The hot buzz word in online marketing for the past several years has been Content Marketing.  OK, technically it is two words.  Content marketing has grown right alongside social media.  “Fine,” you say.  “What the heck is Content Marketing and how does it affect me or my small business?” Fair enough.  Let’s start off with a definition of Content Marketing to clarify what it is and then move on to what it can do for you.  According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), this article defines content marketing and what it is all about:

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 three most important words in the definition are:  valuable, relevant and consistent.  Those who receive your content marketing have to find value – for themselves – in your content pieces.  If it is not relevant for them – and have value – why should they read it?  Furthermore, why would they want to connect to your company or learn anything more?  Ultimately, if they don’t value what you send them or it is totally irrelevant to their needs, they won’t click through or buy what you are selling.

Consistency is always important as well.  You need to distribute your content with your brand clearly showing.  Select a uniform format to use that will work on a number of distribution venues like social media sites, email, and newsletters .  Include a standardized company header, your logo, tagline and colors that scream your brand to the world.  Links to your website and contact information are a must.  Every piece of content that goes out needs the consistency that helps readers recognize you

Still not entirely clear on what content marketing is?  Here is a less formal, comparative example from Robert Rose; author, speaker and marketing adviser to global big guys.   Rose compares content marketing to your elevator pitch:

“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star.  Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.”  – Robert Rose

Content Marketing is primarily done online, just like social media marketing.  With so many people now using their iPhones and computers to do research before buying anything, you need to be very visible in all the right online places.  And, you need to be sending your very best marketing messages to attract the attention of your ideal customers.

According to an infographic posted on the Adweek website, 81% of shoppers do online research before they buy anything.  60% of consumers do online searches through search engines like Google or Bing, for the product or service they are interested in before they buy.  And, 61% of shoppers read online reviews before they buy.  Shoppers visit at least three sites during their research and comparison pre-shopping experiences.  Search engine optimization of your marketing content is obviously a critical component to your marketing strategy.  How can you show up on the first or second page of search engine results?  After that, few shoppers will dig deeper to find you.

 Study of Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends

A recent study of content marketing provides an large amount of quality information on the topic for those in the B2B sector ( businesses selling to other businesses ).  The study, a collaborative effort between the Content Management Institute (CMI), Marketing Profs, and Bright Cove, included responses from nearly 2,500 people in marketing or management at some level.  For more in depth information,  access the entire report:  B2B Content Marketing:  2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

Respondents represented firms as small as ten or less employees to those with over 1,000 on staff.  They broke firm size demographics into four categories:  micro ( fewer than 10 employees), small ( 10 to 99 employees), mid size (100 – 999 employees) and large (1,000 or more employees). Before you assume the results won’t apply to you, consider the number of smaller business participating.  19% of respondents were in the micro category and 31% were in small firms.  That’s a full 50% of respondents who are in small firms like yours.

Which online channels are used most for content marketing?

The 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report indicates that responding companies use an average of six different channels to distribute their content to prospects and customers. Topping thee list of channels is email marketing.  Next come the big three social media platforms:  LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  Somewhat behind the pack, but still at 60%, is YouTube.  Which of these top content marketing channels are you actively using to spread your story?

content marketing

 

Online Channels Felt to Be Critical To Success of Content Marketing

Asked what channels would be critical to their firm’s content marketing success in 2017, a surprising result came in.  In spite of the favorite channels noted in the previous chart, e-mail does not place first.  Blogging is the content marketing channel more than half of respondents (52%) feel it is critical for the coming year.  It is interesting that Blogging is not included.   Maybe it isn’t considered by some to be a distribution channel.  Why not?  I have no idea, but you think it would be top of mind for many, especially the smaller businesses.  It is difficult to believe so many firms are not engaging in blogging as part of their content marketing strategy.

“Email” marketing was also missing from the ‘critical channels’.  But, e-mail newsletters came in second, followed by a ‘lump’ figure for social media platforms.  After those top three somewhat broad categories, other marketing content channels are noted.  E-books/white papers, in-person events, webinars/web casts, and video ( pre-produced, not live, streaming informal video ) followed.

content marketing study

 

I am known to shout from rooftops:  “Anything successful starts and ends with a plan.”  A documented content marketing plan increases odds of being followed to success.  Why?  A documented plan clearly lays out strategy, goals, objectives and tactics to assure you get to where you want to go.  Take the S-M-A-R-T route to achieve your content marketing success in 2017.  If you need help laying out strategy for the coming year, give me a call or zip off an email.  Let’s schedule a time to talk one-on-one.   A content marketing strategy and plan will help you become the success you dreamed of.