What Is Content Marketing?
If you manage a business or website, you might be wondering, what is content marketing? This seemingly abstract concept is one that does bear explaining. The irony here, of course, is that content marketing is intuitively understood by everyone who experiences it.
Content Marketing Examples in Daily Life
Think about the recipes you might find on the backs of pasta boxes, soup cans, or bags of frozen vegetables. They may call for a particular brand of mushroom soup to make broccoli casserole, or a certain type of flour in their Red Velvet Cake recipe. Of course, you’re not obliged to buy that brand of soup or flour. If, however, you get to know and love the brand behind the recipes, you’re likely to buy the brand they suggest. That, in essence, is successful content marketing.
Old Spice and Content Marketing
Part of what makes you feel positively disposed towards a brand is the way it goes about creating content and the brand voice it demonstrates. Love it or hate it as a product, Old Spice is a now-classic example of a brand that embraced content marketing to attract new audiences.
Isaiah Mustafa’s Old Spice YouTube-posted videos tackled the brand’s biggest weakness head on: it’s uncool because it’s your dad’s aftershave. The campaign not only targeted a new generation of viewers, it successfully reached them—one estimate is that the towel-clad content reached at least 35 million people and doubled product sales.
Dove and Content Marketing
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty went a step further, by actively engaging with real women: young, old, and in between, to start a conversation about how women are represented and portrayed by media, and thus perceived by themselves and others. By partnering with organizations designed to empower young women, like Boys and Girls Clubs, the Girl Scouts, and Girls Inc., Dove created an ongoing series of widely publicized marketing campaigns, none of which ever overtly emphasized the message to “buy our soap or body wash.”
John Deere Magazine and Content Marketing
Look at the John Deere magazine The Furrow, a content marketing example that’s just as relevant to farmers today as it was in 1895. Its articles are about farming in general, not overt hard sells whose bottom line is, “If you want to make money in farming, you’d better invest in a John Deere.”
Importance of Thought Leadership
And then there’s Shutterstock, the site that provides music, video, and images. A few years ago Shutterstock created an annual Creative Trends feature on its site—and later made it interactive, and therefore shareable.
Creatives who use the site share this content with both colleagues and clients. It doesn’t matter whether Shutterstock is creating or reporting on creative trends. What matters is that it establishes thought leadership for the brand and expands its reach. Thought leadership is another essential aspect of effective content marketing.
These examples of creative content marketing help drive home the importance of carefully curated content that provides value to the reader and lets them know that you’re in the know. When it comes time to make a purchase relevant to their prior research, they’re likely to turn to you. Content that’s adjacent to the things your target audience would be searching online is therefore a great way to draw potential customers to you.
Definition of Content Marketing
That’s content marketing in a nutshell: content created with a specific audience in mind and with the ultimate goal of indirectly leading to a sale without employing hard sell tactics.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:
“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content marketing’s strength is the ease with which it connects with audiences. Compared with traditional marketing strategies, which tend to be campaign- and event-oriented—think new product launches, annual trade-ins or sales events, and seasonal price reductions—continuous content creation is key to successful content marketing.
Types of Content Marketing
There are many types of content marketing, including but not limited to the following:
● blog posts
● white papers
● case studies
● email newsletters
● website landing pages, or
The continuity and consistency with which a brand interacts with its audience is part of what led to the phrase “content is king.” Over time, this has become not just a meme, but also a truism.
What is a Sales Funnel?
As you begin your content marketing journey, the phrase “sales funnel” will be used again and again. The sales funnel represents the journey every customer makes before purchasing. This journey has four steps: know, like, trust, and, finally, buy.
At the widest part of the funnel, your audience is looking for information. Some of that information—about how things work, the benefits your brand’s solution provides, or how others have used your products or services to solve real-world problems—needs to come at no cost. Blogs, vlogs, and podcasts need to be free, accessible on demand, without commitment. The content your brand creates is the wide-mouthed top of the sales funnel.
But another portion of your content creation has to at least attempt to capture information and the first step towards a commitment not to buy, but to learn more. This is the point in the sales funnel where more content is made available in exchange for providing an email address—signing up for a newsletter, downloading an app, requesting a white paper or subscribing to an email newsletter.
Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) brands in particular will want to create case studies or customer success stories for this phase of the content marketing sales funnel. More compelling (and more detailed) than mere testimonials, case studies outline the challenges similar enterprises have experienced and detail the solutions your brand can provide to solve their problems.
Demos, testimonials, and trials come into play at this stage. This is the point at which the sales funnel is at its narrowest. It’s no coincidence most streaming video services offer seven- to 30-day trials of their product. Demonstrating reliability, site navigability, and quality is the final step in creating a customer.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) brands can often leverage samples, trial offers, and partnerships with other, more established brands at this point. Bigger ticket, bought-once-in-a-decade products can’t compete at this level with these tactics, in most instances. For this type of product, content marketing is even more crucial. It’s not enough for a celebrity to endorse a product any more. Consumers are far more sophisticated and innately skeptical than ever before. This is where the social media aspect of content marketing, with all its variations, becomes crucial: Yelp reviews, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and Instagram influencers.
SEO and Content Marketing
Then, of course, there’s the all-important SEO aspect of content marketing. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the task of maximizing the returns your content gives you in searches (like Google or Bing). It’s great to create content, but without a carefully planned keyword and metadata strategy, it’s likely that information won’t be found by those searching for it online. Data-driven content marketing that is founded on the principles of great SEO strategies has never been more important.
Particularly in the wake of recent Google algorithm changes like its BERT update, which favors long-tail keywords over short-tail keywords and encourages search results that mirror the natural cadence users would employ in their search queries, it’s not enough to just guess.
Why Choose a Creative Content Marketing Agency?
There are countless content marketing strategies out there. When it comes to content, it’s all been done before. But has it been done well?
Successful content marketing in 2020 no longer looks like having a junior staffer write up a jargon-filled blog post and slap it on your website. That simply isn’t effective. You need to understand SEO and search engine algorithms in order to even hope to have your content found online. If creating content for print use, you need to understand what works for each medium. Catching the attention of busy consumers is harder than ever before, particularly in an overwhelmingly congested world of content.
That said, this is where creative content that pushes the limit of tradition and convention, all backed by carefully planned metrics and strategy, has the chance to shine. At Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, we believe in the power of research and data. We believe in thoroughly understanding a brand and the story they are hoping to tell. Most of all, we believe in the power of words. When woven together eloquently, words can sell consumers on what brands have to offer like nothing else.
Want to learn more about how our creative content marketing agency can help you define what content marketing is for your brand? Contact us today!