The Growth of Content Marketing
If you’re a marketer, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term “content marketing” being used with increasing frequency over the past year. But what is it exactly? Well, content marketing is the term used to describe marketing activities that involve creating and sharing content to engage existing and potential customers. The motivation behind content marketing is simple: by creating high-quality, timely information for consumers, brands and retailers can attract customers, generate leads, and encourage brand loyalty.
Although content marketing—as a strategy—may be relatively new to many marketers, it has long played a key role in advertising campaigns. When an ad sparks interest, prospects want more information. Without the critical information needed to help make decisions, potential customers may end up going elsewhere or relying on other sources for insight.
Content marketing involves creating and curating unique, relevant content that positions a company as an expert or a brand as an opportunity worth exploring. Relevant content can consist of blogs, e-newsletters, whitepapers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, and e-mails. Brands can use content marketing to achieve a variety of business objectives such as demonstrating thought leadership, increasing sales, and retaining customers. The goal is to attract and retain customers so that they purchase more from you and eventually become brand advocates.
Making the Transition to Content Creation
The widespread growth of mobile and social platforms has fueled consumer demand for content, and this demand is increasing every year. Marketers have started to capitalize on this trend, with a majority of brands and retailers increasing their investment in content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategies. Over the next year, most brands and retailers expect to increase their content marketing activities significantly.
Most often, brands and retailers use their website or blog as a central hub for distributing content. Online calls-to-action direct visitors to landing pages, where they exchange their basic contact information, such as an e-mail address, for the content they want—free of charge. As this contact information is captured, lead nurturing campaigns continue sending out more detailed and relevant content to encourage prospects to buy.
In addition to a website or blog, social media is one of the most effective channels for promoting content online. In fact, social media engagement is one of the most accurate indicators used to evaluate content marketing effectiveness. Keep in mind, however, that content marketing is not strictly a campaign-oriented activity. There is often a tendency to have unrealistic expectations for realizing returns over a short period of time. Content initiatives should be viewed as a long-term strategy for attracting prospects, retaining customers, and reinforcing the brand.
Businesses that don’t have the expertise or resources to develop high-quality targeted content may choose to outsource content marketing to professional content creators and agencies. Rather than spending time trying to source their own talent, these businesses can leverage outside resources to build and grow a content library.
Telling a Story to Engage Consumers
Increasingly, consumers are relying on the web and social media for information to make purchasing decisions, and the demand for informative, relevant content will continue to rise. Content marketing requires a shift toward a journalistic approach that covers all angles of a topic or theme; this includes broader research, and it may even require highlighting relevant content from competitors. With content marketing, including different opinions and perspectives is essential to encourage loyalty and trust. The opinions of your competitors are already only a click or a search away, so it is important to expose differing perspectives and discuss them openly.
As content marketing continues to grow, brands and retailers will need to evolve their efforts to take advantage of content-driven marketing activities. For those companies that need to ramp up more quickly, outsourcing content creation may be the best and most efficient way to build a content library that will engage prospects and customers. Whether you choose to develop your content in-house or outsource it, however, the long-term results will be worth the effort.