19 May 2021
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing tool consisting of publishing information or storytelling, not for overtly selling a particular product or service, but is useful information provided to engender brand loyalty, brand visibility, and establish brand credibility.
Content marketing is the publishing of material that is relevant to your brand or product but from the reader's perspective, isn't an obvious sell.
However, like many things, definitions for what is content marketing vary. Commonly, content marketing is used to describe any copy writing and image content being used for promotion. This may be marketing content but, it is not content marketing.
Instead of pitching your products or services, content marketing seeks instead to provide relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their problems.
This article is an example of content marketing.
What thought process justifies content marketing?
The thinking is, as consumers of marketing communications, we all recognise attempts to sell to us and actively filter such material. Instead, we prefer to rely on references that we judge to be impartial. Content marketing, therefore, is a tactic for reaching our target audience in a way that avoids the 'turn-off' factor. By its nature content marketing eschews the sales pitch. For example, it will not include a call to action and works best if it contains no attempt at all to sell anything specific.
The published material has more credibility because there appears to be no commercial motive.
What are examples of content marketing?
Contemporary content marketing is mostly associated with dissemination via the internet (a form of digital marketing)...
- Pages published on websites
- Social media
- eNewsletters (EDM - Electronic Digital Marketing) delivered to email lists.
- Consists of words, pictures, diagrams, slide pack presentation formats (think PowerPoint and similar), and video.
However, content marketing has been around for as long as the printing press has existed and there are numerous examples of companies publishing corporate magazines to build brand awareness and customer loyalty.
One could argue daily newspapers, magazines and periodicals, television and radio are all forms of content marketing. Each of these delivers published content designed to create a loyal audience however, the commercial motive is to deliver paid advertising.
These examples raise an important principle that is applicable to content marketing; the concept of editorial independence. Meaning, the producers of content (the journalists) must be seen to be independent of the influence of those paying to place the adverts. Failure to do so will impact the perceived quality of the publication, resulting in declining readership and ultimately declining advertising revenue.
Radio and television broadcasting again delivers content (news, talkback, documentaries, reality TV, and movies to build viewership) again to facilitate the delivery of commercially motivated paid advertising.
The key difference between content marketing and traditional media however is...
- The content marketing publisher is more tightly connected to the commercially motivated party (i.e. they are one and the same).
- The content is normally "on-topic" i.e.the topic content is in the domain the publisher sells its products or services.
Reasons for engaging in / benefits of using, content marketing
- SEO ranking: Content marketing in the digital space (think internet) is a tool for building SEO ranking. Search engines like Google reward good content, and in particular, seeks to deliver what it considers to be reference material before delivering sales material. How it exactly distinguishes is not known but is heavily theorized. This mirrors the traditional principle of all publishers, Google's content is search results, and it does so with vigorous editorial independence. Google may also include in its ranking mechanism an overall score for total web traffic to your domain name. Adding content pages will provide additional traffic.
- Expose your brand to new audiences: People might search for a topic using a related search term such as "Hydraulic Power Pack design" rather than "Hydraulic Power Pack vendor" in which case your content article appears (with your brand name at the top). Instantly, you are now known to them. They may not immediately seek your services but entering their mind the first time, is a step toward building your brand. The tactic here is clear, your content marketing (done correctly) may well rank higher and appear in far more searches than the rest of your website. However, it adds to Google's overall site visit score for your domain.
- Brand building: The theory of branding teaches us, consumers (B2B or B2C) prefer to purchase from credible brands. Content marketing allows organisations to publish content under their brand name (the only evidence of the commercial motive) that delivers a message to the target audience: This is the domain this brand fits in (positioning) and this brand has expertise in this area. Maybe also, conveying "aren't they good fellows for providing this information?" Having our target market emotionally predisposed toward brands is marketing nirvana. Psychology of selling 101 holds that people make purchase decisions based on emotion and use their intellect to rationalize the decision (Even in B2B purchase decisions). Emotional connection is a powerful tool and perhaps the most important reason for engaging in content marketing.
- Education on your features and benefits: So this is tricky. A well-written content marketing piece would educate the reader through discussing a problem-solving topic but include information that steers them toward finding a best practice solution that favours the attributes of your product or service. A classic example is educating them on technical attributes that enable them to discriminate between offerings. If the target market sees no penalty for choosing the lowest cost solution then they will. However, by carefully explaining the differences between various hypothetical products on the market, you are educating them to discriminate.
- Lead generation: Be careful with this: The presence of a device that attempts to capture the reader's contact details (for example: Stay informed: Sign-up to our newsletter and receive regular updates) is useful for lead generation but will likely reduce the credibility of your content marketing.
Why do I need a content marketing strategy?
A content Marketing Strategy helps you define your marketing goals and set priorities accordingly through a marketing plan. With a documented content strategy, you can ensure that every bit of effort put in by your team translates into tangible results. A content strategy helps you to produce unique content that converts consistently. You’ll be able to measure your content marketing efforts and improve conversion rates to promote successful lead generation further down the funnel.