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Daniel Penfold

Content’s still king – but only if there’s conversation. Here’s why.

Let’s talk.

After all, it’s how most human interactions begin. So why does so much content marketing feel like a monologue, not a dialogue?

What the hell do you mean by that?

In the beginning, there was content. And content was king. Often the thinking went something like this – our brand is awesome; our content is awesome; we just need to tell enough people how awesome both our brand and our content is.

See what’s missing in this equation? Yep, customers’ needs, wants and desires.

Okay, tell me more.

In 2019, the simple truth is we’re drowning in content. I’m willing to bet you have at least three tabs open, your phone is buzzing with notifications, new emails are piling up, etc.

This is where the ‘content is king’ fairytale meets reality. Content is no longer the king but just another face in the crowd, pleading frantically for your attention.

What can we as marketers do about this? Well, we can start listening to what people want. We can take the step from content marketing to conversational content marketing.

What steps are you talking about?

We live in the age of distraction. All is noise. All is movement. The way to cut through this? Add meaning to each interaction with your customers.

The content of yesterday was designed from a brand perspective, not a people perspective. Conversational content marketing offers each customer a unique, personalized experience. It does this by mimicking one of the oldest art forms known to humankind – the art of good conversation.

It does this by mimicking one of the oldest art forms known to humankind – the art of good conversation.

You’ve lost me. Explain yourself.

Let’s pretend you bump into a friend in the street. She grabs you by the shoulders, rants at you for five minutes straight about herself, and doesn’t ask once how you’re doing. Then she walks off.

Brand communication at its worst can feel something like this.

These kinds of interactions break with the elements of good conversation – empathy, inquiry, understanding, reciprocity.

Okay, okay. So how is conversational content marketing different?

Short answer – it takes the elements of good conversation and enacts them across each step of the customer journey.

How? By asking questions first and designing each path with the customer’s needs foremost in mind.

When visiting a website, you’re often left alone, with nothing more than a search box as your only friend. The emphasis is on the brand, but the responsibility of action is placed on your shoulders. The participation threshold is just too high.

Conversational content marketing takes that weight off your shoulders by predicting your needs and listening to your desires.

So is this a revolution in marketing?

No – it’s an enhancement of existing content marketing methods. The power trio of content optimization – reaching the right audience through the right content at the right time – is still in place.

But it’s a definite shift away from purely transactional marketing where the user is viewed as a cash cow and the entire funnel is geared towards getting his or her money but without building a relationship and without adding value to the interaction.

Conversational content marketing is still a funnel. But the emphasis is on building a living relationship with users through purposeful, personalized conversation.

Who loses out in this shift?

No one. Brands win, customers win.

For brands, conversation equates to insight into customers’ needs, requests and behavioural patterns. And more insight can lead to more conversions.

For customers, they finally get to shape the content targeted at them. It’s as simple as that.

Content marketing is dead. Long live conversational content marketing.

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