Boost Your Customers’ Trust and Affinity With Great Food Content Marketing
In the past several months, consumers have made big and small changes to the way they buy groceries. Recently it was reported that 43% of consumers say they shopped for food online in the past six months, versus 24% just two years ago. And what is more interesting is that more than 90% of these shoppers say they will continue to purchase online post-pandemic.
Needless to say, your food brand needs to be savvy about reaching your customers online. An essential part of that is the development of digital content to reach them. If you’re not invested in content marketing yet, don’t fret. It’s not too late to get started. Or, if you’re already well down this path, let’s further ramp up your efforts.
Content marketing presents an incredible opportunity for food marketers like you to build a flourishing community. More consumers are saying trust is essential to brand loyalty, and this is especially true as we look ahead to 2021. However, it’s no secret you’re navigating one of the most complex marketplaces in recent history. Even if you could tap your heels and eliminate COVID tomorrow, the rules for engaging your customers have changed, potentially forever. This is why content marketing is so important – it is one of the best ways for your food brand to build trust online.
How Does Content Marketing Build Trust for Food Brands?
Content marketing focuses on producing and distributing valuable, relevant, timely and consistent content to attract and engage your targeted audience. In short, content marketing (which is a lot like brand affinity marketing) answers your customers’ most pressing questions. To get this done, you have to put your customers in the driver’s seat. What do they want to know about your brand? Your products? Your values? If you’re doing it right, content marketing can and should answer all of these questions and more. When your content is working, it drives brand awareness, engagement, trust and loyalty. It is even the foundation for brand advocacy.
As food marketers, we know few people go straight from discovering your brand to buying it. Your customer’s buying journey spans many different devices and touchpoints. When developing your content plan, which is traditionally focused on the top of your sales funnel, you should consider all of these various touchpoints. Doing so can help you deliver the right-fit content, at the right time, to ultimately help convert an unaware consumer into a customer.
In the past few years, content marketing has expanded far beyond its origins of blogging. (But don’t dismiss this classic format too fast; blogs are still having a big impact on businesses.) Today, webinars and podcasts featuring culinary experts, infographics, craveable food photography, “how-to” recipe videos, e-cookbooks and recipe PDFs are just a few of the mediums used by content marketers to engage and grow their audience.
Your food brand’s content mix will be as unique as your product line. Start with testing one medium, then add more as you see success. For a great example, take a look at California Walnuts and their content portal filled with recipes, how-to tips, nutritional information and so much more.
3 Content Strategies That Will Help You Build Trust and Affinity Next Year
To find what is most important to your customers, try thinking about the proverbial question, “What keeps them up at night?” Amid political, social and environmental concerns, the confusion and uncertainty of the coronavirus and the emphasis on total wellness, your customers have a lot weighing on their minds (and hearts).
You may be wondering, “How can my food brand possibly answer all of their questions?” The good news is, you can’t nor should you try. Whether you’re starting new or years into your food brand’s content marketing efforts, there will always be new questions to answer or old questions you need to revisit.
Here are several opportunities you’ll want to consider as you build your food brand’s content plan for the next year.
Know Where You Stand on Important Issues
As they juggle often-competing roles of work, family and personal life, your customers are also trying to make sense of the complex world they’re living in right now. Every day they are inundated with information making them very informed, albeit critical. In response, they are more deliberate about the brands they choose to support.
Your customers want more from you than just to purchase and move on. They want to know that your food brand genuinely cares about their total well-being. In fact, there is a good chance they’ll seek out proof before they purchase. This makes your content a perfect opportunity to showcase your brand’s values – authentically.
When it comes to social and political hot topics like equality, diversity and sustainability, your brand should plan and prepare its position on each. While you can’t stand for everything, you absolutely need to choose and share what your brand does believe in. For instance, if you’re committed to supporting equality, capture your position and share it. If you genuinely care about the environment and made steps to reduce your brand’s impact, tell that story. Don’t be afraid to have a position, just make sure it’s done with genuine conviction – your customers will know the difference.
Video Fatigue: Get in on the Rise in Audio Content
In the year of the Zoom meeting, it’s no surprise that more and more consumers are turning to podcasts. As of July, the number of people listening to podcasts on a weekly basis grew 17% compared to last year. And Spotify, the Sweden/New York-based streaming service, isn’t letting the opportunity pass them by. With 50% of their 1.5 million podcasts launching in 2020, podcast consumption has doubled. With exclusive content from Joe Rogan, Warner Bros. and DC on the horizon, I think it’s safe to say this medium is just getting started.
If you’ve been thinking about testing out podcasts, now is the time. As a food brand, there are many ways to get a piece of the pie. Are you working with a celebrity or influencers that can help co-host a show? Does one of your brand values lend itself to this platform? For instance, if your consumers are interested in reducing food waste and your brand is actively taking action, turn that into a reoccurring topic on your channel or produce a miniseries. There really are no rules with podcasts, although you do want to think about creating a space that can grow as your brand and audience grow. Try taking a look at some of the top food podcasts for 2020 for inspiration.
Enhance Your Customer’s Experience
It’s clear that savvy consumers are doing more shopping online due to the pandemic. However, the shopping experience (regardless of where you’re shopping) has been filled with challenges since the start of the pandemic. More than half of consumers (66%) reported an issue with their orders in Q1. What’s more concerning is that these consumers were 35% less loyal than those who had no problems. Knowing even the best-run businesses have some percentage of dissatisfied customers, how you manage those concerns should be a top priority so you don’t lose your customers’ trust.
With more of your customers buying food online (and likely to face some hiccups), it’s time to look closely at each touchpoint of your online shopping experience for opportunities to surprise and delight. Your content can play a big part in making their experience more enjoyable, stress-free and seamless. Once you start looking, there are opportunities everywhere. Here are just a few to get you started.
On most sites the 404 error page is boring, but did you know it doesn’t have to be? Add a unique message or a video to this page to optimize it. Are you using explainer videos on your product pages and throughout your site? You should be, especially when 74% of those who watch, purchase. Do you have auto-responses set up so your customers know their order has been received, scheduled and so on? How about adding a how-to or “hands-in-pan” video to get them excited to receive their product? Or perhaps a link to a branded playlist that they can turn on in the kitchen? Or maybe there is an opportunity to add a piece of content in their shipment, perhaps a trial size of your latest product or a coupon to try something new?
The Future Is Bright for Food Content Marketing
In the past several months, your customers have made big and small changes to the way they shop for food. And these changes demand that you take a fresh look at your food marketing strategies.
There are likely a lot of untapped opportunities just waiting for you when it comes to building trust with content marketing. Especially in today’s uncertain marketplace, content marketing is ideal because your initial investment can be adjusted quickly and scaled to fit wherever there is a need.