The use of content has become one of the fastest growing marketing strategies, according to US content organisation company Curata. But this isn’t just a US phenomenon – British businesses are also discovering the value of content-driven marketing.
Content marketing can be defined as providing information that is of value to potential customers via media such as blogs, podcasts or videos. This might sound contradictory though – it is not about selling, but helping. The rise of content marketing is partly a response to growing consumer apathy towards advertising. When people use the internet they’re usually not looking to be sold to, but to be informed or entertained. Increasing the chances of making a sale therefore involves satisfying those needs by providing advice. The advice given can be anything from help with deciding where to go on holiday or how to repair a dripping tap – tied in somehow with your product.
Build your credibility
Providing valuable content shows expertise to a potential customer and that reinforces confidence and trust. If the advice is really useful, it might even lead to a sense of gratitude.
It’s about adding value from the very first encounter with your website that can later lead to sales and recommendations. A great example of this is the online retailer of spare parts, eSpares.com. The site has a series of short videos showing how to fix home appliances, from changing a kitchen tap to replacing a washing machine door seal.
A potential customer watching those short videos is far more likely to buy those spare parts as they’ll be more confident about doing the work themselves and can save a fortune on a plumber.
Producing content that is valuable for your target market is very much a case of thinking about the problems, fears, desires and motivations of your customers. Material that addresses their concerns can come from your own expertise, or bringing into one place the information they need to solve a particular problem.
For those who would prefer to call in the experts, there are content agencies that can handle the task. They should be able to create and present content for your target audience, help with its distribution and be able to demonstrate an understanding of your industry.
How you present your content is very much down to the way your audience likes to obtain information. If your business focuses on investment advice, written content such as blog posts and reports containing charts work well. However, if you’re in the fashion industry, visual content is likely to be far more important, such as providing photos and short videos on your website.
Good content is likely to be linked to from external sites, which can help you boost your traffic as well as please your customers. Google gives higher priority in its page rankings to sites that have quality content and it partly makes that judgement by the number of genuine links to it.
Make it social
With all your content, make sure that it is easy for others to share via social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
When your content is shared by others you are benefiting from one of the most powerful of all marketing tools – that of personal recommendation and endorsement. Increasingly, consumers are turning to their peers for advice to inform their purchasing decisions.
Encouraging visitors to sign up to a free newsletter is another way of staying in touch with potential customers.
The PR angle
If your content is newsworthy, such as giving insight into a new trend, it might have publicity value. Having a publication write about it can add enormous credibility to a small business. The best way to place a story is to find the most relevant publication and journalist. Then call them beforehand to gauge their interest. If they do publish make sure you link to their article from your website.
A strategy of regularly producing and distributing high-quality content should form an integral part of the marketing plan of any business. It’s a proven strategy for gaining recognition and building trust, which in turn leads to more business.