Although it is often said that content is king- well at least according to several marketing experts( like Bill Gates), but what if anything does that have to do with marketing?
Content marketing has become a term that is frequently used in marketing conversations, and it refers to a particular style or approach to selling products. As the name suggests content is key to this method, but it involves more than just writing the odd blog post and expecting the sales to start pouring in.
In this article I want to explore what exactly content marketing is and why it is becoming one of the most important strategies for promoting and selling products.
- What is content marketing?
- Inbound marketing
- The difference between content and inbound marketing
What is Content Marketing?
As the name suggests content marketing revolves around content – not just the writing of but also the distribution of content, to a specific audience group.
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), who are one of the leading experts in the field, the following definition describes what content marketing it.
Ultimately content marketing is about selling a product, and the purpose of the content is to build trust with potential clients, so that one day they will hopefully buy products from your company.
The CMI describe content marketing as being a kind of art form, because it is the practice of being able to communicate with potential customers without directly selling them a product.
Instead you are giving them information and building their own knowledge about your company and the way your products are constructed. The client becomes so familiar with you, your company and the products that eventually when they do need to purchase something your company is the first one that they think of.
At the core of content marketing is trust building with both potential and existing customers. Trust can be established by producing regular content and building a readership that wants to interact with your ideas, or at least wants to read the next edition.
One of the easiest ways to provide content to an audience on a regular basis, is to set up a blog site. Blogging can be used to give information on –
- the ethos of the company
- how products are made
- background information on products
- general information on the topic
- wider information on issues linked to the product topic
A blog also allows customers to interact with the company through the comments section, which in turn allows your business to understand the needs of its customers.
A good quality blog site will aim to answer any questions that potential customers might have about your products or services, as well as giving them all the reasons why their lives will be enhanced by using your product.
What is Content?
The content part of the marketing can consist of a variety of different things. It can be easy to assume that content only refers to written articles, but in this era of technology and social media, information can be presented in a number of different ways. For example;
- long form blog posts
- short posts and reviews
- training programmes
Video is fast becoming one of the most effective ways to share content, and as Google owns YouTube, there is bound to be a strong link between video content and ranking.
Video is also a great way in which customers can get to meet staff in your business and see your products in action. There are a number of software programs out there that can be used to create and edit video content and may video marketeers use mobile phone technology to create their material.
What is Marketing?
In content marketing the writing and communicating content is only part of the equation, the other part is the selling of products. The purpose of the content you produce is to encourage potential customers to purchase from your site. However in content marketing this is achieved by educating and engaging with customers first and then looking to recommend or mention products.
There are two main aims of content marketing within business blogs;
- To attract new customers
- To keep existing customers interested in coming back for more.
Capturing the attention of new customers is a large part of content marketing, both getting visitors to the company website and also encouraging them to revisit and read more about the products on offer.
However in marketing it is often easier to sell to an existing customer, than it is to start from scratch and convince a new potential buyer to try your product. Therefore existing customers are an important target group for your content marketing audience.
Blogging therefore aims to do both of these things, by keeping existing customers up to speed with new products, changes to service, and answering questions that they may have that are connected to your products.
And also attracting new customers who may never have heard about your company before and come across your website through a search in Google.
Using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques
SEO is a key part of content marketing, because getting articles ranked highly in Google is one of the best strategies for attracting new potential customers. Most searchers only view the first couple of pages in the search results, and so in order for a website or blog to get a click through it needs to be appearing in the top 20 results.
Content writers use a number of different SEO techniques including some of the following;
- choosing strategic keywords that will show up in search results by potential customers
- researching competition sites to see what keywords and articles they are targeting and using to attract visitors
- producing longer quality content pieces that allow for search phrases to be incorporated naturally into the article.
- using short blog posts to answer specific questions that searchers want answered
- allowing and responding to comments on the website, since many customers will ask questions in the comments section and Google can pick these up to be included in the ranking process.
There are only 10 search results on each page of Google and so competition can be intense for some of the more competitive topics.
It is therefore an important part of content marketing strategies that the right keywords are chosen, so that the right target audience arrives at your website. Whilst gaining lots of traffic might seem a positive thing for business, if they aren’t really interested in what you are selling it is to a large extent a waste of time and energy.
In addition to search engines there are a number of other ways to promote your blog and attract customers, these fall into the realm of inbound marketing.
The term Inbound marketing has been used almost synonymously with content marketing, although there are differences between the two. The easiest way to explain what inbound marketing is, is to start with looking at what it isn’t.
The opposite of inbound are outbound marketing strategies. Outbound strategies include things such as;
- Email campaigns
- TV adverts
- Billboard advertising
- Many PPC techniques
In other words outbound marketing tends to be impersonal and mass produced. It targets a broad sector of society and waits for them to buy. The tactics are usually very much about calls to acton and buy now.
This is in total contrast to the approach used in content marketing, which is about building trust and understanding with customers and taking them on a journey towards your product.
In bound marketing focuses on the dissemination of content through much more personalised media channels such as social media, email links to a blog and blogging.
Many people often use the phrase content marketing to mean more than just writing or producing content. The term inbound marketing has been used by Hubspot instead for a number of years and encompasses more than just the creation and production side of content. It also looks at the strategic development of content over a longer time period along with the dissemination and links to company marketing campaigns.
Success of Content Marketing Strategies
According to the Content Marketing Institute 65% of a buyer’s time is spent online before making a purchase decision. This means that reading and researching products as well as reading reviews is now a large part of the buying process.
In recent research that CMI undertook they also discovered that most successful businesses that supply goods and services to other businesses (B2B) had developed a content marketing strategy. In the same study 46% of businesses said that this strategy was discussed at least weekly and sometimes daily within the organisation.
Why Should I Use Content Marketing Strategies?
So in answer to the title, the short answer is — because they work.
The longer answer is that many people are fed up with adverts and traditional forms of advertising that can be considered very intrusive. Even Apple has recently announced that ad blockers will be added to their software, meaning that advertisers are having fewer and fewer outlets through which to access viewers.
Many people also want to know more about the product they are buying, such as where it is made or is it environmentally sustainable? If anything the spread of global media has increased people’s wariness and they are more questioning about their purchases, especially from an unfamiliar company.
For newer businesses and older ones trying to compete, content marketing is not a strategy that can be ignored. Successful marketing has always been about understanding the needs of the customer and so content marketing is the modern equivalent of finding out exactly what you customers want and what there concerns are. Your business blog means that these points can all be addressed before asking them to consider buying from you.
I hope you found this article useful, below I have listed a few more articles on the site that are linked to this topic.
- Is Inbound Marketing Relevant to Bloggers?
- 16 Strategies for Improving Content Creation
- What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Please feel free to share the article on your favourite social media site and leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on the topic, thanks.