Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is focused on the creation and distribution of relevant, consistent and valuable content to target, attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, looking to drive profitable customer activity.
To look at it another way, traditional marketing sells a product, while content marketing sells the idea of a product. It plants a seed in the mind of the consumer, so when they come to make a decision about a purchase, are thinking about changing suppliers or are looking for a business solution to a specific problem
As they like to say: content is king. But the reality is good content is king. A lacklustre approach to content marketing can actually damage your brand.
In this article, I will look at six of the most important content marketing tools for brands.
Blogging is the number one most used content marketing tactic by both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketers. Blogs have tremendous value in building authority, particularly with search engines. Google loves blogs, and a well-structured, regularly-updated blog on your website will quickly become a highly-prized source of traffic from search queries, boosting your SEO (and ranking) accordingly.
Blogs also build authority with your website visitors, too. By showing that you are an expert in your field and knowledgeable enough to be publishing content on a consistent basis you will quickly start to be seen as a thought leader.
Blogs are owned media – the content is yours, and yours alone. But through social sharing, comments and guest posts, blogs can become an important component of your broader social marketing strategy, enabling you to build a loyal, online community.
For best results, use a consistent brand voice in your blog articles and try to be personable (and never personal). Don’t use the platform as a sales tool – talk about brand vision, industry trends, offer analysis and predictions, publish “how to” guides and deliver value to readers.
Blogs are a commitment – at Identity we recommend a minimum of one blog post per week to maximise return on investment – but it absolutely pays off. Indeed, the “long tail” value of blogging is such that over time the collective weight of all of your blog content will establish itself as the primary source of interest in your business website.
Visual content is a key component in both B2B and B2C marketing, and 70% of marketers planned to increase their use of original visual assets in the past year.
When you look at the statistics it’s easy to understand why. Blog posts with images receive 94% more views than those without. On Twitter, tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets. And a whopping 87% of all interactions on Facebook include a photo.
For brands, it’s essential that bespoke, tailored imagery plays a key role in all content marketing. Don’t rely on product shots and stock photography, and be sure to master the specifications of each platform.
Two to three years from now you probably won’t be reading this article – you’ll be watching it. Like mobile, video is enjoying a massive uptrend that is showing no signs of slowing down.
Indeed, it’s accelerating: by 2017 video is expected to account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, and a recent Nielsen study indicated that 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future.
YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month, and last year the amount of video from people and brands in Facebook’s News feed increased by a factor of 3.6 year-over-year. Snapchat has used video in its Stories tool to rapidly grow its global audience to over 150 million daily users who consume (wait for it) 10 billion video clips each and every day.
One in three Britons now watch at least one online video a week – that’s 20 million people in the UK alone.
And it’s not just B2C – in 2014 the use of video content for B2B marketing increased by 8% to 58%
A recent study found that two out of five B2B marketers share infographics on social media frequently, and here’s why: the average person is now exposed to the equivalent of 174 newspapers full of information every day, but 99% of all this sensory information is filtered out by the brain almost immediately. Which means that just 1% is retained, and infographics are in this 1%.
In just over two years, infographic search volumes have increased by 800%, and publishers who use these tools grow in traffic by an average of more than 12% (compared to those who do not).
Infographics can quickly become a very powerful tool in your content marketing arsenal, driving relevant, highly-targeted visitors to your website and social media outposts. They also have a tremendous “share-ability” value, and good, well-produced informative infographics will often be used by other publishers to drive referral traffic back to your website.
Since its launch in 2003, podcasting has seen incredible growth around the world. Back in 2008 there were just 10,000 podcasts on iTunes, and today there are more than 60,000. Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016, and approximately the same number of people listen to podcasts who use Twitter.
About two thirds of podcasts are being listened to on a smartphone or tablet, and the average person listens to about five different podcasts per week.
Podcasting has been tipped to explode in popularity in 2016, but it’s still young and fresh enough for the most innovative brands to get involved. Setting up and committing to your own weekly podcast involves a lot of work (and a bit of steep learning curve), but you can still generate a return from the space by proactively looking to appear on podcasts related to your interest. Business and marketing is one of the most popular podcast topics, and many of the top-rated shows favour the interview format. They’re always looking to record shows with new and unique voices – why couldn’t this be someone from your company?
In digital marketing a lead magnet is a (usually) free incentive that offers value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information (at a minimum, their email address). This could be a report or a white paper, access to a webinar, a discount, video or infographic.
The best lead magnets are highly-targeted and give the recipient just enough of an introduction to your products and services to get them interested in taking the next step.
For many businesses, investing in content marketing will ultimately become one of the best decisions they have made. Content marketing has incredible long-term value, with benefits in SEO, branding, reputation, trust building, cross-channel marketing, traffic generation and conversion.
Evergreen content can last forever, and while the types of content required by the different platforms might change, the demand for content will always be there. Content marketing will have an influence on your online strategy, and businesses that excel at delivering rich content will almost always out-perform those that don’t. It takes time and resources, and absolutely demands a commitment, but for those willing to take the extra steps it will always pay off.