The language barrier
One of the greatest dilemmas a marketer faces on the European market is whether to localize the content or not.
“The big and obvious difference between Europe and the USA is language heterogeneity. There are 24 official languages within the EU. We have long struggled with the question of whether it makes sense to create localized content for our main market, in our case Germany” said Pascal van Opzeeland, CMO, UserLike.
“In the end, we’ve chosen to follow an English-first content strategy, and I think it’s the right decision. Most European internet users are comfortable consuming English content, and it allows your words to reach much further. Now, we are also localizing our evergreen content, by translating English posts to German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch. Translating is much easier than producing unique content” he added.
For a small company, translations may prove to be quite expensive.
Instead, the approach Pascal talks about here, should be effective should you address bilingual audiences or people from regions where English proficiency is at least medium if not high.
People love the interactivity. And, they also love companies that besides the valuable content, they are committed to providing them with tools to help them understand better the provided services or products. Or, toolls that ease their work.
A ‘Legal Compass’, for SMB’s, to check if they are compliant with legal requirements in the domain of energy & electricity.
An ‘Energy Coach’, to get insights which actions have the highest energy-saving potential for your specific situation.
A ‘Calculator’, to quickly calculate the cost of a home charger for your electric car. With this tool, they have collected 1000+ leads in 6 weeks, where they had hoped to collect only 200” said Stefan Debois, CEO, Surveyanyplace.
“For smaller businesses, it can seem hard to copy this success because they do not have the budget nor resources to develop this. However – provided that the requirements are not too complex – there exist affordable software tools such as Survey Anyplace or SnapApp, that you can use to create interactive content without the need for technical skills” he concluded.
The traditional approach
Regardless of region, industry or language, there are types of content that will always be effective for a marketer. Anything valuable for the reader will also prove to be valuable for the marketer.
Michal Leszczynski, Content Marketing Manager, GetResponse, describes his content marketing strategy which includes mostly reports, guides, and courses.
“With reports, we’re able to build brand authority and deliver actionable insights for marketers in the industry, regardless of what providers they’re currently using. Interestingly, even some of our competitors have quoted our data in their content. By preparing a report for a particular target audience (by vertical or location) we’re able to engage with more specific audiences, especially if we’re trying to enter a given market” he said.
What if you are trying to market a small business without the necessary resources to produce content of these types? Besides the traditional blog posts, Michal recommends us to create and distribute email courses as well.
“They are short and digestible, which is often the problem these days as we’ve got simply too many options to choose from” he added.
While being ethnically diverse, the European market shares similar traits with any other region of the world. In some cases, the marketers may need to adapt to this diverse climate and localize the content but at the same time, they can address their audiences as a whole, in English. The above examples show us only a small part of the European marketing environment. Nevertheless, it underlines some of the most popular strategies and the trends applicable in today’s content marketing context.
Do you work with European brands and companies? Are there any other approaches to digital marketing that proved to be effective to your campaigns?