Content marketing has been one of the most important tools used by website owners and companies for online marketing over the past several years. In 2014, it will become even more important than ever, with many powerful options available to the savvy marketer. Harnessing the power of words, images and video will be essential for building long term success for any business with an online presence.

Relationship Building

Unlike most marketing efforts, content marketing isn’t primarily about driving sales (though that is certainly going to happen with effective content marketing.) The first goal of all content should be to create a relationship with customers. This is best done by engaging with them in a variety of different locations, using the most effective methods possible.

adsFor example, publishing exclusive information on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network will help followers to feel connected with the brand.  Following up and interacting directly with some customers will take that a step further, by having everyone feel like they are getting the one on one attention they desire. These types of posts can be combined with a high quality blog page where people can interact further, or even a series of YouTube videos. When building a relationship, it is important to use all types of content so potential customers are interacting with the brand on a regular basis.

Types of Content Marketing

Some of the most important trends in content marketing involve tools and technologies which really weren’t even in existence just a couple of years ago. It is essential for all businesses to keep up to date with the latest types of content, and use them properly to interact with potential customers. The following are the most popular types of content marketing:

  • Blog Posts – A business blog is almost a requirement for any company to be successful online.
  • eMail Newsletters – Customers expect to receive high quality content from companies they are following, and delivering regular information via email can be very effective when done properly.
  • Podcasts – Podcasts or other audio content allows a company to literally speak to their customers in a way that is much more personal than an advertisement.
  • Video – Whether YouTube videos or micro-videos from services like Vine, video is quickly becoming the most viewed type of content that a brand can publish.
  • Social Media Posts – Tweets, Facebook posts, Google+ updates and many others are great ways to interact with customers.  They allow for a two way conversation between the company and the customer, which really helps to develop a strong relationship.

Providing Value to Customers

The biggest trend in 2014 when it comes to all types of content marketing will be the value creation. In the past it has largely been possible to get away with publishing just about anything that was interesting or funny. Today, however, people want to get a bigger benefit for the time they spend reading content, watching videos or listening to any type of audio content.

In order to be effective, companies need to take the time and effort needed to discover what types of problems their customers have, and use content marketing to provide solutions. This could be something as simple as offering coupons for products or services, or something complex like providing support on how to use a product that was purchased.  Giving the people what they need, however, is what content marketing is all about.

When done properly, content marketing can create a customer base that is not only loyal, but will also help the company with word of mouth advertising. This is, of course, the most powerful and effective type of marketing. With this in mind, all companies need to take the time to develop and implement an effective content marketing strategy for 2014, and beyond.