Friday, 30 May 2014

What is Content Marketing, and why does it work?

Content marketing is sometimes referred to by other names (digital marketing, internet marketing, online marketing, custom publishing). In this article, I explain what content marketing is; why it works; and how to do it well.

What is content marketing? 

Content marketing involves providing information that is of real use to (potential) customers, without trying to directly sell them a product or a service.
The idea of content marketing is that by providing this value, users develop a trust and respect for your brand, and are more likely become customers of their own free will –rather than via a hard sell on your part.

Content marketing is not just about creating great copy, it is also about distributing it; acquiring followers by capturing genuine subject interest; reminding existing customers about the value your products / services offer, and ultimately engaging your audience (which will in turn improve your search engine optimization).

Why does content marketing work?

Perhaps the question should be why have traditional forms of marketing stopped working?
  • TV commercials have become a source of annoyance for people who flick channels or reach for the iPad during the three minute break. 
  • Internet advertising is largely ignored, as browsers continue to the content they originally searched for (Research shows that less than 1% of web user actually click through to a webpage from an advert).
  • Magazine and newspaper adverts are easily flicked past as they compete for attention of the busy reader.

Content marketing works for a number of reasons:

People appreciate that they are genuinely getting something for free - information. This enriches their experience of interacting with your brand, and you start to build a positive relationship with them. 
Your audience are more likely to trust the information you provide to them if they feel that you are not trying to directly sell them something.

It’s easy for people to share the information you provide via content marketing with their family and friends at the click of a button. Research confirms that word of mouth and word of web are both highly credible, and amongst the most trusted sources of information.

Customers are much more savvy now and are likely to research products online before making a purchase – content marketing can help you to get your brand into the mind of potential consumers at the start of their purchase making decisions.

How to do content marketing well – 5 top tips

  1. Research what people actually want to know about the product or service you are selling. Address those questions in your online information.
  2. Use free tools such as Google Keyword Tool to research the keywords that people are searching for and include these in your article headings, sub-headings, and opening paragraphs.
  3. Don’t hold information back unnecessarily – put it all out there – content marketing is about providing information that is of real value.
  4. Make your content easy to share – add social network buttons so people can like / follow / pin you, and so on.
  5. Encourage real engagement by allowing people to comment on your posts. Be prepared to take the rough with the smooth and take the opportunity to correct any misgivings people may post about your product or service – it’s a chance to set the record straight. That said, avoid getting into lengthy debates with individuals online. 

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