Content Marketing 101
The latest buzzword in the marketing sector, especially for digital marketers, is Content Marketing. The term itself seems pretty self-explanatory to understand at first but it is not that easy to ace.
What is Content Marketing?
Before jumping into the bookish definition, let’s divide the term into two pieces. First comes ‘Content’. What do we know about contents? In simple words, anything that can be consumed by an audience is called content. It can be a video, article, blog, podcast, cinema, songs, stories, novels etc. anything! You name it! All those things are content. Now comes ‘Marketing’. Marketing means letting people know about your product or services and leading them to buy or consume it.
Now adding both pieces, we get the definition of Content Marketing. It is a new form of marketing which is done by creating and distributing various kinds of contents. These contents need to be informative and valuable. The idea of the product or service has to be reflected properly on those contents. So that when a customer consumes that content he/she gets the clear picture in mind. Again, valuable information makes the customers remember the content for a longer time and thus the brand also makes its place in customers’ product ladder.
Difference between Traditional Marketing and Content Marketing?
Now the question or I might say the confusion arises, what is the difference between traditional marketing and content marketing? In both cases we are promoting our business. Then where is the fine line that differentiates content marketing from traditional marketing? The answer is very simple. In traditional marketing, you directly say ‘Buy my product or use my services’ but in content marketing you don’t. Instead of directly asking the customers to buy the product, in content marketing, you provide information about the product or service to the targeted customer. Imagine, you are a customer and you see an ad of a milk company which says that their milk has 5% MRL and that’s why you should buy it. But you don’t even know what MRL is.
Now, you have to look it up on the internet to get the proper idea which is a lot of hassle for many customers, especially when they are not in a mood of buying. Now think of another scenario where a video is posted on YouTube or any other platform, which shows you what is MRL. How it affects milk quality and how much is good for your health. And all that information is provided to you in a simple storyline. Now, you tell me, which video is going to affect you more? Obviously the second one. This is the difference between traditional marketing and content marketing.
How Content Marketing leads to earning money?
But if we don’t ask them to buy or use a product, how does content marketing lead to sales? How does it help one make money? After all money is what we need at the end of the day! The answer here is also very simple. Not every marketing technique leads to sales. Promoting the product is also a crucial part of the marketing process and content marketing does it the best. It can make people know about the product or service, make them think about it, and at last by not telling them to buy that item, it entertains the customer.
Another good thing about content marketing is that it gives the choice to the customer to think about it. The given space or the power of control makes the consumers more loyal and invested to the brand. Being invested is the very first step in any marketing funnel. Almost all marketing funnels have 3 common steps. Those are Awareness, Consideration and Conversion. Content marketing makes people aware about the brand and thus it can start the engine of every marketing plan of any brand. And once the engine is started, the rest can lead to the dream money.
Why Content Marketing?
Now that we have learnt about 1. What is content marketing? 2. What is the core difference between traditional marketing and content marketing? and 3. How does content marketing lead to earning money? we will find the answers of why one should use content marketing and what should be the reason to use it? Let’s start with the latter one.
Content marketing is a broad thing with various uses. Which is very obvious as ‘Content’ itself is a very big idea. Content marketing can be used for following reasons:
· To increase brand awareness
· To educate the customers about the product or service
· Making customers loyal to the brand
· Generating or increasing online sales
To focus on the ‘why’ part, we need to revise the marketing funnel which we talked about earlier. The steps should be understood first.
This is the broadest phase of the funnel and it contains most of the potential customers. Marketers have to target the most potential segment of customers and try to make aware of the product. They have to educate them about the offering services and products so that they can become a customer from potential customers. That’s why this phase is called awareness.
In this step, that potential customers segment begins to consider whether they should buy the product or not. They start thinking about the pros and cons of buying or using the service. If they find it satisfactory and beneficial they will make the decision in our favor. But if they don’t find the product valuable, they will choose to move on.
Here the marketer is successful. He has successfully convinced the customer to make that purchase. The potential customer has been converted to a customer.
Now, let me ask you one question. What is the easiest way to make people aware of anything in this era of digitalization? Yes, you are right! It is using internet. Doing online promotion in every social media platform. And how things should be promoted? The answer is through contents.
My next question is what drives the customers to take that decision in the consideration phase? What leads them to turn the decision into our favor? You are right again. It is content. Some good quality contents can make us win the game. The better the content is the better it will help the customer to be convinced.
Did you notice the magical fact that both the answers of my questions is ‘CONTENT’? Why? Because good quality content solves those problems. And this is the reason why any company should try including content marketing in their marketing model.
Types of popular contents in Content Marketing
We have talked a lot about contents. Now let’s see what are the most common and effective forms of contents that are used in content marketing.
While most people think that video contents are simply advertising commercials, content marketing gives us the chance to look into the idea from a different perspective. It teaches us to think about the customer perspective. Before asking them to buy the product, tell them about the product. The milk example given previously can be used here. Again as it is in a video format, it doesn’t make people bored. As this generation is tech savvy and loves to watch videos, video contents are the most used form of content marketing and it covers the largest portion of contents in content marketing. So, video has become a very effective form of content marketing.
Articles or Blogs
There are people who just love to read. For them, written articles and blogs about various topics are the best form of entertainment. So, marketing through written materials also carries a significant amount of value. But the article has to be informative and easy to understand. Otherwise people will get irritated. So, it can be said that written articles which are published in various websites, news portals, even on social media platforms are really important. These articles or blogs can be offline also.
Magazines and newspapers are the best platform to do offline content marketing through written materials. This written contents cover the second largest portion of contents in content marketing.
When some information is presented by a structured model of graphs, charts and statistics, it is called infographics. The specialty of infographics is that it can present any idea with a flow. Which makes it easier for the audience to understand and consume the content. These infographics can be used as a single content and also be added to a video or an article and posted on websites related to the topic or keyword. Thus infographics is also a very crucial part of content marketing.
These are audio messages. People record their opinions about different topics, recite poems, tell stories, teach life lessons, give motivational speeches and then post it online for the audience to consume. iTunes is a huge platform for this kind of content. Again, podcasts can be found on YouTube. But these contents are not consumed as much as video contents or articles.
However, for exceptional cases, this might be the one that matters. Totally depends on the situation.
These various kinds of contents are not the only ones that can be used. There are many more in this list. But one thing that has to be kept in mind is that not all content is appropriate for all kinds of situations. Marketing objective, audience, time period, budget everything has to be considered while choosing a content type.
Making a Good Quality Content
Making content is not enough. The content has to be a good one. It must be valuable to the customer. Otherwise he will not invest his time in it. Here comes the idea of making great content.
A great content must have at least 3 qualities. Those are-
1. Targeted perfectly and precisely
Let me explain one by one.
Targeted Perfectly and Precisely
Targeting the audience is the very first thing for any kind of marketing. You have to know your audience, their needs and their expectations. Only then a relevant content can be made. For example, if you are selling walking sticks for older people and you are making video or audio contents about the pros and cons about the product, there is a high chance that this thing isn’t going to work. Because most of the people of your target audience are not used to consuming video contents online.
Again, this article that you are reading is written for the people who are new to content marketing or just curious about it. Only they will be benefited by reading this piece of content. The professional content marketers will not love this because they need some pro tip in the content. So I think I have made my point about targeting correctly and you have understood why it is so important to make content effective.
No content is effective if it is not informative. You have to give valuable information. Remember, the number of information doesn’t matter. In fact, the audience will lose their interest in the content if there is too much information. The relevance and legitimacy of the information matter. So, always try to give legit, insightful and valuable information. Be it just one in number but that one information should make the customer interested about the brand. It will do the job.
After targeting the perfect audience a marketer has to identify their needs. Actually he has to find the answer to the question of why a customer would buy my product? Here comes the idea of value proposition. Every product has its own value to propose. So does every content. The content needs to be a gap filler in that targeted customer’s life. Only then the customer will consume it in sound mind.
Lastly, there is a saying that a great content is that for which you are ready to pay. So, after making a content, ask yourself that will you pay for it? If the answer is yes, congratulations my friend, you have made great content.
Content marketing is the future of marketing. As the days are passing the consumers are becoming more intelligent. They no longer believe the verbal statement of any famous celebrity. So, marketers are feeling the necessity of interacting with the customers deeply. Content marketing is the best way to do that. So, content marketing should be included in all kinds of marketing plans in every sector.