In many ways, traditional advertising is no longer relevant. Marketers no longer have captive audiences that can be widely reached through radio and television. Even the digital world has increasingly become the domain of the consumer. The customer now has control over where, when, and how they will encounter ads online. Most internet users today will not click on links they do not recognize and will happily skip video ads when possible. While display ads were once the dominant advertising medium on the web, research shows that virtually no one actually clicks on banner ads (less than 0.1%). Additionally, global use of adblocker software allows users to bypass digital advertising completely, even from paid search ads.

The new reality is that the user now holds control over marketers and digital advertisers. Where brands and advertisers had control over airwaves, users now have control over which ads they will view. Sales and marketing departments were once the gatekeepers to product and service information. Now, any user can find millions of customer reviews or product demonstrations on a growing proliferation of channels.

What can marketers do to adapt to this new digital environment? How can marketers bypass customer walls and reach their target audiences?

The answer is by providing real value to customers through content marketing. By strategically approaching customers with creative, original, and consistent content, marketers can attract, maintain, and retain a dedicated and loyal audience.

How Content Marketing Works

While content marketing can take many forms, it’s most successful when it provides a real and tangible value to its readers and consumers. There is no shortage of blogs or company resource pages on the web, but there are only a few that truly provide new and insightful information for readers. A great example of successful content marketing can be found on has a section of its site dedicated to Expert Advice. This portal is divided by activity and contains thousands of articles with expert advice on choosing the right products, services, and tools for a given outdoor activity. Other articles give expert advice on learning a new skill or technique. From “How to Gear Up for a Triathlon” to “The Best Trail-Running Shoes Tested”, each article is built on providing the maximum value to readers and customers.

As a result, REI has built a dedicated following of readers who trust REI as a useful resource for acquiring new outdoor skills, reading product reviews, or finding similarly-minded communities. And of course, these readers naturally drive revenue for REI as increased trust converts to increased sales.

Another great example of content marketing is Land Rover’s recent ad campaign with John Mayer and The Atlantic. What does a nationally recognized magazine and a pop superstar have to do with outdoor recreational vehicles? As part a series of sponsored content, The Atlantic created a series of videos where they took John Mayer, himself a Land Rover enthusiast, into the beautiful redwood forests and coastal beaches of Northern California. The result was an engaging, insightful, and honest review of Land Rover products given by an actual customer. What better way to show off the durability and capability of a Land Rover than a beautiful video display of John Mayer trekking through the California wilderness?

The ad campaign was so engaging that when The Atlantic reuploaded the video to YouTube, over 300,000 rewatched it. User comments were overwhelmingly positive and included “Can more commercials be like this?” and “I just watched a six-minute commercial and liked it”. It’s inevitable that such high positive customer sentiment will lead to increased sales for Land Rover and The Atlantic.

Driving Customer Conversations with Content Marketing

In a world where it seems that every interaction is a call-to-action for something, some product, some service, some offering – people crave for authenticity. The end of control for marketers means that marketing can no longer be a one-way street between businesses and customers. Instead, businesses need to have real two-way conversations with customers to boost engagement, increase conversions, and grow revenue.

Modern customers are driven by honest, empathetic, and genuine interactions. Content marketing is a valuable tool in this endeavor. Providing truly valuable content allows marketing departments to bypass the natural skepticism of prospective customers. Unlike traditional advertising that tried to reach customers by shouting the loudest, content marketing enables your business to build warm individual connections with your target audience.

And content marketing is more than just good relationships, it’s also good business. It’s been shown to generate over three times as many leads as outbound marketing campaigns while also costing 62% less. As both a productive and cost-effective marketing channel, content marketing can be incredibly valuable for any organization or business.

How Affirma Can Help

As a full-service digital design and marketing firm, the Affirma Digital Team can launch your next content campaign from start to finish. Whether you need help with the design, copywriting, or using the right platforms to measure performance – our experienced team of writers, designers, developers, and strategists will ensure your next campaign is a success.

We invite you to contact us today to learn how Affirma Digital can help get your next project started.

Jason Lee is a Marketing Associate at Affirma.

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