Content marketing is a long-term relationship. It’s not a one-night stand.

There is a problem with content marketing in today’s world, a big one. Marketers don’t understand content marketing. Marketers don’t understand how to go about content marketing. The result is a lot of noise on the web. This noise presents an opportunity to marketers looking to capture an increasingly saturated space and engage with the audiences.

It is essential brands build themselves in the mind of the consumers. They need to establish themselves as the go-to entity for a given product or service. This is not possible through keywords and information sharing alone. The greatest influence a brand can have on its consumers is through emotion. Brands need to create an emotional experience rather than simply share information. Good content is not simply storytelling. It is telling a true story well.

In the world of cutthroat marketing, it is crucial brands stand out and develop the right digital strategy. How can they do that? By following the 3 basic rules of digital marketing!

Understand your audience.

Knowing your audience is the key to a successful digital campaign. In the ever evolving digital space, emphasizing on just keywords in order to have search engines rank and index your brand better does not work. The approach to digital marketing needs to be holistic.

Market Research will help understand the target market, discover current trends and determine priorities for brands on the web. Analytics will help you understand where your audiences are coming from, what’s working with them and what opportunities present themselves. There are numerous ways through which you can understand your audience. Tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights are in the forefront. The better you understand your audience, the more effective you get at creating appealing campaigns and increasing the effectiveness of your campaign.

Gain the trust of your audience.

Why is it that word of mouth is the best form of publicity? It is because audiences believe individuals more than the brand itself. Word of mouth works because it is individuals sharing their opinion.

What people really want now is an experience, not just a product or service. An experience is more authentic, and the more authentic a brand is, the more audiences trust them. Marketers never faced the moral dilemma of being honest with the audience. It was always perceived that the audiences know they are being lied to. Along with the rise of social media, came consumers’ access to all kinds of information. Spoon-fed advertising does not work anymore. With the digital landscape changing, it is essential to be real with your audience. Share your passions and visions with them. The best way to be perceived authentic is to BE authentic.

Innovate. Innovate. Innovate.

As brands embrace content marketing, the same audience set is being targeted by a multitude of brands making it harder for marketers to hold onto the attention of the audience. Marketers need to stand out and shouldn’t be afraid of innovating, either small or big,

While most brands allocate budgets towards exploring new product lines, they ignore the opportunity to innovate and engage with their audiences on digital and social channels. Brands that have gone the extra mile in developing innovative digital marketing strategies have stood out and made an impact. Take the example of Turquoise Cottage, a popular bar in Gurgaon. In an attempt to make their Happy Hours stand out, they launched #HappyHoursRewind and took the digital route, getting customers to engage on social channels with them while driving sales up. They engineered a tweet-powered clock that moved backwards when a tweet was sent using #HappyHoursRewind. The clock was installed at the bar where users kept Happy Hours going by tweeting why Happy Hours shouldn’t end and in the process literally turning back time.

In a single night, there were 250+ tweets resulting in Happy Hours going on till 12 am, even though the clock just showed 9 pm! This resulted in significant word-of-mouth, increased traffic and a renewed interest in the brand.

Gone are the days when focus on keywords and search volumes are sufficient to increase brand presence online. For a brand to be successful in the digital world, it is necessary to align their digital strategy with the audience needs, their wants and how they behave online. Following the above does not guarantee a win, but it will give brands an edge in the cutthroat completion and give their audiences a meaningful experience.

Remember, Google only loves you if everyone else loves you first.