What is content marketing?
Any form of marketing that relies on or draws from editorial content is considered content marketing. It has always existed, although what it’s called and the tactics around it have matured over time. Companies have long created white papers, articles, charts and graphs, videos, and reports to position their brands as thought leaders and industry experts deserving of loyalty, with the goal of generating leads and sales. It’s the delivery model that has changed — mailboxes used to be chock full of ads of every type, from sales circulars to envelopes full of coupons, while newspapers and magazines consistently ran ads for consumer products, clothing, attorneys — you name it. That content is now delivered digitally via search engines, email, social networks, and corporate websites.
The current state of content marketing
Content marketing is hot. The mantra today is that if you build it, they will come — create compelling content and customers will visit your website, buy your products, and help you rank higher in search engine results. The better your content, the more likely your audience is to share it on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. All of these activities can help your product become part of your audience’s initial purchase considerations. Some facts:
- 20% of Internet users’ online time is spend on content
- 68% of people spend time reading about brands that interest them
- 57% read content marketing information at least once a month
- 80% of people appreciate learning about a company through custom content
Your content can take many forms, including:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Email campaigns
- Web content
The goal is to attract and retain customers, and help ensure that not only will they purchase more of your products and services — they will also become brand evangelists.
Benefits of content marketing
Content marketing improves brand loyalty, generates more sales leads and conversions, and costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods.
- It improves SEO (search engine optimization). Your company can’t achieve or maintain a high ranking in major search engines without a steady stream of fresh, branded content. Google is constantly changing its algorithm to improve search results. Over the past several years, many of these changes reflect its efforts to favor content that’s really useful. When you create relevant, helpful content about your products, Google recognizes that you are providing real information that helps your visitors, and you appear higher in SERPs (search engine results pages).
- Helpful content is shared. Sharing is in our DNA. People like sharing what they find online with their friends, family, and colleagues. If your content adds value and is easy to find, people will share it with others and also earn credibility themselves — if I share a picture of a pair of shoes I like with you and you like them enough to share the photo with others, you’ve just validated my fantastic judgment and great taste! Sharing also creates deeper brand connections and increases positive reactions to your company and products.
- A stream of new content offers many promotional opportunities. You may not roll out new products every week, but you can push out information about them on a regular basis. This creates multiple outreach opportunities: Write a blog post that explains a unique feature of your product and feature it in your newsletter, on your website’s front page, and on your social media pages; tweet a link to a new video on your YouTube channel that demonstrates how easy your product is to use, etc.
- Excellent content helps people make buying decisions. Covering the right topics and presenting your products in ways that specifically appeal to what your target audience is looking for will help them recall your brand message when they’re thinking of making a purchase.