What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a broad term given to the processes of creating content and marketing it. The content can be of many types – textual, infographs, images, videos, etc., but the core purpose is to directly or indirectly lure potential customers and to expand existing customer bases.

Although, content marketing is mainly done over the internet, it can also be done physically via say; magazines, brochures, etc. Customers are intelligent and aware these days, and are shunning traditional advertising practices. Marketing through content allows businesses to inform and educate their customers. Instead of being bombarded with tall claims and confusing messages, as is the case with conventional advertising practices, content marketing allows the customer to make informed decisions about the products and services on offer.

The growth of content marketing

Content marketing is everywhere – from printed magazines to emails, websites, webcasts, podcasts, newsletters, etc. Even the articles and images that you see on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are forms of content marketing. It has gained so much importance that businesses and individuals are hiring the services of content writers when they need content for their websites, web pages, social network pages, blogs, etc. This form of marketing has given rise to custom media, brand marketing, branded content, custom publishing and database marketing.

Search engines like Google play an important part in creating online exposure for businesses. As content marketing is based on the idea of sharing information, online marketers must make sure that their content is featured prominently in web searches. This has given rise to a breed of “content engineers” who not only create but also optimize the content for better search engine rankings. Recent surveys have shown that this marketing technique now outranks brand awareness and sales as the leading tool for lead generation.

How to market with content effectively

First, you must think of the kind of audience and customers you want to attract. Based on this you can decide the content that needs to be created. Make sure to have control over the design, creation and styling processes. Create an online presence with blogs and a website. SEO basics will come in handy, so make sure to include keywords and search terms in the content and optimize the title tags, headers, etc. for search engine algorithms. Set up contact forms and auto responders to provide potential customers and leads with more information. Update the content regularly and promote them through email marketing, social media websites, Google URL builder, etc.

It is imperative that you interact with and engage interested leads using your published content. Make sure to respond to their comments on social media sites and continue this interaction through emails, telephonic conversations and ultimately in face-to-face meetings. To make useful connections on social networks, use tools like HootSuite, TweetDeck, SocialBro, etc to keep abreast of all the conversations around your content. Your content should allow you to have a ready audience for future content pieces that you release. Finally, content marketing should be made an intrinsic part of the overall marketing strategy.

It cannot be stressed enough – content is the most important part of this marketing technique. If the content is not interesting, informative, accurate and relevant then it will not gain much visibility. Google algorithms have now been changed to give higher rankings to good content. Before anything else, make sure every single piece of published content is of top quality.