Content marketing has become somewhat of a buzzword recently. With developing technology and the Internet taking over our lives, PR and marketing terms constantly develop and shift in meaning. So, I thought a little primer on content marketing might be useful!
The classic definition of marketing typically involves activities such as ads, coupons and direct mail pieces, both digital and in traditional media. Add the word “content” in front, however, and things get a little fuzzy for some.
What exactly is content marketing? And, do you need to be involved in it?
Content is at the heart of what we do as marketers. We send messages to our customers, clients, and our readers. The messages we relay, regardless of the form it takes, is our content.
Content marketing is using that content to meet a marketing goal. Perhaps it is the acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, or making more people aware of your brand or products.
You’re probably already doing some of it. Content marketing includes any piece of content you put out via any platform that does NOT involve direct selling. “Why would I not want to sell directly with ALL my content?” you may be thinking. Because sometimes, your audience is more willing to listen to and interact with you if you’re not shouting, “buy something from me!” in their ear.
Content marketing can include blog articles, social media posts, trade magazine articles, images and anything designed to engage your audience OTHER THAN your traditional advertising and direct marketing efforts.
What are the benefits of content marketing?
1. It keeps you top-of-mind – Whether you’re a dealership selling to consumers, or a vendor selling to dealerships, not everyone buys immediately. In addition, those customers who did purchase, and your current clients, may be ripe at some point to repurchase. A great content marketing strategy keeps your business, product and services in front of the customer without being intrusive or in-your-face salesy.
2. It can lead to indirect exposure – Blog and magazine articles are an excellent way to position executives as thought leaders, and your business as a source of helpful content. People like educational material that is relevant to their needs.
If you are a dealership you can perhaps provide information on vehicle service, or how to synch your smartphone with your in-vehicle entertainment system, for example. As a vendor you could focus on some key pain points dealers are faced with daily. By providing that material, you can easily get exposure through comments, sharing and just plain curiosity. Perhaps the person reading the blog doesn’t need your product or service right now. But, by adding them as an audience member, creating your company as a thought-leader, they could easily consider you first when the need arises.
3. It drives engagement and builds relationships – Content marketing can increase exposure through engaging the audience with relevant, thought-provoking material. I’m not talking about click-bait or pictures of puppies and kittens, but rather helpful information that is welcomed by and, eventually, looked forward to by the audience. This promotes a sense of relationship and begins the process of trust.
4. Search engine optimization – Google looks for relevance in content. It crawls sites and includes you in its search results when it finds new content. The more often that new content is added to your website, the more likely you are to appear in a relevant search on the topic, increasing organic exposure to your website. Without content, there would be nothing to optimize for search engines. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find that content.
5. Web site traffic – The more eyeballs you have on your website, the more likely you are to get leads and sales. A good content marketing strategy will push people to view that content on your website which could then lead to further exploration and conversions on your website CTAs.
The bottom line is this: If you create great content that targets potential customers, you can shorten the distance between these customers and your products, increasing the chance that they'll make a purchase later.