What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as being a “marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience - to drive profitable customer action.” Being successful in this requires a hell of a lot of patience, TLC and the right mix of high-quality content assets.

The production of content, in particular, is the cornerstone of both present and future marketing, a key that unlocks the door to profitable PPC, stellar SEO, and powerful PR.

Crafting a successful content marketing strategy to be distributed online is easier said than done with a hugely competitive marketplace standing between you and success. Within this blog we’ll be taking a journey through the principles at the crux of crafting a successful content marketing strategy, including your various content assets and how to maximise their impact; how the production of quality content can capture your audience's attention accompanied by some inspirational real-life examples; as well as how to extend the reach of your content beyond creation.

Marissa Phillips, Head of Content Strategy at Airbnb eloquently describes the importance of a good marketing strategy, stating that “Content strategy is a design practice [and] plays an integral role in shaping core product experiences. We think about our work as part of a system. The way we communicate across these surfaces influences how people feel about our company. Although we write for different audiences we always use the same voice. Our voice is the extension of our brand and personality within the product, and it’s the foundation of everything we write.

If you're interested in taking it back to basics read our blog on 'what is digital marketing'

Content assets

In layman's terms, a content asset is a piece of content, in any form, that is utilised for attracting customers and driving revenue for a business. It can typically be repackaged in several different formats. Assets are distributed via articles, podcasts, and e-books amongst other mediums. In this sense, the distribution of content assets crossover with many other aspects of a company.

SEO and content marketing are closely aligned as you are optimising the use of assets to reach a larger audience. Furthermore, your social content marketing will more likely than not be filled with bite-size chunks of content that have been broken down from larger assets.

In this post, we will look at the use of three content assets proving to be immensely powerful to businesses using them, namely: infographics, whitepapers, and user-generated content (UGC).

Infographics

Infographics are a hugely popular form of visual storytelling with data. They are a form of media that have found their way into most content distribution channels - predominantly articles, blogs, social media and even more professional publications such as whitepapers.

Below, we take a look at some of the key facts and figures driving the use of infographics forwards.

Why infographics are good

As their popularity has risen, infographics have become a staple of blog posts, articles, and social media content. Below we highlight some of our favourite examples of the use of infographics, click on the images to take a peek at the full versions!

global travel trends
the most instagrammable sights in the UK
eco-friendly homesharing
anatomy of a cruise ship
fan experience

However, the use of infographics within your content marketing strategy is not without its flaws.

  • One major drawback when using infographics is that after publishing your beautiful infographic, the data you’ve used can become outdated very quickly. There is no easy solution to the maintenance of data integrity within infographics. However, they are not the only content susceptible to this issue.
  • Secondly, infographics don’t play nicely with SEO. In essence, infographics are a digital image, therefore search engines simply ignore the high SEO value data that you’ve painstakingly put together. Because of this, many adopters of infographics are coupling their images with on-site text to rank highly within search engine rankings.
  • Finally, high-quality infographics can be extremely time-consuming to put together, a lesson this author has regrettably learned when writing up this post. The process of drawing up a layout, condensing key information and finding relevant graphics that corresponds with your data is no easy task.

Whitepapers

The term whitepapers originate from use in government where they acted as a legislative document focusing on a political solution. One of the earliest known examples of their use in this capacity is the Churchill whitepaper of 1922.

Over time, the use of whitepapers has evolved with long-form whitepaper documents being used in B2B marketing since the early 1990s. Today, they are widely used as an ingredient of content marketing strategies. We define them as being reliable, comprehensive long-form bodies of information centred on a certain topic whilst providing solutions to problems within that specific topic.

There are numerous benefits for businesses using whitepaper reports within their content marketing strategies.

  • Companies producing professional, informative whitepapers can use them as a means of boosting brand image and credibility by sharing their expertise. This can be critical in converting prospective B2B clients and partnerships, incentivised to visit your website or give you a call after reading your amazing content.
  • The production of whitepaper reports can be something that sets you apart from your competitors. Your target users will appreciate the report, meanwhile, competitors may simply not bother producing such a document. Consumers will always pick the brand deemed to have greater expertise in their chosen field. Whitepaper reports are a great way to demonstrate this.
  • Whitepapers can also boost the number of contacts within your mailing list. Using condensed information derived from the whitepaper, such as an article or even infographic, you can use the full report as a giveaway in return for a subscription. But first, you must convince them of its value.

As with most forms of creative assets within your content marketing strategy, there are benefits to using whitepapers, and there are drawbacks.

  • One of the biggest criticisms is the time needed to produce a high-quality whitepaper. Before even getting started you need to complete a significant amount of research as to the language of your target consumers to maximise resonance with that audience. Furthermore, whitepapers can tend to be lengthy, wordy documents, which often take a significant amount of time to produce.
  • Also, your audience can often perceive whitepapers as being boring, unengaging documents. No matter how useful the information you are presenting, when faced with a bulk of research, statistics and data, people can just switch off.

User-generated content (UGC)

In marketing, we refer to User-Generated Content as being content produced and shared by the users of your product or service. UGC spans a host of creative assets, including pictures, videos, testimonials, blog posts and social media content. The rise in popularity of UGC comes from the recognition that consumers who love your product are the best advertisement for that product.

The general success of including UGC within your content marketing strategy can be attributed to several key factors:

  • The voice of the customer is put front and centre. Today, people’s attention can be limited, with companies in a constant cycle of having to keep up with the changing trends being set by their consumers. With this in mind, the incorporation of UGC within your online content marketing is a great way to monitor consumer trends and act on them accordingly, ensuring your continuing relevance as a brand

  • Today’s consumers are less susceptible to traditional marketing sales tactics than ever before. Consumers trust in product info presented to them via traditional sources is falling dramatically, with 34% trusting what they see on the television, 37% trusting what they hear on the radio and 44% trust what they read in the paper. Even more modern methods of marketing, such as paid social media brand ambassadors, are beginning to lose their credibility, with a study from media agency UM indicating that 4% of people trust the word of paid influencers. Today's consumers want your brand to give them captivating stories as well as a tangible connection with your brand and its offerings. The fact is, user-generated-content has always been there, think word-of-mouth marketing. Now, however, in the digital age, our sharing of the brands we love has sky-rocketed. A testament to this comes from BazaarVoice, who indicate that 86% of millennials believe UGC to be an indication of quality and credibility attached to a brand.

  • The beauty of UGC lies in the fact that users are acting as your advertiser. It’s a hugely cost-effective form of content marketing, allowing you to sit back and focus on the quality of your products and services or focus on other assets within your content marketing strategy. Consumers creating UGC are unpaid and generally do it to boost their influence, connect with like-minded people, to win a prize attributed to a social media campaign and in some cases, such as sharing travel experiences, do so as the creation of content is seen as being part of the experience.

Below we take a look at some of our favourite examples of how businesses have adopted the use of UGC

#hiltonstory

#hiltonstory

A campaign from Hilton hotels, which ran five years ago now, capitalised on the power of social content marketing and UGC with the #HiltonStory hashtag. The campaign urged guests to share their experiences, with contributions being driven by a weekly giveaway of free two-night stays. During this campaign, Hilton boosted its brand awareness whilst driving social media engagement through the roof, all whilst rewarding loyal customers who participated in the campaign.

@airbnb

Airbnb UGC

To a certain extent, Airbnb's entire business model is geared towards user-generated content. UGC drives new hosts as well as guests to the company. Airbnb also recognises the value of UGC on social media with 77% of content published on their Instagram page during the final quarter of 2017 derived from UGC.

Tourism Queensland

tourism queensland the best job in the world

10 years ago, Tourism Queensland struck gold with the “best job in the world”. The overall aim of the campaign was to highlight Queensland as a jaw-dropping travel destination. The company advertised a job, with the role in question being an “island caretaker” a splash away from the Great Barrier Reef with an AUD 150,000 salary to boot. All people had to do to enter was upload a short 60-second video detailing why they wanted the job. 30,000 people entered the competition whilst the campaign drew global news coverage before Brit Ben Southall, previously a charity events organiser won the six-month role. During his time at the island, Ben took part in more than 450 interviews, contributed over 75,000 words in blog posts, 1000+ tweets and 47 video diaries whilst touring nearly 100 destinations.

The main issue surrounding the use of UGC within content marketing concerns credibility.

One service that has suffered from accusations surrounding the credibility of their user-generated content is TripAdvisor. Founded in 2000, Tripadvisor is the world's largest travel platform, claiming to help 490 million travellers every month. And yet, the service’s credibility has come into disrepute in recent times.

In 2018, the Times published an investigation into TripAdvisor's website. They found one-third of the website's reviews to be fake. The problem with TripAdvisors system firstly is that there is little to no quality control on the site. This issue was famously exposed when “The Shed at Dulwich” - which never existed - was propelled to the lofty position of London's number one restaurant. Secondly, every review is valued equally, while this is a nice idea in principle, in practice, it creates an ecosystem where businesses can bombard competitors with negative reviews while promoting their ventures.

This example of TripAdvisor throws into question the authenticity of some user-generated content whilst making the point that there must be some degree of unbiased moderation to maintain credibility.

Interested in FMCG content marketing? We've compiled a list of top tips for FMCG content marketing strategies in 2019.

Capturing attention

Gaining attention for your brand in 2019 is no easy task. We live in a world of blurred lines where the difference between the real world and the digital one is barely visible. The relevance of traditional advertising methods is shrinking with every passing year. For your business to be successful you must lay down your arms in the battle for ad space and acknowledge the war for attention going on around you. If your customers deem you and your business as not being worthy of their attention, you will be ignored. Consumers are becoming savvier in how, when, where and why they consume your content and you must adapt to survive and thrive. People won’t care about you if you aren’t worth caring about. When you stand for something, care about something and have a passion only then it deserves to shine.

So, without giving away ALL our secrets, we’re going to break down the process of how you get attention.

  • You need to explore your own business. Work out what makes you tick and discover your best path forward. Only through meticulous planning and research will you create strategies worthy of attention.
  • Ideas are only as good as their execution. Once you know what to say, you need to create a way of saying it.
  • Once you’ve created a great digital experience you need to know how to cut through the noise, captivate your audience and maintain long-term relationships.

Don't let great content go to waste

Picture the scene. You’ve had the BEST idea for content, you write it up in a creative fervour, your SEO is top-notch and now it's out there, it's published. You grab that cold beer your boss is unaware of from the office fridge, kick back, and wait for the traffic to roll in.

Except it doesn’t, you hit refresh on your analytics page, still nothing. At this point, you start to get a little impatient, why is no-one seeing the fruits of your hard work? The words “content is king” start to play over and over again in your head, taunting you until you’re ready to throw in the towel.

However, the thing is, the most successful content marketing strategies adopt a host of different traffic sources to drive website traffic. Driving value from content does not end at creation, with several amplification techniques available to you as look to increase web traffic using the mediums detailed below.

methods of content amplification

You also have the option to “recycle” posted content in many ways. With content such as whitepapers or even blog posts, you can break the content down into bitesize chunks and distribute it via other mediums. With content that is evergreen, you can repost it at any point to promote it, likewise with content containing out-of-date data you can simply update it before reposting.

In conclusion

Through a mix of using the right creative elements; knowing how to draw attention to your content and business as a whole; as well as the right means of driving value from content via channels for amplification; content marketing is one of the single most powerful tools in your arsenal for honing in on profitable consumer action for your business.

An effective content marketing strategy cannot be rushed. Take the time to understand your customers and your business, find a voice within your content, be relevant and on-trend. Demand attention.

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Meet the author ...

Oliver Harris

Digital Content Executive

Oli spends his days researching and writing content. As a digital content executive he is responsible for monitoring our social channels, updating our website and amplifing our ...