Marketing is changing — fast. The advent of digital has empowered the consumer and left inflexible businesses struggling to win new customers. Thankfully, you aren’t going to be one of those businesses.
You’ve decided to read this blog, which means you’re interested in learning about content marketing, one of the most effective marketing techniques ever to grace the digital marketing industry.
But what is content marketing? What does content marketing really mean? Is it just writing articles and tossing them onto a blog? Is it slaving over infographics and posting them on your social media?
In this article, I’m joining forces with some crack industry experts to take a look at content marketing and answer your burning question once and for all: what’s the f*cking point of blogs?
What is content marketing?
Like all big disciplines, content marketing has evolved into a sprawling and nebulous term, covering everything from writing simple blogs to producing high-quality video.
So, in the tradition of all good 101-style blogs, I’m starting this one by trying to pin down a concrete definition. I’ve even snuck one of our own in there.
“Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.”
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
“Creating stuff that attracts people and gets them interested in you, your business and your services.”
So, there you have it. Three content marketing definitions. Pick your favourite definition and let’s see how they fare in the real world.
Why are you creating content?
A recent study from SiriusDecisions suggested that up to 70 percent of B2B marketing content goes unloved, unread and ignored. Keeping your content out of the unprofitable 70 percent starts with understanding why you’re actually creating content. Why are you devoting hours upon hours to planning, researching and producing content assets?
Suraj Sodha runs London-based WordPress support agency WPMaintain and leveraged content marketing to improve exposure for his business. Here’s Suraj explaining what he wanted to achieve.
“We create content to educate our audience and to prove that we are experts in our field. It’s so easy for anyone to claim to be an expert these days, but by publishing content that is helpful to our audience it proves we know what we’re talking about! Creating and publishing content on our blog and on our social media profiles allow us to stand out from the crowd of so-called experts and get noticed by more people.”
Working in an incredibly competitive industry, Suraj used content marketing to establish himself as an industry leader, developing an authoritative identity and attracting customers to him.
Suraj’s objective is just one example; what your goal is depends on you, your business and your industry.
Perhaps you want to attract the interest journalists or promote yourself as an industry leader? Maybe you want to delight existing customers or raise general brand awareness?
What content are you creating?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a go-to content type for all content marketing campaigns. What’s right for a clothing brand probably won’t be a good fit for a SAAS company.
Below I’ve included the three most popular types of content at the moment.
Traditionally the most popular type of content, blogs still form the backbone of most content marketing campaigns.
A way of visually communicating information or data, typically in a long vertical image.
Video is the future of content marketing, rapidly growing in popularity due to its high engagement.
Don’t think that content marketing is limited to just these three, though. There are hundreds — if not thousands — of types of content out there, ranging from photo essays and interviews to product demos and roundups.
Why isn’t your content working?
So, you’ve slaved away over blogs, wearing your fingers to the bone and put them live on your website.
Where’s the traffic? Where are the hordes of monied users dying to use your service and buy your product? Where’s the success you were promised by thousands of marketing bloggers?
Like I touched on before, most content fails. That’s the sad truth of content marketing. Most content simply doesn’t attract users and doesn’t convert those users into customers.
If your content is sitting unloved and unread on your blog, it’s probably down to one of three things.
One, you’re creating content for the wrong audience. If you own a steakhouse, posting pictures of salad to your Instagram is worthless. If you want people reading, watching and engaging with your content, you’ve got to tailor it as tightly as possible to your audience.
Here’s The Bridge Marketing’s CEO, Hana Dickinson, on the importance of tailoring your subject matter.
Create content that peaks the interest of your target market, answers their questions and allays their fears. Offering free practical, actionable tips and advice will help your business stand out, build trust and remain top of mind.
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming people will be interested in the things that matter to you. News about your business will probably only be of interest to your staff and your competitors, not your customers. So go easy.
Two, you’re not putting in the distribution legwork. The if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach does not work in modern digital marketing. If you post an article to your blog and keep shtump, no one will ever discover it. If you want people to find and read your content, you’ve got to show them it’s there. Promotion via social media, influencers and community outreach are stone cold musts.
Amy Bull is a content marketing executive at English marketing agency Datify so understands content better than most of us. Here’s Amy on the necessity of adequate distribution in your campaigns.
Content Distribution and amplification is an absolute must! There is so much content churned out every single day that taking the time to effectively distribute and amplify it can build your brand authority within the industry. We all now realise the importance of value and authentic content, and chances are that if you have spent a substantial amount of time creating something you are proud of, it is an injustice not to push it and be proactive!
Using social channels to share content is easily started in house, employees are often some of the best brand advocates, but its important that the sharing looks natural. Another way to distribute content socially is to seek out industry conversation already taking place, or identify influencers in the industry. Engage with them, and share their content and in return it is likely that they will share yours.
The key element to remember is ‘authenticity’ – there are a number of ways for you to distribute the content but what is your audience most likely to engage with? Make sure that you have measurable goals in place to allow you to identify which methods work for you.
Three, your content is bad. No one wants to read regurgitated infographics, paper thin blogs or boring whitepapers. They want genuinely valuable and useful stuff. If your content isn’t providing value, don’t be surprised when no one turns up to read it.
Head of Digital at Digital Impact, Ross Dempsey, works across both internal and client marketing projects, helping to plan, create and manage outstanding marketing campaigns. Here’s Ross on the old marketing mantra Content is King.
When industry commentators say content is king, they don’t mean any old content thrown up on a corporate blog. They mean high-quality, targeted and genuinely valuable content assets that people really want to read. If you’re skimping on content quality, don’t be surprised when the results aren’t there.
What can content marketing do for your business?
One year ago, our website was an empty blog, receiving a trickle of direct traffic every month. Now, it’s a bustling online space, generating business, interest and attention for our business.
And we got there without any paid advertising and without any piggybacking on our old brand. Every visitor we attracted and lead we converted, we did through content marketing.
If we can do it, there’s no reason why you can’t, too. For more information and to see how content marketing can supercharge your marketing, download our free eBook below.