Content marketing

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Content marketing is a form of strategic marketing that focuses on the development, creation and distribution of content – specifically materials that provide value to the reader. Blog posts and long-form written content are aspects of content marketing, as is social media and email correspondence.

Content marketing - a brief history

People have been using written words to inform people of their products and services for centuries. In 1732, Benjamin Franklin published the annual Poor Richard’s Almanack in hopes of promoting his printing press business, much like a brand might publish an ebook today. In the digital age, however, the term ‘content marketing’ was coined by Penton Custom Media, a now-defunct information services and marketing company, in 2001.

In the early 2000s, content marketing and blogging saw a boom as more and more people found their way online. The first content marketing handbook, ‘Get Content, Get Customers’, was published in 2008. Now, 15 years and tons of digital developments later, we are still using content marketing to attract and inform our target audiences online.

Common types of content marketing

As a topic, content marketing blankets a broad range of online material. In fact, content marketing doesn’t always have to be written words – videos and images can also be considered as part of a content marketing strategy.

Here are some types of content to look out for, and incorporate into your own strategy: 

  • Blog posts – a long-form piece of content that provides helpful information to a reader. 
  • News articles – material that informs the reader of a current or future event. 
  • Email newsletters – a periodically circulated ‘letter’ written to a general audience. 
  • Ebooks – a digital booklet, usually used to help a consumer understand a product or service
  • White papers – an informational document that promotes and explains a specific feature or aspect of a product (similar to an eBook) 
  • Infographics – an image, usually created by a graphic designer, that explains a topic through visual aids like graphs, charts, and illustrations. 
  • Videos – any form of online video content, including YouTube videos, embedded video content, and videos posted to social media. 
  • Case studies – a written recap of how a business’s product or services helped a specific customer with a problem. 

What type of content marketing is for me?

The list above is not exhaustive, nor should it be considered a checklist of things every brand should have. Consider your business’ niche, the size of your team, how many hours you can dedicate to content marketing, and what might suit your brand’s image the best. 

For example, a nail polish brand doesn’t really need to have white papers – most people who find their site already understand what nail polish is and how it works. Instead, the marketing team might consider using video content on YouTube to offer their audience nail art ideas and tutorials. This provides something valuable and helpful to their target audience while still promoting the brand.

On the other hand, a software as a service (SaaS) business might not have as deep a well to draw from for regularly posted videos. However, they might succeed in publishing white papers or case studies to help potential customers understand what their product is, and get a real-world example of how it benefited someone else.

What does content marketing do?

Content marketing campaigns build relationships with an audience, keeping a brand at the top of the reader’s mind. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive conversions.

Marketing teams use content to attract suitable types of customers to their sites or platforms, build trust, improve their customer’s experience, contribute to SEO strategies, and establish themselves as an expert in a niche.

Content marketing can also create brand awareness and identity, which are essential building blocks of business growth.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Content marketing has tons of benefits, and is never a step that should be skipped in a business’ growth strategy. Optimized content marketing can be a gateway to increases in: 

  • Online visibility 
  • Authority 
  • Customer engagement
  • Leads

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