What Is Content?
October 03, 2018

What is content? Content is a message to a targeted group of readers.  It can take the form of text, audio, video or multimedia graphics. Content is the main way that companies communicate the benefits of their products, services or ideas to customers and leads.  When content is created and published in this way, it’s called content marketing.

Content marketing consists of a series of messages that move prospects along each stage of the buyer’s journey.  Awareness, consideration and decision are the main phases of that journey.

This guide will show content marketing’s specific benefits, examples of use and the importance of generating a content marketing strategy roadmap.

Read on to find out more!

 

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Benefits of Content Marketing

Improved Demand Generation

Demand generation is a marketing tactic that drives interest in a company’s products, services or ideas. During demand generation campaigns, marketers use content to make prospects aware of needs that they didn’t know that they had.  For customers who already have an identified pain point, marketing professionals highlight the benefits of products and services through the use of content. Infographics and white papers are two types of demand generation content that appeal to leads in the early stage of the buyer’s journey.

Brand Building

Marketers generate content to tell consumers about a company’s values, offerings and how the organization is different from its competitors.  The content must have a consistent theme across all communication channels. Challenges arise when a company serves two or more different customer groups.  In these cases, marketers must create personalized content that speaks to different demographic groups while maintaining the overall theme of the company.

Increase Traffic to Websites

Good content informs and educates consumers about topics for which they have interests.  This content attracts website visitors who are searching for information on specific topics.  Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing continue to update their algorithms to make quality content rise to the top of search engine rankings, which results in added traffic to certain websites.  Useful content is also shared more often on readers’ social channels. Findings from marketing studies indicate that consumers are suffering from information overload. Attention spans are shorter than ever before.  Prospects may be more likely to read content that has been recommended by a friend or colleague.

Engage Readers on Social Channels

One of the unchanging laws of marketing is to pursue customers where they live.  Decades ago, that used to mean print newspaper and television advertisements. Today, it means engaging with prospects through social media channels.  Communicating through social media puts a personal touch on marketing efforts because conversations are authentic, interactive and conducted in real time.

Scalable for Different Phases of the Buyer’s Journey

Just as cats are said to have nine lives, pieces of quality content in the hands of the right marketing professional can be revived and reused again. Videos and infographics that attract viewers who are at the early stages of the buyer’s journey can be combined, modified and re-purposed as webinars that can move more qualified leads to the next stage in the sales funnel. One can also compile a series of blog posts into an e-book that can be used as a free download for existing leads.

Establishes Expertise

Insightful, well-written articles, blog posts and white papers help to establish authors as experts in their chosen industries.  A company that regularly employs experts will continue to attract customers in its physical and online stores.

Successful Content Marketing Examples

Patagonia

Patagonia is an outerwear clothing brand that evokes the excitement of adventure travel in exotic locations around the world.  The company first focused its marketing campaigns on building up its reputation for producing clothing and gear that are of exceptional quality.   After succeeding at this part of its marketing strategy, it published announcements via press releases of its commitment to the environment and social responsibility.  Patagonia’s marketing team knows that its target customer or buying persona loves quality outerwear, stunning travel destinations and environmental stewardship. It wants to let prospects know that its products are made from materials that are eco-friendly and fairly traded.

The company now publishes a blog that vividly describes the adventures of some of its customers. Customers, who are also environmental activists, get a platform to share their travel experiences, pictures and concerns for the conditions of the world’s natural resources through guest posts.  Patagonia uses its established brand name and customer-generated content to meet its marketing goal of creating awareness about environmental issues that impact all life on earth.

Best Buy

Best Buy recently did a great job at executing a demand generation campaign for customers who were in the pre-awareness stage of their latest smart home technologies. Most people know that home automation products have come a long way, but few can keep up with the rapid pace of new technology roll-outs. Knowing this, Best Buy’s marketing folks generated an advertisement that made early adopters aware of their need for the latest smart home technology.

In the advertisement, a woman comes to a Best Buy representative and learns about Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator.  The common appliance uses exceptional tech connections that link a home’s security system, family smartphones and food management applications into a central location in the kitchen. The woman was impressed that she could get step-by-step, online instructions about cooking through a web-enabled, voice-activated display on her refrigerator door.

She appeared to be awestruck when she found out that the refrigerator could also tell her smartphone when she was out of milk.  She ended the conversation by saying that she “needed” this refrigerator, and the Best Buy enabler said, “yes, you do.” Before seeing this commercial, many consumers didn’t realize that they “required” this gadget.  Many of them are now likely trying to convince their spouses that they do.

Lego

Lego has always had the reputation of being fun and educational.  Recently, the company gave fans of the toy a lesson in environmental stewardship.  Lego is now making some of its bricks from bio-plastic that is derived from sugar cane instead of plastics that are made from petroleum products.  It used content in a press release format to inform consumers of its corporate values that relate to the environment.

The Lego Group knows that many of today’s parents are environmentally responsible, and they’re teaching their children to make consumer choices that are easier on the environment.  It’s unlikely that modern parents don’t know the value of Lego play sets. They likely played with the colorful, interlocking blocks as children themselves. In the buyer’s journey, they’re probably in the consideration phase.  The press release content could help to move some prospects out of the consideration phase and into the decision stage.

What Is Content Marketing Strategy?

When a family takes a trip, it normally plots out a course to make sure that it sees all the attractions that lead up to and from the destination.  Without this roadmap, the family could get lost, miss important landmarks and waste a lot of time and money. This concept is true for content marketing as well. Generating a content marketing strategy helps to make sure that the right content is produced at the right time and distributed among appropriate communication channels.  Effective content marketing strategies contain some key components.

Brand Story

A brand story depicts the values, benefits and market perceptions of a company.  Parts of this story are the brand’s tone and personality, which should shine through in all communications.  Brand stories tell why companies do business for certain customers and how the companies differ from competitors.  Brand stories should be used to guide the creation of content. The content can be used to maintain a good brand reputation or to change the perception of an ailing brand.

Buyer Persona Defined

The effectiveness of content is hit or miss when the author doesn’t know his or her audience.  Identifying a company’s ideal customer or buyer persona will help to provide structure for its content marketing efforts.  With a well-defined buyer persona, marketers can generate content that aligns with their prospects’ values, behaviors and attitudes.   This customer insight can also guide marketing managers to the appropriate distribution channels for their content.

Market Research

Since so much of content marketing depends on understanding customers, marketing research is needed.  This research can take the form of survey feedback, sales data and social media interactions. Marketing researchers also uncover trends and risks in different industries.  The data that is collected during their market research projects is used to guide decision making about content marketing campaigns.

Buyer’s Journey Roadmap

It’s not enough to match a buying persona with content that is of interest to them.  The end goal of most content marketing strategies is to increase profits. Creating content that inspires prospects to buy requires more precision.  Marketing managers must give buyers content that is tailored to their position in the buyer’s journey. A prospect who has demonstrated repeated interest in a product or service through a subscription reply may be receptive to more detailed content that will lead to a sale.  The marketing manager likely wouldn’t try to engage that prospect with a link to a high-level blog post since their interest has already been piqued.

Current Content Assessed

Content marketing managers often take inventory of their current content assets during strategy planning.  They want to avoid generating content that has already been produced. An evaluation of current content assets also uncovers content that can be re-purposed or slightly modified for distribution on different communication channels.

Content Calendar

An organized plan for different content drops helps marketing managers to send consistent, effective messages to leads.  As a result, prospects get useful content when they need it.

Schedule of Ongoing Evaluation Through Analytics

Content marketing managers always use data analytics to measure the effectiveness of their marketing initiatives.  Setting up a schedule to conduct periodic evaluations of content marketing campaigns means that managers can save time and budgets by quickly correcting any faulty assumptions.

This overview gives a good starting point to enjoy the benefits of content marketing for your business.

Good luck!

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