What does a good content marketing strategy look like? Why is content marketing king? How do you get it right, measure it, improve it?
Whether you are new to the riveting world of content or are a self-ascribed expert (i.e. content addict), there is always more to learn. In fact, it is an inquisitive nature and a desire to know more and try out new things that has allowed content marketing to evolve into the dynamic, multi-dimensional, ever-shifting medium that it is today.
You may have noticed that we’re talking about more than a marketing tactic. What’s going on here is that marketers have become storytellers and concept creators. We’ve applied the age-old notion of communicating through narrative to traditional advertising concepts, enabling us to build a bridge with our audience. Never before has marketing been as rewarding, or as impactful, as it is today.
From the brilliant brand videos you’ll find on YouTube, the ones that can make you laugh or cry – and subconsciously bond with a brand – to the informative weekly blog posts that have become a part of all our lives, great content is everywhere.
They say ‘content is king’, but, if handled well, it is far more than this. Content, along with the digital innovations that have facilitated it, is transforming the way brands and businesses view one another. In effect, we’ve all become a little more human.
I’ve put together a list of some of the most important content marketing questions marketers have today. They may help you on your personal quest for content answers.
1. WHEN DID CONTENT MARKETING START?
While we may think of content marketing as a modern concept, brands have been using stories to convey ideas to their audience for hundreds of years. And of course, narrative has been a medium of communication for as long as the human mind could comprehend a story.
Some early classic examples of content in action are Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, first published in 1732, and the American Bee Journal, launched by Samuel Wagner in 1861. The American Bee Journal is still published today!
2. WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING NOT?
Bryan Del Monte, Managing Director of Clickafy Media Group, makes an excellent point about understanding what exactly content marketing is and isn’t. He explains it’s not really about the content – or even about storytelling – but rather about conveying value via the appropriate media.
“Content marketing is less about the sale of a product/service than that of an idea and the brand behind the idea. For this reason, it can ultimately be stronger than advertising in driving sales – and it explains why competitors cannot displace content-rich brands like Apple and Harley Davidson.”
While Del Monte is not comfortable with the term ‘story’, we can still see significant elements of storytelling in successful examples of modern marketing. It’s the ambiance created, the environment a prospect can step into when they click on your website, a feeling evoked. That is the story and conceit; It’s the thread that connects every piece of your content strategy.
Take Apple’s Carpool Karaoke as an example. Content for your viewing entertainment, and one more reason to accept the Apple brand as an essential part of modern life, bringing us the music and videos we want through the convenience of Apple technology. No traditional ad is required to convince and convert; just the concept of Apple’s value, and the demonstration of how it integrates into our lives.
Content marketing isn’t advertising. It’s not a billboard or poster. Nor is it a television, radio, or online commercial. It’s value conveyed through ideas, stories and concepts.
3. WHY DOES IT WORK?
Content marketing works because it uses the more subliminal power of attraction, rather than shouting from the rooftops about your existence and importance, as in the case with advertising.
By demonstrating value and worth, marketers are convincing consumers that a particular brand should be a part of their lives. Want to improve your small business with better accounting and informed financial decision-making? Read the QuickBooks blog. Need some inspiration for cooking healthy meals? Follow Whole Foods on Twitter for a constant stream of ideas and recipes.
These brands, through content marketing, have become valuable not just because of the products and services offered, but also by enhancing people’s lives with easy-to-access, helpful information. This is why content marketing works. Consumers seek out the brands they most engage with.
4. WHY DOES CONTENT MARKETING FAIL?
This is one of the most important content marketing questions to answer. Content marketing doesn’t always work. The biggest reason? A lack of strategy. The best content marketing strategies are uniquely suited to the specific needs of each brand.
This means you have to take the time to think about what would work for your audience. What content forms would your buyer personas prefer? What style and personality would engage them the most? What content schedule would offer enough, without being overwhelming? A well-thought out strategy is necessary for success.
5. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTENT MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA?
A brand’s social media sites can serve as channels for marketing content, but there is a key distinction between content and social media marketing. Even though the two should be included in a cohesive overall marketing strategy, it is important to have a strategy for each.
Content is what your audience consumes, which then motivates them to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to a service, or make a purchase. With social media, the focus is on engaging consumers. This is where consumers can reach out to one another or directly to a brand.
6. HOW DOES CONTENT MARKETING GENERATE LEADS?
Content marketing generates leads because it helps to attract more potential customers to your business. With SEO and social media marketing, you can direct organic (and qualified) traffic to your brand’s website’s blogs or to other content. Then, you have your chance to demonstrate value.
Once you do that, some of those viewers will make their way to your lead generation pages and, click your glowing CTA buttons and fill out your data capture form. Hey presto, you’ve got another lead.
The best way to generate leads with content? Blogs.
7. HOW DO YOU MEASURE IT?
There are numerous ways to track the success of your strategies. What you use depends on the metrics that matter to you, how equipped your marketing software is to automate a lot of your data gathering for you, and how good you or someone on your team is at data analysis.
Whether you have a dozen metrics or you just focus on the essentials – like organic traffic, conversion rates, lead generation, and your ROI – simply charting your progress over time will let you know if your strategy is helping you reach your marketing goals.
8. WHERE IS CONTENT MARKETING GOING?
Is it a shift to more video? Will Instagram take over all our lives? Will content replace television completely by 2025? When will next-generation technologies like virtual and augmented reality take hold? Will something that hasn’t been conceived today change the face of content marketing tomorrow?
Consumers have endless options when it comes to choosing which content to consume and even how to consume it. Where content marketing goes depends on what they want. This whole content world has come about as a response to more sophisticated consumer expectations.
The biggest question for content marketing is then, what will they expect next? When we content marketers have the answer to this question, you can bet that we’ll be there to meet them.