Content Marketing

Explore the Strategy of Content Marketing

content marketing

Content is King. With more than a half-billion active websites available, web surfers are inundated with ploys for their attention. People have become so saturated with advertising they have become ad-blind, deliberately ignoring and tuning out the sidebar ads, floating ads, and link ads surrounding their email inbox. They hastily press “skip this ad,” while watching YouTube or listening to Pandora. The key to gaining a piece of mindshare, and holding the attention of consumers, is to provide quality, useful information in the form of content marketing.

Strong content not only draws readers to a website, but also benefits a page's rankings on search engines like Google. Google and other search engines regularly shift their algorithms in order to keep authentic, valuable content on top of search returns— sometimes to the chagrin of content marketers and web developers.(See also Content Marketing Specialist) With quality content, you stay ahead of these changes and better position your site to reach the top of search returns.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of publishing fresh, relevant, and useful content to engage consumers, with the intention of attracting them to your company. Quality content marketing is usually a soft-sell approach. In fact, it hardly looks like marketing at all, but instead looks like authentic information that consumers need. The strategy of marketing through informational content is one of give-and-receive—you give potential customers quality information, in the hopes of attracting and retaining their business. (See also Informational Marketing)

Popular Content Marketing Platforms

  1. Articles
  2. Social media
  3. Email newsletters
  4. Downloadable white papers
  5. Webinars
  6. eBooks
  7. Podcasts
  8. Mobile Apps
  9. Webazines
  10. eConferences

Source: Spiral16.com “Content Marketing Awesome Statistics”

Websites, blogs, magazines, newsletters, mobile apps, social media, progress reports, news articles, content aggregate sites, and many other venues can be great sources for content marketing.

One example of content-to-commerce marketing would be ZN Magazine, a webazine published by Zappos, the shoe retail giant who has extended itself to a variety of fashion products. ZN Magazine shares information about the latest fashion trends to subscribers—and also provides links to the products in its online store, including direct purchasing ability from the iPad.

Who employs content marketing?

Any company with a product or message that creates compelling content can engage content marketing strategies. For example, many companies generate newsletters that announce new products, inform about business and industry trends, highlight exceptional people within their company, and convince customers to buy their products. Others employ blogs or social media to more casually connect with their customer base.

Empires such as Harpo (i.e., Oprah Winfrey) sell content in enormous quantities from television shows, books, websites, digital apps, and magazines. The content attracts consumers by the millions, which in turn attracts advertisers and product sales.

Thousands of bloggers and Internet marketers produce intriguing, and often very personal, content. Many sell advertising space on their blogs and host paid reviews as a source of revenue; both of these sources serve as content marketing for their own blogs as well as for their advertisers. Additionally, bloggers and internet marketers sell their own books, crafts, or products on their blogs, using their content to attract potential buyers. (See also Article Marketing)

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is an example of a non-profit which has had phenomenal success with content marketing. On their website, survivors of breast cancer and families who have lost loved ones to breast cancer can share their heartbreaking stories of struggle and loss, motivating donations to breast cancer awareness and research. Race for the Cure, the organization’s nationwide walk-run, generates voluntary content marketing on thousands of blogs, websites, news venues, social media, and online donation portals—which generates millions of dollars each year. Their efforts don’t simply attract individual donors; they also attract product alignments with a large number of corporations who promise a portion of sales to the mega-charity.

Social Statistics

  • Facebook: 850 million users
  • Twitter: 500 million users
  • LinkedIn: 135 million users
  • Google+: 90 million users
  • Pinterest: 10.4 million users

Source: TheSocialSkinny.com

Political organizations such as Moveon.org generate content that addresses the concerns of voters, playing on their frustrations, hope, and compassion with the element of story in their content. The content is designed to elicit both funding for candidates and political movements, as well as motivate voter action through petitions, the generation of more compelling stories, and of course, more votes.

For what types of customer is content marketing effective?

Anyone who opts-in to a newsletter, visits a blog or website with featured content, clicks on social-media links with content, researches and reads about issues, or surfs the web for information is susceptible to content marketing. In fact, they are searching it out (See also Permission Marketing). There is something valuable they need, and they want someone to provide it—whether it’s the latest style of black-leather boots or a story of hope.

  • A parent investigating adolescent depression might be compelled to purchase a book, or an herbal supplement, after reading a parenting blog.
  • A 20-something woman may be enticed to purchase a subscription to Self Magazine because she frequents the website and uses their online fitness and dating tips.
  • A family is motivated to forego a dinner out in order to free a family in Uganda from poverty and violence by giving $35 per month to Women-for-Women International, after they read about the horrors against women and children in war-torn countries on the organization’s website.
  • A customer reads an online feature article about local farmers, published on the company website, and vows to buy their environmentally farmed, organic chicken.

In each instance the customer is motivated by valuable, original content to take action—whether it’s a purchase, donation, a social-political action, or some combination of the above.

How is a content marketing campaign developed?

When developing a content marketing strategy, it’s important to keep the desired action in mind. Do you want people to click through to purchase this book, attend the workshop, donate to the cause, or vote for the candidate?

With the objective firmly in mind, investigate what kinds of information or “story” will compel people to take the desired action. Do you hope to make women feel more attractive? Do you want to appeal to people’s compassion or sense of social justice? Do you want to motivate political action by addressing people’s frustration or fear? Or do you want people to choose you over the competition because of your corporate values? With all that in mind: What story will capture the values you want to communicate?

Third, where can you tell your story and get the most exposure? Many content marketing campaigns employ a variety of platforms to get the word out. A newsletter, social media, blog, website content, guest blogging, and reviews on other mediums can all be effective.

The nuts and bolts of a good content marketing strategy change rapidly, because the way that people are consuming information changes. Keep in mind that frequency of posting is an important element to feeding consumer hunger for fresh content. Google also likes prolific numbers; it rewards quantity as well as quality. Use a variety of mediums for best results.

Peppering content with strategic keywords and using search engine optimization techniques, when properly implemented, can also improve results. Choosing obvious titles, rather than clever ones, increases traffic and Google rankings. Back-linking draws the reader to past content marketing articles, and keeps the reader on the website for a longer period of time; Google responds well to deep linking. Having other reputable websites link to your content also helps boost Google rankings.

A large part of content marketing, of course, is marketing the content. You can publish fantastic material, but if no one can find it, it’s wasted. Methods of marketing new content involves posting links on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. News and RSS feeds—as well as social aggregator sites like StumbleUpon, Technorati, Scribd, and Digg—also serve to magnetize readers to the site.

You must also measure the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign. Applications such as Google Analytics allow you to check statistics, watch page views, notice which posts are getting the best results, and observe which demographics are responding best to your content. Social media platforms also enable you to track results by watching shares, comments, and likes, as well as pay attention to comments. Armed with this information, you’re able to adjust content marketing strategies according to what is, and isn’t, working.

What career titles work with content marketing strategies?

Marketing Managers

Marketing Managers direct content marketing campaigns, strategize across platforms, assign responsibilities to staff, and track the results.

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $116,010
    Top earners: $187,199+
  • Content Marketing Writer
    Median annual pay: $55,420
    Top earners: $109,440+
  • Web Designer
    Median annual pay: $53,500
    Top earners: $76,910+

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

  • design a content marketing strategy focused on eliciting the desired outcome, examine the results, and initiate adjustments based on the current success or failure of the campaign
  • oversee the content marketing team, from graphic designers to content producers
  • interact with the sales, public relations, and product development departments—monitoring their goals and creating ways to inform customers about new products, services, or campaigns which content marketing efforts should be aligned with.

Education and experience

Many marketing managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, communications, or business management. Courses will include such subjects in market research, psychology, statistics, new media, and consumer marketing. An internship with a marketing agency or corporate marketing department will be invaluable. Marketing managers also attain a variety of experience in their industry prior to taking on management responsibilities.

Content Marketing Writers

Content Marketing Writers produce compelling, quality content that persuades consumers to take specific desired action, often using keywords and SEO tactics to generate high search-engine returns.

What do they do?

  • write authentic, useful, and engaging content which attracts customers and compels them to stay on the page
  • use social media to generate page views and new readership, as well as keep readers engaged and always looking at new content
  • keep up on the latest content marketing strategies using a wide variety of tools and software, as well as reading content marketing industry newsletters and blogs, and then putting said strategies into use

Education and experience

Many content writers have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, journalism, public relations, or communications. Because this is a relatively new field, some content creators and writers have evolved into their positions by way of other marketing roles or their own blogging efforts. Internships are a great way to attain bylines, which is turn is a great way to build a marketable portfolio of work. Successful content writers often go on to other marketing positions, with additional responsibility.

Web Designers

Web Designers create the platform or medium on which content is displayed, produced, or published. Designers ensure the navigation and functionality of the website and maintain consistent and visually stimulating graphic design across content platforms such as website, newsletters, and social media outlets. Depending on the size of the company, they may also be closely involved with overall company branding.

What do they do?

  • built and maintain websites which convey an attractive atmosphere and invoke a positive emotional response
  • monitor social media, content creation, marketing and design trends to keep up on the most effective strategies
  • work with SEO and keywords on the backend of the website, resulting in high search engine rankings

Education and experience

Web designers most often have a bachelor’s degree in web design, graphic design, or marketing; quite often their coursework will expose them to all of these areas. An impressive portfolio can often be established during an internship, as well as invaluable as experience and contacts.

How can a marketing school help you in this field?

The art of persuasion, and an understanding of consumer buying habits, is both a large part of the marketing curriculum and an invaluable skill in content marketing. Therefore, a marketing education will help content creators of all kinds learn what motivates people to take action, and help students to develop effective and powerful writing skills.

Combined with outside internships with area companies, marketing courses can provide hands-on experience in which new ideas can be tested. Some marketing programs now also offer social media and new media methods of marketing as specializations. As the influence of social media grows, this concentration will in time become a staple of marketing schools around the country.

There are a number of marketing programs to choose from, and some colleges offer marketing programs online. Investigate what kinds of specializations and courses would best serve you. Request information and meet with a counselor, prior to committing to a program.

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