Content marketing is set to be the single biggest area of increased marketing spend this year. But content marketing is not new, it’s simply the evolution of something communications professionals like us have been doing since time began – writing and telling compelling stories.
Effective story-telling is the basis for all good public relations, marketing and brand development activity. Content marketing combines this skill with the concept of traditional media relations, where the value of editorial is far greater than that of paid-for advertising.
The fact that we now work in a world where there’s a frenzy of content generation, everyone can be their own publisher, and there are more free channels for dissemination than ever before, doesn’t diminish the value of traditional media and journalism. There is still huge inherent value for the marketer in achieving editorial coverage, with its perceived editorial endorsement, through well-conceived, written and pitched news and feature materials.
More than ever, consumers are looking for reliable sources to inform and validate their decisions and purchases – editorial endorsement is still powerful and can be a valuable education tool.
In fact, good old-fashioned media relations is still the service that the Conscious Communications team gets requests for most frequently, except that these days we also include social media engagement in the mix of course.
So we find ourselves with three main options for dissemination of our content, each of which has its own merits and offers varying levels of control:
1) Owned media where we have total control in the form of newsletters, whitepapers, websites, blogs – brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month;
2) social media where we can control our own messages but also invite conversation and engagement with audiences – according to the Content Marketing Institute, the average B2B marketer engages in content promotion on 6 social media platforms;
3) traditional media – print, broadcast and on-line, where editorial control is in someone else’s hands and, therefore, still has greater perceived value for the reader.
Conscious Communications believes that the best content marketing strategies utilise both traditional and new media channels to disseminate original, repurposed and curated content to achieve optimum engagement. In this way, a good content marketing strategy can engage with audiences at every stage of the buying cycle through initial awareness generation through engagement and lead generation, to loyalty, effectively supporting other marketing and sales activities.
There is one other option too, which spans all of the above, and that is the ‘peer review’ which, again, is now more easily achieved than ever. Much like the traditional case study published in a business or trade journal, customer and supplier reviews, guest blogs and endorsements can be effectively utilised within a content marketing programme to promote products and services and reinforce prospective customers’ reasons to engage.
The really exciting thing about content today is that it doesn’t need to be static and can be delivered easily through moving image, audio, animation, graphics, text and a combination of all of these. Just imagine, a massive two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2017.
Content marketing is also a hugely valuable component of any effective internal communications programme and should be viewed and managed with the same care and attention it commands for external marketing.
Again, this is nothing new, but internal audiences have become more sophisticated and demanding, and content needs to reflect this by inviting and encouraging contributions, promoting successes and best practice.
Employees can be a company’s most effective ambassadors and the company that successfully involves its staff in generating and disseminating content on the company’s behalf, has a lot to gain. However, involving individuals in content generation is a great motivator as long as it doesn’t become a burden. So make sure to set out clear guidelines and ensure individuals keep to agreed timelines so that content is topical and maintains momentum.
And, if you’re still not sure of the value of content marketing, it is a fact that well-constructed content, that resonates with audiences and achieves recommendations, will gain attention from search engines, pushing you up the search rankings. Google values in-depth and lengthy (1,500+ words) technical articles, white papers, study reports and so on, so a good smattering of longer pieces to complement your curated news and repurposed views content will help ensure you’re appealing to all potential audiences.
If you’re thinking about developing a content marketing programme and need some creative inspiration, www.businesss2community.com published 57 ideas – some insightful, some obvious, all worth bearing in mind: http://goo.gl/H5Y4VX.
If you need help with constructing your content marketing programme, please give us a call on 01223 393 812 or email email@example.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @Conscious_comms or visit our website: www.consciouscomms.com.