Let’s start with a very simple definition:content marketing is the process of producing free stuff in order to attractcustomers.

content-marketing-nature-style.jpg

 

Flowers are content marketers.They produce content (brightly coloured andoddly shaped petals) for their customerbase (bees) in order to attract their interest and make a sale (exchange sweetnectar for sticky pollen).

 

In the commercial world thingsthat might substitute for brightly coloured petals are articles, blog posts,videos, images, infographics – any way of packaging information in order to attractnew visitors and hopefully turn them into leads and sales.

 

It’s not a new thing

 

The term content marketing hasbeen around for a long, long time but in the last couple of years interest in thesubject has grown exponentially, as evidenced by this chart from Google Trends:

 

 

Why the sudden upsurge?

 

The online marketing space hasbecome increasingly competitive – as internet usage approaches 100% of thepopulation in the western world, so does the number of companies chasing theonline marketing buck.

 

All of these companies are lookingfor ways to gain an edge over their competition – content marketing is thelatest trend that’s seen as being able to give you that edge.

 

Taking over from SEO?

 

In addition, Google, throughmaking changes to the way it ranks and displays search results, has been makingthe old, easy tactics of optimising websites for search engines obsolete.

 

Content marketing, as well asgenerating leads, customers and sales in its own right, can also help youimprove your visibility in search engines without falling foul of Google’s guidelines.

 

Why is it effective?

 

Marketers offering something for freein return for paying some attention to a brand is nothing new, as both bees andanyone who’s come away from a conference with a branded bag of promotional tatcan attest.

 

Content marketing ups the levelof sophistication. It involves providing relevant information to a carefullytargeted segment of people: people who have real potential for becoming acustomer, or at least starting along a path of becoming a customer, at thattime.

 

By concentrating on a very specificaudience and by giving them the information they need, when they need it, you endup with interested parties (sales leads) who have already formed a favourable impressionof your brand.

 

They are therefore much morelikely to convert into sales when it gets to the crucial time.

 

They’re also likely to share thecontent that they’ve found useful with others, widening the reach of yourcontent and creating positive online signals about your company.

 

How do you do it?

 

Content marketing is comprised ofthree main stages and a successful campaign results only when you get them all right:

  • Definingyour target audience;

 

 

  • Producingthe right content;

 

 

  • Promotingyour content.

 

We’ll be getting into thespecifics in the next part of this 3 part post.

 

We’ll explain how to come up withdifferent customer personas that represent different stages of the buyingcycle.

 

We’ll also give you concrete tipson how to produce content that appeals to each customer persona.

 

In part 3 we’ll explain how bestto promote your lovingly produced content so that it doesn’t end up languishingunread on your website.

 

Our associates over at emedia areexperts in this field, so we’ll be borrowing heavily from their teachings – givetheir site a once-over while you wait for ContentMarketing Explained – Part 2: Making a Content Plan.

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