When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer's need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc. Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
You write a blog post about your infographic generator, and included a link to the tool in the post so people can try it for themselves. Let's say the visitor-to-lead conversion rate is the same on this blog post as it was in your PPC campaign -- 2%. That means if 100 people read that blog post in your first month, you'd get two leads from it. But your work is done now. And over time, that one blog post you wrote years ago will continue to generate leads over, and over, and over, every single month. And not just that blog post -- every blog post you write will do the same.
JT had just gotten married and he and his wife set out to buy their first piece of furniture together–a new mattress. The search began at local mattress showrooms; vast fields of mattresses neatly laid out under the buzz of fluorescent lights. Pushy salesmen pushed them to buy a fully loaded, feature-rich memory foam mattress. For $3,300 it should have been the pinnacle of comfort, but it wasn’t. To make matters worse, the return policy rendered it impossible to return. It was like car shopping. Actually it was worse than car shopping.
Problem: I need to reach more customers, while keeping my costs low. According to Forrester research, today’s customers distrust and resent marketing that interrupts or intercepts them. Engaging content marketing should be part of a natural conversation with current and potential customers, be relevant to their interests and behaviors, and build a continuous story over time. Content marketing pays dividends for a very long time, and this effect multiplies as you build out your content library.
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