Content Marketing: Now a Key Component in the Marketing Mix
One of the reasons content marketing is on the rise is that companies are looking for new ways to connect meaningfully with the average consumer, who long ago developed an automatic shutoff response to blatant advertising.
Content marketing—the use of intrinsically valuable articles, videos images and more as a way to market a company’s products and services—is still one of the most popular forms of advertising for 2017, according to a survey of 500 top advertisers titled “The State of Digital Advertising 2017” (www.clickz.com/reports/the-state-of-digital-advertising-2017).
About 41% of those interviewed in the survey pegged content marketing as their number-one advertising tool, above search marketing (39%) and social media (30%).
“At its core, content marketing is about one thing: telling a good story,” said Jesse Wyanants, co-founder of content marketing service provider Prezly (www.prezly.com).
One of the reasons content marketing is on the rise is that companies are looking for new ways to connect meaningfully with the average consumer, who long ago developed an automatic shutoff response to blatant advertising. For example, content marketers are more likely to shy away from rolling out a TV song-and-dance routine abstractly touting how great a company is. Instead, a content marketer may produce a series of informative how-to videos offering insights on how to use the company’s products most effectively. Or the marketer might create a section of its company website entirely devoted to a blog or to honest reviews of its products and services, along with company responses to what the reviewers are saying.
Indeed, blogs and videos are used more than any other medium in content marketing, according to the October 2016 study “Content Marketing: A Marketer’s Guide” (www.marketingland.com/buyers-guide-content-marketing-tools-213565).
Said Sanjay Kulkarn, a vice president at press release/social-media content distribution service MarketWired: “Relevant quality content is increasingly important to telling brand stories, boosting customer affinity and driving qualified leads for the sales team.”
Besides attempting to please consumers in new ways, content marketers are by design also trying to please another audience that is fed up with in-your-face, hard-sell advertising: fans of the dreaded internet ad blocker.
Jon Wuebben is CEO of Content Launch, one of a number of comprehensive content management systems available online.
A growing factor for marketers for about three years now, ad blockers are plug-ins that web surfers can use with their favorite internet browsers to simply strip out all (or at least most) of the ads they come across on the web as they surf. In fact, 18% of U.S. surfers currently use ad blockers, according to a study by Statista (www.statista.
com/chart/9039/ad-blocking-penetration). But in other countries, ad blocker usage is growing even faster. In Germany, 29% of web surfers use ad blockers, followed by 28% of surfers in India and 25% of surfers in Canada, according to Statista.
Even more worrisome to marketers: Google is mulling plans to possibly roll out its own ad blocker for its extremely popular browser Chrome. With an ad blocker built into Google Chrome, web surfers won’t even need to hunt around for a plug-in to block ads. They can simply select ad blocking as an option when they use Chrome for the first time.
Granted, Google’s ad blocker is expected to be “kinder” than traditional ad blockers. Instead of simply blocking all ads it detects, it will block only ads it considers bad experiences for surfers. But simply having an ad blocker option in Google Chrome would be a game changer. Chrome is currently used by 53% of web surfers worldwide, according to StatCounter (http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share).
Given those stakes, many marketers are looking beyond blogs and videos to expand into other forms of content marketing, including infographics, white papers, e-books and the like, depending on the audience they’re targeting. Many are also moving into interactive content, including interactive infographics, online self-assessment tools, report cards, quizzes, calculators, interactive e-books, configurators or solution builders, interactive lookbooks and interactive videos.
Indeed, interactive content was rated one of the most effective forms of content marketing, according to a 2017 study of 369 content marketers released by the Content Marketing Institute (https://apps.ioninteractive.com/press/cmi-infographic).
“To us, the most important number in the study is the increase to 79% of marketers using interactive content who expect to use more of it going forward,” said Justin Talerico, CEO of interactive content platform provider Ion Interactive (www.ioninteractive.com).
Once marketers make a full commitment to marketing with all forms of content, they soon find themselves looking around for a tool to manage it all. Fortunately, there’s a free guide you can download that offers a comprehensive look at all the tools available to help you manage and optimize a full-fledged content marketing campaign: “Content Marketing Tools: A Marketer’s Guide” (www.searchengineland.com/buyers-guides/content-marketing-tools). It offers a great overview of comprehensive marketing tools currently on the market, with good detail on what each tool offers as well as its pricing. In all, 24 tools are profiled.
The most comprehensive tools available, according to the guide, help you manage the five core elements of content
Content Creation and Curation: Includes tools for creating, storing and organizing content and sourcing content from outside services.
Content Management: Includes tools for scheduling, collaboration and brand compliance.
Content Amplification/Distribution: Includes tools to help you easily publish your content to paid media, publisher websites, social networks and influential blogger sites.
Content Optimization: Includes tools for optimizing your content for search engines, A/B testing of your content, audience segmentation and the like.
Content Analytics: Generally features a centralized dashboard offering analytics and measurements on how your content is doing, including your content’s views, downloads, traffic, leads, conversions and so on. Also sometimes features the ability to link with other software tools in your organization, including your customer relationship management software, digital analytics software and the like.
Unfortunately, the tools in the guide are not rated, so you’ll also want to turn to business software review sites such as G2 Crowd (www.g2crowd.com), Capterra (www.capterra.com) and Gartner Peer Insights (www.gartner.com/reviews/markets) to retrieve detailed reviews on how the software solutions stack up against one another.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.