Businesses promote themselves in numerous ways. From traditional print advertising through to paid advertising and SEO. It can be difficult to know which will give the best ROI.

Increasingly business’ are choosing to focus their marketing budget on content marketing. Research by the Content Marketing Institute found that businesses are planning to dedicate around 40% of their marketing budget to content marketing.

If companies are willing to focus nearly half of their budget on one area of marketing, it obviously must generate results.

But what is content marketing and how does it fit in with marketing as a whole? Let’s find out.

How is content marketing defined?

The Content Marketing Institute uses this defintion; “Content marketing is 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.”

Instead of pushing out sales messages using direct mail, radio and printing advertising or PPC, content marketing is about providing useful and educational content that solves a problem.

The word ‘content’ is an umbrella term for various things, including:

Blogs

Blogging is one of the most popular forms of content marketing and it’s fantastic for growing your organic SEO ranking.

According to HubSpot, marketers who prioritise blogging are 13 x more likely to see positive ROI. That’s an impressive stat!

Any business can write a blog. I mean I’ve written blogs about all sorts of things – bras, bikes and even hot tub pumps – yes really!

Video

Smartphones are partly responsible for the growth of video marketing. They allow consumers to watch a video whenever and wherever they want. And, businesses can use a smartphone to record a video without the need for specialist equipment.

Wordstream an online advertising partner reports that 87% of marketers use video marketing as a means to engage with consumers. That could involve uploading a video onto YouTube or sharing video content on social media.

Research by Hootsuite, a social media management platform, found that video content on LinkedIn gets 3 x more engagement than text posts.

Why do people like video content? The Digital Marketing Institute believes video content is popular because ‘it’s easy to digest, it’s entertaining and engaging’. Plus, it can be watched anywhere at any time, which suits people with busy lives.

Infographs

Infograph is short for an information graphic, and it’s a visual way to communicate data and information.

Infographs use a mixture of images, charts, text (very little) and numbers to give an overview of a topic or to provide a summary of a report or a piece of research.

Graphics used in an infograph should be more than attention-grabbing they should support the topic and be part of the story.

If you’re not sure if an infograph is the right sort of media for your business, it’s said that an infograph is 30 x more likely to be read than a text article.

Case studies

Case studies are stories that cover a clients’ problem, discusses how you helped them overcome this and details the outcome for the client.

Case studies are typically hosted on your website but can be used as blogs, videos and form parts of an eBook. 

Businesses use case studies because they are fantastic at building trust as consumers see them as a validation of your expertise.

eBooks

As you may have guessed, eBook stands for electronic book. eBooks are files that can be downloaded and read on digital devices like PC’s, tablets and smartphones.

eBooks play an important role in lead generation – businesses create an eBook on a topic which is interesting to their customers – in exchange for providing their name, email address or phone number, people can have access to this research.

eBooks also play a central role in content marketing as they allow you to show your expertise on a subject and can help you become an established authority in your industry.

Social media posts

Social media may seem old-school, I mean Facebook has been around since 2004, but social media still forms a major part of content marketing.

Some reports say that there are 800 + social media sites. The top five with the most active users are:

  1. Facebook – 2,230,000,000
  2. YouTube – 1,900,000,000
  3. Instagram – 1,000,000,000
  4. Qzone – 563,000,000
  5. Weibo – 376,000,000

Qzone and Weibo are both Chinese social sites, but what’s most surprising about this list is that Twitter isn’t in the top five.

Twitter is in sixth place with 336,000,000 active users. Still a respectable number.

Social media is incredibly versatile – video, images and text can be used to start a conversation, announce the launch of a new product, promote a special offer or give an insight into your business.

Images

Images can be used to support a written piece of content or they can be used as a standalone piece of content – as they say, ‘an image speaks a thousand words.’

GIF’s and memes which started on Twitter are now popping up on every social media platform. Even LinkedIn which has traditionally been seen as a serious business networking site has its fair share of memes.

Before you go off searching for a funny GIF, consider if it’ll work for your brand. Will your customers get it? Or, will they be left feeling bemused?

How content fits into marketing

Every marketing campaign has content at its heart, whether it be a leaflet with a special offer or a full-blown promotional video. The difference now is that businesses are placing more focus on taking a strategic approach to planning and distributing content, instead of putting out content for the sake of it.

Businesses create content that will support their goals, whether that’s to increase engagement on social media or to create a list of warm leads that the sales team can follow up with.

If you’re interested to find out how content marketing can benefit your business, get in touch and we can arrange a time to have a chat.