Content Marketing Digital Marketing

3 approaches to influence with content marketing

By Jessica Bubenheim, on 17 April 2019

Whether in everyday life or in marketing, the power to influence is in demand. But what really influences people? The content marketing method has it's influence through aligning content to a specific buyer persona. This content - whether designed for a blog, a company website or an online shop, whether in text, image or video format - should not only inform, but also inspire, advise, brings clarity, . Explore 3 approaches to influence with content marketing. 

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Influence with content marketing

  

1. Make use of rhetoric to create influential content

The ability to influence others, is not at all easy. Knowing the rules of influence can make it a lot easier. Which is our first approach, involves exploring the 3 lessons about how to create influential content from the very inventor of the art, Aristotle.

 

Influence through ethos: ethical content.

The first principle of influential content, according to Aristotle, is ethos, or ethics. Ethics are what make your potential audience feel they can trust you. So the first step to influencing is to show your credibility.

Long gone are the times when a company could say pretty much anything they wanted in their advertising and rest peacefully knowing there was no way of disproving it. Want to strengthen the credibility of your content? Here are some ideas that might come in handy:

  • Get a label. It’s not enough to be “the best brand of Rum”, instead, be “the favorite Rum according to The World Rum Association”.
  • Rely on Influencers’. Opinions count for a lot, so do whatever you can to get ahold of them.
  • Show (real) testimonies from your clients. Your website’s visitors can identify themselves with them and thereby understand how your brand can benefit them.
  • Share success stories. Accomplishments and facts are worth a lot more than vague promises. By giving concrete examples, potential clients can really see what you can do for them.
  • Avoid exaggerated language and promises you can’t keep. Clickbait has long gone out of fashion: there is no point in attracting thousands of users with a blazing headline if they will then leave your website disappointed.

More importantly, ethics is a long-term value. We may sometimes be tempted to sacrifice it in order to see results and achieve goals more immediately, but it is never worth it. Keep your promises, treat your clients well, be honest and your efforts will pay off.

 

Influence through pathos: emotional content.

Aristotle’s second tool of persuasion was pathos, the use of emotion. Some psychologists believe that the whole process of human reasoning is simply an attempt to justify our emotional decisions. Whether this is right or not, the fact that emotions have the power to convince and trigger action is undeniable: although most consumers do their homework, it is calculated that 50% of purchasing decisions are made based on emotions. In fact, the mere concept of branding is based on brands’ ability to cause emotional reactions.

Without pathos, marketing would just be a list of facts… and no one likes to be bored. On the other hand, an emotion overload without a basis on reality and facts can make the user feel unfairly manipulated. So proceed with caution, but proceed. How?

  • One of the easiest ways to get your target to support your brand is to create a sense of community. Remind them of the things that make them unique, and how they can help each other to outdo themselves. This technique is particularly useful if your brand is related to sports.
  • Charitable causes always encourage us to make a difference, so if your work for a non-profit organization don’t hesitate in using the power of emotion to get your message across. It can also be useful for brand related to health and in general those who have charitable foundations, but careful! Don’t forget that anything you say should always be based on provable facts.
  • The sense of urgency is another powerful emotional tool, and a great way to encourage conversions in the short term, so don’t hesitate to use it, if it makes any sense for your brand.
  • And remember, in case of doubt, cute animals are always a sure thing.

 

Influence through logos: logical content.

Aristotle’s third rule of rhetoric is none other than logos, or reason. According to this philosopher, the logic of an argument involves syllogism, in other words, two premises that combine to reach a conclusion. For example, “I want to launch a small business to make additional money. Oberlo is a marketplace that makes it easy to find products to sell online. I could look into business ideas from Oberlo”.

To use logic in your marketing strategies, the first thing you need to make sure of is that your audience agrees with both of your premises: if not, it will be impossible for them to reach the conclusion you are aiming for. You should also remember that it's about empathizing with your users and convincing them, but you should never insult their intelligence. Lastly, you should not only present a convincing syllogism, but also be prepared to answer any counter arguments: marketing’s classic “objections”.

Aristotle’s three lessons for rhetoric fundamentally address how human beings are influenced. Whether giving a speech for Athens or creating a landing page for marketing, ethos, pathos and logos have had the ability to influence throughout the centuries.

In the words of Aristotle himself, the art of persuasion lies in knowing how to combine these three principles in just the right amounts, and choosing the rights mediums in each occasion. Luckily, nowadays, you have an entire arsenal of digital tools to take your persuasive content so much further than the Ancient Greeks could have ever even dreamed.

 

2. Get influencers on board to market your content

Have you already included influencers in your marketing strategies? These socialites have the power to create and multiply word of mouth, since their social authority makes them the source of recommendations for many users. What advertisers aim for with influencer collaborations is to create associations between the brand or product and users favorite ‘local socialites’.

 

Influencers in the current world of content.

Influencers are considered the most reliable source of social media content (most of them make an average of 4 publications a day, as regards Instagram). Active influencers find themselves at the center of an active audience, with international influencers seeing multiple publicity spikes throughout their 24h day.

More and more of millennial influencers are approaching the "lifestyle" segment, which makes them have a much wider audience. A wider audience means a wider potential to market a diverse array of products, and the more brands they can collaborate with.

Influencers are modern day celebrities, yet they are much more accessible than a coveted athlete or a pop star. They are simply millennials who ‘know what’s good’, and so have an incredible audience reach power.

Influencers tend to take great care of their audiences and take special care not to appear "sponsored". In this way, they become a kind of "inexhaustible source" of mass marketing without coming off intrusive. As influencers know the importance of staying true to their audiences,  they offer valuable content - often in the form of contests or funny videos.

Influencers with a large number of followers but not large enough to appear "sponsored" or having commercial intentions are known as micro influencers. If Beyoncé recommends a product, we immediately associate it with advertising because she is an almost unreal character. The same thing has begun to happen, on a smaller scale, with influencers such as Chiara Ferragni. People interpret the messages of these micro-influencers as sincere advice and, therefore, the publicity they make is very efficient.

 

Content ideas for influencer marketing.

  • Videos. Promos in the form of video, consisting of the influencers using / consuming the product in front of the camera and talking about it. This content is seen above all on YouTube. There are also cases of this trend within Instagram, especially in Stories format which makes the influencer seem less "sponsored" (since it does not appear in your profile permanently).
  • Micro-influencers. By having a high degree of engagement with their followers, the marketing collaborations made with them are highly effective.
  • Live-video. Influencers can interact with users in real time, whether they are at an event, at a festival, on a set or on the couch at home.

 

Content channels for influencer marketing.

  • Influencers on Facebook. The power of this social channel is demonstrated by the fact that 63% of respondents use Facebook to follow influencers. Facebook is a space where users turn to thought leaders in their areas of interest to publish sponsored content on their pages.
  • Influencers on Twitter. 34% of users follow influencers in this network. Since most users publish their content publicly, it is very easy to take advantage of the viral power of the retweets to get your message across on this channel.
  • Influencers on YouTube. Although only 20% of respondents follow influencers in this network, do not underestimate the power of YouTubers. ‘Social Expert’ reviews and cross-channel collaborations can be key to your brand's strategy.
  • Influencers on Instagram. In the social space of image sharing on instagram, 17% of users claim to follow influencers. Influencers are especially popular among women (23%) and in the age group of 16 to 30 years (27%). Collaborate with the influencers within this network to show the most ‘photogenic’ side of your brand.

 

Use influencer content marketing to shape positive relationships

Marketers have unprecedented 360 degree individual customer insights. Content marketing flawlessly serves individual needs and content design is becoming increasingly intuitive to users. Users have reached a state where distinguishing between influential marketing content  from other content has gotten difficult.

Often influencer marketing techniques targets un alert customers when their mental ad avoidance strategies are off-guard. Harvard Business Review has outlined 3 factors that help you marketers shape positive relationships through influencer marketing.

  • Trust. Offer voluntary ad transparency. If your allowing your consumer to see:  “Why am I seeing this ad?” you’re on the right track.
  • Control. Consumer privacy concerns arise when they feel like they’re losing control of their data. Looking at the friend example again, you would want to dictate who you tell your secrets too, and wouldn't want a friend going gossip girl on you. Offering users meaningful control over their information will likely improve ad performance.
  • Justification. Allow users to see the value of targeted native advertising by justifying  why personal data has been used to generate this ad. Here authenticity is vital. You should rethink your intentions and your ad If you yourself are having difficulty coming up with a compelling reason for the way you use consumers’ data.

Try looking to the offline world to understand how to appropriately influence users through content. Keep your focus on adding value for your customer - if your thinking customer centric, they will thank you for it and it will pay off.

 

3. Make use of influential content marketing techniques

Content Marketing is in a state of constant evolution, changing along with the consumer habits and preference and the trending of new technologies and tools. Despite that, its main goal remains the same: to influence traffic towards your website and add value to users, in order to convert them into customers.

Explore techniques to make the impression you're striving for and influencing with content marketing.

 

Data based marketing

The sheer amount of data we have access to nowadays is simply incredible, but there are very few brands who actually use this to their advantage. Collecting and analyzing relevant data and turning this information into concrete actions could just de the advantage you need over your competition.

For your strategy to be successful, the key is not to drown yourself in a sea of data, but rather to find intelligent and justified answers to the most basic questions: What kind of content works best for your business? What time should you publish at? Which channels offer you the best conversion rates?

 

Video

Among this year’s content marketing trends lies an old friend that seems to be gaining more and more traction every day: video.

As mobile screens improve in quality and size, along with the improvements in data connections and internet speed, video seems to be taking over. According to studies, 74% of 2017’s internet traffic is related to video.

Behind this success lies a peaking trend that has completely revolutionized the way we consume video: live streaming. Over the past few years, all of the main social networks have welcomed live video and brands didn’t hesitate about making the most of this tool to create a more authentic connection with their audience.

As well as drawing attention all on their own, video can also be used to strengthen the effect of other digital marketing tools. Including video in an email marketing campaign, for example, can increase your CTR by 200-300%. If you haven’t already, 2017 is definitely the year to include video into your content marketing strategy.

 

Personalization and segmentation

Content personalization is such a strong content marketing trend, that some people even prefer the term “hyper-personalization”. Personalizing your content makes it much more relevant to the person who is reading it, and, as such, considerably improves results compared to mass-campaigns.

In order to personalize effectively, there are two tools you cannot miss out on: social listening and  marketing automation. The former will help you gain access to your audience’s real time conversations, while the latter allows you to automate and optimize the process for your team to be able to dedicate more time and resources to strategy and creativity.

 

Email marketing

Year after year, email marketing still manages to keep its spot among the top content marketing trends. And with good reason: although it has been around for what seems like forever, this tools is constantly being renovated and proves itself as one of the most effective.

The mass popularization of smartphones in recent years has revolutionized the way we use our emails, and hence brought new life to email marketing. Nowadays, a large portion of emails are read on mobile devices, making responsive formats an absolute must. Video and interactive content are also trending and are very effective in drawing users attention.

Email marketing proves to be particularly effective for B2B companies, who have longer sales processes and as such need ways to maintain potential clients’ interest over time.

 

Original and interesting studies and investigations

Although content curation can be very useful for your strategy, there is no denying whole much people love original and unique content. After all, content marketing is all based on offering the user values, and what better value to offer than information that no one else has? To present your data and finding in an attractive way, downloadable eBooks and infographics are very popular.

 

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Jessica Bubenheim

Studying International Business at Warwick Business School. Inspired by Social Entrepreneurs.