For more than half a century, publishers (TV, radio, print publications, etc.) have used "impressions" as the primary metric by which the cost for advertising has been measured. In an era of mass media, in which it was practically impossible to measure the number of true viewers, listeners, and readers, it was as close as they could get to measuring the (potential) impact of an advertiser's message. But in 2016, it is my belief that these publishers continue to use impressions, not because it is the best they can do to measure the effectiveness of their platforms, but because it is the most sure way for them to make money. Now I don't begrudge these businesses for making a profit. After all, that's presumably why they exist. But the biggest reason so many publishers are still charging for impressions is because advertisers, many of whom simply just don't know any better, are continuing to pay for impressions, even though there are better, more cost-effective ways.
If you're reading this blog, it means you are likely somehow involved in, or are interested in, the art of content marketing. And, if you're anything like me (or the majority of any other content marketers on planet earth), you strive to learn more and more about the technique every day so you can become better at it. But what if practice doesn't make perfect? What if, just like Becky on your 6th grade soccer team, you're left in the dirt while some people are just born with a natural gift? A gift to make awesome, awe-inspiring, drool-worthy content.
I didn’t get your typical start in marketing. Believe or not, this content creator was originally seeking a BFA in illustration. But, like many fledgling college students, based on the input of a couple very pragmatic parents, I decided to switch my major to advertising; the best decision I have ever made.
Did you know the average person is exposed to almost 10,000 branded messages per day? From the moment they wake up and brush their teeth to when they end the day snuggling up on the couch to their favorite TV show, consumers are being bombarded with brands starving for their attention. And in this digital age, it's getting even easier for "them" to reach their audience anywhere, any time. Whether it be pop-up digital banners, an autoplaying video, or sponsored social media posts, more and more consumers are getting more and more agitated with the ever growing presence of online ads. And we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's only getting worse.
Storytelling—one of humanity's oldest and most treasured art forms. Some stories have been passed down from generation to generation as old wives' tales and myths, and more recently, stories have been shared as trending hashtags and viral animal videos. No matter the format or medium, they have a way of making complex issues easier to understand and what would normally be excruciatingly boring topics, enthralling. No one knows when the first story was told, but one thing is clear: stories impact almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives—music, books, paintings, television, religion, news media, social media, and even the marketing and advertising tactics we see.
It's that sound again; the sound you've been dreading. Crickets.
Chirp, chirp, chirp.
But what went wrong? This happened the last time you published a blog and you swore you wouldn't let it happen again. You spent hours analyzing heat maps and click through rates, shares, and traffic sources. You exhausted any and all metrics you could get your hands on and worked for days perfecting this latest blog post with your newfound knowledge. You THOUGHT you had learned your lesson. So why is your audience still giving you the cold shoulder? Why aren't they sharing your content?
One of the most beloved artists of the past decade, Taylor Swift, said, “Today, artists get record deals because they have fans – not the other way around.”
So what does a pop superstar’s quote have to do with marketing for people like you and me? Well, very much like the music industry, the content marketing world as we know it has also changed forever. Creating enriching and enlightening content alone is no longer enough. Before reaching new heights of success in your business, you need to first develop a plan to draw an audience in. You need die-hard, scream-until-they-cry, spend-thousands-on-tickets, loyal-to-the-end fans. You need an alpha audience.
Your website is the cornerstone of your marketing efforts. You have, no doubt, spent countless hours and expended tremendous resources to bring it to its current state. And you will, in all likelihood, spend more hours and consume more resources to update it less than two years from now, even if it just went live. That is, unless you adopt an approach called Growth-Driven Design (GDD).