What is content marketing if it isn’t just good old-fashioned story-telling - but with purpose?
Traditional marketing has always sought to promote brands, products and services using newspapers, TV, radio, newsletters and billboards to reach a target audience and convince them to buy.
When the ‘dot-com’ boom of the late 1990s heralded massive growth in the adoption and use of the Internet, there was a seismic shift in the way that companies engage with their customers to do business. And in the way that those same customers go through the process of making a purchasing decision. Where once a consumer would walk into a store and chat to a salesperson about the pros and cons of a product before choosing what to buy, the sudden ubiquity of the Internet meant that all of that research and consideration could now be done online.
So, if not through mainstream advertising or face to face ‘sales’ pitches, how then would marketers and salespeople help consumers make their buying decisions? They did it by evolving the way they tell their story through relevant, consistent and authentic content marketing.
SEO, social media, and the preponderance of online content, (video, blog posts, and infographics) mean that marketers need to work smarter to cut through the increasingly cluttered online environment.
Customers (both prospective and existing) have grown accustomed to getting the information they want instantaneously, despite the overwhelming plethora of information available on the Internet. Marketing managers need to find ways to engage meaningfully with their customers, and grow a relationship that breeds brand loyalty and ultimately, repeat business.
In the current climate – where change seems to be the only constant – smart marketing that delivers ROI cost-effectively is critical.
So what is content marketing, and why should you care?
Content marketing is a form of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of content aimed at acquiring and retaining customers. Content can be of different forms: articles, infographics, videos, guides, seminars, webinars, Q&A. The purpose of content marketing is not directly to sell but to inform the customer in order to generate a stable, fruitful and lasting relationship.
The ability to create valuable, captivating content that attracts attention and generates leads, expands the customer base, generates online sales, increases brand awareness and boosts brand reputation by engaging an entire online community of users is key.
Unlike traditional marketing, the main focus of content marketing is the customer, and not the brand. It identifies a need, articulates the things that customers care about, and establishes a meaningful connection that will lead to a remarkable, and hopefully repeatable, customer experience.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to grow awareness and establish your reputation as an experienced, authoritative leader in your field. In doing this, you encourage customers to visit your website again and again searching for content, information and sales.
Once a business has identified the customer's need, they need to start delivering a continuous but curated stream of content that can be presented in a variety of formats, as mentioned earlier, based. This approach is designed to attract prospects and convert them into customers by creating content that the target audience will find valuable enough to share.
What are the advantages of content marketing?
1. A well-designed content marketing strategy is the ideal partner for SEO: search engines crave quality, fresh and original content, and reward websites that publish it by ranking high in their SERPs. Blog posts, search engine optimized infographics, videos to share on social networks, all these elements are central to both SEO and content marketing;
2. Content marketing is the number one weapon for creating brand awareness: the higher the level of familiarity consumers has with your company, the more likely they are to become customers. The reason is simple: consumers are more prone to buy products from brands they know and trust. No one is willing to buy the products of unknown brands if there is a better option on the market. Do you want to increase the brand awareness of your company? Content marketing helps you to show your target audience the strengths of your company;
3. Content marketing offers value to users: It should be emphasized that, unlike advertising, content marketing innately aims to provide value to the target audience. This means that consumers will not be confronted with yet another disturbing advertisement to be forgotten as soon as possible, but with useful content that actually improves their everyday life;
4. More results at lower costs: content marketing is a form of business promotion that involves much lower costs than classical advertising. Nevertheless, an effective strategy allows you to reach more buyers and create long-lasting business relationships, whereas advertising - while providing faster results - has a limited beneficial effect over time;
5. Standing out from the crowd: there is no longer a single company that does not have its own website. And that's not all: in most cases, companies are also present on social networks. In short, online presence is no longer a differentiating factor. Want to stand out from the competition? Well, creating fresh content to post on your business website and share on social networks can help you stand out from the pack, rising above all your competitors who may have a website but don't produce useful resources for their audience;
6. Create a continuous source of traffic: some companies rely on organic positioning to get traffic to their website, and therefore on optimizing their pages; other companies, on the other hand, invest a lot of money in advertising, so as to attract new users to their site through AdWords campaigns. Content marketing, on the other hand, allows you to reduce your dependence on search engines and advertising by creating an attentive and loyal audience, who will not even go through search engines to return to your web pages;
7. Improving brand reputation: a company that produces free content for its users and thus content for the blog, video tutorials and podcasts - improves its reputation. From this point of view, therefore, being altruistic and munificent pays off, especially in terms of web marketing.