There are a lot of definitions of content marketing and how it works, but I think my favorite is from Hubspot (a great digital marketing resource!): “Content marketing is a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience — usually online — the goal of which is to attract new customers. The most common components of a content marketing program are social media networks, blogs, visual content, and premium content assets — like tools, eBooks, or webinars.”
Accounting and financial firms use content marketing to increase brand visibility and include social media posts, blogs, white papers, byline articles, webinars, and more. Many consumer brands, such as Expedia, rely heavily on content marketing. Currently, their strategy involves a variety of different content channels, but they also strive to earn a presence in high-authority publications whenever possible and place well-designed infographics on such sites. They also publish guest articles on many authority websites. You may have also seen their series of travel videos, which they labeled Find Yours. The reason these videos earn so much traction on social media is that they focus on customer engagement, rather than on simply being promotional.
So here are a few tips that might help you in your own content marketing strategy.
Unlike other lead generation strategies, content marketing gives relevant and valuable information to prospects and existing customers, instead of asking them for something. With content marketing, you’re giving valuable information away before asking people to buy anything. Even when you sell a product through content marketing, your ideal customers will be happy you did, because they feel more valued and understood.
The 5 most important marketing tactics for B2B businesses are (in order): in-person events, webinars/webcasts, case studies, white papers, and videos (the last 4 are types of content). Is your company developing any of these types of content? Social Media Examiner reports that 58% of marketers said “original written content” is the most important type of content, outdoing visuals and videos. (Hint: You and others in your organization are experts about something, right? This gives you the AUTHORITY to create content!)
Content marketing is vital in marketing programs today, and for a few good reasons. eMarketer reports that 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day. A report by DemandMetrics finds that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads, and that 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing. Forbes provides some meaningful B2B statistics: 88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy. Also, the most effective B2B content marketers allocate a larger portion of their budget to content marketing: 42% of their total budget, compared to 28% for less effective marketers.
The Content Marketing Institute indicates that if brands can develop an effective strategy for creating content based on proper understanding of their target audience, it can increase sales; help retain customers; build or reposition your brand; create the ability to integrate and distribute important information across platforms, and engage customers long-term.
Where you place your content marketing matters. 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as part of their content strategy, other popular platforms include Twitter (87%), Facebook (84%), YouTube (74%) and Google+ (62%). For B2C brands, there is some overlap – but it really depends on the target market. Pinterest is the space for moms (moms make up 80% of P&G’s consumers!). Facebook is still hugely relevant, as is Instagram.
It takes a commitment of resources and some strategic thinking to implement a solid content marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are well-defined best practices, tools, and examples that can help any organization build or expand their content marketing. It is inexpensive, safe, available for anyone in any industry, and beneficial for many reasons. The sooner you start investing in it, the sooner you'll start to see results, and the better results you'll eventually see. Whether you're in it for the increased traffic, higher conversion rates, or just better relationships with your customers, there's no reason content marketing shouldn't be included in your marketing program.
Irene J. Dickey is a lecturer at University of Dayton School of Business Administration
Follow @irenedickey E-mail:Idickey1@udayton.edu