4 tips for effective content marketing

Speaking at Marketing’s Customer Experience Conference 2015, Vivek Kumar, director and head of NTUC Membership, said that most content today does not engage the consumer and rarely makes an impact in their decision-making process.

However, effective content is crucial to the customer experience. According to a study by the CMO council, 80% to 90% of consumers, particularly in the B2B sector, will buy from a brand that has content that appeals to them.

It is now a must for companies to adopt a holistic view on content creation and exceed a consumer’s expectations. So how exactly do marketers create content that cuts through the clutter and resonates with consumers?

Kumar gave four tips:

1. Involve your consumers

Brands should actively involve the consumer at the initial stage of content creation.

Using the example of Coca-Cola, Kumar said that a decade ago, Coca-Cola innovated the music scene and launched a “passion-targeting approach” to generate its brand presence. Since then, it has evolved its strategy to build on consumers’ passion points.

More recently, it partnered with Maroon 5 to stream the band recording their music live in the studio. Fans were encouraged to follow their live feed on-the-go and simultaneously give the musicians live feedback.

By doing so, the brand was able to encourage its consumers to be part of the content creation process.

Here’s Coke’s video:


Another example of successful content creation with fans was when Harley-Davidson created its “No Cages” campaign. The brand created an engine for its fans on its 110th anniversary to create ideas of the kind of bikes they would like to ride. Customers were allowed to design and custom colour their dream bikes on an interactive website.

Kumar said: “Engaging its customers started even before the brand sold its bikes. It started during the pre-sales period when the brand was trying to communicate with them – when they were designing the product.”

Using the insights and building on the consumer engagement, Harley-Davidson also decided to launch a separate campaign called “No Cages”.

Here’s what the ad looked like:


2. Be relevant and target segmented audiences

According to Kumar, NTUC Income’s content marketing team takes into consideration the brand’s role in building communities, and reaching out to various groups in society. It then builds its campaigns around issues its consumers are passionate about.

“It is essential to tap into the audience that is already available in a brand’s database.”

Citing the example of the NTUC Income 350 Run event, Kumar explained the company leveraged on its youth group’s interests by using environmental concerns as a passion point for its campaign. Pre-event and volunteer groups were formed to help clean up several neighbourhoods.

“At the start, there were 5000 runners and this year that number grew to 15,000. The whole movement has been growing.”

He added this was probably because of the consumers’ excitement around the environmental causes which were further amplified by initiatives built around the event and not just limited to the run itself.

By being attuned to the needs of its young union members, NTUC Income successfully “built a movement in which members and customers were emotionally engaged” with the brand. The movement encouraged NTUC Income’s members to continue to be socially engaged and active, even after the run.

3. Stay on-brand

Whatever a brand decides to do, it is essential to be “true to your DNA”, said Kumar. It is important to be sincere about the content and stay true to the brand to ensure success.

As part of its “Labour of Love” campaign, NTUC Membership launched a “Free Coffee Wednesdays” initiative to promote conversations. When consumers gifted a cup of coffee to their friends, they were able to redeem a free cup of coffee “to inspire conversations and improve any social divisions within society”, said Kumar.

The campaign led to a 772% increase in campaign application participation.

The movement was also a catalyst for the brand to start conversing with the public.

The campaign prioritised the company’s outreach to its members. An initiative included opening at more accessible locations for union members to turn to for help. NTUC also shared personal stories of its members, but de-branded its content for a more genuine approach to its consumers.

Accompanying the month-long campaign, NTUC had a built-in Facebook app to manage its union’s own account to cater to the “overwhelming response from the CBD area”, Kumar added.

4. Campaigns need to be consistent

Kumar said when a brand launches an interesting campaign, it “cannot go missing in action … that leaves a very bad taste [for consumers]”.

It is crucial to be consistent with consumer engagement and participation so as not to leave the audience hanging in the lurch. This lack of continuity disconnects the kind of traction that a brand might have received from a prior campaign.

A company must also be conscious of people movement within an organisation so as to avoid a loss in connection with loyal consumers who were engaged with a past campaign.

Because IT infrastructure within a company may not be as fluid as marketing changes, brands need to be wary of their own limitations before creating content. A brand has to ensure that all security measures, especially ones related to IT, are well-managed and updated.