The Most Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing for 2018
Marketing magnate Seth Godin once said, “Content Marketing is the only marketing left.”.
And he could not have been more right.
A Quick Look At The Dramatic Marketing Landscape Evolution
As much as it is hard to fathom now, there was once a time when supply actually created its own demand.
Products and services were built to cater to people’s needs. Marketing then was all about initial publicity and word of mouth ensured a continual expanding buyer base.
Then came the era of mass media interruptive advertising approach to marketing with the onset of radio and television.
People were interrupted by the information of new product releases and they were happy to listen still as their needs started getting fulfilled.
Slowly, the canvas of needs started diminishing as practically every conceivable had a product or service to back it.
And this is exactly the rather difficult point where we stand today.
Selling has never been harder than it is now.
There is only a fraction of innovative need fulfilling products and services in the market.
The rest being re-invented upgraded versions of already existing products.
With a complete flood of options for buyers, sellers today are in a continuous fight for their attention.
There is a huge amount of advertisements floating everywhere to which consumers have developed a robust aversion.
In this era of smartphones, the attention span of humans has fallen to an all-time low of 8 seconds, lesser than a goldfish.
So what is the way out?
How to sell to an un-interested satiated consumer?
All doors are not yet closed.
Content Marketing thankfully still works to the marketer’s rescue.
It earns you the right to sell to your buyer.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing comprises of two words, content and marketing.
Successful content marketing is the art of creating great content and using the right marketing mechanism to make it reach its intended audience.
What makes a piece of content great is its superlative ability to deliver value to its readers.
Great content is helpful in solving the reader’s problem and giving him or her information that is valuable.
Traditional marketing typically talked at people. Content Marketing is different in the sense it talks with them,
What are the Advantages of Content Marketing?
Owing to its plethora of advantages, often at a fairly low cost, content marketing is turning out to be the hottest digital marketing trend in today’s time.
Here are some key advantages we cannot miss:
1. Build Long-Term Brand Value
As opposed to the fairly traditional type of marketing, content marketing is not a typical sales communication.
The idea of this communication is to generate user value and nurture trust in the consumer’s mind.
With barely differentiated products, and un-interested buyers a feeling of trust is an absolute must-have to drive sales.
The trust earned through content marketing goes a long way in building brand value.
2. Sense of Reciprocity
Good and useful content ignites a sense of reciprocity. Reciprocity is one of the most powerful influencers in guiding a purchase decision.
Once someone receives anything that is of value without incurring any cost, they tend to remember it.
For example, whenever you visit the Hare Krishna Society, you must have noticed the first give you a flower and greet you with a smile before they ask for any kind of donation.
When they’re out purchasing, this good memory gets them to buy the product they derived value from.
Reciprocity is the whole idea of giving before and receiving after.
Content Marketing thrives on this principle giving readers information they value the most. It is quality information that is used to gather their attention.
3. A Wider Top of the Funnel
As a seasoned marketer, you must already be familiar with the marketing funnel concept. For a detailed understanding, you may read here.
In short, a sales funnel is the process through which a buyer passes before making a purchase. He or she has to be moved to various stages of buying including Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Evaluation, Purchase.
A good amount of quality content immediately translates into a wider top of the funnel attracting more potential customers to the forefront.
However, at this point, the quality of the content is very important in achieving a retention within the funnel.
Quality is always as important as quantity.
Make sure your content addresses the key issues a buyer faces, not necessarily related to only purchase issues.
Give your buyer enough useful content to the point he comes to a purchase decision.
Now that we have understood the importance of content marketing, let’s move on to the types of formats available to deploy this really powerful method.
What are the Content Types To Execute Content Marketing?
Content can be created in multiple ways.
Almost all useful content can be broadly classified into 5 broad types.
1. Knowledge Generation Content
This content type is most common with bloggers, key industry professionals or experts in a particular niche.
The idea is to share useful knowledge in the form of theories, tips, suggestions backed by reasoning. This content type enables the author or the publishing authority to emerge as a thought leader or expert in the field.
The content may include personal experiences in achieving a particular outcome, or ways and reasons to execute a particular task. It may or may not come with sharing of results obtained.
It could also include product comparison posts, expert opinions, a roundup of latest occurrences in your niche.
Most of the content you find on the internet are knowledge-based content(including this article!).
2. Data-Backed Research & Case Studies
Data backed research and case studies are extensive works that are most rewarding if you are looking at the long term.
This form of content is relatively costly to produce as the budget, time and expertise required for the same is higher.
A good research or case study requires a seasoned researcher with good analytical skills. It also needs access to data which is not always freely available. The more extensive the work, the more rewarding it is.
Experts while making their own claims refer to research work, which helps the content format earn a lot of links and citations over an extended time period. Research and case study helps really establish the publisher’s authority.
3. Crowd Sourced Content
This form of content is the easiest to produce. It is commonly seen in groups or forums where the members post questions and answers and the authority needs to moderate. For example Quora, Facebook Groups and so on.
A key point to pay attention to here is the quality of members of the group and how properly the moderating authority can intervene to ensure the quality of discussion is maintained.
One challenge that exists here is to acquire good, targetted members and ensure their active participation.
4. Curated Content
Curated content type works best for people on a low budget and time constraints.
Essentially, it the kind of content where you visit several already published articles on a topic, write a compiled synopsis of the same and hit publish.
Besides keeping your readers engaged, it also helps you earn quality backlinks from those you feature and build a good self-image.
5. Expert Opinions & Interviews
This content type brings in fresh fragrant perspective for your existing readers.
It could involve interviewing a single person over several dimensions or multiple opinions on a single topic.
It is great to strengthen your public relations and earn quality backlinks as people featured do feel obliged to share their achievement with their fans. So this way, you get access to their reader base as well.
Moreover, asking the right questions can also help you learn from the different perspective you get to see.
Key Content Sharing Formats To Employ For Content Marketing
Content doesn’t necessarily have to be textual. It can exhibit formats from visual to motion graphics to audio.
The choice of content format depends on a couple of factors ranging from purpose to the persona of intended readers. Based on the same the format and transmission method can be chosen.
Here are the key ways in which you can produce good content.
This form of content is one of the most traditional methods of communication. For information that is in-depth, or requires communication in detail, it works best.
Examples of written form content include whitepapers, emails, blog articles, e-books and so on.
2. Visual Images
Humans being the visual creatures they are, love images. Not only are images more attractive, but also often easier to learn from. Images are easily shareable too.
Memes, infographics, slide decks are some of the ways to communicate content visually.
Images work great on social media.
3. Videos / Motion Graphics
With the widespread internet technology and easier access to high-speed data, videos are all set to dominate the content game.
Stories or information in the form of videos gets tremendous traction in the social media age.
Studies have revealed that videos are the content format that delivers the best result on social media if executed well.
Though not as popular yet as the other formats, audio content is useful in its own ways. It gives your words a voice and helps the user to multitask while commuting or working.
There is no single type of content that works best. It usually works better to use a combination of these types depending on the overall objectives.
Content Marketing is the only method today that can enable you to get your buyer’s attention on a continuing basis. In the rather cluttered marketplace buzzing with advertisements every moment, getting attention requires giving away something useful.
Content Marketing helps you achieve exactly that and build trust, repute and get the attention you want.
There is no single formula to do it right, it depends on your objectives, target group and resources at your disposal.
In this article, I have described the kind of content you can create for your audience and the formats with which you can convey the same to your buyers.
Looking forward to your views in the comments below.