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What is content marketing: 15 definitions from industry experts


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?


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.


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…


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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).

What is Content Marketing? Explained in detail

what is content marketing – featured imageAlthough, by the beginning of 2016, 88% marketers admitted that content marketing is an integral part of their overall marketing strategy (source), very few understand what is content marketing in its true sense and why it is more effective than traditional marketing.

If you don’t feel like reading the entire blog post, in the video given below I have explained in detail what content marketing is and how it can help you grow your business:

In terms of process and strategy, content marketing can be represented through the following tangle:

Content Marketing Triangle

The three main steps involved in content marketing are

  1. Developing useful content
  2. Publishing that useful content
  3. Distributing that useful content

These are the fundamental activities but these activities can be further expanded into more points:

  1. Studying your market to know what sort of content is needed.
  2. Developing useful content according to the conclusion of the study mentioned in step 1 in such a manner that it also allows you to talk about your business.
  3. Publishing your content using the platform preferred by your audience (you find this through step 1) – your own blog or website, guest blogging on other blogs and websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, email newsletters, Medium, Snapchat, Tumblr, etc.
  4. Distributing your content through the channels preferred by your audience – your own blog, guest blogging on other blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, email newsletters, Snapchat, Tumblr, etc.
  5. Using web analytics to study what sort of impact your content marketing strategy is making (now step 1 becomes a combination of step 1 and step 5, so now this is the new step 1).
  6. Continue with step 2 onwards.

By developing, publishing, and distributing highly useful and valuable content over a long period of time (the steps mentioned above) you develop a platform for yourself.

People begin to relate your presence with great value.

What is valuable content in Content Marketing?

It depends on your business. You can develop, publish and distribute useful content by

  • Keeping people informed
  • Educating people
  • Making them laugh or making them feel sentimental
  • Reviewing products and services for them
  • Providing them privileged information

Basically, providing them something they value, something that they don’t mind getting access to or being delivered on an ongoing basis.

This, is what valuable content is.

What is content marketing according to renowned marketers?

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly-defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

~ Content Marketing Institute

what is content marketing – content marketing Institute

Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to target audience with the goal of acquiring new customers or increasing business from existing customers.

~ Amanda Maksymiw

what is content marketing – Amanda Maksymiw

Content marketing is a device used by companies to educate, inform or entertain customers or prospects by creating attention or causing behavior that results in leads, sales or advocacy.

~ Jay Baer

what is content marketing – Jay Baer

Content Marketing is anything a company creates and shares to tell their story. It is conversational, human and doesn’t try to constantly sell to you.

~ Ann Handley

what is content marketing – Ann Handley

Content marketing is, creating a following of dedicated audience through providing valuable, timely and relevant content to people over a long period of time, so that they begin to trust you and want to do business with you on their own.

~ Amrit Hallan

what is content marketing – Amrit Hallan

Why content marketing works better than traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing, as you already know, is one-way. You’re constantly telling people to do business with you whether at that time, they want to do business with you or not. The traditional marketing doesn’t care whether people want to hear from you or not.

traditional marketing doesn't care

Traditional marketing uses channels that have already been built. The entire process is unscientific. People come across your marketing message when they are least expecting it or even when they are feeling hostile towards it.

Content marketing on the other hand, allows you to build your own broadcasting channel. When you develop and publish useful content, people seek you out to access that content on their own. You don’t have to advertise. People come to your website or the platform you use to publish your content, on their own.

when you develop and publish useful content

By developing, publishing and distributing useful content on a prolonged basis, you develop a loyal audience of people who look forward to hearing from you.

You, your business name, or your brand, becomes familiar to them and they begin to trust you because of the non-stop value you deliver.

After you have successfully implemented your content marketing strategy, there are two ways people will do business with you:

  1. Scenario 1: They need what you provide and they know you provide it and since they already know you and trust you, they approach you rather than someone they don’t know.
  2. Scenario 2: You tell them what you provide and if and when they need it, they are going to get it from you rather than someone they don’t know.

So, the basic purpose of Content Marketing is, to be present in people’s lives in such a manner that you provide value to them on an ongoing basis while making sure they always remember what business you are in.

Once you have created such presence its positive impact is long-lasting.