What is content marketing?
Though many companies are employing content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy, a large portion of marketers admit that they don't fully understand it. Below, we take a look at the definition of content marketing and how your business may benefit.
"Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting"
— Bill Gates, 1996
What is content marketing? Content marketing is the, strategy driven, acquisition of a defined market segment through the sharing of, useful or entertaining, content.
In other words, high-quality, frequently published content is used to target, attract and engage a desired audience. Once aquired, content marketing helps to build the trust and loyalty needed to convert this audience into paying customers.
So, what do I mean by content?
The content marketing toolkit
Below are some common tools and tactics employed by content marketers:
A blog is a website, or segment of a website, used to share text-based, journal-style content. Blogging is one of the most popular forms of content marketing due to its ease of accessibility. However, as blogging well is not an 'entry-level' skill, it is often executed poorly.
It is frequently assumed that, when blogging for business, the writer should talk about or plug the products or services which the business provides. This is counterproductive for a number of reasons. Namely, to acquire an audience which will engage and interact with the content, the readership must be motivated, not only to read but to return to the blog.
Instead, your blog content should be crafted to interest those who would use your products or services, without feeling that they are being sold to.
While the SEO benefit of guest blogging is in dispute, there are other, proven, benefits to this content marketing approach.
One solid benefit of guest blogging is the access to new audiences. There are likely bloggers in your industry who have already built a following, and, in return for fresh content, will be happy to share their audience with you.
Additionally, guest blogging helps you to build a network of valuable connections.
Depending on your market, you may find that (informal) blogging doesn't fit. Instead, a more formal approach to content marketing may be more appropriate.
Good examples of sites which use educational content as part of their marketing strategy are Wikipedia, the NHS and Etymonline (a website which details the origin and history of English words). While arguably less entertaining, these reference sites generate a huge, loyal and active readership.
Ebooks and whitepapers
To build a loyal following, it is essential that a business demonstrates authority. Ebooks and whitepapers can help to show your audience that you are a major player, as they demonstrate commitment, discipline, and if done correctly, leadership and influence.
"Ebook" is an umbrella term covering any digital content in the form of a book, while whitepapers are business and industry specific. Whitepapers are usually formal documents designed to demonstrate knowledge of the industry or a segment of the industry.
For example, if you are a marketing company looking to work with pharmaceutical businesses, you might create a whitepaper which demonstrates how certain marketing methods could generate pharmaceutical sales and business growth or how pharmaceutical marketing is expected to change, thus demonstrating your experience and knowledge of their sector. Should they, in the future, choose to hire a marketing company, you would likely be on the top of their list.
Videos and Vlogging
Video marketing is often viewed as more difficult to produce than text copy, however, it is arguably easier for your audience to absorb as more and more people are turning to video platforms for their education.
Videos can easily be uploaded to websites such as YouTube or Vimeo and embedded on your website, providing a two-fold benefit: While you are further engaging those who visit your website, you are also creating a new referral stream, introducing those who stumble on your videos to your brand.
While, to some, podcasting may seem inferior to video, audio content has its own advantages. With smaller file sizes and the ability to consume the content without actively watching or reading, podcasts allow your audience to consume your content passively.
For instance, many listen to podcasts while driving their car rather than listening to the radio — those who listen to podcasts are able to select content which applies to them specifically.
There are many benefits to sending email newsletters to those who willingly subscribe to your mailing list. While, as a content creator, many may stumble across your content and/or website, an email newsletter provides the means to keep in touch with your readership, building trust and loyalty over time.
Newsletters can take many forms and it is important to choose which is the best fit for your business and brand.
Contrary to popular belief, while long-form posts perform well in studies, your content should still be clear and concise — when planning content, focus on depth and value to the reader over length.
With that said, an effective way to publish data in a concise and easily digestible format is though infographics, as they help your audience to visualise data that may otherwise be complex for them to grasp.
Sharing content on social media
While I wouldn't recommend this as the root of your content marketing strategy, content marketing on social media has proved effective in some industries. Used correctly, sharing content on social media can, due to its reach, draw in a huge audience.
A word of caution: While social media platforms may have more initial reach and instant impact potential than your website, the reach of your content is decided by algorithms which are out of your control.
With that in mind, I strongly recommend that you aim to draw traffic away from social platforms to content on your website and funnel those visitors towards your email newsletter—where you will have more control.
Content marketing is a powerful tool which can be leveraged effectively in most industries. With the right content strategy and a strong team, you are likely to see benefits which outweigh any other marketing technique in both results and efficiency. If you would like to know what a content strategy could do for your business, get in touch today for a free chat.