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Difference between content marketing and inbound marketing

Difference between inbound marketing and content marketing

Difference between inbound marketing and content marketing

I have observed people often get confused between content marketing and inbound marketing. To the extent that they use the expressions interchangeably.

This is because in essence, they both mean the same thing, but their application and implications are different. Both are meant to generate incoming traffic to your website without using traditional advertising which is intrusive and unreliable.

You may think that explaining the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing is more scholarly and less practical, and in a sense you’re right if you think that way.

Content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing.

What is inbound marketing?

What is marketing?

Marketing means promoting products and services so that prospective customers and clients become aware of these products and services, and not just become aware, but also become inclined towards paying for them.

Traditional marketing involves advertising and promotion. You see ads on TV, or hear them on radio, or see them in newspapers and magazines.

You see ads when you watch YouTube videos and videos on social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Traditional advertising and marketing are normally one-sided. You encourage people to visit your store or your website. It’s up to them whether they want to respond to your ads.

Inbound marketing, as the name suggests, creates channels and opportunities for people to come to your store or website on their own. You don’t exhort them into becoming your customers and clients.

You create your presence on various channels where people come across your brand or your proposition and then decide to pay you a visit.

You engage them on an ongoing basis. You make it easier for them to find you, whether on social media and social networking websites, on discussion forums, video hosting websites, events like polls, contests and webinars, SEO for the targeted search terms, and also email marketing.

The basic idea is to let people bump into things that can lead them to visit your website. Every channel is created to generate inbound traffic that is voluntary.

Check out Content writing services for inbound marketing.

What is content marketing?

As I mentioned above, content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing.

Content marketing is done by creating, publishing and distributing content to make it accessible through different channels. This content is helpful, engaging and entertaining. Ideally people should want to have access to this content regularly.

Read: What is Content Marketing? Explained in detail.

Content can come into existence via blog posts, videos, infographics, social media updates, ebooks, case studies, white papers and email updates.

Difference: inbound marketing and content marketing

Inbound marketing is the result of content marketing.

You can use different routes to inbound marketing, and one of the most important routes is content marketing.

In fact, you can easily say that there is no inbound marketing without content marketing.

Should you worry about distinguishing the both?

For the sake of understanding, trying to understand both doesn’t harm, but you shouldn’t worry much about the nomenclature.

With good content marketing, inbound marketing happens naturally.

When you publish relevant content, when you use different (strategic) channels to distribute your content, you automatically start attracting targeted traffic to your website.

Content marketing also has a direct bearing on your search engine rankings. Strategic content marketing in itself is good for your SEO.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Benefits of content marketing

Benefits of content marketing

In this blog post you are going to learn about some indisputable benefits of content marketing.

I have never advertised my content writing and content marketing business.

I have “boosted” a few posts on Facebook and recently I also “promoted” an update on Instagram just to see how it affected my followers rate (I got just one follower), but other than these, I have never used the conventional tools, even AdWords, to promote my business.

It is just content marketing.

When and why did I start using content marketing to promote my services?

In the very beginning itself. Back then, there was no concept of content marketing, but I knew that if I published my tutorials and articles on other article-publishing and tutorial-publishing websites, it would bring traffic to my own website.

Blogging wasn’t invented yet and I used to manually create HTML, PHP and ASP pages on my website, linking to them from a single web page (just like we have the blog home page these days linking to the latest blog posts).

I didn’t have money to spend on banner ads or link ads and to be frank, I never even found them attractive. Promoting my services through content always fascinated me. I got a high.

I promoted my web design services through content marketing in the very early 2000s and then post 2005, I have really started using content to promote my content writing services.

I was so enamored with text that once I had my website just made of text, not a single image.

Text-only content writing website

Text-only content writing website

Of course, in between I have lost track, gotten distracted or gotten busy in other pursuits, but whenever I have come back to promoting my website, I have solely relied on this form of marketing and promotion.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Listed below are some indisputable benefits of content marketing:

Brings down marketing costs

Conventional advertising and marketing can be costly. You pay for every view. You pay for every click. You pay for every exposure. You pay for every engagement.

With content marketing, yes, you pay for good quality content, but it is a one-time cost. Some pieces of content work, and some don’t, but the collective benefit that you get from it is far more potent than the benefits that you get from conventional advertising and marketing.

You need to spend more on conventional advertising and marketing because people notice you as long as you are paying. Otherwise, it is “out of sight out of mind”.

Improves your conversion rate

Since, through content marketing you are building relationships and not simply promoting your products and services, your conversion rate is better.

By the time people decide to become your paying customers and clients, they thoroughly know about you and whatever you are offering. Through relevant content, you have educated them, you have informed them, you have also helped them.

Makes it easier to find you

One of the most important parts of content marketing is spreading your content on different platforms.

When you publish your content and then post the links on social networking and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people like it or share it on their own timelines. Hence, people on their timelines can find your content.

Other bloggers and publishers who appreciate your insight link to your content through their own blog posts, articles and web pages, giving you more exposure.

You also publish your content on other platforms exclusively, making it easier for people over there to find you.

Improves your SEO naturally, organically

Although this is one of the most common reasons why my clients come to me for my content writing and content marketing services, I always advise them to let their search engine rankings improve naturally, organically, based on the strength of the goodness of their content.

But this is a reality: if you persist with relevant, meaningful content marketing, it naturally improves your SEO. You don’t have to separately focus on improving your search engine rankings.

In fact, over the past decade, Google has been incorporating changes into its ranking algorithms to make sure that only those websites and links rank higher that have relevant, high-quality content on them.

Brings more inbound traffic

Since content marketing makes it easier for people to find you all over the web and since it also improves your search engine rankings organically, naturally, you get more inbound traffic.

The best quality of inbound traffic is you are not telling people to visit your website or check out your link. People come on their own.

When people come to your website or blog on their own, they are more receptive to your message. They’re already tuned into what you’re trying to tell them. Hence, they convert easily compared to those who are drawn to your website through some advertisement.

Encourages engagement

The more people engage with you, the more they become familiar to your presence, and the easier it gets for them to do business with you.

Even when people come across your website (through an advertisement), they don’t do business with you because they don’t know you. At the moment they don’t trust you because you haven’t engaged them in meaningful interactions.

Without content, they haven’t gotten a chance to be helped by you, to appreciate your presence on the Internet.

Builds brand awareness without intrusion

Through content marketing, people come across your brand when they are accessing quality content rather than ads they will gladly ignore or block.

With every business available with just a few clicks or a few taps, brand visibility is very important. Whether you want to buy a highly expensive iPhone or one of the cheapest Android phones, they both are immediately available to you.

When you publish and broadcast/disseminate useful content people begin to relate your brand with quality content and hence, establish a positive association. This further boosts your conversion rate because people who already have a positive perception about your brand readily become your customers and clients.

Educates your customers

There are many products and services that need education before they can be used, for example CRM.

For a very long time I have been planning to start using a CRM to keep track of customer queries, lead nurturing and following up. Unfortunately, no online CRM service has beginners tutorials on how to start using CRM for a very small business.

I’m pretty sure whichever website is able to explain to me, I’m going to use its service.

Another example is content marketing. Still, there are many people who don’t understand this concept. So, they need to be educated. They need to be told the benefits of publishing high-quality content on an ongoing basis.

Builds and fosters stronger customer relationships

Many companies claim that more than 40% of their business comes from existing customers and clients. This is true even for my own business. In fact, more than 50% of my work comes from my existing clients.

Through well-crafted content marketing (especially email marketing), you can constantly keep in touch with your existing customers and clients by providing them valuable information.

You can also keep your existing customers and clients engaged through social networking platforms.

Remember that it just takes a few seconds for a customer to switch to another product or service. This switch is so important that many businesses offer a year of service free of cost just so that people move to their service from the other service.

But if you have built a strong relationship through quality content, your existing customers and clients won’t make that switch, even when prompted.

Builds your communication platform

It isn’t true that only big businesses and media houses can have their own communication platforms. Even smaller businesses can develop an audience that pays attention to their messages.

The communication platform can be your blog or your mailing list or even your social media or social networking profile – wherever your audience comes to access your content.

The benefit of having a communication platform is that you have an audience whenever there is something critical you want to say and it is very important that a certain number of people get the message.

Suppose, you’re introducing a new feature in your product and you would like to tell people the benefits of upgrading.

You want to make new offers.

You need to do damage control if someone has been leaving bad reviews just to tarnish your image.

Search engines need a place to regularly crawl and index new content and if you have a vibrant platform, the frequency of crawling and indexing increases.

Establishes you as an industry expert

Naturally, when you regularly share your knowledge, wisdom and insight, people begin to believe that you are an industry expert.

If you are an app developer and you regularly share your programming techniques and other app development experiences through your blog, whom do you think prospective clients choose when they need an app developer? Someone who is totally mum about his or her app development profession or someone who constantly communicates and engages with prospective clients?

Generates long-term, lasting traffic

As described above, your content is a constant source of traffic. As long as your links exist in the Google index, as long as people are able to find your content, you are going to get traffic on your website or blog.

Once you have increased your content wealth, once many people have linked to your content, once many people have shared your content, your links are all over the place.

Depending on where you are, if you search for “email writing services” you will find my link somewhere on the first page on Google. Now, the position has been there for more than 1 ½ years now, even longer. This link has been constantly generating quality leads for me and I don’t have to pay for it.

If I needed to advertise on AdWords, I would have to pay for every click Google sent my way. Through the above-mentioned link, whether I get 100 clicks every month or 10,000, I don’t have to spend money. It is an ongoing source of traffic for me.

Brings down your bounce rate

Your bounce rate is how many people leave your website without checking out other links your website or blog, after directly coming to a particular link.

A higher bounce rate is bad for your SEO. It is also bad for your conversion rate.

Quality content makes people stick around. If they like what you have published on the current link, they would also like to check out other web pages and blog posts on your website and this tells Google and other search engines that you have relevant content, and hence, your links should be ranked higher.

Helps you grow your mailing list

The benefits of having a mailing list that you have built on your own can only be realized when you have built a mailing list for yourself.

Since building your own mailing list requires effort, persistence and perseverance, most of the people fail to realize its importance.

Having your own mailing list is very important for engaging your prospective and existing customers and clients.

A persistent content marketing strategy and email marketing strategy are interlinked. Without high-quality content it is not possible to build your own mailing list unless you engage in other tactics like offering a case study in lieu of subscribing to your email updates, or offering a very useful e-book, or something like that.

When you publish quality content people expect the same content in your email updates and hence readily subscribe. Also, since your content is so useful, they don’t want to miss it. If you promise them that as soon as you publish something on your website or blog you’re going to send them an email update, they readily subscribe.

Gives you an edge over your competitors

A good thing about content marketing is it democratizes marketing. There was a time when only big businesses with lots of money could use marketing, but with content marketing,  business of any size can use it.

Yes, you do need some money to generate quality content, but more than that, you need ingenuity and persistence.

Your competitors won’t be able to gain even a fraction of visibility with conventional advertising and marketing that you can gain with strategic content marketing.

With helpful and relevant content, you make it easier for people to do business with you rather than with your competitors.

I gave you an example of CRM above. Whichever website explains better how to leverage its CRM, is going to get more customers.

Reduces your support cost

Content marketing also involves publishing lots of helpful content on your website and blog, for example the detailed FAQs section.

People may have many questions. They may have many issues. They might be confused about using your product or service.

Normally they contact your support. But these days, contacting support is a hassle in itself and most of the people want to avoid it.

Helpful content on your website can provide all the information people need to be able to use your product or service properly.

When people contact you for support, you can prepare a list of questions and queries that they have and then publish their answers on your website.

The next time if another person has the same question, rather than calling you or writing you an email, he or she can simply check the section that contains answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Builds a community around your business

Apple built a community around its business and look how great the company does.

Amazon has encouraged a community of “skill” developers for its range of Amazon Echo gadgets and now they are selling millions of these gadgets.

The same goes for Android-based mobile phones. The examples are innumerable.

Building a community builds a support system. The community helps you refine and evolve your product or service. You instantly get feedback and since your community is devoted to your brand, you mostly get positive/encouraging feedback.

You want to introduce something but before making it available in the market, you would like a few people to test it. You can use your community for that.

Concluding remarks on the benefits of content marketing

Over the years I have learned that content marketing benefits only those who understand its benefits. Yes, it is like “Laws of Attraction”.

If you want to use it just because you have read a few blog posts and articles on content marketing and you think a nice strategy can be implemented without spending some money and effort, you are going to waste your effort and lose your money.

You benefit from content based marketing only in the long run, when you have nurtured it and allowed it to blossom into in its own entity.

You cannot “trick” it into bringing you business success. This is the reason why it works for everyone who seriously pursues it.

What makes content marketing successful?

Your understanding of it. Otherwise, you’re going to implement it halfway through and then lose interest or courage, or both.

It is an ongoing activity. Just like your other business activities, it has to go on.

For example, if currently you feel that you need to publish 2 blog posts every week, you may have to publish these 2 blog posts every week for an indefinite number of years if you really want to benefit from content marketing.

What’s the purpose then, you may ask?

Because it increases your business and even if you go on publishing just 2 blog posts every week, compared to the growth of your business, the cost of publishing these 2 blog posts will move towards negligible.

What is data driven content marketing and how to use it to grow your business

Data driven content marketing strategy

Data driven content marketing strategy

Content marketing in its current avatar is not considered very scientific. It works on perception, experience, sometimes even guesswork, and mostly estimation.

Data driven content marketing on the other hand, can be more precise and more scientific. Data, as they say, does not lie.

What is data driven content marketing?

What do you understand by data? Data is information in the form of numbers. If you say that out of every 100 visitors that come to your website 2 buy from you, that is data.

If you know that out of every 500 visitors to your website every day, 245 enter your website via your services web page and out of these 245, 10 do business with you, and then you try to create content to replicate the success of your services web page and then try to promote that content to the sort of people that enter through your services web page, that’s data driven content marketing.

When you depend on data to create content and distribute it, you are no longer guessing.

Data driven content marketing means knowing exactly what your audience is looking for using all the available web analytics tools, and then tailoring, formatting, and timing your content accordingly.

The easiest real-world example that comes to my mind is the way modern email marketing services allow you to create segments based on the behavior of your email recipients.

One day you send an email campaign to all your recipients.

Then you wait for a week. MailChimp (I use MailChimp, you might be using another service) tells you how many people opened your message from your entire mailing list.

You send a new message to only those people who opened your previous message, the new message completely tailored according to the previous message read by them.

This is data driven marketing.

Analyze data to improve content marketing strategy

Analyze data to improve content marketing strategy

How to use data driven content marketing to grow your business

Before we proceed, let me be clear: data in itself means nothing. Data in itself is just a collection of numbers.

It is when you analyze the data and draw intelligence out of fit, it begins to have some meaning for you.

So, basically, the actual form of content marketing that you should be focusing on is, intelligence-driven content marketing, but, since all this intelligence is derived from data, let’s just stick to data driven content marketing.

Data is everywhere. Google Search Console gives you a treasure trove of data. Twitter gives lots of data. You can get good data from LinkedIn. Facebook, sure. Most of the contemporary email marketing services. There are numerous third-party tools that can go through your existing content and tell you what sort of people are mostly consuming your content.

So, how does data driven content marketing help you grow your business better than the usual, haphazard content marketing?

Data driven content marketing helps you channelize your efforts and cost towards a more productive and meaningful exercise.

Creating and publishing quality content takes effort and money, right? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what content to publish rather than simply go on publishing whatever comes to your mind and then hoping that some of it will generate business for you?

You feel bad that you publish 50 blog posts and only 5 of them get you the results that you seek.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you become stingy when publishing content. You cannot start gathering data from the word go. It may take you many months before you have some decent data to analyze. And, this data cannot be gathered if you don’t have enough content to analyze.

Initially, you will have to depend on your intuition, on guesswork, on research that is not data-based, but, as you publish greater amount of content and as that content generates greater amount of user feedback, you will have plenty of data to play around with.

Data driven content marketing isn’t as “nerdy” as it may seem initially. In its simplest form, it means using the intelligence that you can derive out of the data that you have, to create, publish, and distribute your content.

Why publish content for people who are never going to appreciate it?

Why not publish lots of content for people who have a use for it, who are looking for it, or who may need it in the near future without even realizing it? And the good thing is, you have access to that needed intelligence.

Even if you are simply using Google analytics you can get lots of information about the people who search for your content on Google and social networking platforms.

The Google Search Console also tells you what sort of devices people use to access your content and where most of your visitors are situated.

Data driven content marketing primarily has two stages:

  1. Post-publishing-distribution content effectiveness metrics/data
  2. Publishing-distribution of new content based on the metrics/data gathered above

Gathering and analyzing data after you have published and distributed content

How do you know the effectiveness of your content?

To know the effectiveness of your content you need to have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve.

Suppose you have published a new case study on your website. You want people to download your case study. Since it contains valuable, useful information, you want people to first sign up for your newsletter and then download the case study.

Many people sign up for your newsletter and then download your case study.

What was the purpose of publishing the case study? Was it to encourage more people to sign up for your newsletter updates? Or was it to convince people into doing business with you?

Sometimes businesses publish e-books and case studies just to use them as an incentive for their email subscription.

If this is not the case and you have published the case study to reach out to more people and explain how you deliver your product or service, you can try something else.

After a couple of months, you allow people to download your case study directly without having to sign up for your newsletter.

What do you observe after two months?

Are lesser number of people subscribing to your email updates? Are more people downloading your case study? Are more people contacting you for work than previously?

The data will tell you and then accordingly you can publish your subsequent case studies and decide whether you want to offer your next case study as an incentive for email subscription or you directly want to allow people to download it.

A sidenote observation by the way: I discourage my clients from using an incentive for subscription. People should download your case study, e-book or white paper simply because they want to access the information. In the same vein, people should subscribe to your updates not because they want to download your case study, e-book or white paper but simply for the valuable information that you will be giving them.

Coming back to the topic, you can use a keyword research tool to know whether the keywords and search terms you are trying to target are actually used by your target audience or not.

Often my clients demand content for which there is no demand. They waste time, money and effort on chasing shadows.

Even if you don’t want to use a third-party tool, you can use the Google Search Console to know which keywords and search terms are driving traffic to your website or blog the most, and then tailor your content accordingly.

The study and data analytics of your existing content can tell you about:

  • How many people visit your blog or website?
  • What is your bounce rate?
  • How much time on an average your visitors spend on your individual blog posts and web pages?
  • How many comments do your blog posts attract?
  • How many times people share your content on their social networking profiles?
  • How many inbound links your content attracts?
  • How many leads content generates within a particular time frame?
  • What is its conversion rate?

Publishing and distributing content according to the data you have been able to gather and analyze so far

Remember the key to a successful content marketing strategy is providing the right content to the right audience at the right time using the right channel. Yes, lots of “right”.

Your data will be able to tell you what content your audience prefers.

It tells you what format is most suitable to the needs of your audience.

The data will tell you on which days of the week your content is accessed the most.

The data will also tell you through what channels (your blog, search engines, website, external websites, social networking platforms, mobile apps) people access your content the most.

For example, my content analytics tell me that most of my traffic comes from search engines with occasional spikes from LinkedIn. Almost zero traffic from Twitter and Facebook.

Does it mean I should try harder to improve my search engine rankings further and create more visibility on LinkedIn, or should I ignore these channels and focus more on Twitter and Facebook from where my traction is almost nil?

Depends on what I want to achieve, but this bit of information can certainly help me decide and carry on my content marketing accordingly.

What sort of data you should pay attention to for a successful data driven content marketing strategy?

Here are a few things you can look out for when trying to figure out what sort of content you should publish and how you should market it.

  • How do customers react to your existing content?
  • What format of content – blog posts, web pages, case studies, newsletter updates, images, videos, white papers, e-books, social media updates – is preferred by your target audience?
  • How do people mostly discover your content?
  • What keywords and search terms people use when they are able to find the content that you have? Or the content you are planning to publish?
  • What sort of content your competitors are publishing and what is the degree of success?
  • How does your content perform vis-à-vis generating leads and more business?
  • What changes do you notice when you alter the way you publish your content?
  • Does your audience prefer long content or short content?
  • Particularly for your business, does quantity work or quality?
  • Do people access your content mostly on desktop or mobile?
  • Should you focus more on paid media, owned media or earned media?

Frankly, these are just random questions that come to my mind when I’m writing this. Every business has its own unique data and user behavior patter.

It’s not that suddenly you have to change your content marketing strategy and start worrying about data. If you pay close attention to a few metrics and then try to create content accordingly, you are already using data driven content marketing for your business. If not, you should perhaps, from now onwards, start paying close attention to at least the Google Analytics data to know what sort of traffic your content is attracting.

6 Indisputable Benefits of Content Marketing

6 benefits of content marketing – header image

Benefits of Content Marketing

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Although in the history of advertising, marketing and business promotion, you can find innumerable examples of entrepreneurs using content marketing to its utmost advantage, people are still sceptical about it.


And this is when, everything that exists on the web is content. According to this description of content marketing on Moz:

Every email, every tweet, every landing page, and every product description—they’re all examples of content, and one of the best ways of describing what they all have in common was summed up brilliantly by Ian Lurie, of Portent, Inc.:

Content isn’t ‘stuff we write to rank higher’ or ‘infographics’ or ‘long-form articles.’
Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.
— Ian Lurie, CEO, Portent, Inc.

Also read What is Content Marketing? Explained in detail

One of the major reasons why people cannot make sense of content marketing is that its benefits are not immediate.

For example, if you get a website designed, after a couple of months, you will have an online presence and you will be able to see the various parts of your website. Whether you like it or not, the website will be there right in front of you. You will be able to look at it yourself, and you will be able to show it to whomever you feel like.

Beyond the basic content – the text and the images and the videos that you have on your website – the benefit of content marketing is not visible. You can either predict it or imagine it.

Content marketing benefits seem very far away

Content marketing benefits seem very far away

To an average businessperson, concepts like building an audience, providing good quality content and expanding presence on the web, seem like “big business”-talk and consequently, intimidating. But they are not.

Just like these concepts work at the macro level, they also work at the micro level.

Also, most of the content marketers cannot guarantee success, primarily because the clients are reluctant to invest enough money (within appropriate budget, content marketing success can be guaranteed).

Unless all the parties involved are on the same plain and totally understand what they are trying to achieve, it is very difficult to experience success in content marketing.

Fortunately, there are various organizations, evangelists and interest groups that are constantly endeavoring to educate business managers and decision makers about the power of content marketing.

Doing research on the same topic, I came across an interesting graphic. I didn’t want to use the graphic so I reproduced it by slightly altering it. The graphic below summarizes the 6 indisputable benefits of content marketing.

6 Benefits of Content Marketing

Benefits of Content Marketing

When we talk of the benefits, we assume that everything necessary to carry out a well-defined content strategy is being done.

Below I’m going to describe these individual content marketing benefits and will also tell you how you can derive these benefits for your own business no matter what size your business is.

Benefits of content marketing

1. Increased website traffic

Website traffic

Website traffic

90% of Credible Content clients hire us because they want to improve their search engine rankings, which means, they need more website traffic from search engines.

This is the most sure shot advantage of using high-quality content to create your presence on the web.

To rank your website or individual links, Google needs to access,  crawl, index and rank your content. Without content, Google has got nothing to process.

How the strategic content marketing increase your website traffic from search engines and other sources?

Improving your search engine rankings has multipronged benefits. You begin to get more search engine traffic. More people are able to find your content.

When they find your content on search engines, they don’t necessarily do business with you. They may simply link to your content, which sends you direct traffic and also improves your SEO.

If it is interesting and useful, they may also share your content on their social media and social networking profiles, giving you a social presence.

Google takes your social presence into account when writing your content.

The marketing part means that you distribute your content through as many channels as possible.

Once you have published a blog post, for example, you share your link on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. You may also republish it on Medium and LinkedIn.

You may also encourage other influencers in your industry to share your content.

This way, Google has multiple opportunities to come across your content. If somehow its crawlers are not crawling your website, they will be able to find and index your links from other sources, mostly from social media and social networking websites.

Google+ is Google’s own social networking platform so even if it doesn’t look for your content on other social networking websites, it is definitely going to find it on its own network.

2. Brand awareness

Brand awareness with content marketing

Brand awareness with content marketing

Again, branding isn’t just for big businesses.

If you come across some reference of Credible Content on another website or a blog or a social networking platform and immediately you know that it is an agency that provides quality content, it’s branding.

Read Statistically most B2B enterprises use content marketing for brand awareness

Whether you realize it or not, whether you admit it or not, an average customer or client has multiple choices these days. Your competitor’s website is just a click away, or a new Google search away.

Unless you give them a reason to remember you or recognize you, they’re going to forget about you. Persistent content marketing creates an awareness of your brand and people always remember what you stand for.

If you regularly publish a newsletter, say, one broadcast every week, when people recognize your newsletter, when they know and remember who has sent the newsletter and what the newsletter contains, that’s brand awareness.

3. Customer engagement

Content marketing for customer engagement

Content marketing for customer engagement

Why should people do business with you? Especially for the first time?

Why should they choose you over another business?

Through content marketing you can keep your customers engaged in conversations.

If you offer a solution, if you offer a suggestion, if you offer some sort of help, people are going to respond, in whatsoever manner. This is engagement.

Read 10 ways to write highly engaging content

You need to engage your prospective customers and clients positively. This way, the more you engage them in meaningful conversations, the more eager they are to do business with you.

How do you engage your customers with quality content?

I will cite the LongtailPro example.

A few days ago I purchased a LongtailPro subscription. Before I had purchased the subscription, I had used their trial version.

After using their trial version, I didn’t purchase the subscription for more than two years. But, to be able to use their trial version, I had given them their email ID and once in a while they used to send me some data about my website and also, how I can use LongtailPro, if I start my subscription, to improve my search engine rankings.

These were not just promotional messages. Their messages were constantly helping me.

After I purchased a subscription I still get tutorials on how to make the full use of their app. They have uploaded numerous YouTube videos and they keep prompting me to have a look at them to properly understand how to use the app.

I can also give you my own example. If you have been an old subscriber of my Credible Content updates, you may have noticed that I have started broadcasting my newsletter regularly after quite a while.

Ever since I started again, I have received 5 queries from my subscribers (it has just been two weeks or even less) and one among these 5 queries has turned into a paid assignment (Hello Francis!).

This way, content marketing helps you keep your audience engaged.

4. Leads and conversion

More leads and better conversion

More leads and better conversion

This is quite simple. As your website traffic increases, as your brand becomes known, as you engage with your target audience, you naturally get more leads and these leads naturally convert more.

5. Your own broadcasting channel

Develop your own broadcasting channel

Develop your own broadcasting channel

When you publish a blog regularly, when you send out your email newsletter regularly, you build an audience. People start paying attention to you.

Whenever you publish a blog post, you draw people from the search engines. If you post your updates on social media and social networking websites, people either respond to you on their own timelines, or they visit your blog. They become a part of your audience.

Since you are constantly posting quality content on your social networking profiles and people are constantly engaging with your content and interacting with you, your friends and followers go on increasing.

Since more people land on your blog, more people subscribe to your updates and hence, you grow your mailing list, and when you grow your mailing list, you grow your email newsletter audience.

These are all your broadcasting channels.

You can use these channels whenever you launch a new product or a new service or you launch an update or you add a new feature to your product or your service.

Since you have got an audience that pays attention to you, whenever you need to broadcast the message, you will be able to do so.

This brings to my mind an incident that one of my clients had with one of his customers. The customer left a very bad review on Yelp, despite it being her own fault.

My client used his blog and his newsletter to explain his point of view and a lot of his visitors and subscribers took a personal initiative and left positive responses on Yelp.

You can use content marketing to build such a broadcasting channel for yourself.

6. Competitive advantage

Competitive advantage

Competitive advantage

Although many of your competitors might already be using content marketing, there might be many who are not. If you pursue strategic content marketing, you will not just have a competitive advantage over your competitors who are not using content to promote their businesses, you will also have competitive advantage over those competitors who are.

Content marketing sort of, democratises marketing. It’s all about innovation, ingenuity and initiative. If you use these three traits with sincerity, you can compete with IBM despite being a small IT firm (that is, if you want to).

A good thing about content marketing is, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality and uniqueness. Okay, sometimes quantity does triumph over quality, but in most of the cases it does not.

Joe Pulizzi’s book, Epic Content cites a nice example. There is a River Pools and Spas company that installs fiberglass swimming pools in the Virginia and Maryland areas. In 2009 they were in deep trouble. Some sort of recession was going on and people were requesting their deposits back. The company was over drawing its checking account. the closure of the business seemed imminent.

When the CEO, Marcus Sheridan decided to use content marketing to promote his fiberglass swimming pools business, they were drawing approximately $4 million in annual revenues and spending $250,000 on marketing.

With two years of content marketing, they brought down their marketing cost to $40,000 per year, and by the end of 2011, they were selling more fibreglass pools than any other fibreglass pools installer in North America.

Marcus Sheridian’s content marketing was so successful that he started traveling the world lecturing other business owners on how to use content marketing.

You can read the Marcus Sheridian content marketing case study.

This is just one example. There are many.

Does content marketing just mean publishing a blog post?

Although blog publishing is a big part of content marketing, many small business owners confuse blogging with content marketing. The entire ecosystem of content marketing includes and involves

  • Understanding what type of content your target audience is looking for
  • Creating/writing high-quality content that informs, engages and if possible, entertains – on an ongoing basis
  • Analysing incoming website traffic to find out what sort of content is attracting people to your website
  • Making changes to creating/writing high-quality content according to your findings
  • Using the right content dissemination channels to distribute your content
  • Search engine optimizing your content so that it is easier to find it on search engines
  • Updating and repurposing existing content on an ongoing basis
  • Publishing a regular newsletter or email mailing list

So, basically, content marketing consists of continuously publishing valuable content and then making an all-out effort to make it easy for people to find it. Sometimes, you have to deliver the content where your audience is. For example, if your audience is on Facebook, then you have to post links to your content on Facebook. Similarly, on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Content marketing at the outset may seem like very hard work and this may undermine whatever notion of benefits you have in mind, but actually when you get down to implementing your content marketing strategy, to your pleasant surprise, you will find that it is not that difficult.

Besides, the benefits are so great, as you have seen in the case of Marcus Sheridan and his fibreglass swimming pools, that after a while, the effort and investment tend to move towards practically zero.


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).