The statistics are everywhere and they’re overwhelming. Just take a moment to Google “content marketing” or “content strategy” and you’ll find page after page of articles and blog posts filled with data like this:
- 60 percent of marketers create at least one piece of content each week. (Source: eMarketer)
- 61 percent of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and that they are also more likely to buy from that company. (Source: Custom Content Council)
- 78 percent of chief marketing officers believe custom content is the future of marketing. (Source: DemandMetric)
- 57 percent of marketers reported custom content was their top marketing priority for 2014. (Source: Altimeter)
- 63 percent of readers are more likely to be influenced by blogs than magazines when deciding on a purchase. (Source: Marketing Query)
All of this sounds important enough, but what does it really mean? Is content marketing something a business really needs to care about? For that matter, what is content and content marketing anyway?
To help you better understand the concept of content marketing, we’ve put together the following primer:
What is Content?
We need to get this out of the way first: What do we mean when we say “content?” Content is everything from videos, audio, infographics, and images to articles, white papers, e-letter copy, and blog posts. Modern marketing – digital marketing in particular – is built on content. It is the “currency” of websites and social media, which have become primary distribution channels for business and brand content.
Content goes beyond digital. It includes anything a brand or marketer may want to use to stay connected with target audiences and customers and provide them valuable, fun, or useful information. For example, if you encounter a brand’s content online – perhaps you see a great image and message on Facebook – and you order a product from the brand, you may receive more “content” in physical form. This could be anything from a “thank-you letter” to a colorful brochure or even a T-shirt or collectible.
Here are some samples of various forms of content that CJRW has created for clients:
What is Content Marketing?
In most basic terms, content marketing is the use of informative or entertaining content to attract audiences and achieve business objectives. However, many experts have taken a stab at creating a more comprehensive definition. One of the more popular ones comes from the Content Marketing Institute, a training organization with a stated mission to “advance the practice of content marketing.” Its description is as follows:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
In addition to the terms “content” and “content marketing,” there is the related “content strategy.” Content strategy is the art (and, in some cases, science) of researching and planning the creation and distribution of great content that accomplishes defined objectives. As with content marketing, much has been written and discussed related to content strategy. At the 2011 Confab Content Strategy Conference in Minneapolis, Prateek Sarkar, then the director of creative services at The Walt Disney Company, summed up content and content strategy rather neatly:
“Content is story. And content strategy is storytelling.”*
That statement is true on the basic level, but it fails to spell out the importance of building content and content strategy on clear business goals and objectives, and defining how content will help achieve these goals. That’s where professional content strategists and experienced content creators come in and it’s more critical than ever for business owners and marketers jumping into content creation to have this sort of expertise on their side. Decisions must be made about what the goals of a content marketing strategy are to be: Brand awareness? New customers? Qualified leads? Customer engagement? Customer service?
Why You Should Care About Content Marketing
It’s getting crowded out there. More and more content is being created and distributed by brands every day and people are drowning in it. Some estimates are that the amount of content online is doubling every year or two. According to Nielsen, Americans now own four digital devices on average, and the average U.S. consumer spends 60 hours a week consuming content across devices. Knowing how to create interesting and useful content, correctly target key audiences, and successfully reach these audiences (and spur them to action) is essential. Don’t go it alone. Contact CJRW and let us help you find a way to stand out in the crowd and build your business online and across the media spectrum.
Need a little bit more? Well, here are some more samples of visual content CJRW has created for clients...
* Quoted in “Content Strategy at Work,” by Margot Bloomstein. Published in 2012 by Morgan Kaufmann.