If you try to stay up-to-date about news on the branding and online promotion front, surely you have encountered the term “content marketing” recently. Referring to the spheres of “content” and of “marketing” in such close proximity is not the most obvious thing in the world, so what is it about this theme that makes it so current? Buckle up: we’re going to explain the relevancy of this term as well as show you why it can be a clever branding move to consider for your own business.
What Is Content Marketing?
First things first – what are we actually talking about here?
Content marketing is a marketing method that relies on the production, optimization and curation of content for branding efforts. Unlike traditional advertising, which explicitly aims to sell something, content marketing is more about delivering information, establishing a presence and striking a strong impression. In other words, content marketing sets out to sell the idea of a product rather than the product itself.
One prime example is General Electric’s “Ecomagination” portal, in which the company is communicating to its clients new and creative ways to think about energy consumption in an environmental age. Another great case study for successful content marketing is Nike’s personal training app, which provides customers guidance and assistance in achieving their fitness goals. And let’s not forget Airbnb’s guide to local travel, which accompanies their online booking system.
In all three these cases the companies are not actively promoting a transaction or marketing a specific product, yet they establish a profound branding value by offering their audience insight and information on how to improve their quality of living by integrating GE or Nike into their lives.
The Advantages of Content Marketing
The appeal of this technique to large and small business alike is that it is an effective way to communicate with customers in a day and age when people are highly desensitized to traditional marketing stimulus.
As customers face an ever-growing selection to choose from and better ways to compare products, companies need to adopt a more honest and straightforward approach in their promotion efforts, and content marketing is one way to achieve that.
Content marketing thus helps brands with creating a reputation for being trustworthy and having the customer’s benefit in sight. This is not a cynical move aiming to confuse the target market. The underlying supposition here is that informed and satisfied customers are more loyal and therefore more profitable.
The Challenges of Content Marketing
The biggest challenge that this marketing technique poses for small businesses is the difficulty to track its effectiveness. ROI (“return on investment”) is easy to notice when you know how many people saw your ad on Facebook, clicked on it and then completed a purchase, but how do you measure the impact of an informational blog post?
This smart infographic by BrandPoint offers a good way to tackle this issue by focusing on three major categories – awareness, consideration and conversion – and breaking them down to processes that can be traced and assessed (like better ranking on search results or an increasing number of sales leads).
Another challenge that small business need to face when embracing content marketing is coming up with unique and effective ways to actually implement this method. This requires not only a deep understanding of your target audience but also a familiarity with what other brands and companies are doing in the field of content marketing.
You can start by browsing through Kapost’s helpful and informative analysis of 50 outstanding content marketing campaigns. Observe and learn.