Content Marketing Explained

So what is Content Marketing or Inbound Marketing?

No matter what term you use, the basic idea is this:

  • People and businesses use online resources to find what they are looking for.
  • The best way to market online is to provide a steady stream of useful content.
  • Social media and community tools can then amplify your content and engage with customers – to build awareness, leads or sales.

Content is any piece of information, in any format, that a customer or prospective customer finds useful. Here are several types of content appropriate for content marketing:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Ebooks
  • Articles/Reports
  • SlideShare presentations
  • Demos
  • White Papers
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars

For years companies have used their websites to market their products, but with mixed results. Often those who could gain the most from online marketing were large enterprises with deep pockets and the ability to launch expensive multimedia campaigns.┬áBut social media platforms and other web applications now make it easier for businesses of any size to use the web for marketing. Social media tools act, in a way, like free “broadcast towers” on the web: they disseminate information about your product or service far and wide.

But they don’t just send. They also come with the built in capability to listen. That’s the double benefit that many businesses may not know about social media. If you are engaged in content marketing and disseminating your message using social media, soon you’ll be able to find out what your customers are saying about your market, your competitors — or your business. That alone can be worth the price of admission. Knowing more about what your customers want or expect is key to success.

Why blogs matter

Why are blogs so important? Google likes Websites that are refreshed with new content on a regular basis. The more blog items you produce, the more searchable words and phrases you are putting on the web that can be found. Unlike many other formats of content (such as articles or white papers or reports or videos), blogs are relatively easy to do. If you can think of something to say about your market, your business, helpful hints to customers, general observations, etc. — then you can blog.

Social media amplification

What social media does best is amplify the content you produce — such as blog posts, videos posted on YouTube, or white papers or reports or Slideshare presentations.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you have an appliance store that sells air conditioners.

On your blog, you write a post with this headline: “Tips On Cutting Your Summer AC Bills”

On Flickr you post photos of light-blocking shades that help cut cooling costs in summer (and link these to your blog)

On Twitter you post this message: “The best ways to cut your AC costs in summer” — with a link back to your blog.

On your Facebook Fan or Business page you also post this message: “Have any tips you use to cut your AC bills in summer? Let me know!”

That’s just one small example of how content marketing works. There are many more real-world examples out there, but this demonstrates how with just a little effort, you can engage customer interest and expand your marketing reach.