If you’re producing a blog, a white paper, an e-book or an insight video to try to get a message across, then you’re involved in what’s called ‘content marketing’.
According to the Content Marketing Institute in the US content marketing is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Broken down into simplistic terms it means creating content or information as part of your marketing mix that isn’t just about selling to customers, but is about influencing them, educating them or informing them about your niche, vertical or product.
Companies like P&G, GE, Ford, Cisco and Xerox understand that having a dialogue with their customer and audiences – without always paying for media or for advertising – is a vital part of the marketing mix.
This graphic from the Content Marketing Institute really spells it out. Content marketing influences the visitors to your various digital spaces and offline collateral to become customers, and then to remain with you and –ideally – develop into evangelists.
Content marketing is about targeting your audiences, or your clients and customers, to think, feel or behave in a certain way – and ultimately to build a relationship with them where they feel a real affinity for your brand.
In many ways, content marketing is an amalgam of all those aspects to digital marketing with which we are familiar today:-
- PR: where we influence audiences with information about our organisation
- SEO: as we know, ongoing, fresh content should be at the heart of our search strategy
- Inbound marketing: inbound marketing is the creation of content such as e-books, podcasts and blogs that drive leads and traffic to our inbound marketing channels. It is really a sub-set of the broader content marketing offer.
- Brand publishing: development and publication of offline content to entertain and inform your audience, in the form of a magazine, pamphlet or book.
These days it’s not just about text – images and imagery are also now extremely important. Here are some of the main content formats:-
Articles & blogs: insight and longer form content forms the ‘hub’ of any content marketing approach. This should be housed on your company or organisation website. This content can be repurposed for other platforms.
Short form lists, listicles and bullet points: if you cannot spend a huge amount of time on your content, use bullet points and lists to get your message across. Many people want easy to digest content that they can scan and take in easily.
Text posts and links: organic content that reinforces your company message posted to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Ideally text posts will always be accompanied by an uploaded or embedded image
Video posts: video is still growing in popularity, largely driven by ongoing increase in mobile usage
Graphics & infographics: we find that big and bold graphic phrases, tips or slogans are popular on social sites. They’re quick to digest and easy to share.
Photos: the rise and rise of sites such as Pinterest and Instagram demonstrate just how powerful images are. Use your own in-house photography, stock photos with graphics or content generated by your audiences to enhance engagement and increase sharing opportunities.
All organisations and companies have stories to tell about their brands that can engage customers, and enhance reputation and trust. Research by the Content Council shows that 90% of consumers find custom content useful, whilst 78% believe that organisations providing the content are interested in building good relationships with them.
Are you ready to get started? Maybe your current content could do with a review? Or perhaps you’ve been creating content for a while, but need a more focused strategy to make it work better for you and your brand? Give us a ring now to talk it through: +44 20 8133 8846
Gay Flashman runs Formative, a UK-based content marketing agency helping businesses tell corporate stories. Formative creates compelling, intelligent, multi-lingual content for clients – everything from long-form insight & thought leadership, to infographics, memes, videos and webinars.