What Exactly is Content Marketing?
“Content Marketing” is a term used to describe the process of marketing products and services online, specifically through various forms of online content. This form of marketing is typically not used as a direct sales pitch to consumers or customers, but rather as a means of connecting with an audience interested in a particular topic, product, or niche.
Once the audience consumes the content, the creator of the content effectively creates an opportunity to present a product or a service to anyone who may be interested in making a purchase.
The content to be consumed by the audience may come in the form of a blog post, forum post, a YouTube video, or even a news article. Just about any type of online media may be used to create content for marketing.
How is Content Marketing Effective?
Marketing through online content is extremely effective in the sense that, by its nature, it attracts audiences with specific interests. For instance, one who wishes to offer sporting apparel to his or her audience might start a blog about fitness. It stands to reason that only those who are interested in fitness would bother to seek out and read the blog.
Therefore, the website hosting the blog would enjoy the benefit of very targeted traffic, making any marketing potential much more effective. The owner of the fitness blog could, for instance, display ads for running shoes alongside a post about the benefits of daily cardiovascular exercise.
This form of marketing is also effective in the sense that some of the largest niche blogs on the internet enjoy substantial revenue from ads and affiliate programs. Forbes magazine reported that the technology blog, Gizmodo, enjoyed the revenue of $325,000 per month as recently as March 2017.
Even though such large entities are outliers in the blogging world, it remains entirely possible to run blogs and other marketing websites which are capable of generating revenue even to this day.
Search Engine Visibility
This form of marketing strategy is also powerful in that it may be optimized for SEO, or “search engine optimization”. Specific and unique content drives organic search traffic to websites. In fact, many speculate that search engines like Google have shifted away from their previous “search term” methods of prioritizing websites and now prioritize websites with more substantial content.
Providing Consumers With More Than Just an Ad
By providing unique and engaging content to consumers, marketers are able to avoid the problem of exposing their audiences directly to advertisements which could be considered annoying or off-putting. The consumers are provided with value in exchange for viewing ads or sponsored content on content-based websites.
If the content is valuable enough, it is entirely reasonable to expect some user to subscribe to the content, thereby almost guaranteeing that they will return to view the content on future occasions. Some forms of content, like blogs and YouTube videos, allow users to engage with the site owner or content creator through comments or a forum.
This user activity helps to form an online community. Creating a community among the users also creates an incentive for users to return to content authored by the same website or YouTube channel.
Marketing with Online Content is Inexpensive
Anyone seeking to create a new website may do so without a substantial startup investment. This is true even for those who may not have extensive skills or experience with website development or design.
There are free website building tools, such as WordPress, which allow their users to create professional-looking websites with very little effort. If your aim is to create a blog, for instance, your startup costs may only include the cost of registering a domain name and the cost of website hosting.
If you are not confident in your ability to use tools like WordPress, an expert may be hired to complete the establishment of the website. Even if you were to spend the additional cash to hire some help, chances are that starting a blog or any other kind of content-based website would be one of the cheapest ways to market a product or service.
YouTube is entirely free to its users. If you’ve got a camera and video editing software available to you, you could potentially begin content-based marketing without any startup cash at all.
This Marketing Strategy Can Leverage Social Media
Using online content for marketing is not limited to just articles and videos. Online marketing can take place on all sorts of social media platforms. Have you ever seen a crazy meme featuring a product or service while browsing Facebook? Chances are that it was intended as an online marketing strategy.
The various social media platforms allow for their own flavors of marketing methods, each of which has the potential to go viral. Facebook posts may be shared and liked. Tweets on Twitter can use relevant hashtags to reach a wider audience.
Perhaps most unique of all, many marketers and advertisers have sought the assistance of popular Instagram users in marketing their products.
Instagram users who post photographs related to a specific niche have the potential to reach a particular, targeted audience. For example, if a popular user happened to post several pictures of her hair, she might partner with a hair product marketer to feature the hair product on her account.
A New Age of Marketing
To summarize, content-based marketing is more important and relevant than ever because it blends accessible, desirable content with effective marketing strategies.
By utilizing all of the available online platforms to their greatest potential, marketers are now able to access highly targeted audiences. Furthermore, by providing consumers with valuable content rather than just an advertisement or commercial message, marketers can reduce the risk of irritating their audiences.
As the services and platforms available on the internet continue to develop, so too will the means by which advertisers, marketers, and producers reach out to their potential customers.