Marketing has changed a lot since the days of broadcast. Generations X and Y get their news and entertainment from their smartphones, their tablets, and their notebook computers. And what’s worse (at least from a marketing perspective), they get this on-demand, watching what they want when they want. Marketers can no longer assume that they are speaking to either a common denominator or a captive audience. Commercials can be skipped over entirely or easily ignored while playing a video game or chatting with a friend on social media. All the more reason why you’ll have to work harder in order to get your message across.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique predicated on the creation and distribution of valuable,relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
As the Content Marketing Institute so eloquently describes, content marketing is the natural reaction to this rejection of traditional marketing by consumers. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but the marketplace has dictated its terms; all marketers can do is adapt their strategies to find a way to reach their targeted audience.
Content Marketing, by nature, is a way for marketers to reach consumers by providing them with the same kind of content that they inherently seek out. There’s one thing you’ll need to be aware of. As more businesses adapt their marketing methods to encompass at least some of the major tenets of content marketing, you’ll have to adapt further due to the flood of consumer-friendly marketing materials flooding the market.
In this first part of our three-part series on everything you need to know about content marketing, we start at the beginning, with the goals you are trying to achieve. Think carefully, because different goals will dictate different strategies.
The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to achieve sales. Product needs to move off the shelves or you have no business. But before you can drive consideration and sales, people need to know about your brand. Here’s where content marketing can be most effective. Knowing the importance of brand awareness helps to focus the methods available to achieving it. Consider yourself, the consumer. You don’t work on content marketing strategies all the time; what appeals to you? Identifying the type of content that you want to share, identify how it can boost brand awareness, and then diversify to reach a multitude of audiences. Are there email newsletters you’ve subscribed to that you actually enjoy getting? Why? How often do you want to hear from the brands you follow?
Creating a Community
Identifying the demographic you intend to share your content with ensures a company’s ability to create content specific to this demographic. Developing content that you believe will best reflect your product or services is one thing. Creating content that satisfies one demographic is another, but the key lies in creating content with a motor; once you share something with the intended demographic, it’s paramount for that it to inspire its viewers to share it with their friends and family. This, obviously, allows your content to reach more than just the intended demographic, expanding brand awareness. Content that reaches beyond its intended audiences is a great way to ensure a high return on investment.
However, there are pitfalls to creating content for the express purpose of having viewers share it via social media. For one, shareable content tends to lack depth: lists of photos of puppies and kittens playing together can only go so far. Conversely, long-form articles on paint is made will only appeal to a minute audience.
As content is shared, brand association is furthered. But it’s one thing for an article to get so many shares on Twitter or Facebook, it’s another thing for that article to be republished on different sites. Content amplification, by definition, amplifies content. If the goal is to create content with a motor, then content amplification would be the process by which the motor runs.
Content amplification has as many benefits as it does methods by which it can be accomplished. While this may seem daunting, it’s really just something else to plan for when developing a content marketing strategy.
- Link-building is the process of getting links to a website on another site, allowing for the linking site to rank better on Google. Not only will visitors to other sites become familiar with your work, but they might be impressed enough to visit your site. Link-building accomplishes two major tasks: it boosts traffic, and more importantly: it boosts ranking on search engines.
- Social Media Ads are a way of ensuring that your content will be seen by social media users. In 2013, 77% of Facebook pages found their widest audience through promoted posts. The problem with relying on social media users to share content is that organic reach has a degree of unknown that is simply not conducive for a business looking for a high return on investment. Promoted posts guarantee that the content will reach a wide demographic. Thus, it works in harmony with organically shared content
- Remarketing is defined by Google as, “A feature that lets you reach people who have previously visited your website. Your ads can show to these customers when they visit other websites in the Google Display Network or when they search on Google using your keywords.” In September, Facebook relaunched a new version of Atlas which enables retargeting of Facebook users”. Previously, the ads that you saw on the side of your screen when checking out your Facebook profile were based off of information gathered from cookies. With Atlas, “…you’ll see these same kinds of ads from Facebook on other websites, but also on your phone. Atlas also attempts to find out what percentage of people bought something after they saw an ad, and then shares this data with advertisers.”
When conceiving a content marketing strategy, it’s easiest to stay on track by thinking of the overarching purpose of content marketing: to create interesting, sharable content that reflects the product or service that the company pedals. It’s not so much a sales pitch, as it is a gesture of goodwill. Again, think of yourself as a consumer, because you are. What would entice you to patronize a company, aside from a great product or service? Great content is a way for companies to be heard, and in many cases: that is all that is separating the company from achieving the success they desire.
Now that you’ve determined your goals, the next step is to audit your existing content to see what you’ve already got and determine what you might need to create. Part 2 of this article can help with that.
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.