What is content marketing? It involves the creation and distribution of digital marketing assets in ways that drive better business results.
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Does your company have a website? A blog? A way of sending email messages to prospects and customers? If so, then you’re already doing content marketing: creating and distributing digital assets to meet your business goals. But are you doing it well? While most marketers commit random acts of content daily, the true intent (and real promise) of content marketing lies in having a defined content strategy that works hand in hand with your organization’s goals.
First, What Is Content?
Before we can master content marketing, we have to figure out: what is content? Actually, a better question would be, “What isn’t content?” Digital content can be created in a wide array of formats, literally from A-Z: articles, blog entries, contests, diagrams, e-books, free offers, games, infographics, jokes, knowledge bases, lists, music, news and opinion pieces, podcasts, quizzes, reviews, slide shows, toolkits, user-generated comments, videos, widgets, XML feeds, year-end overviews, and zany cartoons. Each of these assets can be part of content marketing.
Don’t Settle for Pretty Good
How do you build a strategy that ensures you’re making the right decisions about content? To be effective, drive lead generation, and drive business, your content must have:
- Context—Your content should be delivered in context. Research your target customers and understand how and where they consume content. Create personas based on prospect demographics. Then start modeling their online behaviors. Narrow down your targets and ensure that your content gets delivered to the right person at the right time.
- Timing—Potential customers want different kinds of content at different stages of their research and purchase process. Newly engaged clients need different content than those who are deeply familiar. Build a timeline for each of your personas and brainstorm what kinds of content they’ll need at each stage of engagement to push them to the next level?
- Cost—Content marketing takes time and money to develop and manage. Set priorities based on business needs. Invest in top-of-the-funnel online marketing venues such as social media and a blog. Prioritize content that can be personalized to each prospect’s organization and business need.
- Creative—Your original content can’t just be “same old, same old.” It must bring something new to the table. Try to make all your content engaging and useful. Work hard to make it so enjoyable that your audience will share it with friends and colleagues.
Having a defined content marketing strategy ensures that your clients and prospects will get the information they need to make informed buying decisions. And content marketing works hand in hand with cross-channel marketing systems, because as your prospects engage with your digital content, you’ll gain insight from their digital body language. Then you can communicate with your audience in ways that are aligned with their interests and business needs.