The era of content marketing is now
The concept of content marketing is not exactly new, but its increasing value to business in recent years has solidified it as the go-to method of marketing. Consumers keenly recognise the difference between value-added content and blatant solicitations (read spam), placing an emphasis on good content.
Those of us working in the digital space have been able to refine the marketing process to the point that it is now growing well beyond the traditional role of advertising, and is turning into a leading sales channel. The growing marketing budgets of many businesses are a testament to just how much ROI directly occurs through digital marketing, and content is the key.
Why content counts
Consumers have become desensitised to most traditional advertising platforms. They record television programs on their DVRs and fast-forward through the commercials. They download ad-blocking browser plugins to avoid looking at ads online. Magazine readership has seen a dramatic decline, too – meaning fewer people are seeing those crisp, full-page print ads.
But the consumer still wants to make purchases that fit in with their lifestyles and needs. So, content marketing has emerged as a leading avenue for creating revenue in the digital space.
It's here we'd like to point out that 'content' takes on many different forms in the digital space, namely; information on web pages, video, documents, images, and conversations (on blogs, forums, and message boards).
Good content is golden
The very best content that a business can provide is that which provides and answer or response to a consumer query. In the old days of brick-and-mortar selling, this was called qualifying the customer.
The key difference is that in those situations, it was up to the person selling to ask the leading, open ended questions to get the chance to offer a sale. Now, content marketing takes into account the fact that the consumer is the one leading with questions. They come to our online channels looking for something and it is left to our content to explain why our something is for them.
The social gathering
Content that can be reposted through social media, as well as the 'blogosphere', is the way to go. People look for the catchiest bit – the headline that tells them about the 20% discount this weekend, for example - and check out the content, opening up the opportunity for conversion.
For the user, this content is simply something that they saw on Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever. But for the businesses making the most of the technology, the content is repeated across those platforms as well as others. This equates to fully integrated marketing and makes it very easy for businesses to broadcast a consistent message to all of its subscribers and potential customers.
The growing demand
As SoLoMo (Social - Local - Mobile) continues to make itself a household name, the need for good, custom content is growing. 2013 is expected to be the year that small and medium businesses, in particular, embrace SoLoMo across the board, and all those new businesses translate to a demand for good content. Look for every mom-and-pop operation to be making the most of social media and Google Place pages, with well-integrated content as part of the overall equation more and more over the next year or so.
The bottom line
Content marketing is good for everyone. Because good content that gains attention needs to be readable, clear in purpose, and straight to the point, businesses are almost forced to operate with a level of transparency that consumers appreciate. Similarly, the user-generated content occupying the digital space alongside company-created content can reinforce and even shape the nature of a business' content.
The bottom line is that content does not cost much to create, and creativity coupled with transparency will carry content very far. Given that good content gets the users chattering about it, generating more content in the process, it would seem that content truly is here to reign - and so far it's proven to be a goodly king.