Content Marketing: Brief Description
Content marketing is an inbound marketing technique, centred around the creation, publication and sharing of material which is valuable and relevant to its target audience. In the majority of cases, content marketing takes place online, does not involve the direct sale of goods or services and does not rely on creating a new need in its audience. Instead, it depends upon an existing need for knowledge and information.
Ultimately, businesses provide free content to their target audience, potentially resulting in increased brand awareness, the establishment of expertise and trust, the chance to engage with existing customers and, in many cases, the opportunity to capture new business leads. Content marketing takes many forms, with popular digital content including blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, case studies, white papers and e-books.
Businesses may create the content for their strategy in-house, or they may approach external specialists, who have existing skills related to copywriting, blog writing, video content production, or graphics creation.
Content Marketing: Detailed Description
The history of content marketing can be traced back to the 18th and 19th centuries, at which point it was not uncommon for businesses to create and publish physical content, in order to attract attention, establish themselves as thought leaders in their particular industry and potentially gain new customers. With that being said, modern digital content marketing emerged during the 1990s, thanks to the explosion in popularity of the internet.
Content marketing is considered to be an example of inbound marketing, because it is designed to be found by consumers themselves, based on an existing need for information. In recent years, the popularity of this marketing technique has increased significantly and this is often attributed to the decreasing effectiveness of more traditional marketing techniques, such as television and online advertising.
The basic idea behind content marketing is that a marketing company publishes a piece of content which has some link to their business or area of expertise, and which will be of use to their target audience. Rather than actually attempting to sell that company’s products, the technique works by allowing potential customers to find the content, based on their need for information, and then become more familiar with the publishing business.
While content marketing strategies can differ, the most common goals are to:
- Increase brand awareness and exposure
- Attract the attention of new or former customers
- Engage with an existing customer base
- Boost traffic to the business’s website
- Establish the business and/or author as thought leaders
- Generate or increase the number of online sales
- Create brand loyalty from new or existing customers
Content marketing allows businesses to engage in storytelling and communicate with customers or leads in a way that differs from the norm. This has the potential to establish a deeper, more meaningful relationship between the two parties. It also has the potential to reach people who are unreachable through more traditional methods, such as those who have ad-blocking software installed on their devices, or those who do not watch television commercials.
Generally, modern content marketing is entirely digital and most content marketing is text-based. Examples of this include website articles, blog posts, white papers, e-books, case studies, email newsletters and instructional guides. However, images and graphics are also frequently used and, more recently, other types of content have become popular within content marketing circles, including video content, podcasts and audio books.
One of the central concepts behind content marketing is that you need to give in order to receive. So, for instance, a business wanting to attract a new customer needs to give that customer something valuable through their content, in order to do so. This concept can work both ways, however, as a marketing team may use content marketing for lead generation and require contact details before a consumer can download or view a particular piece of content.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Measuring the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy in delivering the key aims can be somewhat difficult, because things like increased sales and increased brand loyalty can be hard to attribute directly to it. Nevertheless, the real key to all content marketing is visibility, so success is usually measured in those terms, with metrics like click-throughs, page hits, conversions and time spent on a page being used.
This emphasis on visibility means that content marketing goes hand-in-hand with another marketing concept, in the form of search engine optimisation, or SEO for short. The basic principle behind SEO is that by understanding the algorithms of search engines like Google and Bing, a web page or piece of content can be made more visible on search engine results pages, resulting in greater levels of consumption.
For this reason, content marketers often focus on certain keywords, which are essentially popular search strings that have a connection to their business or the content they are producing. By strategically placing these keywords in their content, they are able to manipulate search engine algorithms, so that their content places higher up the page when somebody searches for that term on Google or Bing.
Content Marketing and Social Media
In addition to its strong connection with SEO, content marketing also ties in with social media marketing and websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, as well as apps like Snapchat, provide an ideal platform to share content with people and have them share it with their contacts, ensuring it reaches a far wider audience. Social media can also be valuable, because ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘shares’ are all built-in visibility metrics.
Furthermore, synchronising content marketing and social media marketing allows businesses to carry out a strategy known as social selling, whereby they form deeper connections with customers, based on more than just their products or services. Through this, they can potentially be referred to other people who are likely to be interested in the products or services they offer, the information they provide, or the stories they have to tell.
Content marketing has emerged as one of the most popular and effective digital marketing strategies today and budgets are only likely to grow in the coming years, given the increasing popularity of both mobile and desktop ad-blocking software. Moreover, according to Hubspot, Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second, demonstrating the thirst for information that exists online at the present time.
As a strategy, content marketing allows businesses to increase the level of brand awareness out there, establish themselves as a credible, reliable source of information and potentially boost sales and generate loyalty. When a sensible SEO strategy is implemented and content marketing is paired with social media marketing, it can produce a significant ROI, especially since the cost of producing the content itself is relatively low.