What is content marketing?

You might be asking yourself 'what is content marketing?' Don't worry, you wouldn't be the first person to ask this. Content marketing describes a really colourful and vibrant service in our industry. To me, it’s about having ownership and accountability of how something looks and feels without any restrictions.

Our friends over at Content Marketing Institute define content marketing as: “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

This definition highlights some of the potential challenges that us marketeers face - coming up with relevant and engaging content that our customers will love.

Think strategically

Your marketing needs to be strategic. You might have the best brief in the world with some solid KPIs but the content might be lacking. So what types of content marketing are there? It could be a graphic or an image on a website, copy optimised for SEO purposes, photography or something completely different or all the same.

Content is a word that summarises the elements that will engage an end user into a profitable action. This is my interpretation of it and I’m sure yours might be different. However, without content, a campaign might feel empty, bland or even boring.

These questions will get your creative juices flowing about content creation:

  • Should it be fun or educational or both?
  • Does it add value to the user?
  • What marketing channels will it be used on?
  • How will we measure the success of it?

We all want to measure a fantastic ROI but did we educate and inform our users? Adding value is something they will appreciate and will increase the chance of engagement.

Channel of choice

But what is content marketing when you need to choose a marketing channel? Identifying the correct channel to use your content on is super important.

Perhaps an infographic designed to showcase a new product line and the benefits it brings to customers could work well on social but not on email.

You can limit the risk involved by performing competitor research and see what works for them. You can see the types of content marketing as well as the channels used to distribute it.

Creativity and experimentation is key. All the competitor research in the world will only give you some insight into the success or failure of your campaign.

Here are three bullet points about how you could measure the success of your competitors campaigns and answer the what is content marketing challenge:

  • Has the content been well received on social media? You can see how many likes and interactions they have received.
  • Have they advertised the content across different channels? Often you can get an understanding of how integrated a campaign can be and how to structure your approach.
  • How long has the content in the campaign been running for? This is often a good bench mark to gauge date specific content ie. is it anniversary based? Is it an annual promotion or competition? Over time, annual content can show the popularity and significance of it. Perhaps adapt your content to become an annual occurrence.

To repurpose, or not to repurpose

Sometimes I feel ‘repurposing’ can seem like a dirty word. If we take the example of the infographic, could the information within it be turned into a blog? It most certainly could.  Repurposing content is an efficient way to make your marketing work harder.

Avoid making it to similar as you could risk it looking unoriginal or even lazy.

The beauty of content marketing is you’re creating something which informs and educates a user into performing an action. You can use our list of questions as a way to start idea generation but more importantly engaging your team. You’ll be on your way to content-ment in no time. (Sorry I couldn’t resist).

Convincing content

"To address the 'what is content marketing' enigma, sit down with your team and brainstorm ideas on engaging your customers with dynamic and interesting content."

If you’re working for a smaller business or one which is taking it’s first steps into digital marketing, it might seem like a challenge trying to explain the benefits of content marketing to them.

In recent times, content marketing has become an exciting ‘buzz word’ used by marketing professionals but it’s always been in our industry.

Businesses are starting to see the value in content marketing as it helps communicate the benefits of your products and services to your users.

Years ago, I worked for a company that started trialling it. We were scratching our heads asking ‘What is content marketing’ but with some strategic thinking, we planned and executed our campaign.

We’d launched a brand new concept to a B2B audience using a multi-channel strategy, but the initial buzz had died and we needed to engage customers once more.

We created a campaign around content, in particular an infographic that communicated the benefits of the proposition. It was important to make it value-added but still list the benefits it could bring.

The infographic was shared across social media with effective use on Linked In. The infographic itself contained information which would transfer well to a separate blog and social media posts. All in all, the content had reignited interest in our offering and had even provoked discussion.

No singular approach

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Each business is different and will require it’s own strategic framework when it comes to planning a content driven campaign. You should always start off by engaging stakeholders within the business. They might have an ‘outsiders’ view on the types of content that might work well with your customers.

Once you’ve engaged your stakeholders, perform competitor research to see what works for them. That’ll give you a solid idea on what works and what doesn’t. Whilst a strategic approach is crucial, don't loose sight of the importance of creativity and what makes an engaging campaign.

Don't worry if it takes a few goes to get it right. Experimentation is key to successful engagement with new and existing customers. I hope you feel more confident and can now answer the 'what is content marketing' enigma.

About the content writer

Callum is the founder and project manager of Desk Digital. He has six years' experience in digital marketing within the IT and retail sectors.

He now helps businesses find a digital presence online through web design and content support.

If you like the idea of content marketing but unsure where to start, Callum can help.

Complete the short contact form below and he'll be in touch shortly.

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