What is Content Marketing? The Simple Guide.

Before I answer this question, let’s make the case for online content marketing specifically. Those who still feel that digital should be playing second fiddle to the traditional marketing channels need to read on…

FACT: Australians Love Hanging Out Online

Nielsen reports that in June 2015 18.1 million Australians have hit the internet. That’s right – nearly 75% of all Australians. Each of these Australians spends on average spent 37 hours online each month, each session lasting about 35 minutes. And guess what? These numbers just continue growing across the board (from 17-70 year olds).

Every part of life is now being connected to the web. It’s where we go to ask questions and find answers. It is not just used for entertainment purposes but also to inform upcoming buying decisions.

Question is – what is the most effective way for a company to join the prospective customer during their online travels? The firm answer to that is Content Marketing.

What Exactly Is Content Marketing?

To answer that, let’s first take a little trip down the memory lane. Traditional online marketing very much revolved around interrupting the prospective customer with advertising. With more and more interruptive media barraging the consumer from all directions, the trend is very much to turn off and opt out from all unsolicited marketing messages. As advertisers we are seeing fewer ad clicks, more people using AdBlocking software, and heavy criticism of businesses with intrusive advertisements.

Content Marketing flips traditional marketing on its head. Rather than interrupt it aims to educate and assist on the consumer’s terms, not on marketer’s terms. The Content Marketing Institute defined it as follows:

Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

The important part here is valuable and relevant. Content Marketing takes advantage of how customers WANT to use the internet and consume media. They want to be informed, helped and entertained, and most often they want it quickly and easily.

Your company, as a specialist in your specific industry, has all the relevant content to provide to prospective customers: tutorials, guides, how-tos, research, opinions, stories, examples, in video, audio written, photo, illustration, graph or spreadsheet format. You get the point. It can be any form of written, visual or audio-visual content, essentially anything that will provide value to your target audience. If your prospective audience doesn’t know your company, you can establish awareness and a relationship by offering a helping hand. If they already know who you are, then your knowledge and expertise will set you apart from the crowd.

The key here is providing value at the right stage of the prospective buyer’s journey.

Intersecting the Buyer’s Journey

While we don’t always know exactly why individual people make individual choices, we know what influences them. What influences them is mostly based on the available information.

The internet has brought about a shift in power. Before the “information age” consumers had to rely on the information they were given by the brand, or could find nearby. Now when customers are looking for answers, search engines like Google are the central hub for information gathering. Customers now have the power to find out whatever they need to know, with or without the business’ involvement. Customers have a choice and freedom. Business needs to acknowledge that.

We also know that when a purchase is risky or significant, customers spend longer researching and assessing their options. You’re more likely to research your next car than your next sandwich.

Especially for high-value or technical purchases, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to be a part of that search for information.

Let’s have a look at some examples of how other brands employ Content Marketing.

Content Marketing Examples

Unbiased Expert Voices – Property Update

Metropole property buying group has created an entire online resource with tens of thousands of articles, and over 90,000 weekly subscribers to its online publication. All content here is obviously complementary and serves as a fantastic way to introduce the Metropole brand but in a very unbiased, educational way. As a result of valuable, relevant and consistent stream of content, both Property Update and Metropole rank on page 1 of Australian Google results for hundreds of popular search terms such as ‘property development’. A neat Content Marketing machine, considering there are 174 Million Google results for just ‘property development’.

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The takeway for you:

Think about the prospective customer andf how you can add value to their information hunt. Don’t always create content with your branding all over it. You can market your services AFTER the trust has been established, when the prospect sees you as an authoritative expert voice. Property Update did not happen overnight. It took consistent effort over a number of years. Plan for long term success with Content Marketing and don’t expect miracles tomorrow. Think of it as dating. Did you earn the trust of your partner overnight or did it take time? I bet its the latter.
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Infographic Content – The Business Insider India

This infographic from the Business Insider India promotes an existing article in an informative and visually engaging manner. They have essentially created a visual summary as a both a Content Marketing piece and a short guide that can be printed out and used offline. It is not a highly complex graphic from a visual standpoint, rather it is about key content in this case.

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The takeway for you:

Content Marketing does not always need to involve long articles and expensive productions. This is a great example of a short valuable piece that can not just work online but also offline. Also note the branding – it’s not in your face, but is there when someone is looking for the source.

Curated Pinterest Galleries – Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House (a book publisher) has used Pinteredt to create a Content Marketing visual story for various classic literary titles. For example this one “What would Jane Austen do..” displays Jane Austen themed photos with photo annotations made by Random House. A fantastic combination of digital era tools and curated content in the book publishing space that is struggling for revenue and ideas right now. It is no wonder that Penguin Random House has nearly 1.5M followers on Pinterest.

pinterest-content-marketing-random-house

The takeway for you:

When it comes to social media, entertainment is key. Penguin have been able to marry Pinterest and linear narrative in their books to create a new way to consume Pinterest content. That’s very share-worthy and has huge viral appeal. Don’t be boring when it comes to social media Content Marketing. Have a distinct voice that’s never dry.

Behind the Scenes – The White House

This shows that even the most boring of organisations can create entertaining and engaging content. Staff have been taking behind the scenes photos, which I’m sure have been approved by the right channels first, but the result is both engaging and informative. Certainly provides a different face to the usually strictly official body. Several photos are below, but there and more than 150 more are available at the White House Website. A fantastic Content Marketing photo gallery example.

The takeway for you:

Even the most serious of organisations can be fun. Make it about people, not companies. People want to relate to people. Be real, be humble and consistent in your Content Marketing.

So How Do You Get Started In Content Marketing?

You don’t need to have million dollar budgets to create valuable content. What you do need is a consistent and sustainable content strategy that will allow you to plan, create content, distribute it and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

No strings attached. Just enjoy and spread the word

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Here’s the answer. In this free series of ebooks by the Grid Concepts AU marketing team we lay out the foundation of our own Content Marketing system. In these practical, high-impact guides we expose what works and how to do it effectively.

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