This morning I stumbled across this chart that is being shared across the web.

We often see data about areas where companies are spending or are planning to spend more of their marketing budget but we rarely see data about what consumers actually want. So what do consumers really want from your brand?

The results (see in full here) seem to be a little contradictory: Brands seem to place a big importance on content about products and related topics while consumers are saying they want more Email and Facebook resources along with an improved website.

The Value of Content

So what is the answer? Are we wasting our time by adding content new content about our products, services, industry plus other resources?

Joe Puluzzi from the Content Marketing Institute gives a good defense for the value of content:

“If you really take a look at the research, consumers are actually desperate for content from brands, but like marketers they are fixated on channels,” says Rohrs. “When consumers ask for more email and Facebook, they are asking for helpful content through those channels. What are marketers going to put into those channels… air?”

In other words, marketers need to develop content about products and interesting topics related to their brand that build awareness and loyalty that can be used to share through our consumer’s preferred channels such as email and Facebook.

What Else Do These Results Suggest?

There are a number of lessons we  can gather from this research:

  • Consumers want the content or information they need at the tip of their fingers. They don’t want to go digging through your website for the information. They want to check their email or Facebook and see your brand bringing everything together for them.
  • The more we know about our consumers the more we can tailor our content marketing strategy for their needs. If we are only blogging or creating website content and not sharing it through important channels such as email or Facebook we are failing to engage our audience.
  • We need to understand our target market well. Some brands’ audiences may be highly engaged on Facebook and wanting to interact with the brand on that platform. Other brand’s audiences may prefer to interact on site, or through the Call Center or through YouTube. What is your audience’s preference?

Key Takeaways as a Content Marketer

I think that the major takeaway from this study is that consumers want helpful content in the right place at the right time.

As a consumer yourself think about how you are absolutely bombarded with different branding messages all day, everyday. Here is what we can do to ensure that when a consumer connects with us through any of our channels, be it our website, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, an App or any other medium, we can meet their needs in a way that will build brand loyalty. 

  1. Be Intentional. Know your business inside and out. And then be intentional about getting to know your customers. What value do you provide for your customers? Why do they need you? What benefits help them overcome their problems? This level of understanding will help you determine your content marketing strategy and which channels to use. 
  2. Do Your Research. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what type of information they are looking for and how they want you to communicate with them. If you already use Email, Facebook, Blogging or other forms of communication look at what form gets the most positive responses from your customers. 
  3.  Be Unique. Just because all of your business contacts, competitors or even friends are using Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to be using them too. Don’t base your content marketing strategy and channels on what others are doing or even on what you would like to do. Be unique and cater your strategy to your customers. If they prefer print materials or a weekly email then that may make the most sense. 

Additional Reading

Read additional articles about this research for further insight and different perspectives on the topic of Content Marketing:

When Your Audience Hates Your Content Marketing Plan

A Consumer Content Marketing Conundrum: More or Less Content from Brands?

7 Content Marketing Strategies for 2013