Monday, September 01, 2014

What Is Content Marketing & How To Use It For Business Growth?

What Is Content Marketing & How To Use It For Business Growth?

Content marketing means creating and distributing or sharing valuable content with the goal of attracting, engaging and converting prospects into customers, and then into repeat buyers, or into other profitable customer actions.
It involves a sequential process of educating your ideal prospective buyers in a manner that gets them to know, like and trust you, and eventually lead them to doing business with you. Content marketing is known by many other names, including custom publishing, member media, branded content, corporate journalism, and branded media.
The underlying premise of content marketing is to provide valuable information or entertainment – “content” – which influences the prospect to consider taking the next step towards becoming your customer, but without itself becoming a full-blown sales pitch or call to action. Content used in marketing doesn’t have to be limited to any single format. It isn’t just text on the company blog. Content can be in audio-visual and multimedia format, as pictures, videos, podcasts, slideshows, brochures, white papers, or info-graphics.

Who Uses Content Marketing – And Why?

More than 90% of business-to-business (B2B), and a similar fraction of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers, use some form of content marketing to build their audience and boost sales. The approach each uses may vary from a direct special report or brochure that spotlights the value of their product or service, to a more subtle embedded “Brought to you by ____ ” message appended to an informative article or tutorial or infotainment piece.
The idea is that a brand or business can become associated with a positive consumer experience, in the expectation that such an association will translate over time into sales and profit. This is why major corporations including Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft and Cisco Systems employ content marketing in their mix. It works just as well for smaller businesses, and even one-person shops.
When content marketing is effectively carried out…
  • You can make a prospect think, feel or behave differently.
  • You can have customers looking forward to hearing from you.
  • You can create content that spreads virally from person to person, magnified by the reach of social networks.
  • You can secure high rankings on Google and search engines, attracting fresh prospects to your business.
And even after you acquire new customers, you can build stronger relationships with them, strengthen your brand, and encourage referrals through a strategic content marketing plan.

Content Marketing Is Not Quite Advertising

Let’s face it. Traditional marketing is getting less effective. Consumers are ignoring the deluge of advertising that bombards them from all directions. We record favorite TV shows so we can skip the commercials. We ignore banner ads online and focus like a laser on the content we consume. We tune out billboards and flashing neon lights, have learned to sidestep the rare door to door salesperson, and can smell a tele-marketer within a few seconds of picking up the phone.
There has to be a better way for marketers to reach their audience and leave an impact. Content marketing provides an alternative. It is not intrusive or ‘in your face’. It sneaks in under the radar by enhancing the user’s browsing experience, enriching a TV audience’s enjoyment of a show, educating a reader who receives a brochure or white paper in the mail.
And by engaging an audience, creating a positive impact, entwining valuable content with a brand’s equity, content marketing scores heavy wins even in an ad-saturated universe.
There’s a generational effect too. 80% of millennials in an Edelman survey said they expected to be entertained by brands. Nearly a third felt that brands should create free content in the form of games, videos, photos and interactive blogs for their fans.
At the root of why content marketing is so effective lies the reality that when people are seriously considering a purchase, they want valuable information instead of more flashy advertising.

How To Use Content Marketing To Create An Audience

The most successful online businesses and individuals give out a high ratio of valuable content that has no apparent sales agenda. Mixed in periodically is a smattering of promotional messages.
This useful content that is given away freely often makes its way in front of many new prospects through word-of-mouth spread and sharing via social networks. This is how content helps build an audience.
Great, helpful, entertaining or informative content gets distributed through:
  1. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
  2. Search engines because of the high ranking content-rich pages which are linked to from various delighted consumers.
  3. Content sharing tools and platforms such as video and PDF distribution sites.
  4. Media through press releases, ad purchases, or even featured documentaries.
  5. Syndication where the content is republished to new audiences

How To Know If Content Marketing Is Effective?

Much of content marketing’s impact is quantifiable using similar metrics as for paid advertising.
Factors like traffic, time spent on site, and brand equity surveys can help estimate the role content marketing plays in promoting your business. With the help of tracking links within the content itself, the spread and reach of distributed content can be evaluated with reasonable accuracy.
is Head Of SEO at MediaCom Norway, and Columnist at Search Engine Land, and blogger at well-known websites like MOZ and SEOBook. He can be found on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and his Norwegian SEO blog.