What Is Content Marketing? And Can Your Business Use It?
Content marketing is a long-term advertising strategy that creates a strong relationship with your target audience and drives profitable customer action. It uses a variety of content mediums to tell an ongoing story that forges a bond between product and consumer, leading to unbreakable customer loyalty and the heights of brand recognition.
While this concept seems like a hot new marketing topic, it's actually been around for a long time.
Brands have been using content to tell great stories for centuries.
- In 1895, the John Deere company launched a magazine for customers called The Furrow, which is still in production and now reaches an audience of over 1.5 million people each year, all over the world.
- Marvel Comics came up with G.I. Joe comics and stories to help sell toys, and Disney’s fantastical content draws millions upon millions of families to its theme parks around the world.
- Soap operas, which still have millions of loyal followers today, got their start in the 1930’s as an advertising vehicle for cleaning products.
- Coca-Cola will be forever associated with beautiful, iconic, and stereotypically American advertising images.
These are all brands using genius content marketing to drive astronomical sales of related merchandise.
Way before social media was on the scene; they realized that content marketing is a way to:
- Increase the visibility of a brand
- Establish a business as an expert in their industry
- Generate traffic to a website or brick-and-mortar store
- Lead to more prospect-to-buyer conversions
So, how can your business do the same?
How to Execute a Content Strategy
First and foremost, businesses must understand their target audience. Who exactly are you trying to reach, and why?
Once you have pinpointed your potential customer base, the next step is consistently producing quality content and creating a documented strategy for what, when, and where to publish.
Finally, you want to to set goals and key performance indicators for your content strategy. It can be difficult sometimes to see clear effectiveness and ROI for content marketing, but it's worth the extra effort. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends says, it pays to plan. Sixty percent (60%) of those who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32% of those who only have a verbal strategy, or no plan at all.
When implementing the process, it's important to use content marketing best practices.
- Publish regularly. Start by creating informative, relevant blog posts according to a consistent schedule. Customers love reliability!
- Create content with staying power. Produce evergreen content that is still interesting weeks, months, or even years after the initial publish date.
- Repurpose. Put all content on your website first, and then repurpose it across multiple platforms to increase your business’s reach.
- Answer FAQs. Determine your customers most often-asked questions via surveys and social media, then produce content that thoroughly answers.
- Use content as a lead generation tool. Build your in-house email list by offering incentives for subscribing.
- Be patient. Content marketing is a long game, building customers for the future as well as today.
- Promote it. Develop content promotion strategies that get as many eyes on your content as possible.
How To Create Content for Your Brand
Content relevant to your brand can come from a myriad of sources.
Big companies have dedicated teams working on creating valuable content to share with their audience across a vast range of mediums, while micro-businesses might have an enthusiastic free blog or a hilarious Snapchat feed. Both are equally valid. Limited edition, small batch, or personalized content can be very powerful indeed, helping to create the almighty “word of mouth.”
Many companies today are also taking advantage of crowdsourcing and fan-generated content. Descended from the heartfelt testimonials of the past, these days it’s easy for brands to reach out to their target consumers and inspire invaluable free advertising via social media sharing.
In the modern world, people are incredibly busy, so your content has to be attention getting. But customers today really want to feel that companies care about them -- and one way to do that is by providing valuable and relevant content.
Some ways that brands are effectively using content today include:
- Excedrin created a popular blog for migraine sufferers, and the regularly updated content includes advice, free software, and useful coupons.
- Fashion & style powerhouse Anthropologie features quirky, do-it-yourself cocktail recipes on their popular blog, positioning the brand as a knowledgeable and fun friend.
- Pop artist Lana del Rey promoted her 2014 album via free blogging site Tumblr - creating a series of sexy, alluring GIFs easily shared on social media by millions of fans.
- Beats by Dre rules Instagram with behind-the-scenes video, commentary, and iconic celebrity photos.
Ready To Start Content Marketing?
Small and local business owners usually have to wear many hats to survive, and not every entrepreneur has the time or the talent to be a superstar blogger or content creator.
It’s not only possible, but sometimes it’s the wisest idea to outsource content marketing to those who know it intimately. Companies like MyArea Network have dedicated professionals who work with savvy business owners to create and deliver content that is useful, relevant, and on-message.
Studies show content marketing works for the long term, helping businesses attract and keep loyal customers by providing content that educates, entertains, and helps your target audience. Get in touch with the pros at MyArea Network to create your ideal content marketing strategy!