What is Content? Your Digital Marketing Strategy’s Great Ally
How many times have you heard people say content is king? Did you find yourself asking what we meant by content? On the one hand, I see it as an optimal opportunity for small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to gain visibility and authority in their market niche. However, many people will often misunderstand this to mean that it's the answer to any problem a brand is having as a result of its online presence (#contentisking). So, let's take a look at some tips for how you can create a compelling strategy for your business that can lead to successful results.
What is content marketing?
Content vs. format
People long thought of a website's content as something written. But when you ask a marketer what makes good website content, they'll say a blog post, or an e-book, long-form piece, or microcopy. But if they get a bit more creative, they may say an infographic or video. While these answers could seem right, the caveat is that they're all formats, whether they be visual, audio, or written.
Content is the message (a story, figures, practical information, or a theory). The format is the means we use to convey that message. If we fail to convey our message adequately, no format will successfully make it stand out. How can we break down the distinction and relationship between them? Let's take a look at an example. We can transmit a talk in many forms:
The talk itself
On video (whether through a live stream or recording)
A series of articles
A long-form piece adding more information, such as linking related content or quotes from the talk
An infographic synthesizing the data disseminated in the talk
Any other format that we can think of and makes sense
We can also have content we disseminate with a primary format but also working with others. Snow Fall from The New York Times is a classic example of combining different formats for simultaneous use.
So, what is content?
If we recall that content and format are not the same, what do we mean when we say content? Like I already mentioned, content is the message, or if we want to get into more detail, the specifying of a piece of information. If we think about Simon Sinek's Golden Circle concept, it's even more straightforward:
Content is communicating the "what." It can take the form of a blog post, video, table, infographic, streaming video, live chats, and more. That means everything on a website counts as content. So, what is a content marketing strategy? It's not basing it in a number of infographics, blog posts, or videos to produce in hopes of engaging prospects and consumers. Content marketing best practices dictate that content marketing strategies should answer the following questions while taking our well-defined strategy into account:
What type of content should we communicate to that audience throughout their customer journey and their stage of the funnel?
Depending on the part of the funnel they are, what's the format (or combination of formats) that best serves us to transmit our content and attract them?
What responds best to our audience's needs?
How can we measure our content's efficacy to make sure it is effective?
Content strategies as an opportunity
Using content as a marketing instrument is an excellent tactic that we've seen over centuries. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing, a discipline that has gained a lot of ground over more traditional advertising. Digital content combines with offline formats with many brands, for example, publishing their print magazines. Afterward, they enrich their website with value-added marketing content specially created for those magazines on the internet.
Plus, if an organization does not publish a magazine, we often discover that they're producing content in the form of books, academic and research studies, and presentations upon talking to their senior executives. Many brands are already editors, even if they aren't aware of it. The conclusion is that there are other motives for why content has become a mandatory marketing option for brands.
Content marketing objectives
Companies must remember that a piece of content's focus differs depending on the discipline where it gets employed. For instance, content marketers see it as an instrument to acquire leads that as they guide them through the funnel hopefully turn into sales. However, from an SEO perspective, it's the tool you use to gain visibility on search engines through the links it can get as you are building your presence and authority.
However, if these goals are real, it's interesting to consider the content objectives based on the customer journey and the stage of the funnel. Therefore, the goals would be:
Gain visibility on the top and middle of the funnel
Acquire the audience's trust through authority
Increase the number of returning users
Boost the number of conversions
These four objectives determine what content marketing, SEO, social media, email marketing, and branding look for individually, and what all digital marketing disciplines share. These goals should then be the basis to craft a 360° marketing strategy.
Examples of content marketing best practices
Content as a conversion tool
An excellent example of writing web content to generate conversions is the fantastic job from Spanish website regalador.com. This product page is only one-of-a-kind, but it can also target and respond to the needs of users in the MOFU and BOFU stages of the funnel. Plus, if we're thinking about how to write good SEO content, a product page of this caliber answers all possible questions related to a product. It also earns users' trust who will remember regalador.com as probably the best site to buy a present for someone.
Content as a product
A great example of content as a product is the "Trip Finder" from Momondo that makes it stand out from its competitors. This travel firm shows users information about transportation, weather, and average prices in a destination.
Nonetheless, we know those cold hard facts are not enough to sway us into making a decision, especially in travel. Pieces of information like prices, weather, etc. are usually rational excuses for choosing something that we have already emotionally decided to do. Momondo seems to know it very well because it has a never-ending list of things to do in a destination, breaking them down by the most common reasons hitting a wide range of buyer personas.
Content as a hook
The best branded content is not only what we want to share but also what makes us want to do what the content is telling us to do. An excellent example of this is Icelandair Northern Lights City Break campaign.
This content that combines formats (long-form, moving images and Parallax, a web app in Ajax, and more) has one goal: make us want to go to Iceland to see the aurora borealis with our own eyes. It wants to be a reference for this trendy destination.
The Northern Lights City Break content achieves all its goals. It satisfies our curiosity, targets the TOP queries associated with the northern lights, it shows up on search engines, conquers users, and interacts with them, and finally, is very susceptible to sharing.
These are just a few of the examples of what we genuinely understand as content. As you've seen, I haven't talked about formats like good content for YouTube, good Instagram content, but instead content as a message to someone about something and expressing it using one or more forms. Understanding content from this frame of reference will be the only way for us to say content is king.
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