What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a phrase often mentioned when discussing digital marketing. It's often used in so many different contexts; it can be tough to understand what it really means. Let's clear that up right now.
Content marketing is the use of any type of media as a tool for garnering exposure and sales for your company or organization.
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The media is anything that has been created like blog posts, articles, videos, images or books. What you're reading right now is a form of content or media. It can be in long form or very short. The overall purpose of content is to make a statement in a way that is compelling and attractive to your preferred audience. When you're using content
for marketing purposes, you want to include some kind of call to action that encourages people to do something.
Content marketing that educates
You can be asking them to click a link, make a call, sign a petition or simply share the information. The most important thing to remember when you are using content marketing is to focus on providing value.
You're not creating a commercial. While commercials are a form of content, they're one
sided. Their purpose is solely to sell. When you use content as a marketing tool, your purpose is to educate, inform and engage people with the goal of turning them into customers.
It's not about direct sales to increase your bottom line; it's about using information to show customers and potential customers that your company can provide value they need to enhance their lives in some way. It's an indirect sales method that can turn customers into consistent clients.
By sharing content, you are encouraging a form of two way communication. Not only do you want people to become customers, you want them to become an active community of clients that use your company consistently.
The reason you've been hearing about content marketing so much is that businesses are starting to recognize that communicating with customers is much more beneficial than communicating at customers.
Advertising involves communicating at customers. You put together messages and images you think people will like and you send them their way.
There is no room for dialogue or any type of engagement with your audience. That kind of communication is no longer as effective as it once was. People tend to tune out advertisements so you have to do more of it to make an impact.
People don't tune out information. In fact, in this age of information, people are consuming it in large amounts. The 24 hour news cycle is a prime example of that. You have news networks that are on the air 24 hours a day sharing information. These networks wouldn't be thriving if people didn't want to know information at any given moment of the day.
If you are able to contribute to their desire for knowledge and information, you won't be tuned out. This is why content marketing should be used by all businesses,especially ones that live in the digital space. You have the opportunity to connect with your audience in a way that is meaningful. You have the opportunity to help quench their thirst for knowledge while providing a product or service to back it up.
This book will help you do that. It will introduce you to the different types of content and show how to use it to get leads and sales. The great thing with content marketing is that anyone can do it. Once you lock in on the type of content you feel most comfortable creating you can do it.
Let's dive into content marketing!
Why Content Marketing? Now that you have a better understanding of what content marketing is, you may be wondering why you should use it. Creating content can take time and effort away from other things you could be doing for your business. It's definitely not a magic pill that you can use to experience instant profit making results.
It is however a very valuable process you can use multiple times to build your business.
As with any marketing endeavor, you have to take the time to create a strategy, organize a plan and determine how you will measure a content marketing campaign. Yes, this takes time but it is time well spent.
Here are some statistics that show the value of creating content.
1. According to Nielsen, 58% of consumers trust editorial content.
2. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company
information in a series of articles versus an advertisement
3. 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that
delivers custom content and, they are also more likely to buy from that
4. B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on
average than non-blogging firms.
5. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and
generates about 3 times as many leads.
6. Interesting content is the top 3 reasons people follow brands onsocial media.
Since content marketing is still fairly new, its benefits are still being determined but these numbers are more than promising. In the few years that businesses have been incorporating content into their marketing strategy or creating marketing strategy around content, it has provided great value.
If you're on the fence about content marketing because you're wary of making the investment, consider that you're already doing some form of content marketing without even realizing it. Your website, emails and company newsletters are all forms of content that you use to contribute to your company's brand.
You may not realize it but you are already using content in your company business even if your intent isn't to garner sales from it. Now it's time to change how you view the communication pieces you create for your company. Everything you create has the ability to drive sales or build an audience.
Since you're already creating content for your business, shouldn't it help your bottom line?
Here are some additional benefits to help get you off the fence:1. Content marketing is cost effective The root of content marketing is information that you already have.
All you need is to put it in a format that can be easily shared and digested by potential customers. Some of those formats are free to create and distribute as will be discussed later. They do take time but once you've created a strong piece of content, it can often be used multiple times to generate income. So while the initial time investment may be fairly
high, over time the benefits gotten from that piece of content will make that investment worthwhile.
2. Content marketing helps you build a relationship with your audience Any time you communicate with your audience, you make room for a dialogue which leads to a relationship. Brand loyalty comes when consumers have a relationship with a brand.
Before content marketing, that relationship usually took years to develop. Now you can do it in a much shorter amount of time by sharing content that helps put a face to your company and brand. Pulling back the corporate veil to share insights into what drives your company and the values it represents helps create a much more meaningful connection with consumers.
Content is the tool you can use to do that.
3. Content marketing lets you be a resource
By sharing valuable information and insights with people, you can demonstrate the value that your company can provide. By presenting yourself as a resource, it gives you the opportunity to build a level of trust before people become customers. When customers trust you, they're much more likely to become long-term clients. They're also
much more likely to refer other potential customers to your business.
4. Content marketing gives you a competitive edge
If you're not a multinational corporation with a huge marketing budget, it can seem daunting to get into the marketplace and compete effectively. You may feel like you don't have the ability to compete especially if it's in an industry with a few major players. Sharing content gives you an edge because it levels the playing field. You have a
unique perspective and can provide professional insight just like someone at a larger company. Multinational corporations don't have a monopoly on knowledge.
5. Content marketing isn't industry specific
Every industry can benefit from sharing valuable information and insight with consumers. You don't have to be in a creative or entertainment oriented field to benefit from sharing content. As long as you are providing value that people can use, you will benefit from
6. Content marketing creates educated customers
Sometimes as a business you spend a lot of time answering the same questions over and over again. This is why many business websites have frequently asked questions pages. It's done in an attempt to field some of the more common questions asked to ensure that when
consumers make contact, they're knowledgeable. By sharing content,you help increase that level of knowledge even more. It makes your interactions with customers more focused on how you can help than and less focused on why they need your help.
7. Content marketing creates empowered consumers
When people are informed and knowledgeable about something, they're empowered to make informed decisions. When your customers are empowered, they can be more savvy and easier to work with. People can be appreciative when they are given the ability to become empowered, especially when it's through the sharing of information.
Appreciative customers can turn into long term clients.
8. Content marketing can lead to a viral campaign
While it's not a great idea to make content solely for the purpose of it going viral, you increase your odds that it will go viral by creating it. It can be tough to make a piece of content go viral largely because the factors that lead to that kind of exposure can vary and are tough to pin down. However, by creating content, you are much more likely to
experience a viral piece of content than if you don't create content at
9. Content marketing lets you control your message
When you are the one creating the content being used to represent your business, you can control what that message is and what it says. You can determine who your ideal audience is and craft messages solely for them. You can also determine which piece of content will
work best. Sometimes traditional advertising and marketing messages aren't the best way to communicate with your ideal customer. Content marketing gives you the flexibility and control to do what's best for your audience.
10. Content marketing allows you to recycle information
When you create a valuable piece of content, it's always possible to reuse that information for additional purposes. You can turn a white paper into a series of articles and then turn those articles into short videos. The possibilities for what you can do with your content are
limited only by your own creativity and imagination.
If the statistics shared at the beginning of this chapter aren't enough to convince you why you should be using content marketing, these benefits that were just outlined should do it. As a small business, you have to be creative with how you reach your audience. Finding ways you can connect and show your value will go a long way towards building a sustained customer base.
Content marketing gives you the ability to use your knowledge and experience to differentiate yourself from the competition. You are leaving money on the table if you don't take full advantage of it. Plus, no one has the same knowledge and experiences as you. Creating content allows you to explore and use your own unique selling
Types of Content marketing
Content marketing is beneficial but if you've never considered it before you may have a tough time figuring out the different types of content you can use. Even if you've tried your hand at content marketing you may be stuck on how to truly get the most out of your content. It always helps to have a list of the different types of content.
Here is a list of that content as well as an explanation of the types of businesses that could benefit most from it.
1. Blog Posts
Blogging has become a popular way for businesses to communicate with customers and potential customers. This type of content marketing allows you to create a voice for your business. It also offers the flexibility of sharing other types of content within the blog. Posts can be text based, image based, video based or a combination of the three.
The thing to remember about blog posts is that you have to create them with a level of consistency to keep people coming back to read your blog posts. You don't have to post everyday but you do have to post regularly.
Businesses that could benefit: Blog posts can work for a variety of businesses because it lets you share the type of information that works best for your audience. It's most ideal for businesses that are information or news heavy. If you have a lot that can be shared and
discussed in your blog, you won't be at a loss for content.
2. Guest blog posts
If you aren't interested in hosting your own blog, you can create content for other blogs. This requires you to do some research and identify blogs that are well aligned with your brand with an engaged and active following. You also have to be prepared to pitch your posts to the blog owner. In this instance you should prepare some blog post topics and possibly have some of those topics expanded into posts ready to be published.
The best way to ensure that your posts are accepted and published is to take some time and familiarize yourself with the blog voice. You want to make sure your posts fit in with the blog you're submitting them to otherwise your posts won't be shared.
Businesses that could benefit: As with a blog that you create yourself, guest blog posts can also work for a variety of businesses. As long as there is an active blog, you can submit guest posts to it.
3. Cartoons or comics
There was a time when cartoons and comics were reserved for younger audiences but they also provide some value to businesses interested in sharing information in a more whimsical way. Cartoons and comics can be used to explain topics that may be tough to
understand or not particularly interesting overall but need to appeal to a wide audience.
This is one of the forms of content being used to explain some tech products that would benefit a non-tech savvy audience. Creating a cartoon or comic can be done a few ways. You can hire a professional who can design or create a comic. You can also use a tool that will allow you to create your own cartoon. These are some websites that make it easy for you by offering a menu of characters and scenes.
a. Go Animate - http://goanimate.com/
b. Moovly - http://www.moovly.com/
c. Wideo - http://wideo.co/
Businesses that could benefit: If your organization is targeting children or parents of children, this type of content would work well. It's also great for creating videos about tech products, sanitation products, health products and any other kind of product that could benefit from the whimsical nature of animation.
EBooks are electronic books written to be shared online or through eReaders. They can be as short as 10 pages or as long as 150 pages. An eBook is a long form of content that is used to provide information.
Sometimes there is a call to action in the book but other times it's used as a piece of collateral to build an email list. These pieces of collateral take an extended amount of time and should be created with a plan for how it's going to be used. An eBook can be used to discuss a topic, educate an audience or tell a story. It can also be used to do all three.
You can also create how-to guides in eBook format. Businesses that could benefit: If your company is related to internet marketing or other business oriented industries, it could benefit from this type of content. It also works well for health and fitness
organizations as well as any specialized niche industry. Any time you're dealing with an audience base that appreciates information, you could benefit from creating and distributing an eBook with content marketing.