Here are some stats for you - According to a recent study done by data-driven advertising and marketing group ADMA, 77% of Australian marketers who have a content marketing strategy believe it has increased audience engagement and 73% believe it’s increased the number of leads for their business.
Combine this with the 2017 stats released by the US-based Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid case for why quality, consistent and targeted content marketing works.
But what is content marketing exactly?
The definition of content marketing
The CMI defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
In simpler terms, employing a content strategy involves focusing on building a strong relationship with your target audience and consistently providing them with high-quality content that’s relevant to them. This is opposed to one-off advertising that’s not targeted, not focussed and not crafted with the end consumer in mind.
How content marketing came about
Although content marketing seems like a modern development, it’s not actually as contemporary as you might think. In fact, it’s almost 300 years old!
Content marketing more or less came about when a man named Benjamin Franklin published the first version of his annual Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1732. It featured a mixture of puzzles, weather forecasts and practical household hints, and was created to advertise his new printing business. He decided the best way to do this was to print his own publication and encourage others to print there too.
Other brands have been using content marketing for years as well. The tractor company John Deer produced a lifestyle magazine called The Furrow for American farmers in 1895. And surprisingly it wasn’t created to sell their product, but it did go a long way towards increasing brand loyalty.
American jelly brand, Jell-O also worked out pretty early in the piece that consumers would only purchase their product if they had a basic understanding of how to use it. So in 1904, they created the first Jell-O recipe book. Their content strategy was so effective it contributed to almost $1 million dollars in additional sales!
And in Australia? It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when and how content marketing took off here, but is was certainly by the late 2000’s. This is when social networking sites like FB, Twitter and YouTube were born and content became shareable, accessible and on-demand 24-7 across the globe.
The different types of branded content
There is a huge range of branded content options out there, and they can be divided into two distinct groups – traffic content and gated content.
Traffic content helps build interest in your business, for example, increased traffic on your website. Gated content helps convert that traffic into leads or an interested customer into a paying one. Both traffic and gated content is used in both online and offline platforms, and here is a list of some of the more common ones.
Social media content is one of the most popular forms of content. In fact, 90% of Australian marketers use at least one social media platform as part of their content marketing strategy. And according to the CMI, 93% use Facebook, 87% LinkedIn, 74% Twitter and 47% Instagram.
Blogs are articles on your website (just like this one!) that communicate the core messages of your business, and they are another one of the most popular types of content. They are one of the best ways to improve your SEO, and they drive more organic traffic to your site from search engines like Google.
Videos are a great way of grabbing your target market’s attention and engaging them quickly. Videos can be posted on your blog, website or on third party sites like Vimeo and YouTube. According to a recent CMI survey, 64% of Australian marketers used YouTube as part of their content marketing strategies.
Infographics are a combination of images and text, and they tell a story with stats, quips and colourful graphics. They provide useful information, help businesses educate their audiences, and they help explain complicated subjects to add value for both customers and prospects.
Checklists provide your customers with step-by-step lists of things to do in order to receive a desired outcome. They’re easy to create and promote, and the more you share and repurpose them (on blog posts or social media for example), the better the bang for your investment buck.
Podcasts are increasingly becoming part of mainstream media and in a content strategy, they work well if the content is compelling and fulfils a customer need.
GIFs and memes are some of the most shareable types of content marketing on the net today. They’re a great way to keep consumers entertained, spark conversations about a particular topic and they can be shared on a variety of platforms.
Case studies are customer stories that illustrate how your product or business has helped a specific client or customer become successful. In terms of your overall content strategy, they can also help customers understand how your brand can add value to their lives. Usually housed on your website, in blogs or on social posts, case studies can often take the form of customer testimonials.
White papers are long-form content that can provide prospects with information to help them make an educated decision about your products or services. They are generally data-driven, detail-focused and information-dense, and are ideal for businesses that want to gain more respect in their specific industry.
eBooks are long-form content that can add value by providing useful information and insight for your target audience about their needs and challenges. One of the best types of content marketing for collecting leads, eBooks are typically gated because consumers usually provide information about themselves in exchange for an eBook download.
Interviews are great for providing value in terms of insight and information to your target audience. Live interviews can be hosted through webinars, Facebook Live, your website or through YouTube.
And the future?
There’s no doubt content marketing is increasingly becoming a crucial component of any brand’s advertising and marketing strategy. And the exciting part is that it continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace.
New trends that have recently emerged include personalised and user-generated content, conversational experiences like chatbots, and super-cool stuff like virtual reality. Which means? Exciting times ahead – watch this space!