Content marketing is a term from the late 90s, but an early and obvious example of content marketing is food producers that have promoted their products by way of recipes for over a hundred years.
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of relevant content to acquire and retain audiences with the intention of earning their trust, developing their brand loyalty and their custom.
Considering the different media and platforms, content marketing is ‘owned media’, meaning it is owned and distributed without having to seek permission from platform owners or pay channel owners. In comparison, advertising is ‘paid media’, and social media marketing is ‘earned media’.
Writers and marketers should consider all the much loved good communication guidance, as well as thinking about the content piece within the wider strategy.
Content marketing may include:
- Communicating with a purpose (the specific audiences’ needs / pain-points – not just ‘our great products’);
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation of content so that search engines understand the topic);
- PPC (Pay Per Click – paying to advertise services / content on websites and on search engine results pages);
- Social media marketing (the development of relationships and the aim to have content shared – erroneously abbreviated to ‘social marketing’);
- Brand development (an organisation should be seen to stand for something);
- format – infographic, article, video, handbook, PDF (info product), ebook, cartoon, photo (for sharing on Pinterest etc.), newsletter, webinar, slideshow;
- platform – blog, newsletter, webinar, magazine, social network, slideshow;
- topic framework – white paper, ‘how to’ guide, case study, news, Q&A, lists, bullet points, statistics led, definition, best practice, template, research results.
The strategic aim might be to create new customers, and this could be supported by driving traffic to specific areas of a website and driving audience behaviour change – conversion. Content marketing, as defined above, can help acquire audiences and increase conversion rates.
Some people might separate social media marketing from content marketing, for the obvious reasons that social refers to people and relationships while content is, well, just content. But they often go hand-in-hand; content needs an audience, and if audience members engage (commenting on a blog article) and share then the content gets to work harder and become more valuable. Metrics are needed to measure the impact, but it’s a long-term strategy, not an advertising blitz that’s over in a month.
Content marketing is about people
Communicating with the purpose to satisfy people’s pain-points (and delight them with news and insights) means focusing on people and content before the ‘marketing’ bit comes in.
Whatever the format, content has to be relevant, often useful, but mostly relevant.
Content marketing is focused on communication, not directly selling. This can seem like a cost to some managers (‘We’re a health care company, not a publishing house’) yet the long-term goals of content marketing (like relationship marketing) are more valuable and cheaper than tactical advertising, and support strategic advertising campaigns.
I’m not a marketeer; after ten years working within communications, I can honestly say my only concerns are the audience and the relevancy of the message, aligned with audience needs and business goals.
Photo credit: Mo Riza