This article offers a practical explanation of Content Marketing. After reading this article, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful marketing tool.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is identified by the Content Marketing Institute as ‘a strategic market approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content, with the goal to attract a clearly defined target group and retain this group with the eventual goal to convert this into profitable customer behavior’.
Content Marketing is often linked to relatively new internet companies and strategies, but in fact, it originated hundreds of years ago. For instance, Benjamin Franklin published annual almanacs in the 18th century intended to promote his printing office. The American producer of agricultural machinery, John Deere, started to publish their magazine The Furrow in 1895. Nowadays, this is published in 40 countries.
The content that is categorised by means of the (potential) customers or visitors is therefore closely connected to what exactly is sold or provided. Simply put, content marketing is a way of getting to know the company, building a relationship of trust and subsequently eliciting a business relationship. It functions as the informative bridge between the business and consumer and should therefore be part of all business strategies that focus on building and maintaining strong customer relationships.
Conversion Ratios and Content Marketing
Although it’s important that consumers share positive things about the company on the Internet, for instance, the marketeers are, of course, concerned with sales. They are trying to influence the consumer’s behaviour and content marketing plays an increasingly larger role in this process. An online shop can have 100,000 visitors a month, but if only 15 products are sold, the marketing strategy is not very effective. This is a statistic that is very important in the marketing world. The conversion ratio is very telling about the effectiveness of the marketing materials and can be calculated by dividing the number of orders or purchased services by the number of visitors. For this purpose, conversion optimisers are used.
However, content marketing shouldn’t merely focus on conversion ratios. These two marketing tools can have a counterproductive effect on each other. It works best when the consumer is offered value without something being expected in return.
Once the content has enticed the consumer, and a relationship has been established, the relationship can be taken to the higher level. This could mean offering a premium or paid content, or giving the consumer the option to subscribe to a relevant newsletter. The consumer can also be kindly asked to make a relevant purchase. It’s important that these so-called calls-to-action are presented in such a way that this shows that it’s actually useful to the consumer, and only when he wants it.
Digital Content Marketing and Value Creation
Whereas previously content marketing concerned mostly physical content, since the introduction of the Internet and social media, there are now more possibilities to reach a larger audience with more different types of content. Digital content marketing is conducted via various electronic channels to identify, predict and satisfy the wishes and needs of the consumer. Content marketing must be consistently implemented by organisations to win and retain the consumers. This is shown in a monthly newsletter or a service where a user can subscribe to updates regarding the services or activities of a company.
Content marketing encompasses matters such as educational articles, films, other electronic services and entertainment, and works best when consumers are offered something they can’t get anywhere else. Examples of effective content marketing types include:
Blogs and Articles
Blogs and articles are two of the most popular forms of content marketing, particularly for relatively small companies. The main reason for this is that the findability of a company expands quickly when company-related content is published online. This is referred to as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Forbes researched this and concluded that websites with blogs have indexed over 400% of pages than sites that don’t use this technique. Improving the SEO also applies to other types of content marketing.
Consumers view more videos than ever before. One third of all the data use online is spent on video streaming. This makes marketing via videos incredibly effective. The popular social media services Instagram and Snapchat are already frequently used by influencers who work for companies. Videos are also used to teach the consumer something about the product or service the company sells or offers.
Value creation is also achieved by making and publishing infographics for consumers. The visually attractive format of an infographic helps the consumer to better interpret statistics or give them an idea of why something is valuable and how something works.
E-books are also an effective way of content marketing that create a lot of value for the consumer. This is about useful value, so the e-book should not be a 10-page advertisement. A popular example concerns e-books written by digital nomads who explain how they make their money while travelling the world. The e-books can often be downloaded in exchange for information about the user.
Social Media Posts
Social media is an important part of many effective marketing strategies. Companies use these media to reach their target audience and new audience. This maintains relationships, the essence of content marketing, and means that new products or services are introduced.
Content Marketing vs Traditional Advertising
Traditional advertisements are still the most frequently used form of marketing. Marketeers use this to reach consumers where and when they want. It’s used in newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio, TV, email, etc. The main difference with content marketing is that traditional advertisements are sent to a large number of people, irrespective of whether they’re interested in the messages. Content marketing is about creating valuable content to inform or entertain potential customers. Many marketeers consider the use of content marketing to be effective and durable, because it invests in customer relationships rather than in a one-off purchase.
Content marketing is permissive where traditional advertising is interruptive. The traditional advertisements often interrupt the user’s activity when they’re watching TV or browsing online, for instance. They become visible through pop-ups, advertisements on social media, websites and prior to videos.
Traditional advertisements generally only contain information about the product or service the company sells. As discussed, content marketing revolves around creating value without wanting anything in return and maintaining strong customer relationships.
By means of content marketing, companies try to win over their audience by offering free value with the intent to encourage customer behaviour at a later date. Traditional advertisers, however, pay money to media platforms with an existing audience to convey their message. They buy broadcasting time on TV or radio, rent billboards or send emails.
The choice of whether or not to use another strategy often depends on the costs. Although various analyses of the costs of both methods have been made, Forbes reports that content marketing is 62% more expensive in development, but yields 3 times as many leads and is therefore substantially cheaper. However, content marketing must match the vision and product or service catalogue of the company.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Do you recognise the explanation of content marketing? Do you regularly receive updates via newsletters or magazines? Do you think that content marketing is more effective for certain companies than for others? Do you have any tips or additional comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Rowley, J. (2008). Understanding digital content marketing. Journal of marketing management, 24(5-6), 517-540.
- Lieb, R. (2012). Content marketing: think like a publisher-how to use content to market online and in social media. Que Publishing.
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