You may have heard the term content marketing and wondered what it is.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is an increasingly important strategic marketing approach for organisations seeking to deepen relationships with their external customers. Quite simply, content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, to attract and retain an audience.
Unlike many other online marketing methods, content marketing seeks to boost an organisation’s ‘owned’ media, as opposed to ‘paid’ (self-explanatory) or ‘earned’ (content that others write about you, like reviews) media . ‘Owned’ media is valuable because it establishes the organisation as an authority in its field. Being unique, this content often figures prominently in search engines, which increases the organisation’s online discoverability and drives traffic to its website.
So what is meant by ‘owned media’? It’s anything you create: articles, stories, video, blog posts, memes, ‘how to’ guides, infographics, ‘best of’ lists, white papers, thought pieces, help articles, forum posts, FAQs, and so the list goes on.
Spending time producing your own content offers a number of benefits for your business:
Content is engaging
Well-written content has the power to inform, engage and captivate people. This is particularly the case with stories that contain a human element that people can relate to. Have a think about the sorts of stories you engage with on the web everyday. Which ones resonate most with you? How many of them are aligned with a particular brand or business?
Content promotes interaction
Content can generate an interactive dialogue through comments and online discussion.
Content is discoverable
Good content can be discovered readily through search engines; the more good quality content that is produced, the more chance there is of being found. People attracted to the content via search have a vested interest in the content you have produced, given that they have searched specifically for that product or service, enhancing the prospect of a transaction.
Content can be ‘evergreen’
Content (unlike advertising) often has enduring value, not only at a single moment in time, but well into the future. A good piece of content published on your website can continue work for you over time and attract many new prospects.
Content is distributable
Content can be distributed and redistributed to subscribers, fans and followers through web, social, email and messaging channels.
Content is shareable
Content can be forwarded, retweeted, liked and shared, generating brand exposure and loyalty.
Content demonstrates credibility
Advertising is often looked upon with scepticism by consumers. People know when money has changed hands to put a brand name up in lights and this makes them cautious. Authoritative content, on the other hand, is looked upon with less suspicion and provides an avenue through which to demonstrate expertise and credibility. This offers assurance to the customer and improves the likelihood that they will transact with your business.
Content is ‘owned’
You own it. It’s yours. You can do what you like with it. It’s protected by copyright. If it’s published on your website, you control it – unlike content posted elsewhere on the web, which is displayed and distributed at the pleasure of the host service (eg. Facebook’s recent algorithm changes have resulted in significantly less organic reach for posts on Facebook, something which you have no control over).
So, how do you implement a ‘content marketing’ strategy? Here’s a simple ‘content cycle’ inspired by design thinking that you might consider when starting out:
- The ‘Customer’. Identify the specific target audience. Who are you trying to influence?
- Objective. Identify the objective to be achieved with that segment. What do you want to achieve with that segment? Email signups? More sales? Inform them about an upcoming event?
- Content. Ideate in a group and produce content to meet the objective. Get creative!
- Channels. Distribute the content via the appropriate channels – social, blog, web, messaging, eDM
- Data. Use the content as a mechanism to capture customer data concurrently – eg. use email subscription forms as a content gate
- Measurement. Measure the effectiveness of the content campaign against the original objective. Use Google Analytics and other tools.
- Iterate. Start the process again. Improve the content cycle by adopting what works and jettisoning what doesn’t. Test and adjust. Test and adjust.