Category Archives: Content Marketing

4 attributes that make your content marketing successful

4-attributes-of-content-marketing-success

Successful content marketing rests on 4 attributes

  1. Alignment with your organizational goals: What exactly do you want to achieve through content marketing?
  2. Team collaboration: All the people who are responsible for content marketing use the same tools, use the same language and communicate the same message. They also know what are the success metrics.
  3. Content distribution: Content publishing should always be complemented with content distribution so that your target audience can access your content and respond accordingly. If there is no method of content distribution, your job is half done.
  4. Ongoing analytics: Always know what you’re doing and what you are achieving, and this can be best done by analyzing your effort and results.

How do you keep track of these four attributes for successful content marketing?

You need a documented content marketing strategy.

The word “strategy” may seem like a highfalutin word, but it is not. In the realms of content marketing it means

1
Clearly articulating, in writing, the overall aim of your content marketing. What do you want to achieve ultimately? In how much time?

2.
Whom are you going to target? This is very important. For whom are you going to publish and distribute your content. How should they react? What should they do after getting exposed to your content?

3.
What sort of content you want to create? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert or an authority figure? Do you want to become an information hub? Do you want to educate people? Do you want to make people aware of a new technology or a better way of doing something? Do you want to provide better support to your existing customers and clients?

4.
What content format your audience prefers? Does your audience prefer blog posts? Infographics? LinkedIn? Slides? Videos? E-books? White papers and case studies? Email newsletters?

It is very important to know where to focus your energies otherwise you will be wasting lots of time on creating content that people are not interested in, or don’t want to access simply because they don’t like the format.

5.
Content creation process and scope. In many organizations, especially larger organizations, individual employees are supposed to create content and take care of it. In some organizations there are dedicated content teams.

In multi-layered content marketing teams there are content creators, content editors, content publishers and content distributors. Assign the right people to the right jobs for successful content marketing.

6.
Editorial calendar. Once you set your content marketing in motion you will need to stick to a schedule. Publishing consistency is very important. If you publish two blog posts every week, you must publish two blog posts every week. If you publish one infographic every 15 days, you must publish one infographic every 15 days.

An editorial calendar also allows you to prepare a list of topics that you can cover in the coming days, weeks and months. This way you are never at a loss. You always have something to publish.

7.
Content distribution. The high-quality content that you are publishing needs to reach the right audience to be effective. You have to proactively promote and distribute your content. You can use your social networking profiles. You can make sure that your content is search engine optimized so that people can easily find it on Google and other search engines.

8.
Tracking ROI and analytics. This is one of the most important aspects of a documented content marketing strategy. You need to constantly track your ROI and analytics.

Is your content marketing helping you achieve your goals? Are you attracting the right traffic? Are people doing the right thing when they are on your website or blog? Is the level of engagement fruitful on social media and social networking websites?

The good thing about tracking constantly is that if some structural and directional changes need to be made, they can be made in a timely manner.

So, these are the eight vital components of a documented content marketing strategy that can ensure the success of your content marketing.

Want to know how content marketing is better than advertising

why-content-marketing-is-better-than-advertising

Do you know that 89% B2B businesses are using content marketing to promote themselves (source)? 73% among these say that they plan to continue with content marketing, not as just a campaign, but an ongoing process of promotion.

Companies like IBM, American Express and Coca-Cola have completely switched over to content marketing from conventional advertising.

According to this Hubspot study, companies that publish more than 16 blog posts every month get 4.5 times more leads than companies that publish 0-4 blog posts every month.

Content marketing is one of the fastest growing industries in the high-tech area reaching $32.3 billion in 2018, says this Forbes article.

Why is content marketing performing better than advertising?

why-content-marketing-is-better

The biggest feature of conventional advertising is that it is interruptive. There you are, watching your favorite program on TV, or watching the football final, or browsing an interesting web page, and bam! Suddenly, an advertisement pops up. Whether you want to watch it or not.

There used to be a time when we used to see advertisements between programs. These days we watch programs between advertisements.

On the web, web pages are splattered with totally unrelated advertisements.

Consequently, people have found ways to sidestep these intrusive advertisements. You get ad blockers on the Internet. The set-top boxes allow you to fast forward ads on your TV programs. People prefer streaming services like Netflix over conventional TVs precisely for this reason.

This is one reason why content marketing works better than advertising.

Another reason is, advertising can be expensive. PPC campaigns, since you are paying for every click, can be prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses. Putting up banners can be expensive. Advertising on TV and print media can be expensive.

digital-advertising-has-overtaken--conventional-advertising

As you can see in the above graphic, digital ad spend has overtaken TV advertising.

Not just expensive, the advertising cost is recurring. People remember you only when they see your ads. Not because they might be having shorter memories. There are so many similar ads. If you are a web design agency, there are scores of other web design agencies promoting their own services. If you are promoting a health supplement, there are scores of other health supplements being promoted.

This is true for almost every business. People remember you as long as you advertise. You stop advertising, you are out of people’s minds.

Content marketing comes to your rescue.

Although, regularity is also needed in content marketing, it is less expensive and more effective than advertising.

benefits-of-content-marketing

Listed below are few benefits of content marketing:

  • Educate your customers
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Tell success stories
  • Encourage your customers to engage with your brand
  • Create brand awareness
  • Establish an emotional connection
  • Generate repeat business from existing customers
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Bring down your advertising costs

Why would some people prefer advertising over content marketing?

some-businesses-prefer-advertising

Advertising is still alive and thriving. Even YouTube sometimes insist that you watch an advertisement completely before proceeding to the video you want to watch.

So, as long as media consumption is there, some form of advertising is always going to be there.

A big reason businesses prefer advertising over content marketing is a perception or misperception that the returns are faster. You pay for the ad and the ad immediately begins to show. Those who are interested will get attracted to it.

Besides, content can’t be everywhere.

Facebook, for example, is a social network and the success of your content depends on the number of people liking it or sharing it. Still, its platform allows you to “boost” your posts, which is a form of advertising. The platform also makes money through direct advertising.

Every content-based platform sustains itself through advertising. Google’s entire existence depends on advertising as of now. Even your mobile apps show ads to earn revenue.

Content marketing depends on your ability to carry out a sustained content publishing and content distribution exercise. The results come when you have created a considerable amount of content. The results are great, but you have to be patient.

Advertising, no matter how inefficient and unreliable it is, gives you the results immediately. It depends on numbers and your ability to spend money. The more money you can spend, the more success you can expect.

The benefits of advertising are

  • Quicker brand awareness and recognition
  • Better for promoting limited time offers
  • It can generate instant traffic to your website
  • Quicker targeting of a specific audience segment

Advertising can be compared with spamming. Why do you think spamming still is a big business? There was a time when 90% of the emails on the Internet were spam. These days (by March 2017) the figure has come down to 56.87% (source Statista) not because a lesser number of people want to use spam but because email services are becoming more efficient at identifying and isolating spam emails. Still, it is a thriving business because if you can send out millions of emails and even if the success rate is 0.01%, you get your ROI. The same is the case with advertising.

Let’s briefly talk about the benefits of content marketing over conventional advertising.

Educate your customers

Educated customers are in a better position to take decisions in your favor. Educate them about the benefits of doing business with you.

Educate them about the benefits of your product or service. Educate them how you can help them solve their nagging problems. Through constantly publishing informative content you can keep your prospective customers and clients well-informed.

Differentiate yourself from your competitors

Advertising is ubiquitous. It is everywhere. Every business uses it. If you have money, you can advertise. The problem is, your competitors too have the money to advertise.

When everybody advertises, there is nothing to distinguish one business from another.

With content marketing you can have a unique presence for yourself and your brand. A well-formulated content marketing strategy automatically makes you great content for your business in such a manner that your business name or your brand name stands out among the crowd.

People know your brand and your business on the strength of the content that you publish.

Tell success stories

Once people start using your product or services, you will begin to have success stories – of how people implement your solution and solve their business or personal problems.

Through regular advertising it is not possible to cover every success story. Through content marketing it is.

Reading success stories is very reassuring especially when you need to make an investment.

When you are about to purchase something, you want to get reassurance from other people who have already bought your product or service. This is why it is very important to publish and share success stories of people who have benefited from your product or service.

Encourage your customers to engage with your brand

When people engage with your brand they tend to remember you more. This is why it is very important that you engage your prospective customers and clients regularly and repeatedly, in a fruitful manner.

Content marketing allows you to do that. It gives your customers and clients a reason to interact with you, visit your website or blog repeatedly, or leave comments on your social media updates.

This way eventually when they need to do business with you they remember what sort of business you provide.

Create brand awareness

Through content marketing you can create brand awareness by publishing useful content on your website as well as on your social media profiles. Your content comes to be known for its usefulness and relevance.

You should also make sure that your content ranks well on search engines. This way people can easily find it. This creates brand awareness.

People constantly come across your content – useful and informative content. When they appreciate the usefulness of your content they have a positive association with your brand.

Establish an emotional connection

With strategic content writing you can establish an emotional connection with your prospective and current customers and clients.

What is an emotional connection?

An emotional connection is when people feel good when they come across something from you – an update from you on their timeline, something that reminds them of you, a blog post that you have published to inform them or educate them, or something amusing that you have shared with them. They form positive associations with any symbol that reminds them of you.

An emotional connection can only be established through content marketing. Although it can also be achieved through advertising, it rarely happens. The worst thing about advertising is, people already have a negative notion about it. For them, conventional advertising is, constant pestering.

Generate repeat business from existing customers

A lot of business comes from your existing customers. Tragically, according to this Forbes article, 60-80% of the customers who were extremely satisfied with a particular business never do business again with that particular business.

It is not that they no longer need to do the business, it’s just that, the business that satisfies them never follows up, never keeps in touch.

This LinkedIn Pulse article quotes a Gartner study that says that for the company used in the study, 65% business comes from existing customers and it costs five times more to attract new customers than to keep existing customers coming back.

Content marketing allows you to keep in touch with your existing customers whereas advertising is always aiming at getting new customers.

Of course, getting new customers for your business is very important, but keeping your existing customers (people who have done business with you and are satisfied and happy with you) coming back to you is even more important.

When was it the last time you saw an advertisement thanking existing customers?

Through content marketing it’s very easy to maintain a constant contact with people who have already purchased from you. You have their contact information. They may have also subscribed to your mailing list. They might already be following you on Facebook and Twitter.

Keep in touch with them. Keep them educated. Keep them informed.

Build brand loyalty

You can learn a good example of brand loyalty from Apple. The company has diehard fans. So does Tesla.

Through content marketing you can build a loyal customer base. People often like to keep in touch with companies and businesses they have bought products and services from.

It’s easier to provide engaging content to people who have already contacted you. Constantly provide useful content. Provide content in their preferred format and medium. Be useful to them. Always update them when you have a great offer.

The best way of building brand loyalty is by providing stellar support through your content.

Publish helpful articles and blog posts regularly. Publish a comprehensive FAQs section covering all possible questions, problems and their solutions.

The more valuable content you publish and distribute, the stronger and more widespread will be your brand loyalty.

Improve search engine rankings

One of the greatest benefits of content marketing is a better SEO. Every business wants to improve its search engine rankings. But what do the search engines want? What does Google want?

Google wants quality content? How does Google know that you are publishing quality content?

You may like to read Do you know how Google actually ranks your content?

Although search engines like Google have very complicated algorithms to evaluate the quality of your content, no amount of AI can be as smart as human beings. So, Google also observes how people behave towards your content.

People are going to react positively to your content only if you publish high-quality content. You cannot make people like your content. They are going to like it, react to it, engage with it, share it on their social media timelines and link to it from their websites and blogs, only when they find your content useful and relevant.

A well-executed content marketing strategy ensures quality content on your website and positive social sharing. This in turn improves your search engine rankings for your important keywords. When you are constantly publishing content relevant to your business you cover all your primary and secondary keywords and search terms, automatically.

Bring down your advertising cost

Better search engine rankings. Greater level of engagement. Better conversion rate. More social sharing. More incoming links.

As your organic presence on the web increases, your advertising cost begins to come down.

Until your content has significant presence on the Internet, you may have to rely on conventional advertising, but as you begin to consolidate your presence on search engines, on your own website and on social media and social networking websites, you need to advertise less and less.

Because your organic rankings improve, you no longer have to spend money on AdWords. Since your content creates more buzz on social media websites, you don’t have to buy advertisements over there. You don’t have to buy links because people link to your website on their own.

Why more businesses are ditching conventional advertising and embracing content marketing?

Frankly, content marketing is more effective, but more than that, it is more meaningful. It helps you nurture relationships with your present and prospective customers and clients instead of constantly bombarding them with impersonal messages. People relate better to the quality content that you broadcast regularly.

Nobody cares about advertisements these days. People find them annoying. They are constantly employing ways to skip advertisements or completely ignore them.

Content, on the other hand, they embrace. Make it amusing. Make it useful. Become a part of the lives of your customers and clients through your content. You don’t need to advertise then.

Are you committing these 6 content marketing mistakes?

content-marketing-mistakes

Content marketing, fortunately, has gone mainstream. This means even very small and mid-size businesses are using content marketing instead of conventional in-your-face advertising. It also means there is a greater possibility of committing mistakes that can make content marketing counter-productive.

With every passing year marketers are getting more clarity on how to use content marketing for their businesses. This Content Marketing Institute graphic shows that more people are finding success with content marketing compared to previous years:

small-businesses-are-getting-successful-with-content-marketing

Marketers are also realizing that focusing on high-quality content to simply unavoidable:

content-marketing-depends-a-lot-on-high-quality-content

Consequently, most of the content marketing mistakes are committed in the realms of creating or writing content.

Why is it important to avoid committing these grave content marketing mistakes?

The problem with content marketing is, especially when you’re doing it on your own, you don’t even realize that you are committing grave mistakes until it’s too late. Even when irreparable damage is being caused to business, instead of analyzing their mistakes, people end up blaming either their own business model or the entire content marketing process.

Listed below are 6 content marketing mistakes that you should avoid committing:

1. Opting for low-quality, cheap content

cheap-content-is-a-content-marketing-mistake

I provide content writing services to businesses and I get multiple queries every week for very cheap content. Many believe that if they fill up their website or blog with lots of cheaply-available content it will get them better search engine rankings. They believe that once the rankings improve people will come to their website and do business with them just because they can find their website.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Cheap content achieves nothing. Even if somehow your link begins to appear on the first page of Google, very quickly due to its inferior quality, the link is removed from there. This is because Google these days allocates rankings based on user behavior.

Read Do You Know How Google Actually Ranks Your Content?

This means if people find your link and come to your website and then if they leave immediately because they don’t find what they’re looking for, you get negative ranking marks from the Google algorithm.

In fact, the loss is doubled by the fact that you have low conversion rate due to low-quality content.

So, what are you achieving by publishing low-quality, cheap content?

Possibly, better search engine rankings for a few days.

What are you losing by publishing low-quality, cheap content?

Lots of money. Lots of effort. Business growth that you could have experienced by publishing high-quality content. Search engine rankings. Conversion rate.

Basically, you achieve nothing.

2. Focusing on a narrow list of keywords

narrow-focus-on-keywords

Although when you talk of keywords you immediately think of SEO, keywords also help you streamline your content marketing. They tell you what to talk about.

Focusing on a narrow list of keywords is a very self-constraining content marketing mistake. Fewer keywords means fewer topics for your content ideas. You will be constantly writing and creating new content around just a few keywords. This gives you inferior-quality content, and also attracts penalties from Google.

Instead, focus on a broader category of keywords. I don’t mean you dilute your keywords, but you should also focus on longtail keywords.

Remember that whether it is social media or search engines, people these days don’t use exact keywords. When they are trying to find you (your product or service) they use sentences and various combinations of your keywords and their lingual peculiarities.

3. Ignoring the conversion aspect of your content

does-your-content-convert-well

By the end of the day, it’s all about your conversion rate. Whether you are writing content for your landing page, for your website or for your blog, its success is based on how people respond to it.

If the number of your subscribers doesn’t increase, if people don’t stay on your website or blog longer, if they don’t share your content on social media, if they don’t link to your content, if they don’t buy from you, your content is solving no purpose.

How does your content solve purpose?

For that you need to write content that is purposeful, useful, relevant, and actually provides information people are looking for, in a friendly language.

4. Not “marketing” your content

content-marketing-mistake-not-marketing-your-content

There is a reason it is called “content marketing”. Once you have published your content, you need to market it.

Marketing here doesn’t mean you use advertising to promote your content. It means making sure that maximum number of people can access it.

Marketing means spreading your content using your social media and social networking channels. It means encouraging others to spread around your links. It means building your own platforms like your mailing lists and social networks so that you can broadcast your content.

Marketing also means making sure that your content is search engine optimized. Despite Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, search engines still remain the biggest source of traffic for websites and blogs.

According to this Smart Insights post, there are more than 6.5 billion searches worldwide every day.

For individual search engines this is how the graph looks:

share-of-search-engines

To make sure that your content reaches its target audience you will need to market your content using the following channels:

  • Search engines
  • Social media and social networking
  • Mailing list (email newsletter)
  • Back links from quality websites and blogs

5. Not repurposing your existing content

not-recycling-your-content

Content on the Internet exists in different formats because it needs to cater to different audience preferences. The Twitter audience may consume your content totally differently from your Facebook audience. The Instagram audience prefers images and videos. Facebook prefers images, videos as well as text. Facebook also prefers longer chunks of text. Twitter prefers shorter updates that are concise and to the point.

Not just social networking platforms, even on your own blog some people may prefer infographics, some may prefer slides and some may prefer PDFs.

Repurposing your existing content helps you create your existing content for different mediums in different formats. You can even create a complete blog post out of the subheading of an existing blog post. For example, How to repurpose old content.

Maybe a particular webpage contains lots of data that can be represented graphically. You can create multiple charts using the data.

Some of the blog posts for some of the concepts explained on your website can be visually explained by making a video and uploading it on YouTube.

Repurposing your existing content also gives you a chance to audit all review your content to improve it further.

6. Not publishing content frequently and not following a routine

not-publishing-your-content-regularly

Content marketing is not about publishing 5-10 blog posts and then thinking that your content marketing is done. It is an ongoing process. Why is it so?

Because millions of blog posts and websites are being published every minute on the Internet. 500 minutes of video is uploaded on YouTube every minute. 3.3 million Facebook posts appear on the Internet every minute. 448,800 updates are posted on Twitter every minute. 1440 WordPress blog posts are published every minute. – Source.

These are just a few publishing platforms on the Internet. There are thousands of more.

All this content is continuously published by various publishers and platforms and then indexed by search engines. This is one thing.

Another thing is, your competitors are constantly watching what you are publishing and how your content is performing on search engines and social media. They constantly try to outperform you.

Therefore, if you begin to rank well for a particular keyword, they immediately start publishing content to outperform you.

By the time you have published 5 blog posts, your competitors publish 10 blog posts, or 20 blog posts, or even 50 blog posts.

In terms of quantity there is no sense in competing. But you need to constantly update your website and blog to have something relevant for your audience and to give them a reason to visit your website or blog regularly.

To leverage content marketing, you need to publish regularly. You need to follow a routine.

Slow and steady wins the race. As mentioned above, if your competitor is publishing 50 blog posts in a week, there is no use competing if you cannot match in terms of effort, human resources and money.

The best bet for you would be to continuously publish unique content that originates only from your website or blog. This is the only way you can compete on an ongoing basis.

Conclusion

Listed above are a few content marketing mistakes that people often commit while implementing their content marketing strategy. Most of these mistakes originate from a lack of understanding of the state of affairs.

It’s a reality that people are using content marketing to dominate narrative – they have dominated narrative like this for centuries.

Content marketing is not some quick fix. It’s also not a one-time affair. Just like you need to continuously advertise, you continuously need to publish content.

Google, through its various algorithmic updates, ensures that only those websites and blogs rank higher that publish quality content.

Hence, if you want to carry on a successful content marketing, make sure you avoid committing the following content marketing mistakes:

  1. Opting for low-quality, cheap content
  2. Focusing on a narrow list of keywords
  3. Not paying much attention to your conversion rate
  4. Not marketing your content using available channels
  5. Not repurposing your existing content
  6. Not publishing content frequently and not following a routine

What is content marketing: 15 definitions from industry experts

what-is-content-marketing-define-content-marketing

On the Internet, the concept and application of content marketing has been around for more than 15 years now. Still, only those who provide content marketing services seem to know exactly what this form of marketing means.

What is content marketing? What does it mean? How do you define content marketing? How does it benefit your business? Why is it better than conventional advertising and marketing? How much time, effort and money does it take for content marketing to show any results? Should it entirely replace conventional advertising and marketing?

Different industry experts have different definitions, but the gist remains the same: you publish and distribute helpful content and people begin to recognize you or your brand due to that content. You become a valuable presence in their lives. This way, when they need products and services that you provide, they know whom to approach.

This is not a complete definition, but it is the gist of content marketing. I have explained my own views on what is content marketing.

Why is it important to know what is content marketing?

knowing-content-marketing

If you want to use something for your benefit, you need to know it. You need to know it beyond tweaking.

Do you know Michelangelo used to dig up corpses, cut them and explore various parts to understand the dynamics of the human body from the inside so that he could carve out immortal sculptures? Gross, but you understand the need to understand something.

It is one thing to know what works for others may also work for you, and it’s a totally different thing if you actually understand what you are doing and what it is going to lead to.

Marketing methodologies that have existed for years don’t need explanation. For example, you know what is advertising. You may not know its intricacies and the stuff known to the MBAs, but you have a fair idea.

You know that advertising targets certain individuals and uses certain channels. You know that when people come across your advertisements they come to know of your product or service and if they need it, they approach you. You have a total understanding of why you want to advertise on a billboard on a busy highway.

It’s very straightforward (actually, it is not).

With content marketing things are not as straightforward. Yes, it is simple, yet, difficult.

Difficult, because, for an average businessperson or entrepreneur, results are not direct.

If I tell you to publish 50 blog posts covering all your topics so that your target audience is educated and then some among this audience may turn into your customers and clients, it may seem very vague to you.

If I tell you that through content marketing you can have your own broadcasting channel you may ask why the heck does my small business need a broadcasting channel?

If I tell you that through content marketing you can establish your authority and create an influential presence for yourself on the Internet you may ask, why do I need to put in so much effort if I can simply advertise?

These are all valid questions. But the answers to these questions exist contextually. Here is the context:

  • Advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be a few years ago.
  • Most of the Internet users skip ads or have developed a blind eye towards them.
  • Most of the TV viewers have the ability to skip ads these days. They do.
  • Advertising is getting prohibitively expensive, especially when you are paying for every single website visitor.
  • People trust opinions more than they trust advertisements.
  • Word of mouth is more powerful than advertisements.
  • 88% B2B marketers use content marketing because they know it works.
  • People have a limited attention span and you need to remain in front of them using various creative ways.
  • Apropos to the above point, people skip or ignore ads and the only way to remain in front of them is by providing interesting, useful and high-quality content.
  • You need content marketing for SEO.

SEO-writing-can-improve-your-search-engine-rankings

Interestingly, the last point is immediately understandable to people. Yes! SEO is something that can be measured.

You explain to them how many web pages and blog posts it’s going to need to improve SEO for a particular keyword and they immediately understand. But tell them to have the same number of web pages and blog posts to improve conversion, and they give you a blank look. That’s because they don’t understand what is content marketing.

Why is it difficult to define content marketing as a single definition

It is difficult to define content marketing as a single definition because every individual, every business, has its own way of implementing a content marketing strategy. There is no set definition because content marketing is contextual.

Do marketing and advertising have a definitive definition? I don’t think so. Whatever works best, is used by content marketers.

Content marketing explained by 15 industry experts or influencers

On this blog post I’m listing definitions of content marketing from 15 industry experts or influencers. They aren’t necessarily people. Some are even companies.

Why do I call them “industry influencers” or “industry experts”? Some are working on million-dollar content marketing projects. Some have written books on content marketing. Some run popular blogs on the topic. Some are very popular on social media for thought leadership. Some have completely replaced conventional advertising with content marketing throughout their global operations.

They speak at conferences. They travel the world trying to convince businesses to adopt content marketing. Basically, these people know their stuff. They are the flag bearers. They are the pioneers. They are the trendsetters.

I must state in the beginning that I haven’t directly sought these definitions from experts and influencers themselves. I have picked them from various sources on the Internet.

While doing my research the biggest problem I encountered was that some of the attributions have been made randomly. I needed to check multiple times whether someone who has said something about content marketing was actually said by the person or the company, or not.

To my best knowledge, these definitions of content marketing come from right persons and companies. Do let me know if there is a discrepancy and I will quickly mend it.

So, here it goes…

content-marketing-explained

1. “Content marketing is the process and practice of creating, curating and cultivating text, video, images, graphics, e-books, white papers and other content assets that are distributed through paid, owned and earned media. These assets are used to tell stories that help brands build and nurture relationships with customers, prospects and other audiences to drive awareness, generate demand, influence preference and build loyalty.”

Gartner

2. “Content marketing is a strategic marketing technique that aligns business and consumer information needs with relevant content. Content can act as a means to attract, engage and convert a specific targeted audience. From blogging and social media to white papers and eBooks, marketers use a variety of content marketing tactics to consistently inform and persuade their customers–without trying to sell them something outright.”

Top Rank Marketing Blog

3. “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience–with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing Institute

4. “Content marketing is the process of developing, executing, and delivering the content and related assets needed to create, nurture, and grow a company’s customer base. Stages of the content marketing process include: strategy; content development; asset development; and channel leverage across outbound marketing, inbound marketing, and sales enablement.”

Curata

5. “Content marketing means attracting and transforming prospects into customers by creating and sharing valuable free content. The purpose of content marketing is to help the company to create sustainable brand loyalty and provide valuable information to consumers, as well as create willingness to purchase products from the company in the future. This relatively new form of marketing usually does not involve direct sales. Instead, it builds trust and rapport with the audience.”

Wikipedia

6. “Great content marketing offers something valuable to an audience with no obligation to repay that offering: entertaining, insightful, relevant, useful, well-produced and well-written writing, graphics, video and audio.

It seeks to first find the right audience, and then establish a relationship with them in order to build trust, so that when it gets to business time, they choose you over a competitor.”

Pawan Deshpande from Curata

7. “Content marketing is the process of developing, publishing, and distributing useful information that engages prospective customers and propels them toward purchase.”

Anne Murphy

8. “Content marketing is all about marketing that’s left.”

Seth Godin

9. “Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”

“Official” definition from Copyblogger Media

10. “Content Marketing provides consumers with useful information to aid purchase decisions, improve product usage and entertain them while achieving organizational goals without being overtly promotional.”

Heidi Cohen

11. “Content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Hubspot

12. “Content marketing is all about the creation and distribution of high-quality content that attracts and engages audiences online. Like other traditional forms of marketing, content marketing is typically used to drive customer acquisition, deeper engagement with current customers, and for brand awareness.”

Outbrain

13. “Content marketing is an umbrella term covering a set of strategies, techniques and tactics to fulfill business and customer goals by using content across the customer life cycle and the business functions in a consistent, integrated and continuous way.”

i-scoop

14. “Content marketing is about delivering the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it. It is the effective combination of created, curated and syndicated content.”

Michael Brenner

15. “Best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.”

Rand Fishkin

Why definitions from so many people?

If you have read various opinions or definitions on content marketing above, you must have noticed that more or less the gist of the definition is the same. Everybody is pretty much on the same wavelength regarding what is content marketing.

Why it is necessary to get point of views of multiple people is because they are in the thick of things. They are the pullers and pushers of content marketing. They are constantly defining and redefining content marketing. This is why, the more views you get from the experts, the clearer you get (or more confused).

Is content marketing merely a PR exercise?

content-marketing-means-educating-like-a-friendNo, I’m not asking this question. Avinash Kaushik has raised this question in his recent newsletter. Actually, he has taken an example from a Think with Google web page and has dissected various sections of the page to illustrate that the writer has merely thrown around his verbosity without communicating anything concrete. Here is the web link to Avinash’s latest newsletter update.

The title of his newsletter is very apt: “Stop telling me Jesus was great”.

What it means to say is, through your content, stop telling something people already know. Stop telling that has been told thousands of times already. Tell something that I don’t know. If you are simply regurgitating everybody else’s message, through your content marketing you are just indulging in sophisticated PR exercise to get traffic to your website.

There is a reason why I’m talking about Avinash’s newsletter. The example that he has given is not of content marketing but of landing page copywriting.

From the landing page copywriting example, he has tried to deliver a larger message – your content marketing should be about communicating something which is highly useful, and hasn’t yet been communicated.

The Think with Google link actually makes no sense. It tries to deliver a very weighty message but in the end, ends up conveying nothing. The writer seems to be too impressed with himself or herself.

He first mentions three pointers published on the Google link: 1: Accumulate and integrate. 2: Unearth insights that matter. 3: Turn data into action.

Is there something new what is being said above? Doesn’t everyone these days tell you to use data to get insight? Aren’t organizations and even political parties using big data to decide what is the next step they need to take?

Anyway, I’m not writing this post to talk about what Avinash has to say about this particular link and it would be better that for that you read his update on the link above. I’m interested in the last para of his newsletter:

There is one major flaw in my analysis above. Perhaps the point of Content Marketing is to selfishly engage in Public Relations exercises. Hence, there is absolutely no attempt at understanding what the audience wants/needs and no attempt at creating anything that solve for anyone except the pimping company. The only goal is to cheat the audience of their precious attention. This strategy would be odd, but if that is your explicit strategy then nothing I’ve said above applies.

I can understand his general comment on the state of content marketing, that it is often used to create a senseless presence on the Internet to draw traffic from all over the web and when people actually arrive at the website, no purpose is solved. In that sense, you may like to read 3 Most Important Objectives of Content Marketing.

But pertaining to the Google link, it is a copywriting failure rather than a content marketing failure.

Content marketing is definitely not merely a PR exercise. It is an educational exercise. You educate people so that they can make a better decision.

I will give you an example from my client without revealing his identity:

My client is offering a service that is being offered by thousands of other service providers. But there are some features that only he is providing.

His problem is, his target audience doesn’t even know what problems it is facing. For his content marketing, he needs to

  • Make people aware of the problems they are having.
  • Explain to them what they are losing due to the problems they have.
  • Tell them that an efficient solution is available.
  • Tell them that that efficient solution is available with my client.
  • Convince people into going for that solution.

So, it is a complete educational process. Through ongoing education, I need to tell the prospective clients of my client what they are missing if they’re not working with my client.

Efficient content marketing empowers your customers and clients. It gives them solutions they’re looking for. It also gives them solutions they’re not looking for presently, but they need those solutions.

This should be achieved in very plain language unlike the Google link above. Live examples should be given rather than simply making claims.

Show, don’t tell, is the fundamental principle of content marketing.