What is Content Marketing and Why it’s Important for Business
Content marketing creates and distributes valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, the objective being to ultimately drive profitable customer action. At the end of the day, as a business owner your objective is to acquire customers…yet if you find traditional advertising channels aren’t working as we get further into 2014, you’re not alone. Content marketing differs from classic advertising in two fundamental ways: First, content resides on owned or earned media – if there’s a buy involved, it’s considered an element of advertising, not content marketing. Second, content marketing utilizes a pull, rather than a push, strategy; content doesn’t interrupt, it attracts.
And, according to the content marketing statistics 2014 has brought with it thus far, it is attracting in droves. Based on the feedback from a plethora of senior advertising and marketing executives that participated in a research report on content marketing, there appears to be an upward swing with regard to their commitment to and investment in it.
But Why…What Makes Content Marketing so Special?
The best content marketing has proven to be essential in today’s marketing world, specifically within B2B subcircles, even though there are still plenty of marketers that struggle to understand it or use it. Creating content – taking into account its planning, development, production and measurement – is often fraught with skepticism about the unknown…and sometimes this holds true: Content marketing has more in common with the publishing world than the advertising world.
To answer the question of why content marketing strategy is so important for business, one must first look at the marketing landscape before us and how much has changed. A customer’s journey in the purchasing world has taken a dramatic and evolutionary step forward in response to – and in conjunction with – the revolutions of social and digital technologies. Information has become immediately abundant, to the point that your potential customers turn to these channels first.
Fact: Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57-percent of the purchase process is complete.
Ask yourself: Do I want them to learn about my business, or do I want to leave an empty space that either my competitors will fill with their own feedback or my would-be customers will fill with damaging complaints?
Beginning Your Foray Into Content Marketing
First you must identify your marketing goals based on, of course, the type of business you’re in. Ask yourself:
- Am I trying to increase sign-ups?
- Am I attempting to decrease customer complaints?
- Do I want to reduce call center volume?
- Do I understand my audience’s needs and have I created informative and helpful pieces that demonstrate how my offerings meet these needs?
The result of your customer action, as promoted via the information in your content, should ideally coincide with your goals. Because content marketing is more than advertising, it is all about SHOWING your customers who you are as opposed to just TELLING them.
Merely broadcasting campaign messages is no longer the sole strategy available to a business looking to advertise – and it’s certainly not advisable if your customer has made the effort of including you in their “social circle.” In today’s social media-savvy world, it is important to provide advice, engaging stories and information that is of genuine use or interest.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main reasons content marketing is important in the modern day business landscape:
- It Builds a Community of Loyal Customers – By providing a customer community valued content in return for following you, they have a reason to invest time in your brand. If you find yourself publishing content in regular intervals, followers effectively “check in” with your brand.
- YOUR Brand Becomes the Authority – Ever wonder what it would be like to be the “buck stops here” authority on something? At some point, every one of us fantasizes about this, whether in business or not, but this can become a reality when you deliver quality content on a regular basis. Being an authority is vital as it is a proven trust builder, and trust is an aspect that customers base their purchasing decisions on.
- It Connects You with Your Customers – Content, as delivered through social media channels, allows for feedback. This means you can gauge your customers’ attitudes and get to know their needs and demographic on a more intimate scale. Remember: Content at its best can inspire discussion, allegiance, provoke thought and get everyone talking.
- SEO Improves when Generating Content – Top marketing firms such as Florida’s Multiverse Media Group know that good quality content is absolute gold for SEO. For example, if you create a blog with quality content and connect it to your brand, the repercussions can be positive…and aplenty. This approach has swept aside the poorly written keyword-loaded copy on websites and blogs; meaningful and relevant context will not only be picked up by customers for a read, but also by search engines as a preferred ranking.
- Content Adds Value – The way we see it, there is a new rule in business: Whatever business someone is in, he or she now also needs to be a publisher to be competitive. What does this mean? Since people expect your company, its website and its brand ambassadors – managers, staff, hired freelancers or even customers – to deliver insight or entertain, they want to get something worthwhile back from the experience. Using video for short films, posting comical images and delivering helpful guides will go a long way towards making your website worth returning to…as a routine.
Content Marketing Strategy 2014…and Beyond
As we continue to roll through 2014, analysts following the phenomenon of content marketing believe the marketing tool will become a definitive method for success. Indeed, rather than aimlessly throwing content out on the web, people and businesses are expected to start working with actual strategies for content creation and promotion. This includes documenting and tracking everything to identify successes and failures.
Content marketing strategies to consider:
- Use an editorial calendar to keep track of your content in 2014, and if you weren’t before, measure your results: Whether you do this via a classic spreadsheet or with the assistance of something like Google Analytics, you’ll be able to decide where you want to definitively head with your content in the future.
- Google’s influence on content through its Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird platforms is changing the way we communicate in a way no one could have really imagined. Through the Hummingbird algorithm, for example, Googles earches are akin to the way that we speak naturally, so content is going to be forced to adjust to these “conversational searches.” It is vital to begin looking into these game-changing platforms if you plan to keep current.
No matter what day, month or year we find ourselves in from this day forward, content is in the works…and in a big way. Considered a “big picture word” today, content has truly driven the marketing industry into new realms in 2013, and 2014 is gearing up to be another adventurous year.