Consider the shocking results of two marketing surveys I recently came across.
A recently concluded study by the McCarthy Group revealed that 84 percent of young consumers have no faith in traditional marketing. Even more shocking is that they have no sympathy towards it at all.
Another survey, a similar percentage of prospective customers stated they equate online reviews to recommendations from friends.
The results of these two surveys are clear indications that traditional marketing is no longer effective in giving you the results you need from your marketing campaigns. This is where the concept of authentic marketing comes into play.
What Really Is Authentic Content Marketing?
Authentic marketing is somewhat tricky to define academically. But, I can describe who an authentic marketer is. I consider him or her a storyteller who wishes to inform, inspire and entertain his or her online audiences who could be prospective customers. A content marker aims to use his or her pursuit to genuinely aid audiences.
A better way to understand authentic content marketing is to consider it together with search engine optimization (SEO) in two aspects – quantitative and qualitative authenticities.
Perhaps you were not born as yet, but early in the turn of the millennium, content marketing was the literal opposite of authentic.
How? You may ask. Well, if you could go in time and read the marketing contents of brands at that time, you’d notice how keyword-laded they were. Although shameful – to say the least – that was the only way they could optimize their contents to rank better on search engines.
The concept of keyword density (given in percentages) ruled at the time, and honestly, these guys did their best. It meant using a specific keyword every 100 words. For instance, a 2% keyword density meant using the exact keyword twice every 100 words. Imagine writing a 5000-word marketing content and achieving a keyword density of 3%. I’m sure you’d had to be that meticulous.
Companies also thrived on off-site SEO practices to increase the awareness of their brand. They achieved it through inbound marketing (using offsite blogs, reviews, testimonials, reviews and so on that link back to the brand’s official website).
As you can see, all these attempts left customers out of the question. Although the marketing campaign intended to provide a solution to a customer’s problem or answer questions, such as traditional SEO and marketing practices only targeted the search engine.
Google’s Attempts to Ensure Content Is Quantitatively Authentic
But this did not go on for long. Google struck with its new algorithm called “Blackhat SEO.” The algorithm searched for keyword stuffing rolled out hefty penalties on culprits.
soon after, Google Hummingbird algorithm took things a notch higher. It could associate words thereby putting them into context. This gave birth semantic or secondary keywords which the algorithm can understand well making it possible for you to rank a keyword that appeared only once in your content.
It means the search engine can now tell whether your content has captured the intended meaning of the keywords or not by trying to put it into context. In other words, Google’s concern is that you win the intended essence of the keywords by discussing topics associated with them.
In further attempt to ensure content authenticity to earn the trust of audiences, Google has pulled another shocker. The world’s number one search engine rewards backlinks from pages that address search questions convincingly.
It’s now clear that Google has succeeded in its attempts to show audiences marketing contents that answer or satisfy their search questions and intents.
What does this mean to you? It means you must strive to ensure that the contents you have created for SEO purposes (both on-site and off-site) are quantitatively authentic.
I have no better way to explain this element of content authenticity other than to relate it to who you (your brand) are. What is it your brand cares about? What does your brand do?
You are talking about quantitative authenticity if you can answer these questions and then apply the answers to your marketing efforts.
I know it can be challenging to be authentic or trustworthy when it comes to marketing. However, it can be gratifying if you can do it correctly. This is because you are awakening a feeling within your audience that your brand is unique and has something to offer.
Answering The Question – What Does Your Brand Do?
To be real, most people go into business first to make money and second to solve a customer’s problem. Balancing between these two goals can be difficult. More often than not, you’ll end up being less authentic.
If you really intend to provide legitimate value to your audience, then you’ll have to deal with realistic frustrations associated with the problem you are attempting to solve. Find a way to demonstrate the frustrations your audience could be having via storytelling.
It works miracles. A good example that comes to my mind is Harry’s – the company that specializes in shaving and grooming products. This brand was able to crack through a thick and saturated market with a great story. The ad uses a short depiction of a young man have more time to prepare breakfast because he slashed down on the shaving time by using Harry’s shaver.
Harry’s – a relatively small company – managed to stage stiff competition with longstanding giants in the industry including Schick and Gillette to gain control of $2.4 billion worth of shares in that niche just by telling a short and simple story about who they do.
At amazing how a simple picture could give Harry’s such authenticity. The brand showed their audiences why they exist and the reason why their products are the best without using 1000 words in a company description and mission statement.
Answering The Question – What Does Your Brand Care About?
Before you choose a niche for your brand, you put yourself in the mindset of your audiences. Obviously, not all beginners think along these lines.
Here, you work from doing to your customers what you’d want then do to you. Your aim should be to maximize the positive experience of your customer with your brand. It also means you must meet the expectations of your customers by providing the right service they are looking for.
Your beginning point should be to stimulate the interest of your prospects via the language and kind of topics you talk about in your website, blog and social media pages. This is where inbound marketing takes effect.
First, you must know and understand your customers and what interests them. Once you gain that knowledge, you can tailor stories that are useful, entertaining, informative, motivating, inspiring and more.
A content that captures all these customer needs, desires and interests will genuinely attract the right audience and even cause them to take action. After all, all contents usually have some sort of call to action (CTA) towards the end.
Content that is generic, rehearsed or lifted from common news damages trust between you and your customers because you cannot guarantee its authenticity. Instead of attracting customers, it will chase them away.
How to Practice Authenticity Content Marketing
Practicing SEO and authentic marketing can be difficult. But if you must succeed in your campaigns, you must learn to do so. Here are a few tips that could help out:
Be Unique and Sincere
Type any given keyword on Google search engine, and you’ll see the number of pages containing such keyword. Does this mean you cannot be original? By no means can it be so. If you think critically and outside the box about the content you are just about to create, you can achieve originality.
Combine your research skills with truthfulness to push your sales agenda. Customers will read between the pages and know whether you are unique and sincere or you are just providing them with a sales pitch.
Diversify Your Points Of View
Certain pieces of information cannot be challenged or changed. For instance, you cannot change a scientifically proven fact. However, you can adopt a different point of view that still links back to the truth.
Always try to write your own perspective –not the thoughts of another person. Your readers will appreciate this and connect better with you.
Also, consider sourcing the view of others in your company. It will amaze you how differently humans can think if they are freed to do so. Not only will this make your content unique and trustworthy but also give your audience the chance to listen to new ideas from different people.
Telling Customers’ Stories Is Powerful
Put yourself in the place of your prospects. Wouldn’t you like to find out what a customer of a brand of interest experienced they sought the services of that brand? It’s the same with your prospects. Tell them stories concerning the experiences of other customers with your brand.
For example, you can tell how a customer of your brand managed to increase his sales by using a trick or service you sold to him. Think of similar examples. What matters is that you share the positive stories of your previous customers. Remember to be honest even with these.
Empathize With Your Customers
In addition to empathizing, I would recommend that you sympathize also. Even though your clients may not experience your sympathy, it is this that will lead you to empathize with them. One way to do this is to make a heartfelt and emotional appeal where your brand truthfully stands out and can satisfy the needs of your customers.
In as much as you empathize, you must ensure prospects do not misinterpret your motives. This would lead to severe inauthenticity and insincerity – and a death sentence to your brand. Do not scare or manipulate your customers to recognize and build your brand. It’s suicidal.
User-Generated Content Can Work Wonders
Authentic marketing is a two-way affair. Do not expect your valuable customers to listen to what you tell them when you cannot hear and use their ideas. They have the problem, and they know the kind of solution that can best answer their queries.
Social media and customer forums offer an excellent way to generate content from users. Imagine a customer sharing his or her great experience with your products or services in your brand’s social media channels. His or her story could inspire and expose others including friends and family to your brand.
Data Use Boosts Quantitative Authenticity
A content that satisfies searcher intent can really benefit from data use since it will be quantitatively authentic. Your brand can benefit from a scientific, data-steered approach that figures out what your content should look like based on specific keywords.
To obtain such data, you may have to work with a digital marketing consultant to or you can opt to analyze the top-ranking pages for unique keywords. You then identify the topical aspects of such contents and using them naturally in your newly branded content.
Summary of the Benefits of Authentic Content Marketing
- Improves your content’s readability and the ability of customers to relate to it. This increases engagement.
- Profoundly informs your audience regarding their individual needs
- Refocuses your audience thereby increasing the number of people that are likely to engage with the content you provide.
- Improves the value of your content giving you an authority in the niche you target
- Can significantly increase customer retention due to value addition
- Generates brand loyalty among your prospects and could even encourage advocacy
- Could fix your brand in the minds of prospective customers for future searches and even ordering decisions (if you are a retailing brand)
Wrapping It Up
I haven’t covered everything to do with SEO and content marketing, but I’m sure I have covered the basics. If you apply the knowledge you have obtained here; will give you the best chance with competing with big brands online. Authentic marketing may not appear elsewhere especially among the resources dealing with best SEO practices. However, cultivating trust with your audience is a big leap towards achieving the success of your brand.
Author: Lorenzo Gutierrez is an entrepreneur and an SEO specialist he is the founder and CEO of an agency specializing in digital marketing San Francisco. He uses data-driven strategies to grow his customer’s revenue online. In his free time, Lorenzo likes to garden organic veggies he uses to cook in his recipes. Connect with Lorenzo on his LinkedIn.