The term “content marketing” refers to creation and distribution of relevant, valuable and consistent content in order to attract target audience – and turn them into buying customers, of course. You can achieve the goal with the help of engaging blog posts, infographics, videos, e-cooks, whitepapers and podcasts.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 88% of organizations use some form of content (usually articles) to improve search results and advertise their products. However, only 30% of B2B marketers say their companies are good at it – mostly because they often confuse content marketing with SEO.
Do you know the difference?
Once SEO articles (aka boring keyword-stuffed pieces of text than make you fall asleep faster than Moby Dick) increased website visibility. They no longer do though. Google and other search engines monitor the way customers interact with your content, including time they spend on a website, click-through rate and scrolling behavior. If you write useful and engaging articles, you’ll be on top. Check out Hipmunk Travel’s blog, for example. Their posts (i.e., Traveler’s Guide to Tipping Internationally and How Much a Disney Vocation Really Cost) are informative, well-written and easy to read. That’s why SEO and content marketing now go hand in hand. In fact, 92% of marketers admit creating high-quality content helps them improve ranking.
What else is content marketing supposed to do?
If you consider buying something, you typically go through these four stages:
- You have a problem (you’ve recently gone on a diet and need to manage caloric intake), but you can’t think of a possible solution;
- You discover there is a solution (multiple mobile apps) and start educating yourself on the question;
- You compare several mobile apps by different vendors to choose the most suitable solution at the best price;
- You make up your mind and download the application.
While traditional advertising & marketing work fine during the last two stages of the buying process, high-quality content is meant to raise awareness among your potential customers and convince them your solution is what they need. As a result, by the time they reach out to you they already want to buy your stuff.
Thus, content marketing builds trust.
There’s no magic to it: you simply provide value to your customers. Ask your target audience what type of content would be most helpful to them. And yes, make it mobile-friendly: as of 2016, 56.1% of smartphone owners use mobile Internet – and the number is expected to reach 63.4% in three years.
Hottest content marketing trends for 2016 & beyond
- Content marketing goes tech. It’s no news that many content management systems enable companies to automate SEO, analytics and publishing. And you can actually use tools like Scoop it and Curation Traffic to collect user-generated content from all over the Web and post it on your website. However, notable marketers say the future of content creation lies in Artificial Intelligence. Wikipedia now uses the Objective Revision Evaluation Service to help volunteer editors detect problematic articles. With the help of content automation tools, you can record a webinar, transcribe the audio, format the text, add tags and distribute it across multiple channels. And there’s robo-journalism, too. By 2030, 90% of all the news and articles on the Internet could be written by smart algorithms. Ann Rockley, one of the best content strategists out there, encourages brands to manufacture (not handcraft!) their content unless they cannot increase their marketing budgets. And while we’re at it, here’s a hilarious Harry Potter story written by Artificial Intelligence (as an example of what the technology is capable of);
- Shift towards long-form content and visual media. If you ask Google how big the New York population is, you won’t have to click on a single link from the search results: the relevant data will be displayed in the Knowledge Graph. Apple and Microsoft want to do the same thing with Siri and Cortana. Pretty soon websites that provide quick answers (Whatis, Webopedia) may disappear from search results. Marketers need to create long-form content to stay ahead of the game. Between 2011 and 2016, the average global Internet connection speed grew from 2.1 Mbps to 6.3 Mbps. As a result, people now have more capacity to access high-quality media content including images, infographics, videos and audio files. By 2017, video will amount for 69% of all consumer Web traffic, and video-on-demand content is expected to treble. If you stick to old-school blogposts, it’s time to think of a new marketing strategy;
- Social Media Marketing 2.0. 78% of US population have a social media profile. Facebook is one of the five apps that consume 85% of users’ mobile time. However, your social media strategy can’t be limited to creating publishing schedule and sharing content more than once. Look what Facebook did. The company realized the articles that users share generate more views on Facebook than on their home websites and launched the Instant Articles service, enabling brands to publish their content straight on Facebook. The Times, one of the companies that joined Instant Articles at launch, now gets 16% of traffic from Facebook. It looks like other social networks will jump on the trend any minute!
- User Generated (UGC) and Interactive content dominate. Guardian claims 70% of online users value customer reviews a lot more than content crafted by marketers – and you could encourage your target audience to create content for you! Remember the “Share a Coke with” euphoria? The marketing campaign began in 2011 in Australia and went on to conquer the rest of the world. Cola’s marketers simply replaced the name of the beverage with the “Share a Coke with…” phrase followed by most popular names in a country. They also asked customers to take pictures with the new bottles and share them on social networks. Thanks to the creative marketing campaign, the company increased sales by 2% in the USA alone. With more accurate search results and customized newsfeed, your target audience will soon expect content to shift or respond to their prompts. The overwhelming success of Pokémon Go will encourage marketers to use AR/VR in advertising – after all, some of the world’s largest companies including Siemens implement AR in print campaigns;
- Storytelling on the rise. Thanks to social media, Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services and mobile apps, your customers are now in control of what they read, watch and listen to. They will no longer tolerate salesy articles and fake reviews. That’s why forward-thinking marketers tend to educate their users on a particular problem through relevant and engaging stories (without trying to sell anything). There are several forms of storytelling (including UGC, sharing content from brand advocates/industry experts/CEOs, interviewing target audience about their experience and developing stories around a problem/social issue). Also, storytelling is not limited to text. You can stream videos on Periscope, record podcasts on a regular basis or even launch an Apple TV app like Burberry, Fidelity, Airbnb and other successful brands did. Speaking of Airbnb, the company has cut its teeth on storytelling, as 100% of their content is human-centered. Airbnb simply provides a platform where travelers and hosts from around the globe can share their stories and interact with each other. There’s even a separate section on their website called Airbnb stories where users publish their bios and videos!
- Episodic content in the spotlight. Do you know why TV series like Games of Thrones and the Walking Dead are so popular? It’s the cliffhangers at the end of each episode that make people watch them – and patiently wait for a new season for years. Perhaps content marketers could take a few lessons from media companies, right? Episodic content is anything you publish on several web pages, be it an article, infographic or video. There are several reasons to make episodic content a part of your marketing strategy, including user retention, credibility, improved SEO and opportunity to build a solid subscriber list. One of the best examples of episodic content is the Beauty Inside social film created by Intel and Toshiba. Alex, its protagonist, is deeply in love with a sales girl from the antique shop. The problem is, he wakes up in a different body every morning, so he never knows what he’s going to look like tomorrow. In order to keep track of his ever-changing looks, he records videos using his Intel-powered Toshiba laptop. The Beauty Inside went viral and received Daytime Emmy Award.
In case you run an online store or consider developing a mobile app, customer retention should be your top priority. High-quality content is a powerful tool to attract users and make them stay. However, even a well-planned marketing campaign will bear no fruit if your app has poor UI or crashes in the middle of a payment transaction. That’s why you should address a reliable vendor to make sure there are no performance issues – and consult an experienced marketer, of course.