Latest posts by Mark Spera (see all)
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Content Marketing Definition
“Content marketing” is practically a marketing platitude at this point. You can’t speak to anyone at a consumer-facing company without hearing about its significance in their marketing plan.
It’s a cute, short phrase for many different things. It’s an easy way of saying a lot, but very little at the same time.
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of high-value content. If done properly, it engages and even converts readers/listeners/viewers of the content into customers.
Content may be used at the very top of funnel to attract potential customers. It may be used in the middle and bottom of the funnel to convert those potential customers into actual customers.
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.
I like that definition enough, but I think it’s important to unpack the different ways marketers use content.
Why Should I care about Content Marketing?
Content marketing does a lot, but I would boil “a lot” down to two main things:
1. It creates awareness and attracts customers. The best content can be used to acquire users for low cost and in some cases, for free – as with search engine optimization and viral videos – like when Blake Mycoskie appeared on an AT&T commercial and told the Toms Shoes story.
2. Content converts and retains customers. What good is an email address or a phone number if you don’t get them to the finish line? Unless your customer takes a desired action on your site like make a purchase or register for a conference, they’re not monetarily valuable to you. Imagine this simple example: you’re doing some ecommerce marketing – specifically you’re selling vintage watches online – one way you could use content to convert users would be to post beautiful photos of watches on your blog with links to shop the catalog on your site. Then, by emailing your existing client base with this feature, you might be able to entice potential customers to purchase.
Alternatively, have you noticed that many of the catalogs that appear in your mail pile have lots of aspirational photos and stories mixed between pages of products? This is intentional. High-touch print pieces are great for converting users. Sears, Wunderman and JC Penney pioneered this marketing strategy with mail order catalogs.
Rich and current content will bring your customers back time and time again. Huckberry, a men’s apparel ecommerce store, keeps its customers coming back with long, detailed blog articles and emails. In this article a user says, “I feel like it’s story time, not spam time” when he receives their email marketing campaigns.
What is Content?
Content is anything you or your brand creates to present information to your audience. Content takes many tones from serious to informational to very funny. It also takes many different forms, including blog posts, guest posts, Powerpoint presentations, Slideshares, speeches, PR angles, video, podcast and everything in between.
Content creation and dissemination is some of the most creative stuff marketers will do. Websites like BiggerPockets do an incredible job of blogging and podcasting creative content for America’s real estate investing community. Equally remarkable, imagine if you had someone on staff with a knack for making viral video content like Dollar Shave Club’s founder, Mike Dubin. His 2012 Youtube commercial for DSV has 24 million views today and helped aid in his company’s sale to Unilever for $1 billion. Similarly, I love stock trading app, Robin Hood’s launch video. It’s equal parts creative, illustrative and curious.
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