A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF CONTENT MARKETING AND ITS ELEMENTS

A Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing and it’s elements

 

content marketing image

 

Content marketing can be defined as the type of digital marketing strategy by which a business enterprise, small, medium or large disseminates authentic, relevant and educational content for potential and existing consumers consistently. Content marketing is fundamentally storytelling that can add value to the lives of the customer.

 

Therefore, it can be described as efforts in the silo of marketing techniques of a business to reach out to consumers. And carve a niche in the digital world through their innovative marketing and advertising strategies.

 

According to the Content Marketing Institute

 

“Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience- and, ultimately, to drive customer action.”

 

The main objective of content marketing should be to benefit consumers in every way possible. Content is different than other digital marketing strategies in nature. It is a method by which we can draw the customer in without pestering them to buy our product or service. When customers are happy with the quality of content you provide, they will automatically be a part of the journey of your business turning into loyal customers. It’s a bilateral process, a two-way interaction between your brand and your consumer.

 

 

 

Earlier, content marketing wasn’t possible to implement so effectively. Now with the steady emergence of the World Wide Web (www) and with the increase of several communication channels, it has become a lot more convenient to provide high-grade content for consumers. Consumers now look for engaging, witty, interesting content with preferably a human element to it.

 

How does content marketing help to build your business?

 

It is a long term strategy that helps explicate the relationship between your brand and your consumer. It is also one of the most effective ways to form and nurture a strong relationship with your target audience by providing them with honest high-quality content that can help elucidate a lot of the consumers’ queries without them really asking for it directly.

 

Content marketing is a term that has been coined recently. It had not been around in the early 2000s and was first clearly explained by Joe Pulizzi. But content marketing has been around for long now. Content Marketing is storytelling in its’ core and stories are nothing new for us. They have been around as long as human civilization has been.

 

One of the most insightful explanations of content marketing has been given by Eminent authors Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose in their book Managing Content Marketing.

According to Managing Content Marketing 

 

“Content Marketing is a strategy focussed on the creation of a valuable experience. It is humans being helpful to each other, sharing valuable pieces of content that enrich the community and position the business as a leader in the field. It is content that is engaging, eminently shareable, and, most of all, focus on helping customers discover (on their own) that your product or service is the one that will scratch the itch.”

 

Notice how the emphasis is given on the consumer experience rather than the selling of your product or service. That is the main aim of content marketing. It is to apprise your customers of your unique qualities so that they can derive maximum benefits from it. When consumers are content and happy, that will automatically benefit your business. This is how a sound strategy of content marketing works.

 

Content Marketing is crucial in the sense that you have to possess the acumen of selecting what content can be of use to the leads and consumers and what can be considered redundant information.

 

Let’s dig in a little into the history of content marketing before proceeding with the other elements of content marketing.

Content Marketing in different forms was present since ancient times. Benjamin Franklin was the first who successfully devised a strategy that would inform people about his new printing business.

 

How did he do it?

He started publishing his annual POOR FOR RICHARD’S ALMANACK to promote his own printing business in 1732. So you see, the term might be new but the process has been going on forever.

 

Another similar example of content marketing was John Deers, the tractor company. They published a lifestyle magazine for farmers called “The Furrow” in 1895 that became quite popular for its content and the way it provided pertinent information to the target consumer.

 

New-age Content

 

In today’s times, the most essential element of content is that it has to be interesting or you will lose the attention of your leads. The key is to draw in your potential consumers within the first few minutes of them engaging with your content. There are so many options available today that once you’ve lost the connection with your leads, it is extremely difficult to gain them back and establish your relationship again.

 

Take Twitter for example.

 

Your entire message can be communicated within 140 characters. You can imagine how effective your content can be if you can communicate your points in those 140 characters with clarity and honesty. Your audience will stay with you without their concentration wavering and your message will be conveyed.

 

Just a few days back I received around 8 videos of one minute each. They conveyed some very beautiful messages revolving around social issues and general human elements. They were so convincing you are sure to take notice of the brand or people behind it. That is the true influence of content.

 

 

The different content marketing formats that yield high returns are as follows

 

  1.   Content Curation/Aggregation

 

Content Curation is the practice of gathering and then filtering data relevant to a particular subject and providing it to your consumers for their interest. It adds value to your consumer needs and provides a solution to them regarding various matters. News, articles, videos, Infographics, images can all be curated successfully to provide a winning set of contents to your customers. Sift through content and find some that are of great quality but have escaped notice. Post them to your different social channels or website. Add your own words and create a unique tagline. Do not forget to link the original source. That helps to build trust with the original creators of the content and can go a long way in establishing a bond with them.

 

Content Aggregation is the process of gathering and republishing relevant information just like content curation. The difference lies in the way the content is shared to your consumers. Aggregation is the automated process using software to constantly update new information as they appear whereas content curation is manual providing a user with some uniqueness when consuming the information.

They are both a part of content syndication which is primarily the republishing of news, articles or other content of import to third party websites and applications.

 

  1.   Case studies

 

Case studies are the most useful in B2B businesses where business enterprises are looking for detailed information on the products that are of interest to them. They also involve studying and analyzing your focus group and creating customized, very high-quality content about your product with minute details that can be of use to your consumer. Then, it involves the distribution of the content to all suitable digital channels to cover most of your target group.

 

For example, a computer manufacturing company can provide a detailed case study on their product specifications and disseminate the information relevant to people working in the IT business to garner leads and finally conversions.

 

  1.   Charts/ Graphs

 

Charts and graphics are one of the most useful tools for content marketing where analytics and numerics are concerned. Charts and graphs come to immense help where the data is too huge and cannot be clearly explained by texts and infographics alone. When important numerical data for your website is to be assessed graphs and charts can come as a great help. Charts and graphs can provide a plethora of information about your business and the best thing is it can help retain that information for a long long time

  1.   Guides and “How To” Content

 

Guides work great for prospects and lead. The terms “Ultimate Guide, Beginner’s Guide, Things you NEED to know” have been known to attract prospective customers and turn those leads into conversions. Guides give us a comprehensive study on a subject. It delineates all important points and points out the flaws in a strategy as well. Hence it is a complete content that helps the consumers in making an informed decision about a particular subject, brand, product, and service. Guides can be your consumer’s GO TO in case of any emergency or query.

 

“ How to” content is very popular among online users. Every day we get a plethora of content on the internet. The use of electronic devices and gadgets are increasing by the day. With the world going global, “how to” content can help with solving any kind of problem. Whether it is to learn a new language, or to learn etiquette for a foreign country, or to understand the working of a certain appliance, how to guides come very handy.

 

 

  1.   Press Releases

 

A press release, otherwise known as a media release or a press statement is an official statement by a business entity or an individual providing information to media outlets about a particular subject or topic. It can also be used to make announcements, for example, the launch of a new product or service. It is a compelling informative content that is primarily widely used to generate interest among journalists and media houses. Those media houses then write a report on the subject increasing the visibility and reach of that information to people all around the globe. A press release is a brief summary of the main news that needs to be circulated and is no more than 350- 400 words in length.

 

  1.   Lists

Consider this

 

Advantages of Internet

 

Reach, visibility, convenience, connectivity, communication, banking, bills, collaboration, working at home, Online Shopping

 

Now notice the following

  1.  Reach
  2.  Visibility
  3. Convenience
  4. Connectivity
  5.  Communication
  6. Banking
  7. Payment
  8. Collaboration
  9. Work at Home
  10.  Online Shopping.

 

Which one do you think is more impactful?

 

A list is far more advantageous for a consumer because it is easier to recollect, helps in remembering the main points and is more convenient for taking action. They are more comprehensive, you can gloss over and immediately remember the necessary points. Hence this is one of the very popular formats of content marketing.

 

 

  1.   White Papers

 

White papers are generally content issued by a business or governing body informing abut some complicated and complex issues and providing solutions and/or their viewpoints on the matter. They can be categorized as a type of guide too. For example in the topic of the internet, it might be a new update or a technology that needs to be communicated to the online users. The main aim of a white paper is to provide reports based on facts and proofs, it is not to persuade your consumers to buy your product. It is not an advertisement for selling your product or service, rather an informative piece of the document on the said product or service.

  1.   Vlogs

 

Vlog is the abbreviated form of a video blog or video log whereby a website houses short or long videos embedded in them. Most of the time these videos are accompanied by underlying texts and images with descriptions regarding the subject matter of the video. The prime example of vlogging can be found on YOUTUBE. The number of vloggers has increased manifolds in the last two years with people vlogging fitness videos, fashion trends and dieting tips for consumption by online users. The mass popularity of vlogs is a testament to the success of the same as a format for compelling content.

  1.   Podcasts

 

A podcast is an online audio content format consisting of several instalments or episodes. They can be downloaded on different devices and mp3 players. One can listen to them whenever they want. Podcasts have the subscribing feature available, so when you subscribe to the channel, new audio is automatically added to your list. Of late, they have emerged as a very powerful content marketing tool for business enterprises.

 

Some examples of podcasts are Solo podcasts, Interview podcasts, panel podcasts, co-hosted podcasts, fiction storytelling and non-fiction storytelling podcasts, Hybrid podcasts where there is a mix of different elements on your audio, reuse and re-planning content.

  1. Images and Videos 

 

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a famous saying and not for no reason. Images can influence consumers to a very large extent. Creativity coupled with innovation in images with good aesthetic can go a long way in establishing your brand reputation among the online users. That, in turn, can help in converting traffic to leads and finally into conversions.

 

Video is not only one of the most popular formats but they are also one of the most profitable forms of content. The conversion rate for video is one of the highest. Also, search engines are in love with videos. Many times, Search Engines prefer videos over any other form of content for the same topic. And it is completely justified given how people consume videos compared to other content formats. Videos come with certain credibility and honesty that might be lacking in other formats. Also, they are very convenient to sharing on any channel and mostly are shared on social media channels thereby rendering the popular videos viral. Viral videos and images mean That is one of the main advantages of video as a content marketing format.

 

 

  1. Blogs posts – long and short form

 

Blogs are informational texts that are published on a website. It consists of a variety of news and articles related to a particular subject or business. The topic on which a blog is written is known as Niche. The format of a blog section on a website is such that the most recent posts are displayed first and the rest are placed in chronological order according to their date of publishing. There are several advantages of a blog post. They are the most organic form of marketing that drives traffic through SEO searches. The traffic and conversions are purely the results of high-quality content and nothing else. Blogs have a personal element, a human touch to them which helps in fortifying the relationship of the brand with the customer. They can build trust and compatibility with leads and turn them into consumers.

 

Nowadays a whole lot of importance is placed on long-form blog posts that co prise of words more than 2500 words. According to the 2015 HUBSPOT STUDY, articles ranging between 2250 and 2500 words receive the most organic traffic through search engines. The reason is long-form blog posts can provide in-depth knowledge and particular insights about a business entity. A lot of research and analysis goes into long-form blog posts which is why they are detailed and are quality driven. Natural backlinks for long-form blog posts are also higher. People are attracted to content that is explanatory and provides good value to the reader.

 

 

  1. Email Newsletters

These are emails that are sent to leads and existing consumers to apprise them about the latest news, offers, discounts, sales, and related topics of your business, brand product and/or services. It is a great way to interact and engage with your customers. It helps to build a community of like-minded people who are interested in a particular topic. A conversational email can go a long way in establishing a great rapport with your consumers thereby increasing the online reputation of your brand. Email newsletters can also provide some very useful analysis of your consumers. They give a fair idea about your focus group based on the metrics.

 

  1. Webinar

The webinar, as you can understand, is a portmanteau word derived from WEB+SEMINAR hence WEBINAR.

 

Webinars are live sessions that are carried out virtually over the internet with laptops or mobile devices. They are audiovisual sessions that help to communicate about a product or service online. Webinars involve sharing texts, powerpoint presentations like slides, images, graphics all in a seminar on the web and also come with a Question and Answer (Q&A) chatbox for addressing any query in case of an audio impediment. Webinars as content formats are extremely convenient since you don’t have to travel miles to attend a meeting or important conference. They are a means of interacting directly with your focus groups and therefore leave no room for any ambiguity. They are also extremely cost-effective and do not require any additional expenses.

 

 

  1. Infographics 

 

Infographics is also a merged word made from two different words i.e. “Information” and “Graphics”. They are a content format that uses a variety of graphics to communicate the message to target groups. Since photos and graphical images have a better cognitive value to the consumer, therefore, in a lot of cases they can prove to be very beneficial for distributing information about your enterprise to your leads and existing consumers.

 

Infographics draw attention and are SEO friendly content marketing techniques. There are different types of infographics and you have to consider the nature of your business before zeroing in on a particular type. The best method is to use an amalgamation of the different types available and work it to your advantage. Flowchart, timeline, hierarchical, statistical, comparison are some forms of infographics that a business can make use of to successfully create a content marketing campaign…

 

 

  1. Ebook

 

An e-book is a book in the digital format that holds detailed information and insight into the business or a business. It is a great tool for generating leads and establish a positive impact of your brand in the minds of your consumers. An ebook should be written taking into consideration the buyers’ tastes and preferences want and needs. Address the probable questions in a fun creative way. Ebooks can also help in creating your own mailing lists. When leads sign up for an ebook on your website, a whole lot of information about your prospective clients can be derived from the users who sign up for the e-book. You can use all that information to create not only a pertinent email list but also authentic buyer personas so you know who to target and retarget further.

 

Learn effective Content Writing

 

 

The 8 most essential elements of content marketing are

 

  1.   Marketing objectives

 

A clear marketing objective is a fundamental requirement for any business if it wants to carve a niche for itself especially in the digital world. There is a deluge of information out there on the internet. Just notice the number of notifications you get on your devices and you’ll know just how much content is being churned out day in and day out. The marketing objectives have to be strategized keeping in mind the overall aim of the organization. Some of the elements that should be taken into consideration while devising an online marketing plan are KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Sales contracts, number of customers retained, monthly website traffic are some KPIs for a business. Define your relevant metrics and work towards optimizing them.

  1.   Buyer Persona

 

A buyer persona(s) plays a vital role in the promotion and advertisement of your product or service. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your focus group. In other words, it is the profiling of your consumers based on the data available from them. Some indicators of consumers tastes and preferences are

 

 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Financials
  • education
  • Goals
  • Motivations
  • Behaviour patterns
  • Demography
  • Interests etc.

 

A buyer persona helps a business to narrow down on its prospective clients and helps to build customized content for the target groups.

 

 

  1.   Data and Market Research

 

Research and understanding of your consumer is the keystone of any successful business. If you make great content but you are not reaching out to the prospects you should target then your whole marketing falls flat. create relevant content but most importantly distribute it to the relevant people out there. Surveys, feedback, perusing social media channels are good ways to get a fair idea about your target audience.

 

  1.  Market Analysis for Content 

 

You have to analyze and brainstorm as to how your content adds value to your consumer. Where does your content fit? How can the demands of the consumer be fulfilled by your brand? How and in what ways will it help the target audience.

 

  1.   Resource Assessment

It is always important to realize that you need a resource assessment before embarking on a content marketing plan. How much budget is allocated for the entire marketing mix, how much you can use for content marketing, what technology has to be employed? What kind of manpower is required and how much it will cost are some of the considerations that will have to be taken into account when strategizing for a sound content marketing plan.

  1.   Brand Criteria 

Research your market and the demand for your product or service before strategizing a content marketing plan. Implement a detailed analysis plan of the market you are going to enter. Keep track of your competition and determine the personality and tone of your brand. What is your Unique selling point? How will consumers differentiate you from the competition? What will influence a consumer in your niche? You have to devise and create content based on all these questions.

  1.   Content Calendar

Business enterprises whether small, medium or big should have a content calendar ready and scheduled to avoid confusion later on. Identify the channels and then create content relevant to those distribution channels. Be transparent about the brand publishing and the intrinsic topics of your business that you want to cover. For any online business, payments and modes of payment, privacy, security, products are of utmost importance, Create the content on these categories to give your consumers a clear idea about your company. Shuffle your content publishing days on various social channels and websites, notice which are the channels that derive the most traffic and invest your time and money accordingly.

 

  1.   SEO friendly

 

This is the last point because you save the most crucial part of the last. In this case the most important one. SEO friendly content is the prerequisite for a successful content marketing plan. Content creation, generation, and publishing is an organic process of deriving traffic to your website.

Therefore, you need to create SEO friendly content that will rank on the search engine in the shortest time possible. Aim for the most relevant keywords and write content that will matter and be useful to your target group. Incorporate your keyword(1% – 3%) of the total number of words in your article and not more than that. If you insert your keyword too often SEO recognizes it as keyword stuffing which is similar to spamming. As a result, Google will never rank your article on the first page of a SERP. Without being displayed on the first page, you will have little to no chance of getting traffic on your website.

 

Why is Content Marketing Important?

  1.   Brand Authority

Brand authority is the online reputation that you enjoy after creating valuable and relevant content for online users. Content helps you to create credibility for your business. Consistency is the key to content development and ranking in SEO. After a thorough study of the various elements and factors that make up a successful content marketing plan, you should make sure to create content that is engaging and appealing to your audience. Be transparent and convey your message with absolute clarity. All these factors contribute to creating a winning brand authority for your business.

  1.   Natural BackLink Building

Natural backlinks are those recommendations that come from other sources in relation to your content without you asking for such an endorsement for wither your content or your website. When a known blogger links your work in their website or social media channels you get to reach and an enormous amount of visibility resulting in a whole new bunch of leads that you can successfully turn to conversions with compelling content. The best part is these mentions come without any sort of persuasion and thus helps to increase your brand equity among your target audience.

 

  1.   Organic search drives traffic

SEO or organic search and ranking helps in driving traffic to your channel or website. Those potential leads can then turn into your consumers with the right kind of strategy. Moreover, since the whole system is organic, it comes with a certain credibility that paid advertising fails to achieve at times. It has also been noted by Google and various analysis experts that people click on an organic search more than they click on a paid search. This itself says how people perceive transparent organic search results.

  1.   Educating your leads and existing customers

Content helps to inform and apprise your consumers about the various steps and new ideas that are generated in your company. It helps in creating a path for further conversation between your consumers, prospective and existing and your brand.

  1.   Strengthening the bond with consumers

With an opportunity to converse with the brand, the trust factor of your business increases manifolds. It helps to reinforce and bolster the relationship between you and your focus groups. A strong bond ensures that consumers remain loyal and happy with your brand. Consequently, they recommend your business to the people they know thus creating even more leads.

  1.   Generating leads

Content is the primary linchpin of your marketing efforts. There is no marketing online without one or the other form of content. Therefore, you should engage, inspire, lead and help in improving the state of your consumers in some way or the other. That is going to get you customers for your brand. Be a solution to the problems of your leads and the traffic you get. The more you solve an issue the better your brand recognition and authority. Write content that incorporates such points that help your consumers consistently

  1.    The shelf life of content is forever

The internet is forever. So is the shelf life of content. Therefore it becomes beneficial for consumers to come back to the content whenever they need for any query or purely for engagement purposes. the content for your business will only get more visibility and reach with time unlike other methods of marketing. According to a study, 80% of online users prefer learning about a business or organization through customized content. 68% of people invest time in reading valuable content about the brands that interest them.

  1.   An incentive to return to your website and content

Content that conveys a positive message. provides inspiration, engagement and entertainment are likely to get traffic time and again. Apart from that your existing customers might always come back to your content for some useful tips and information. Your content should not just speak about your product or service, it should educate and cultivate interest among leads. Such type of content enjoys heavy traffic and hence an increase in conversions. That, in turn, results in huge ROI (Return on Investment)

 

  1.   Great for digital marketing solutions

Content in its various forms and formats are great for your digital marketing solutions. They provide all kinds of suitable and related solutions to your problems. There is nothing today that cannot be searched and found on the internet. From the working of a hand blender to creating a grand website, every information is available in the form of some great content on the web. Hence content marketing is a one-stop solution for all your digital needs.

 

  1. Recognition through different channels 

 

Lastly content is easily shareable which makes it a great tool to distribute in various social media channels. ALmost 80% of online users reside today. These channels open up some great prospects for your brand. The recognition and curiosity generated about your business make it easier to nurture leads through these different channels. Take for example the different social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler. They can provide your business with the kind of recognition that helps boost sales to a very great extent. The key here is to make your content shareable. Make it user-friendly in the sense that your core message is clear enough for everyone to comprehend across all channels. That is what makes for great content: simplicity of language and clarity and transparency of the message.

 

Tip

Like any other marketing strategy, content marketing comes with its share of hindrances and challenges. We have to remember that the benefits of content marketing far outweigh the disadvantages of content marketing. Hence we should strategize a sound content marketing plan to reap maximum benefits that this particular marketing strategy has to offer. And trust me, the advantages derived are plenty. The only condition is the distribution of genuine information to the mass and your business will yield excellent results.

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Pic Credit: Google

 

 

A mass communication post-graduate, an SEO content writer and researcher. I have always been passionate about writing. As an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, I love blogging and storytelling. Alumna & Content Writer at IIM SKILLS

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