The data is in, and it’s not good news for traditional marketing, it is becoming less effective year by year. If you’re an online marketer, you need to know what the alternatives are… enter online content marketing.
Let’s start by looking at some statistics to gauge how important this technique has become over the past few years. Nowadays, over 80% of B2B businesses (selling to other companies) and 90% of B2C businesses (selling direct to consumers) use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy.
As you can see, more and more companies are now engaging with content marketing, they are going beyond traditional sales techniques to promote their brand through the diffusion of information, ideas and entertainment that is valued by consumers. In this way, they can both improve their brand image and build up a loyal follower base.
If you’re still unsure what the differences are, let’s take a closer look at what exactly content marketing is and how it differs and complements holistic digital marketing.
Content Marketing 101
Content marketing is a targeted marketing approach focused on creating and distributing relevant, valuable and consistent content to attract, retain and convert a clearly defined target audience.
Instead of blindly pitching a product or service to the masses and hoping something sticks, as is the case with traditional marketing, online content marketing aims to provide truly relevant and useful content to niche prospects to help them solve an issue or answer a question. The Harvard Business Review explains, “The content marketing revolution marks an important new chapter in commercial communications history: the corporate enlightenment era”.
As an indispensable tool for brand positioning in the modern age, online content marketing has become the lynchpin of a marketing strategy aimed at reaching audiences on the internet. On average, both B2B and B2C marketers are utilising six social networks/channels to get their message out via a dedicated editorial plan. Content efforts include a vast array of assets, from articles on websites and blogs to email marketing, videos, e-books, listicles, social media posts, whitepapers, podcasting, webinars, lead magnets, apps, infographics, slide decks and so on.
Digital Marketing Vs Content Marketing
The simple answer is that the difference between digital marketing and content marketing is that the former focuses on sales and the latter engagement. Of course, nothing is ever that simple; let’s dive in a little deeper.
Digital marketing includes tactics like SEO (search engine optimisation) and both search engine and social media advertising. The goal here is to get as many customers as possible to go beyond the search results page and convert. When customers see an advert, marketers must make it as appealing as possible so that they click through to a landing page. Once an advert successfully gets them to a website, the page must be attractive (site structure), optimised (SEO), easy to navigate (UX) and relevant (content).
Now let’s look at how content marketing diverges from this. As mentioned above, “content” can be anything from writing a blog post to creating a photo album and even a Spotify playlist. So why would businesses want to focus on engaging with potential customers rather than going for the hard sell? Because content marketing stimulates consumer interest in a brand; in other words, it creates brand awareness. This is the crucial ingredient in fostering long-term customer acquisition, trust and retention.
Looked at another way, online content marketing is about quality over quantity. When you produce engaging content, it gets people excited about your product or service; unlike with spammy digital marketing, when can make people bored, annoyed and worst yet, disengaged. And let’s not forget the Marketing Rule of 7, which states that a customer needs to “hear” an advertiser's message as many as seventimes before they'll take meaningful action. What would you rather, receive seven different ads that don’t fit with your lifestyle or seven unique thought pieces that inspire you to act?