The Growth of Content Marketing (White Paper)
Content marketing is one of the fastest growing sectors and the focus of most organisations serious about their online presence. It taps into new behaviour, primarily driven by the Internet, where people are actively searching information relevant to their needs.
Consumers have simply shut their eyes and closed their ears to traditional forms of advertising. They own recording devices that skip through television commercials, often ignore adverts in magazines and newspapers, and easily surf away from banner ads, popups and other forms of online promotions.
Consequently, businesses are seeing less return from their investment in traditional forms of advertising. Today, they are deploying new and more sophisticated strategies to get the word out there.
The decline in advertising is not only written on the wall, it’s also in the headlines as audiences and businesses fall away:
- “Newspaper Sales Decline Across the Board” Guardian UK
- “The Accelerating Decline of Newspapers” Washington Post
- “Men’s monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years” Guardian UK
So, perhaps it comes as no surprise that content marketing has been adopted by some of the most powerful and successful global corporations including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, American Express, Procter & Gamble, and Cisco Systems. All are changing the way they communicate by focusing on content.
“Content is an important piece in all of our marketing efforts…extending our messaging through content is a great way for us to continue to convert our customers from simply seeing a message to considering our brand,”
Walter Frye, Director of Entertainment Marketing & Sponsorships at American Express. (Forbes, November 2012).
Mint.com is a personal finance website that launched in 2006. It faced a lot of competition from other start-ups and established companies. Within three years it was a market leader and sold to Intuit for $170 million. Content marketing was a big part of its operation and success.
Mint’s blog ‘MintLife’ has a full-time editorial staff, and a pool of freelance contributors. By consistently producing quality articles and posts, readers in its online communities began to view Mint as a trustworthy and reliable source of information and shared the content to their networks. These users became customers who advocated Mint amongst their friends, families and colleagues.
Growth of Content Marketing
Content marketing is on the rise as more brands embrace it as a key marketing strategy. In 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, a report by the Content Marketing Institute, nine out of ten business to business marketers are using content marketing, regardless of their industry or company size. And more than 50% said they will be increasing their content marketing spend in the next 12 months.
Nine out of ten business to business marketers are using content marketing, regardless of their industry or company size. And more than 50% said they will be increasing their content marketing spend in the next 12 months.
Content Marketing Institute
2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
A survey of more than 1,300 marketers by digital publishing and training group Econsultancy revealed where many businesses think content marketing is heading. According to their Content Market Survey Report 2012:
- 91% of respondents are using content to market their products and services
- 90% believe content marketing will become more important in 2013
- 73% of digital marketers agree that ‘brands are becoming publishers’
- 54% cited increased engagement as the number one value of content
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the creation, publishing and promotion of custom content. It is based on the notion of delivering high quality, relevant information to prospects and clients to ultimately influence their behaviour. This is in contrast to traditional marketing methods that aim to raise awareness by interrupting customers (through TV, radio and magazine adverts).
The content has to be unique, stimulating and engaging and help people solve their problems and answers their questions. Instead of pitching your products and services at customers, you consistently create and deliver content that makes the buyer more informed.
The most common forms of content are:
- Case studies
- How-to Videos
In the not too distant past it used to be the companies with the biggest advertising budgets won. But nowadays, money is irrelevant. Whoever is creating the best content, and generating the most conversations has the best chance of connecting with target audiences.
The bottom line is that content marketing is about focusing on what customers want, and meeting them on their terms.
Why is Content Important?
Search engines rule the roost when it comes to how we look for information on the web. Billions of searches take place every single day, and Google, Bing and others are becoming more sophisticated in delivering what their users really want. And that is good and accurate information.
“First and foremost we care about trying to get the stuff that people will really like – the good, the compelling content – in front of them.” Matt Cutts, Google.
The phrase ‘content is king’ has never been more critical. There is so much noise out there on the Internet, but it’s only the sites that offer good and relevant information that are going to be ranked highly. Search engines want to provide their public with the best user experience.
Websites have a better chance of being seen if they are providing good quality content on a consistent basis that is optimized and user-friendly.
What is High Quality Content?
Content marketing is not spun articles or article marketing, nor is it a sales pitch; it is the creation of editorially sound pieces that stand up on their own merit and fulfil the following criteria:
- The content is relevant, informative and valuable to the intended target audience
- The content educates the target audience
- The content is driven by the interests of readers
- The content is original, well-written and grammatically correct
- The content contains a subtle marketing message to get the reader interested in what a company has to offer
- The content stirs emotions and leaves the reader wanting more
Barriers to Effective Content Marketing
The creation and execution of an effective content marketing strategy requires expertise and experience that many companies do not possess. The respondents to the Econsultancy survey highlighted several barriers to effective content marketing:
- Lack of human resources (42%)
- Lack of budget (35%)
- Lack of understanding/training (4%)
- Lack of content creation skills (39%)
Whilst it is possible to go it alone, many brands are seeking out content marketing services. The advantages of working with specialists are that they provide editorial expertise, creative writing across multiple genres, thorough understanding of SEO and bespoke services.
Making Content Work for You
Content marketing allows companies to engage directly with their audience rather than going through a third party media channel. To avoid losing ground in today’s switched on digital world brands must develop content capabilities to build engagement, trust and connections with a target audience. The potential impact on business is significant and powerful.