Even if you pay just cursory attention to developments in the digital world, it’s difficult to escape the amount of terabytes given over to discussion about one of the latest digital marketing buzz phrases – content marketing.
Content marketing refers to the range of marketing benefits that the provision and distribution of (usually) free digital content offers businesses which practise it.
This content may be in the form of an article (or blog post) like this, a tool such as a calculator or chart, an ‘infographic’ (succinct combination of illustration and chart), a ‘podcast’ (audio program) or even a joke, funny photo or video.
While in the past such content may have provided some exposure for your business in the outlet in which it is published or broadcast, the integrated, global and ‘viral’ nature of the internet has given the same content unprecedented new wings.
Massive bang for your online buck
For example, a single article like this can:
- appear in a business website like Smart Company, which in turn
- automatically attracts the attention of search engines for that topic (linking your business name to that topic),
- is redistributed by people who ‘Like’ or share it via social networks,
- is emailed and often forwarded to opted in subscribers and, unlike traditional media, then remains in circulation – attracting even more search engine attention, until the publisher removes it from their servers.
As this illustration indicates, such effects greatly multiply the audience for a single piece of content.
In other words, the bang for your content buck is more like a New Year’s Eve fireworks display than the penny bunger it once was.
One of the prime exponents of content marketing is US marketing automation specialist Hubspot. Hubspot offers an astonishing array of free articles, white papers, tools and resources to any marketer or business operator who is prepared to part with their email address.
Given the relatively low cost of generating and distributing this content, the return on investment for content marketing can be phenomenal.
In fact, of all the digital marketing tactics at the professional marketer’s disposal, content marketing outstripped all of social media, search engine marketing (free and paid) and email as being a digital marketing priority for 2013, according to one recent survey of US marketers.
Of course some would reasonably argue that content marketing is essentially a combination of these digital marketing techniques.
While most of us can’t possibly employ the team of researchers, writers and designers Hubspot do to generate the quality and volume of content they do, we can still at least command a respectable and growing audience of readers of useful content.
Nor do you need to be featured in a website like Smart Company to make your content work for you.
Affordable digital marketing
In fact, providing you have the right tools and a reasonable level of writing skill, for very little cost at all you can grow an audience which in turn leads to new enquiries and new business.
Not only that, great content also keeps existing customers loyal and informed and gives them ideas and motivation to do further business with you.
If writing doesn’t come so easily to you, a professional writer can turn your ideas and expertise into viral gold which usually pays for their fee very quickly.
Over the next two weeks I will explore the tools you need to generate your own content marketing campaign and how to go about planning and executing it.
Next week: Tooling up for your content storm
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond. www.theeteam.com.au