Google “what is content marketing” and you will be met by a dozen definitions. Some people say that content marketing is really anything you publish on your digital platforms, but that’s too broad…
Here’s my definition:
Good content marketing is what your company shares that is relevant, useful, or inspirational to your customers. Otherwise, it’s just noise.
Relevance means it matters to the person seeing it. For example, content about labels and packaging is more relevant to product manufacturers than to service providers. Timing comes into play regarding the seasonality of your audience. Direct mail volume is higher in Q4 so content on mailer design strategies may be more relevant in Q3 when your audience members are starting to plan their campaigns. Simply stated, content is relevant if it’s a good fit for the audience.
Useful content should, at the very least, be interesting and engaging. (It’s even better if it’s educational or actionable!) The act of consuming useful content is a satisfying experience. As human beings, we appreciate getting useful information. When we do, we are more likely to click on the next piece of content arriving from that sender. This positive association between the content and the sender makes people more likely to engage with the content online. This engagement can take the form of following, liking, commenting, and sharing with friends and colleagues. What useful printing tips, tricks, how-tos, did-you-knows can you share with print buyers?
Inspirational content can change or confirm one’s opinion or perspective on a topic. Maybe you have an idea that makes your audience think about their next print project from another angle. Even better: your content can also motivate action. In your blog, video, podcast, etc, you may give your own viewpoint on relevant information that inspires them to take the desired call to action (CTA). Whether that’s visiting your website’s landing page or other pages (Learn More, Order Now, or Speak to a Sales Rep), the CTA is what eventually drives conversions. If your content inspires action with urgency, your blog post can turn into a click and ultimately to a sale.
Content doesn’t have to be internet-based. It can be offline, as with your printed mail, signage, or in-person events. The best content is shareable across multiple channels, in visual and verbal formats. Yet today, most references to content marketing are to digital marketing. Even more specifically: to unpaid (not advertising) media. Content marketing is not limited to text formats like email, newsletters, blogs, articles, and ebooks. Video content is still rising quickly; YouTube is the second most popular website after Google. By 2022, online videos will comprise over 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15X higher than in 2017.
Audio is another increasingly popular format, including webinars, podcasts, and audiograms. In 2020, 37% of adults said they listened to podcasts. Also, supplemental data-based visuals like infographics, graphs, and vector pictures provide value to keep the reader engaged.
Good marketers know how to leverage and repurpose content to other formats so that additional audiences can consume it. For example, an hour-long webinar can be edited in post-production to generate ten 60-second videos or audiograms. A 30-page ebook can be repurposed to a website’s resource page, with multiple long-form articles and short-form blog posts. Emails, newsletters, and a dozen social media posts can be linked back to that original piece or its variations. Search engine marketing companies can be effective partners in helping you repurpose your content for greater SEO value.
So don’t let content marketing be confusing or overwhelming. Great ideas can be generated from content you have already created. If you are speaking with a happy customer one on one, ask them if you can write a success story or a case study about them – or simply use their quote as a testimonial. That conversation could become a blog post, a video, or a part of a new article.
For marketers wanting to know how to increase lead generation, content marketing is a powerful strategy to adopt. Just try to create a cohesive strategy around your content. Don’t just push out something new just because it’s new. Weave your content together into themes and make related threads. Publish your stories to specifically target audiences through the media they prefer at the times they prefer to consume them. Follow your leads as they flow through your funnel and give them relevant, useful information that inspires them to take action. Working on this strategy will bring you more trackable sales conversions and more effective business outcomes.