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It’s a fact that people love to buy, but they hate being sold to. It’s why nobody likes watching commercials and it’s also why most people ignore online ads. Banners, pop-ups, buttons and links lose their effectiveness each day because the average consumer gets increasingly more savvy in his online browsing habits.
When people go online with an intention to buy, they spend most of their time looking for content that will help them make better purchasing decisions. They hate being interrupted with direct sales pitches and they have more control than ever to make marketing messages go away. This is bad news for traditional online advertisers but smart marketers see a great opportunity in the status quo.
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Enter content marketing, a technique that’s helping businesses around the world attract, influence and convert leads into paying customers. Through the strategic creation and sharing of valuable content, companies can build an audience that trusts them enough to buy from them later on.
Content marketing isn’t a new concept. As a matter of fact, it traces its roots to 1891 when German entrepreneur August Oetker sent samples of his baking powder along with printed recipes to homes in hopes of encouraging more sales. His approach was a hit as homemakers used his recipes and drove up the demand for his product. More than a hundred years later, content marketing still follows the same principles that Oetker laid down. At its core are two basic truths:
Fast forward to today and we’ve experienced radio, TV and the Internet as a race. Despite the emergence of mass media, consumer behavior has remained virtually the same. We still feel better about buying from entities we have a connection with.
This is particularly true about the Internet where anonymity, scams and malware are very real deterrents to prospects who are considering a purchase. Content marketing aims to take all of that away by drawing people in with content that they can use, then forming relationships through opt-ins, sustained content delivery and relevant offers.
Content marketing follows the classic Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) marketing funnel, but it relies less on regular advertising and focuses more on thought leadership and the formation of relationships with the members of a targeted audience. Traffic is converted into leads and offers are strategically pitched to later on. The process doesn’t stop with a sale as a careful analysis of the audience is performed at the end of a campaign. The data from the analysis should yield actionable insights and the process is repeated with expectations of improved performance from tweaks based on data.
In the Internet, content is defined as any asset that’s made as part of a planned user experience. It can come in textual, graphical, video or audio formats. In marketing, content plays a central role in how your audience perceives your brand. Content represents who you are as a business and it makes the business case on whether or not they should buy from you.
Content development is the phase of content marketing where content is researched, created, organized and published for the consumption of an intended audience. The foundation of this process is the development of a strategic theme where all the assets that a site develops are based on. Whatever the format of the content is, it has to be topically aligned and relevant to the theme for the entire strategy to pay off.
The best kind of content for marketing is the type that’s uniquely useful. What you publish has to be distinct from everything else that your competitors put out and it has to serve your audience’s best interest. High-quality content builds a loyal following, helps you gain better search engine visibility, powers your SEM campaigns and serves as the backbone for your social media marketing efforts. It’s the basis of online thought leadership and it’s a major factor in how a brand is perceived.
Depending on a website’s industry, needs, the nature of its audience and the resources at its disposal, the content development process can vary. Generally, sites follow a cyclical process that involves the following steps:
You may have the ability to create great content but if nobody gets to see it, it can’t help you fulfil any business goals. For that reason, promotion is an integral part of content marketing. It’s the process of strategically using free and paid promotional channels to extend your content’s reach.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ways to promote content online in this day and age. Social media, SEO, press releases, collaborations, SEM and content syndication are all powerful means to drive targeted traffic to your content pages. To get the most out of a content marketing program, a website has to have a holistic content promotion strategy that takes advantage of all relevant channels.
This is where content marketing truly shines. Because content marketers develop assets that are informational and not straight-up commercial, the assets are easier to promote and the audience gravitates to the messaging more readily. Great content is always a synergy to the following channels which smart online marketers focus most of their efforts on:
Like any other form of online marketing, content marketing’s performance can be tracked using a set of KPIs. These stats can be used to draw valuable insights that can steer a campaign to the right direction.
Some of the most commonly used KPIs in contetarketing include:
When introducing content marketing into your online business strategy, make sure that these KPIs are tracked. After all, what isn’t measured cannot be improved. KPIs not only gauge performance, they also help you identify weak areas in your campaign that can either be fixed or discontinued entirely.
Businesses who are interested in content marketing but do not have the internal capabilities to implement it usually go to third-party agencies who have the experience, manpower and technology to get the job done. Depending on the agency’s reputation, location and the scope of work necessary, service prices will vary. When looking for a content marketing service provider, businesses would be best served if they base their hiring decisions on the following criteria:
My company, SearchWorks is a full service digital marketing agency in the Philippines that provides cost-effective, enterprise-level content marketing solutions to businesses of all sizes. My staff has a combined experience of 30 years in the online marketing industry, putting us in a good position to help you grow your online reach. If you’re thinking about trying content marketing for your business, drop me a line on the Contact page and I’ll answer any questions you might have.