What is Content Marketing?

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June 14, 2011
Nathan Yerian Nathan Yerian

Content MarketinWhen I bring up content marketing to our customers, I usually see blank faces followed by, "What is content marketing?". Marketing strategies this powerful deserve understanding!

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the development of valuable information that is openly shared with a community.  Its goal is to attract, engage, and convert a targeted group of prospects into customers.

In contrast to traditional, or push marketing techniques, content marketing is a continual activity that uses the presentation of beneficial information to attract prospects and build trust over time. It offers the opportunity to stay consistently relevant and connected to your target market in a valuable way.

The main function of the internet is content delivery. As consumers are searching online, they are not looking for a sales pitch.  They have a problem, or an interest and are simply looking for more information.

If you are the provider of this information, you put yourself in a good position to be viewed as an expert. When it comes time for this prospect to make a buying decision, who do you think they will buy from? The source with the sales pitch, or the source that helped them understand exactly what they were looking for?

Is content marketing the best solution?

Every day traditional means of marketing are becoming less and less effective.  Your target audience is using Tivo to avoid television commercials, avoiding magazine advertisements by reading the online version, and just plain ignoring the ever present online banner ads and pop-ups.

To be a successful marketer in today's business environment you have to be smarter and offer more than just another interruption. Traditional marketing does offer content, but its content is lacking value and the focus is to interrupt your thoughts with its message.

Because content marketing is centered around a specific group and based in valuable information, it is sought after instead of avoided. When was the last time someone wanted to hear your marketing message? If you're using content marketing correctly, they will.

How should you start marketing your content?

There are many places that you could begin to implement this process.  Email newsletters, online presentations, industry reports, white papers, video tutorials, or a blog are all good options.  

The question becomes, where is the correct place for you to start? There is no single right answer to this question.  It would depend on more factors than we can get into in this post, but as a general rule, a blog is your best bet to start.

Adding a blog to your website and actively creating valuable content will provide the most long term benefits of any of your options.  A blog will give you a content marketing forum that can constantly be added to so you can build its value over time.

A properly structured blog will offer seo (search engine optimization) benefits that will bring targeted traffic to your website that otherwise would not have found you. As you increase the targeted number of posts you create, you will incrementally increase your organic website visitors. On average, websites that have an actively maintained blog get 55% more visitors than websites without a blog.

Blogs also give you a forum to showcase the value of your additional content offers. You can create a field for people to sign up for your email newsletters, or give a value based introduction to your presentations, reports, white papers, or other content.

Understanding the value of content marketing is the first step. In our next post, "How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy" we unfold a basic content marketing strategy that you can use to start putting this marketing machine to work for you.

In the meantime, download our Inbound Marketing e-book and see how content marketing can be applied to a broader marketing strategy that bridges the gap between prospect and customer.

What is content marketing