Content marketing is a highly important and valuable tool to have in your marketing arsenal, as traditional marketing methods are becoming less effective and successful. Before we delve a little deeper into what content marketing is not, we will first answer the question of what content marketing is.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is, “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience”. This is quite different to the usual marketing techniques of pitching services or products – rather, you are producing relevant and useful content for your audience and customers in order solve their problems and answer their questions.
Any forward thinking marketer – and businessperson – can see that content is the future of marketing. The difference between content marketing and the other “informational” pieces you see from some companies (read spam!) is that content marketing is useful and targeted – and valuable!
Regardless of what marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be an integral part of your process, not a separate element. Content marketing is used in social media marketing, SEO strategies, PPC campaigns, and inbound marketing.
Content Marketing is not (only) storytelling
The common idea about content marketing is that it is “storytelling” – if you reread the definition mentioned above, you will see that storytelling is not mentioned once, and for good reason! The point of a content marketing strategy is to demonstrate the value of your service or product, not just to tell a story effectively. Visitors to your site are drawn to your content not because it tells your brand’s story, but because it builds on theirs.
Content is not about sales, but rather it is about perpetuating an idea, and the brand behind that idea. When you build an audience, the idea should inform and intrigue the audience, rather than being a tired and overused sales pitch. However, aspects of storytelling should not be eliminated from your content – using emotions such as happiness, anger or sadness in your content can influence a customer’s actions or drive them to an action, such as purchasing your product or using your service.
What Content Marketing is NOT – Myths Busted!
Although content marketing is not a new concept, there are still a huge number of myths regarding it, from what it is to how easy it is to do (side note – not just anyone can create top tier content), but many of these myths are not true, and below are some of the most common explained and disproved.
It only works for certain businesses
Content marketing is not industry specific – any business can produce content that is relevant, valuable and useful for their audience, once they understand what that means. The most important thing to remember is that content marketing is not about sales, but about promoting the value of your product or service with articles, media and visuals that are relevant and valuable.
It’s just writing, it can’t be that hard!
There is a common belief that content marketing is easy, and that anyone can do it. The reality is that, while the basics of content marketing are easy to handle alone, when you start reaching the more complex issues, it is best to hire a professional. Aside from creating compelling and valuable stories – which is a skill in itself – you will have to deal with the constant creation of content, and there is the fact that the content has to be done well.
Our customers probably aren’t online, and don’t use social media
This is highly unlikely, regardless of your industry. Studies have shown that in South Africa alone, there are 13 million Facebook users, 7.4 million Twitter users and 2.68 million Instagram users – which means that there is a huge pool of people who are online, including your customers!
All content should focus on my business
This is from the older school of marketing, where traditional marketing campaigns spoke at people, rather than with them, like content marketing campaigns. It is vital to avoid content that is too promotional, or reads too much like a sales brochure as this is will reduce the traffic to your site and negatively affect your customer’s experience. The purpose of content marketing is to engage with your audience, so aim to provide valuable content rather than speaking exclusively about your business and products.
Text-based content is enough!
This belief is most common among first time content marketers, and is understandable, as when most people hear the words “content marketing”, they are liable to think of blog posts or articles. However, the industry is changing! While the copy is vital, there is the visual component to consider, (this means more than just a cover image) which can be images or a video. Humans are visual creatures, so including creative and relevant images or videos with your copy can work wonders for your rankings and site traffic.
Text-based content pieces need to be long
While it is true that longer content pieces perform highly, with better rankings and more engagement, is it not always necessary to create long pieces of content – and it could be counterproductive. Shorter content can still rank very well, and it is important to think about a vital aspect before creating that impressive 2000+ word article: your customers. Longer pages work well when you are trying to encourage customers to buy a “big ticket item”, but can overwhelm customers. Rather try out different styles to optimise conversion rates.
Simply creating content means people will find it
It is a common thought process that simply creating the content and putting it onto your business’s site or blog will allow people to find it, but one of the most important steps in your content marketing strategy is to devise a distribution plan of your content. This could (and should) involve syndicating the content onto your social media platforms, which is an effective plan to implement, as it can contribute to higher volumes of site traffic.
We’re too late to the content marketing game!
Never has a statement been more untrue! The world has yet to hit the peak of content marketing, and it remains one of the most effective marketing tools in the industry. If your brand, business or company has yet to use content marketing as part of its strategy, it is not too late to start, and you are sure to find experts who are chomping at the bit to help you implement an effective content marketing strategy.
Why content marketing works
In today’s information age, customers are highly likely to research a product or service before making a purchase or signing up for something, which is why it is vital for businesses to have content that is valuable, relevant and consistent for their customers. This hunger for valuable information is why content marketing works!
By using content marketing as part of your business’s marketing strategy, you are building trust between yourself and your customers. One of the major aspects of successful marketing is establish a sense of trust with their consumers, and content marketing is an effective way to do so. According to a recent study, owned media (which is the website of a business, the social media profiles and emails) and earned media (reviews and recommendations) are two of the most trusted forms of advertising.
One of the major reasons why content marketing works is because it solves problems. People are not searching online for content so that they stumble on an advert or learn something new about a brand – they are looking for content that answers a question or solves a problem. When creating content, be it a blog post, a video or an infographic, try to place yourself in the mind of your consumer, thinking about what they are searching for and what they want to find.
Content marketing is successful because it is backed by data. This data allows you to see what content was popular, which was unsuccessful and what could use a bit of tweaking. You are also able to customise the metrics you use to track your content marketing campaigns, allowing you to see more clearly what needs to be done to achieve your goals or where your brand may need help.
The value of content marketing is high, and while it is often said that “content is king”, the customer is the real one in charge when it comes to content marketing. If your brand isn’t implementing a content marketing strategy, it’s not too late to start!