“Content marketing” may seem like a rather vague term, and for many people it brings up visions of dull corporate brand blogs, or even questionably ethical SEO techniques. But the evolution of social media and mobile technology is forcing the issue of content marketing on pretty much everyone.

“Our podcast and white paper on the citrus industry really helped us with that coveted 18 to 49 demographic!”

Copyblogger has a good baseline definition for content marketing, stating that its goal is attracting prospects, converting them into customers, and turning one-time customers into repeat customers. In other words, “You’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”

Successful content marketing often involves enlisting the help of expert content creators who can provide original, germane and brand-relevant content that reaches consumers on whatever platforms they prefer. Content is the heart of content marketing, and well-executed content marketing takes advantage of a major customer engagement opportunity.

Why Is Content Marketing Important?

Content marketing is important because customers have changed. The internet itself, social media, and mobile technology have put more information at the fingertips of consumers, and consumers take in massive amounts of information because of it. If you’re in B2B, the information revolution is, if anything, more relevant: business buyers don’t contact suppliers until 57% of the purchase process is complete, according to research by CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council. The spaces you don’t fill about your business, your products, and your services may be filled by your competitors, or worse, by unhappy customers with potentially damaging feedback. Content marketing helps you control your brand’s narrative.

Examples of Content Marketing

Good content marketing focuses on building relationships rather than on the hard sell. Some of the forms it may take include:

• Blog posts – IBM’s IBMblr is a tumblr about the company’s innovation culture that’s full of interesting, “snackable” content.
• Specialty websites – Coca Cola Journey is the product of four full-time journalists, and more than 40 freelancers who develop content to connect emotionally with Coca-Cola customers.
• Videos (including “micro-videos,” e.g. Vine) – the British Airways #lookup campaign is a brilliant example, combining novelty, information, and emotional connection.
• Social media posts – Adams County Winery has made a big push on Facebook, offering videos, Instagram photos, wine club membership, and sign-ups for their mailing list.

Content marketing may also include:

• Webinars
• White papers
• e-Books
• Podcasts

Content marketing without social media is like a BLT without the L and T.

Why Mobile Is So Important

It didn’t take long for marketing to gain foothold in the “traditional” internet space only to be upended by the mobile revolution. Suddenly flash, banners, cookies, and sidebar ads were not great options. Mobile emphasizes the “content” part of content marketing, and makes social media platforms even more important, because of people’s tendency to use these on their mobile devices. With consumer attention increasingly focused on mobile social platforms, brands have the opportunity to produce relevant streams of content to targeted audiences. But that targeted mobile content has to be engaging and relevant, because consumers have easy options for blocking it from their social media feeds.

We Know Content Marketing Is Important; Where Do We Start?

Start by reexamining your marketing goals. Whether your goal is to decrease customer complaints or increase sign-ups to an e-newsletter, your content marketing should be tailored toward it. Next, get to know your audience better and increase understanding of their needs. You can learn quite a bit about your audience using free tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, like the click path that gets them to your content, which pages are most popular, and how long they stick around on your site. Knowing your goals and your audience are two keys to successful content marketing

Of course you have to produce the content too – easier said than done, right? Say call center volume is higher than you expected it to be. Perhaps one of your content marketing goals could be reducing call center volume. In this case, your content might be an FAQ page, or a well-promoted blog post on “Top 10 Customer Questions.” If the content is engaging, well-written, and linked on your social platforms, you’ll reach and inform customers, allowing them to help themselves rather than having to rely on your call center.

Social Media and Content Marketing

What does your editorial calendar show for the next month? Ideally, it should show content pieces that are ripe with juicy information for your customers and potential customers. Have you planned three to five Tweets for each piece, starting as soon as it goes live? Do you plan for an excerpt to show up on your Google+ page? What about your company page on LinkedIn? Some companies invest in social platform coordination tools (like HootSuite) that allow content amplification from a central dashboard. Social platforms are about extending your brand’s reach, and they offer a remarkably cost-effective way to do that on a large scale.

Key Takeaway Points

To sum up, content marketing is about:

• Creation and distribution of content
• Content that is brand-relevant and valuable, yet not a direct sales pitch
• Attracting new customers and engaging them and existing customers
• Having a clearly defined target audience that you have taken the time to understand

Media Shower is on the front lines of the content marketing revolution, providing services from idea generation to comprehensive blog publishing. Our writers are thoroughly vetted and experienced in all aspects of content production, including blog posts, static pages, how-tos, and social media content. Providing clients with steady, engaging, relevant content of the highest quality is what we do at Media Shower, and we love doing it. Let us show you what we can do for your content marketing strategy. Click here to learn more.