Staying updated on social media trends is great, but social is just the tip of the distribution iceberg. Email marketing helps; still, brands need to dig deeper to discover the distribution channels unique to their audiences. Could you include physical copies of content with certain products? Maybe sales and marketing can work together to target specific accounts and get relevant materials directly into their hands? Or maybe a speaking engagement is the best way to share your message with your audience?
There is an answer to this buyer-driven environment: Content. Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself. Buyers and consumers are already searching the web for answers that your brand is uniquely positioned to offer. It’s benefits are three-fold:
Of course, generating revenue is a key goal for many marketers, and content marketing can be a powerful driver. When you build an audience that trusts you and wants to hear from you, they are more likely to purchase your products. For instance, we found CMI subscribers are more likely to take advantage of our paid opportunities such as attending Content Marketing World.
Unlike other forms of online marketing, content marketing relies on anticipating and meeting an existing customer need for information, as opposed to creating demand for a new need. As James O'Brien of Contently wrote on Mashable, "The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story." Content marketing requires continuous delivery of large amounts of content, preferably within a content marketing strategy.
Think about it: the average podcast is 35 minutes long, much longer than Bon Appetit’s readers probably engage with a single article on their site. If the content is good, people stick with a podcast much longer than they would linger on a webpage, and they subscribe to receive this content right on their smartphone every week. (If you dig podcasts, check out Salesforce’s new marketing-focused podcast launched in 2015 — the Marketing Cloudcast.)
The reality is that just creating content isn’t enough. In many cases, you need to amplify it. You need to market your marketing. This is where social media can help a great deal. Also recognize the many places (and many people: customers, employees, influencers) that can help you amplify your content marketing. (bonus: presentation on the difference between influencers and advocates)
In 2017, NewsCred launched the Top 50 Awards to celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Whether hot new startups or global giants, these brands were the ones with splashy, interactive content hubs that drove conversions, stellar social media presences, innovative new technology integrations, and strong behind-the-scenes strategies and measurement plans. They were brands that inspired us to push the boundaries with our own content marketing.
Your content strategy is a comprehensive plan that describes your goals (what you want to accomplish), the tactics you’ll implement (how you’ll accomplish it), and the metrics you’ll use to measure the strategy’s effectiveness. It also includes the data and research that you’ll depend on to make smart strategic decisions. Over time it will grow with more information (especially about your customer), so you’ll want it somewhere editable and easy to reference.
16. Method cleaning products: Soap Dish blog. Method’s blog contains tips and tricks for house cleaning, cooking, and eco-friendly living. It all ties in with Method’s mission of natural-minded cleanliness, organization, and comfort within the home. For example, check out this post about keeping your hands soft while keeping a house clean. The topic of cleaning a home is so broad, but Method manages to narrow it all down to a tight content focus.
Videos are a highly engaging content medium that are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing increases in popularity -- after all, it's 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content -- it's a medium worth experimenting with.
You may want to be super-professional, very casual, or something in between. And you’ll have to manage the balance between showing your expertise and not patronising your audience. Here’s Sprout Social’s advice on creating consistency with your brand voice, and keep in mind important SEO ranking factors to optimize your content. Take a look at these successful content marketing examples for inspiration.
Your content is only as valuable as its ability to attract audience members and compel them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three. Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, gather valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates.
It’s sparked a serious video strategy as well, with Grindr’s first web series “What the Flip?” debuting last fall and following two users’ experiences of switching accounts for a day, and "CAMPerVAN," a docu-series following a group of queer artists road tripping around Europe. In its first three months alone, Into fueled 24 million video views onsite and across social media.
At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.
This information should come partly from doing the steps above. If you’ve determined your audience is primarily on LinkedIn, then they might like in-depth articles, whitepapers or slide decks. If they’re on Facebook, then video and list posts might fit their style. If they spend a decent amount of time on Medium, long-form storytelling might be a good fit.
So what is content marketing, then? Well, it's pretty simple. Content marketing is the use of that content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else. We'll go into many of the most popular and effective ways of doing all of these things throughout the rest of this guide.
With more of a journalistic bent (Editor Kenny MacIver was the former Editor of Information Age), and barely a mention of Fujitsu, I-CIO is a great example of what content marketing should be. I-CIO even has its own dedicated social media handles for Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube – though for those who are interested in learning more about the company behind the publication, I-CIO's About Us page includes a map so people can access the Fujitsu site in their country.