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Content Marketing Lessons Learned from…Video Games? (Part 1)

In 2012, more than 200 million Americans were playing video games. And I’m willing to bet that at some point in your life, you’ve played them too — whether you were a hardcore gamer as a child, dabbled at Halo in college, or picked up a Nintendo controller and played some Mario Kart every once in awhile at a friend’s house. While our parents told us time and time again that video games were going to rot our brains, it turns out they actually have quite a bit to teach us — about life, about relationships…and about content marketing, of all things.

If you played video games as a kid, you may remember how easy it was to become immersed in the worlds that were painted across your screen, pixel by shining pixel. Hours after pressing the “start” button, you would emerge from your gaming stupor — that much more triumphant, and that much wiser (even if the only knowledge you gained was how to do the most complex trick in ATV Offroad Fury). And isn’t that what content marketing is all about, on a lesser scale? Creating engaging experiences with content that will teach your consumers, pique their interest, and turn them into die-hard fans?

Why yes, yes it is.

So what content marketing lessons can we learn from video games? Let’s take a look at a few lessons in the first part of our series on video games and marketing:

You Should Be Using Multiple Channels

People have preferences. Some gamers would rather play Call of Duty on their PS3 instead of on an Xbox, and giving them the choice between consoles means they can pick the one that’s better suited to their tastes and skills. Content marketing is similar. While one person may prefer to read longer blog articles, others would much rather watch a video, or attend a webinar. Having a variety of content available across channels and mediums means that you’ll be able to cater to the varying preferences of the modern-day consumer.

Offer Something of Value

Video games teach us a lot about value. Unlike the childhood stories in which the heroes can get by on wit and courage alone, with no other possessions than the shoes on their feet, video game characters need shields, swords, potions, and more to complete their quest (how else does Link manage to rescue Zelda so many times?). But in order to get these things, you’ll first need to learn how to trade. After playing video games long enough, you begin to learn more about when you’re making a valuable trade, and when you’re getting ripped off.

This idea of trading something of value for another item of value is central to content marketing. If you’re offering up a piece of long-form content that’s gated behind a form, consumers will have to give up their personal information to access it. For this to happen, they need to believe that your content has enough value to warrant a trade. Make sure your content isn’t self-promotional and that your calls to action are strong and benefit-focused to increase the likelihood of conversion.

You Can’t Ignore Social and Mobile

The video game landscape is changing, like so many other things that are being impacted by the digital world. While video games were once limited to traditional gaming consoles, they’ve now spread to mobile devices, tablets, and social media sites as well, bringing in an entirely new demographic of gamers that consists of almost as many women as men. And because of this, the video game industry has had to adapt to the digital world just as marketers have, developing new content over new channels for new markets.

If you’re a content marketer, you can’t afford to ignore these mediums either. Your company should have accounts on whichever social channels your audience is most active on — whether that’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or another platform — and you should be actively engaging in any conversations taking place. Start sharing your content via your social channels, and make sure that your content is viewable on mobile devices, too. (If you’re interested in learning more about the impact of mobile and social on marketing, check out this DMNews article by Pardot’s Adam Blitzer, titled “7 Ways to Improve Conversions in the Mobile Social Age.”)

These are just three parallels that can be drawn between video games and content marketing, and we’ve got more on the way in the second post in our series. Stay tuned for our next post on video games, which will go up next week!