What is Content Marketing?–The Content Marketing Series

what is content marketingWhat is content and what is content marketing?  These are pretty popular terms today and they seem to roll off the tongue pretty easily, but think about it–you might be creating content, but ask yourself–are you really doing content marketing?

Building content is creating, curating and distributing valuable and educational information and content marketing is delivering that information and being able to measure its awareness, the number of leads generated and the volume of closed business.  After all, those are the things we really care about.

This is the first in a series of posts on content marketing intended to better identify how to successfully use content marketing.  The premise behind content marketing is to use it to pull your prospects in–to draw them in with all that educational and valuable information you’re providing.  Use your content is to make your prospects better consumers in your industry.  It’s intended to teach your prospects how to buy—what questions to answer, why those questions are important and when to ask them.  And for your existing clients–it’s intended to keep them engaged and reinforce they made the right decision in hiring you.

Content comes in all different shapes and sizes.  In order to answer the question “What is Content Marketing?”, we need to first detail what is content.  Regardless of the format, the intent is to educate and entertain the reader and take them along the path to buying.    The most popular types of content used in content marketing are detailed below.

Blog

Blog posts are the most popular type of content and typically when someone mentions content, blogs are the first type of content you think of.  One of the reasons blog content is so popular is because they contain the kind of conversational information people look for online.  Because they’re less formal, they tend to be a faster read, often skimmed, and are a good fit for lists and bullet points.  They also tend to be excellent for keyword search content.  They also seem to be a great place to check the personality of the company.

E-Newsletters

E-newsletters offer a company the ability to maintain regular contact with its customers and prospects.  For existing customers, an e-newsletter should act a form of communication for client retention.  The objective here is to continue to deliver information that helps your clients to get the most out of the products and services that your organization offers.  The more you show them how to derive the greatest benefit, the better your relationship with your clients and the more entrenched you become.

E-newsletters can include complete articles or simply brief descriptions with links to articles on an organizations web site.  The idea is to ensure what you provide is valuable, educational information and it doesn’t have to be all of your own content.

E-books

E-books really are a longer, yet less formal and less technical white paper.  In some cases, they might be chapters from an actual book or they might be content assets that were created to introduce a certain concept to a prospective customer.  They may have graphics and/or data to make them physically more attractive, but are usually written in an informative and entertaining style.

White Paper

This is probably the most popular type of B2B content provided today.  A white paper is typically 8 to 12 pages long and it addresses technical solutions or subjects that require a more detailed explanation. Because of our ability to insert a print or electronic format, the white paper has become an important lead generation tool but it has other marketing functions as well.

Webinars

Webinars are a great tool for educating and for lead generation.  They work especially well when you deliver a webinar in conjunction with a strategic partner where you have the opportunity to collaborate on the content and deliver even greater value for your prospects.

Tradeshows

Tradeshows are a terrific way to increase the buzz around your brand at a conference of your ideal clients.  Best known for lead generation opportunities, sometimes trade shows are also important for client care activities as well.  Because the investment is rather sizeable for any tradeshow once you include fees to exhibit, travel expenses and time out of the office, it’s important to be sure to leverage every opportunity that comes with your participation in the show—and that often involves some element of content creation.

Video Marketing

Video is a becoming a necessary part of content marketing as much of the population enjoys consuming visual content.  Because high-quality cost-effective video cameras are rather accessible these days, creating, publishing and sharing video content is significantly easier these days.  And adding a transcript of your video content delivers full SEO benefit.

This list of content offerings is certainly not exhaustive and in order to determine exactly which types of content to be producing, you have to return, once again, to your business objectives.  Here are some more important forms of content.  People like to consume content differently and some types of content are better at certain functions like lead nurturing or lead generation than others.

The following types of content should also be considered in your content marketing plan.

FAQs

Case Studies

Podcasting

Photographs or Images

Articles

Testimonials

Online News Release

Print Newsletter

Infographics

Surveys

Content for Content Marketing

Creating content for content sake will only take you so far.  You’ll want to ensure that you’re creating content in which you can establish some criteria for measuring its effectiveness.  This is just the first in a series of posts on content so stay tuned for more detail on the content success indicators.

And if you’re having trouble creating all that high-value content and need some help determining what should be created and for whom in your prospect list, it might be time to talk to about it.  You can start with a simple marketing audit to learn how to get more out of what you’re already doing.  Take the marketing audit now.

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