How people's attention flows on the web
25 January 2013
While writing my last post I came across this apposite article on the Content Marketing Institute’s website. The chart is from a report conducted by a business called ExactTarget. The sample used is rather opaque: ‘US online population aged 18 or older’ and the question itself is somewhat unclear but it is the interpretation of the data that is most amusing.
The above indicates the disparity between what marketers think the public wants versus what the public says they want:
“When customers were asked where their favorite brands should invest their marketing time and resources to improve customer loyalty, just 6 percent answered that they want related (or helpful) content from a brand. In fact, more than double that number of consumers actually wanted to receive product-related content.”
Hmm. Where does that leave this description of the point of content marketing from elsewhere on their site:
“Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
Hence all this hype from marketers around this notion of ‘brands as publishers’ on the web. But the chart above is telling us in a slightly confused way that:
- People who have given their permission by a business to be emailed are happy to receive email from that business (no surprise!)
- The company website should host appropriate content when they want more information…
- … and this content should be about products…
- … supported by in-store help
My interpretation of this is that the ‘consumers’ who responded were thinking about finding answers to product-related questions.
The writer of the aforementioned article comes to a rather different conclusion quoting a chap from the company that produced the report:
“If you really take a look at the research, consumers are actually desperate for content from brands, but like marketers they are fixated on channels,” says Rohrs. “When consumers ask for more email and Facebook, they are asking for helpful content through those channels. What are marketers going to put into those channels… air?”
Um. Are they really ‘desperate’? Is that what these people labelled as ‘consumers’ are asking for? It sounds as though people want to know about new products and when they are aware of them want to be able to find out the details easily and in their own time, hence the lack of desire for marketing messages through other social platforms.
The response to marketing through Facebook is not necessarily to do with ‘helpful content’ but is likely an indication of a willingness to consider ‘offers and promotions’. Have a read of this survey where the top responses to the question “I connect with brands on Facebook and other social networks” were:
- For the games, contests and promotions
- To learn about new products
- To show I’m a fan
Note that none of these are asking for ‘helpful content’ that is non-product-related.
Reminds me of this quote from The Ad Contrarian:
“We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.”
The conclusion of the original article is most ironic:
“Make sure you take your own personal behavior out of the equation before you make any type of content marketing channel decisions.”
Yes, such as being convinced that the service you are selling to clients is one that ‘consumers’ actually want!