“If you’re a good marketing person, you have to be a little crazy.” – Jim Metcalf
Marketing has seen a dramatic change in the last few decades.After the advent of the internet, things started to change considerably for the marketers. Internet brought with it a host of new marketing opportunities. As half of the World Population came online, Digital media became the most preferred mode of marketing. Search Engine marketing, Social Media Marketing, Banner Advertisements, Pop-up ads, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, etc. started to gain friction. And why would it not be popular? It fits every budget. It increases the reach of your marketing program. It makes targeting easy. And the most important thing is that you can track its effectiveness in real time.
But this digitization of marketing came with its own challenges too.Consumers these days are more in search of information than a product. People these days take informed decisions. They will go through your content before deciding whether to buy or not to buy your product. Advertising that used to rule the roost a few years ago has paved way for “Content Marketing”.
In the words of Marc Mathieu, Global SVP of Marketing, Unilever ”Marketing used to be about making a myth and telling it. Now it is about telling a truth and sharing it.” Now just a glossy advertisement without any truth won’t work. Consumers are becoming increasing aware. They can no longer be fooled by beautiful ads that lack any substance.
Content Marketing has increasingly becoming a Buzzword these days. People associated with the business world always seem to be discussing about content and content marketing strategies. Successful marketers all around the world swear by the importance of content Marketing.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Inc. says, “Content is the king”. When the World’s richest man and a highly successful business tycoon calls Content a King, you better pay heed.
What is Content Marketing?
Photo credit to: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/
Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as “a strategic marketing approach 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.”
The first thing that might come to your mind is what is content in this context? Content, here, is any text, video, audio, picture, white paper or a combination that is created and distributed to add value to the lives of your target audience. Distributing content is as important as content creation. Without content distribution, content creation yields no benefits. Content can be distributed through channels like Blog websites, Social Media, etc. A marketer should also bear in mind that the content has to be valuable, relevant and consistent.
- By Valuable, we mean that the content has to be unique and original that adds some value to your target audience. If your target audience, for e.g. is working women, Content like “Quick breakfast recipes” will definitely prove valuable to them. Whereas something like “What is a Wire-mesh” would not prove to be of any value.
- Relevant means that it should be something that is related to your brand as well as to your target audience’s needs. If you are an agricultural products company, your target audience is farmers. Content like “the 10 best sports cars of the year” is not relevant to your audience at all.
- Consistent means that the blog post, video, podcast, or any other content that you create has to be in sync with each other. Your blog post cannot contain content that is contradicting your videos. Content through all channels of distribution needs to be consistent.
“To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”
– George Kneller-
All the three terms, valuable, relevant and consistent are interrelated. It all comes down to one thing- knowing your target audience.Before creating the content, understand who you are creating the content for.Now let’s understand what purpose Content Marketing serves for businesses.
Basic Purpose of Content Marketing
The basic purpose of Content Marketing is creating awareness, generating interest, inducing desire and finally prompting the desired action.Content Marketing, when done properly, serves the following purposes.
Gives you a Voice
Your content is your voice. It is what helps your target audience identify you. Your content becomes your identity.It defines who you are? Content helps you inexpensively differentiate yourself from your competitors. It costs far lesser than advertising and yet is far more impact than advertising. Your content can literally make you or break you. Bad content is more damaging than you can ever imagine.
Increases Customer Interaction
Your content sets a platform for you to interact with your target audience. Unlike an advertisement, content marketing is an interactive form of marketing. Your audience can tell you what they feel about your content through their comments. It will give you a chance of understanding your audience better. And this will, in turn, help you to create solutions for their problems.
Increase your Brand Authority
Your content has literally the power of increasing your authority. Consistently produced superior quality content makes you a thought leader. Your audience always comes back to you for advice and opinion.They respect your opinion and even listen to you. Content writers start using your content as a reference which helps you build authentic backlinks organically. This will again help you generate more traffic.
Better Relationship Building
Your Content is your chance to connect with your target audience. By creating and sharing valuable content, you are telling them that you care. If your content is customer centric rather than product or brand-centric, you can earn your audience’s loyalty. It builds a relationship of trust between you and them. They trust your opinion. This trust makes them more likely to take the action you want them to take, i.e. subscribe or purchase.Building and nurturing relationships are the key to increasing your ROI.
Word Of Mouth Marketing
A great piece of content has the ability to spread like fire. If you are able to strike the right chords with your target audience, they would become your brand advocates that too for free. There is no denying the effectiveness of Word of Mouth Marketing. It is indeed the most effective form of marketing.
You are obviously familiar with the term SEO. But for the uninitiated, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a technique that optimizes your website to improve your Search Engine Rankings. In simple terms, it is through SEO that one website rank higher than other on Search Engine Result Page. And it is your content that seals the fate of your Search Engine Ranking.
To bring it all in perspective higher ranking ensures higher website traffic. Since you appear on the top of the Search Result Page, people are more likely to click-through. And to improve your SEO, you are required to frequently create and share consistent, unique, valuable, relevant and superior quality content.
Content Marketing is no longer a choice. It is a necessity. As advertising is losing its effectiveness, content marketing is gaining more importance. Whether you are focussed on improving your website traffic or improving your conversion rates, content marketing is required for both. A business that has not yet adopted content marketing needs to do so. And if it doesn’t it will perish. As a prominent marketing though leader, Seth Godin has rightly put, “Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left“.
How Important is Content Marketing?
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein
The importance of Content Marketing can probably never be overemphasized. It is the form of marketing that is here to stay. But instead of me emphasizing the importance of content marketing, let data do the talking!! Following are some numbers that speak volumes about the importance of content marketing.
- A study conducted in 2015 by PageFair says, “There are now 198 million active adblock users around the World.“ This means that a significant portion of your target audience doesn’t even see your advertisements. This renders advertising quite ineffective and as a result, more and more marketers are focusing more on Content Marketing. So, why won’t you?
- Content Marketing infographic published on Demand Metric indicate that “Content Marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing but generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing.” Content marketing yields better results than traditional marketing. Would you still be stuck with Traditional marketing?
- The same infographic also indicates that “86% of people skip TV ads, 44% ignore direct mail and 91% of email users unsubscribe from company emails. And at the same time, 60% of people are inspired to seek out a product after reading about it.” Do I need to say more?
- “70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an advert.” Then why are you still so obsessed with paid advertising?
- According to Points Visible, “89% of B2B marketers use content Marketing and 86% of B2C marketers use Content Marketing.” If more and more people are moving towards content marketing, it is bound to have a proven track record of being a successful form of marketing.
- “Interesting Content is one of the main reasons people follow brands on Social media.” More social media followers mean more people know your brand. This means more people are likely to purchase from you.
Given these statistics, it is not wrong to say that “Content Marketing is not just the present but also the future of Marketing”. For a business to grow, Content Marketing is extremely important.