What Is Content Marketing, Really?
Content marketing, or what we and some others refer to as “inbound marketing,” is the creation of content that instead of being designed to force it’s way into your mind, actually attracts people to it based on being relevant, trustworthy and interesting.
What began as something of a buzzword in the SEO industry has now become a major factor when it comes to building links, generating social signals and driving brand awareness. The creation of fresh and relevant content as a means to market a product is nothing new, and if you think about it, it is the precursor to all modern marketing. Television and radio commercials, billboards and leaflets, these are all pieces of content designed to capture the attention of a consumer. The difference between traditional marketing by using content and the modern digital term “content marketing” is in the presentation of it.
More traditional marketing takes the content and interrupts you with it. Television commercials interrupt whatever programme you are watching and bombard you with colourful blasts of marketing designed to bludgeon you into purchasing the product. Radio advertising and billboards are similar, designed to get at you while you are vulnerable, sitting in your car in a traffic jam and unable to escape.
While a TV commercial is a piece of content, a similar piece that would be more aligned with the methods of content or inbound marketing, would be media outlining information that people need/want to know, that represents a brand. Something like this blog post for instance.
Why Reinvent The Wheel?
In the modern world, consumers are savvy. They have a remote with a mute button and they aren’t afraid to use it. They resent interruption marketing and actively avoid it. They place “no junk mail” signs on their letterbox, channel surf during ad breaks and listen to their own personal music collections in their cars. It is increasingly difficult and increasingly ineffective to market to somebody by using interruption techniques and so marketing has evolved to suit these new consumers. While television advertising is still the big dog, online marketing is growing at a faster rate and looks set to continue to do so.
With the rise and rise and continued rise of the internet, consumers of products have also become consumers of knowledge. The ability to learn almost anything you want at the click of a button has people craving new information. This is where content marketing becomes a crucial factor in your marketing campaign. If you are able to fill an information need that somebody has (or perhaps didn’t even know they had until they found your content) while representing your brand then your product or business actually presents to the consumer as one who fulfils desire, and your brand becomes more trustworthy, and more likely to receive business from said consumer.
It may not always be a case of being trustworthy, but filling entertainment gaps and thus becoming exciting, interesting and relevant to the consumer. Take for instance Red Bull, who have been innovating with their content marketing campaigns for years already. They consistently associate themselves with things that most people find interesting and exciting. Extreme sports, Formula 1 motor racing and perhaps most interestingly the space jump. The Red Bull Stratos Campaign, featured a free fall from near Earth space by Felix Baumgartner and became front page news around the world. There are multiple versions of the video on YouTube with over 50 million combined views and innumerable social media shares, blog posts and references in legitimate publication. One of the most successful examples of content marketing to date.
There is a reason why Google consider relevance and trustworthiness as strong ranking factors and it’s because people consider relevance and trustworthiness paramount when doing business. Google continues to refine their algorithm to favour relevance and trustworthiness because people in the modern age are more determined to judge each other on these values and are actually capable of making accurate judgement accordingly. People are able to see through the fake and find the real and thus Google aims to present only results that are going to meet these desires, to ensure that they themselves remain relevant and trustworthy.
So What Does It Mean For Me?
It means that to rank strongly in Google going forward, you have to incorporate your marketing from other angles and package them together. Bring your offline marketing and online marketing staff into the one room and team them up. Utilise the creativity of offline marketers and the technological prowess of onsite SEO and create content that people want, or better yet what people need and represent yourself proudly as the creator of such content.
You may be a small business owner and find it difficult to comprehend how you can create content relevant to your business, which is a fair concern. There are two things to understand. Firstly, with the power of viral marketing, you don’t necessarily need to create content relevant to your niche to have an effective content marketing campaign. If you were a simple baker and became famous for running a Facebook page that had high quality humour content then people would eat your bakery goods just to say that they bought from your bakery. An even better idea is to get creative or if you don’t have a creative streak, to hire a creative mind whether through outsourcing to an agency or by hiring a new internal marketing employee to do the creative thinking for you. I would certainly buy my meat pies from a nearby bakery that made witty cake and pie related memes on Facebook.
Soon the days of guest blogging as priority number one will be over (if they aren’t already) and another generation of SEO will begin. Creative content will dominate rankings. Get in early to book your place at the top of Google.
Joe McCord+ is a writer and SEO expert at Matter Solutions, a marketing agency focused on inbound marketing and creative content. He is a published journalist and keen recreational fisherman. Take him fishing.