There is a fundamental understanding by content marketers that no matter what kind of marketing you do, content works. That’s not to say that you can write blog posts about nothing and it will give you a return on investment–absolutely not. But if you want to get started in content marketing, results will be achieved if you follow the proper steps no matter what industry niche your business is a part of.
The question that inevitably comes up is then “Why is Content King?”
The answers to that question are multifaceted. Since the early editorial magazine days, content has been a popular driver of consumer interest. In the modern digital era, this has been adapted to the many new forms of content that can be produced and consumed at a rapid pace. Traditional photography became Infographics, editorial journalism became Blogging, radio programs became podcasts, and those newsreels or infomercials became Viral Video Marketing.
Content Marketing is now an integral part of every digital marketer’s arsenal of tools to conquer their inbound traffic goals. It’s impact and usage cannot be overlooked. Here are a few of the reasons why it is so effective:
- Creation is democratized
- Consumption is consistently growing
- Advertising is notoriously ineffective on its own
- Content is language-agnostic, and therefore global
- Applicable in developing technologies
The Democratization of Media Creation
As technology improves, so does the way we communicate. The internet has been the greatest innovation in communication to large numbers of people since the printing press. The other side of that technological coin is that those tools are in the hands of almost anyone that wants to use them.
Blogging sites like WordPress, Medium, Tumblr, or Blogger have allowed individuals to make entire careers out of writing their opinions and informing others. Our website and blog are built on WordPress, for example. YouTube has allowed individuals to do the same but using video as their medium to communicate.
Anyone is able to create, therefore everyone is able to communicate. Blogs, Videos, Podcasts, eBooks, Online Courses, etc. Knowledge is being shared farther and faster than ever before, and content is the engine that allows that to happen.
This is what spawned the segment known as Content Marketing. Smaller businesses and marketing teams now had access to the same kinds of tools that larger, more established firms did–for a fraction of the cost. We would create written blog content, like this article, or an infographic that broke down statistics of an important subject. It could be a video webinar that provided some free information but ended with a sales lead magnet. No matter the type of content, the democratization of media creation tools allowed content to flourish.
We Are A Content Culture
The more content that is created, the more that it is consumed. This is just how we operate. In the mid 20th Century, everyone watched the same movies, listened to the same music, and read the same magazines. As the end of the 20th Century approached that was no longer the case. Niche media types connected to consumers everywhere. What changed? Were people fundamentally different? No, content was adapting to the people’s specific interests.
What changed? Were people fundamentally different? No, content was adapting to the people’s specific interests. Today we can have genres and subgenres of media that connect different people from different places. Sometimes we refer to this as demographics, but that is still a vague description of this situation. Interest-driven marketing has instead taken hold where mere geographic, age, and gender breakdowns would fail.
When B2B marketers use content, we don’t just identify industries that we want to connect with. We look to target specific parts of the business hierarchy. Are we connecting with C-Suite executives that will make the final decision? How about the sales or product development teams? This targeting of content is that same interest-driven approach. We are looking to answer a specific segmented area of a company to answer their questions and solve their situational pains.
The End of Advertising
Now don’t misconstrue this to think we believe that advertising is truly dead. Advertising of the 20th Century is mostly gone. While there are still billboards and television ads, most of the new billboards are digital screens that rotate their ads, and television advertisers are demanding more data points to match that of online advertising.
Digital billboards are smarter than ever before, even adapting to the rate of traffic flow. Television ads are now becoming more story-driven, requiring that you pay attention at each commercial break to follow along with the plot. Some ad campaigns are based on short-form digital content, that is then pared down to the ads we see on TV where a call to action sends them online to continue the journey. The digital variations of traditional advertising are expanding rapidly year-over-year.
But even with all of these advertising upgrades, there is currently tons of backlash regarding fraud, brand connection, and overall efficiency as users become wise to digital advertising. What ad blockers can’t stop is content–truly unique and informative content that gives users what they want to know.
Content is Globalized
One of the great aspects of working in content marketing is that language barriers tend to fade rather quickly. Due to the nature of content, whether written or visual, human beings tend to react in very similar ways.
There are cultural sensibilities that need to be understood, primarily slang terminology, symbols, and other elements of that sort. So while we may need to translate or change some minor formatting or orientation, an English-speaking audience and a Spanish-speaking one tend to react similarly to the same image or story.
This instant-globalization capability is breaking down traditional international barriers for many businesses, allowing them to use the internet to grow their customer base. There are even instances where companies are founded in the U.S., but due to economic expansion and customer interest, they expand to fulfill non-domestic needs. Netflix is a prime example of this.
In order to take advantage of the globalization of content, determine what content can be repurposed to other languages or distributed to international channels. Some content will need to be revised, but the cost savings of not creating brand new content from scratch is enormous.
Content for Contextual Marketing
The more new technology that is released that provides connectivity of people and their machines, the more that marketers will try to make use of that technology for promotions of their brand’s products and services. We’ve already witnessed the marketing pivot of “Free WiFi” at Starbucks being an avenue for marketing their own content as well as iTunes songs and eBooks. As more Internet of Things (IoT) devices come on line, expect this to expand significantly.
Content is about how we communicate with other people. That’s why regardless of your particular industry niche, content marketing simply works. It’s that bit of social psychology that helps us understand why it remains effective, no matter the medium within which we use it.
What trends do you see contributing to the rise in prominence of content marketing? Share them with us in the comments below.