Marketers often overuse the word CONTENT without clearly defining its contextual meaning. Let’s do away with the vagaries and outline a clear definition. Content, when used in the online setting, is simply images and words.
It may be a single sentence, a long form article, a beautiful photograph, or a video, but in most cases, it will contain a combination of these elements. The end goal is clearly communicating a message to a pre-defined audience through various channels using quality imagery and well-written copy.
In other words, we use these primitive elements to capture the attention of a real human being in hopes that we gain their permission to connect over and over again.
Examples: Photography in your social media feed with a well-written caption or quote, Quick Recipe Tips on a Blog that includes a styled photoshoot, DIY Video Tutorial, or a Podcast Q&A from an influencer.
What is Content Marketing?
Marketers have always made use of images and words in their messaging. Thus, marketing has always contained some form of content. That's what advertisements are, right? Varying weights and styles of typography artfully arranged among colorful graphics and stunning photos — all used in an effort to capture the attention of a single buyer. So, how is Content Marketing all that different?
The difference lies in its usefulness. In traditional marketing, selling is the top priority and everyone knows it. This is why commercials typically lead with their product, followed by how to use it, and maybe, eventually, why... (See Simon Sinek: Start with Why)
If we aren't interested in the product being featured, then the content has no further use. We develop virtual blinders to ads like these and consider them a waste of our time.
In Content Marketing, the value is provided even before a person has an interest in buying our product.
[pull_quote]Think of it as courting with the intention of marriage rather than a one-night stand.[/pull_quote]
Example: Nike gave popular Youtube vlogger Casey Neistat a budget to produce a commercial for their new Fuelband product. Instead of creating a traditional advertisement, Casey decided to travel the world and film the experience until the budget dried up. It resulted in a video 4:37 in length with the hashtag #makeitcount.
Casey only opens the Nike FuelBand packaging in the beginning of the video but never refers to the product again. This video has received 23,763,807 views to date! The content is both entertaining and inspiring without shoving product down your throat. That’s exactly why it worked! The content provided value even if you couldn't care less about Nike and their Fuelband.
Where Do I Get the Content?
Even companies that recognize the value of Content Marketing find it challenging to consistently provide useful content that resonates with their core audience. Keep in mind that although creating original content is ideal, learning to leverage existing content should be a part of your overall strategy. This is what we refer to as content aggregation or curation. Here are 4 ways to use this tactic:
- Aggregate a news feed on your website that repurposes content relevant to you readers
- Curate Photos and Quotes from influencers on your social media
- Seek out guest writers in your industry to contribute relevant articles
- Start an Ambassador Program with real people representing your brand on a grass roots level
What is the ROI on Content Marketing?
Businesses have trouble allocating a budget to content marketing if they can't directly associate it with ROI. The truth is, they're actually leaving money on the table if they fail to use great content in their current marketing strategy. More than ever before, communication, shopping, research, and entertainment are all being conducted on just a few social platforms of choice.
This is why brands that have actually put in the work in these content-hosting spaces are now cashing in on the attention they have earned. Using Content Marketing may be more of a long-tail effort than a spike on the chart, but you will be ahead of the curve when attention completely shifts to social platforms and traditional advertising loses its hold.
How We Do It
We write, curate, and manage the content distribution for many of our clients. Here's an outstanding example: Seneca Creek is an online journal and daily email newsletter geared towards the outdoorsy millennial.
The content strategy?
- Use Keyword Planner to find words and phrases that match the interests of the target demographic
- Set up Google alerts to aggregate trending content in those interest groups
- Build a content strategy and calendar around the data we find
Through email surveys and the simple action of opening and clicking email campaigns, we gain real insight into people's interests and behaviors. This allows us to improve our content and get even more granular with the segments that we are serving.
Remember: you don't have to be an expert on every topic to create good content. Just make sure you connect with those who are. Your social following and email list will steadily climb when consistent efforts to provide valuable content are applied over an extended period of time.