There's a saying that content is king. That applies to all industries, not just entertainment, but to any business trying to reach and inform their customers. For advertising to work on a targeted audience, there must be something there that initially draws them in. In the old days of pre-digital marketing, that content was entertainment. People didn't normally enjoy commercials on TV for their own sake but viewed them because they were interspersed with the content that really engaged them, such as dramatic TV series, documentaries, or even news broadcasts.
In the digital world of the internet, content has a similar value. Content marketing is the next logical step of taking material that has appeal to a market and making it a marketing tool itself, rather than a "lure" to get the audience to view marketing. After all, why spend time creating content only tangentially related to your business, when you can make ads that are already a topic of interest? By making the content a part of the marketing, rather than an "assist" to the marketing, you have improved your chances of success. Content marketing has become an effective tool, and it's not going away anytime soon. In fact, content marketing is actually increasing in value and usefulness thanks to the tweaks and developments made in search algorithms.
So if you're looking into getting the most out of your content marketing, what should you be considering? These are things you need to think about going into 2019.
Content marketing is about providing meaningful content, but the interpretation of meaningful can vary. In the past, with simpler search engine algorithms, "fluff" or filler content was perfectly acceptable because simpler algorithms only looked at basic parameters, like how many times a particular keyword was used. So it wasn't unusual for early websites to have nonsensical gibberish, with a keyword placed at the bottom of the page 100 times to get the attention of a search engine.
Today, of course, that doesn't work. Search engines are smarter and will even hand out penalties for this unethical practice. Consumers are also looking for reliable content to inform purchasing decisions. Your content must have value, which can be broken up into three types based on its benefit to your target market.
This kind of content assists readers. Useful content helps consumers or potential clients achieve a goal. When your content provides help, that creates a lot of value and generates positive feelings for your business and its image. People may also come back looking for more help in the future, establishing trust, loyalty, and authority.
In some ways a parallel of useful, informative content creates value through education. The goal here is not necessarily to help a consumer achieve a specific goal in the way that a guide or tutorial might. Here, the aim is to teach a consumer something interesting or new that may potentially have uses in the future, even if it doesn't right now.
The value of engaging content should never be underestimated. Just think about the fun people have interacting with and sharing memes or videos, the kind of things that go viral and are consumed by millions of people across the globe. Entertainment, when done well, has high value, perhaps the highest of all. Trying to create viral content with global entertainment value deliberately is a daunting task. Don't aspire to go viral but instead set out to truly engage your audience with a compelling piece of content.
Once you create good content marketing, where are you putting it? Do your customers know where to find it? Do they even know that it's out there? Marketing basics tell you to put your business out there on social media and through a website to build awareness, but make sure that your content itself is getting the same spotlight and consideration as your products and your marketing efforts.
The creation of a "content hub," for example, may deserve some marketing and creative attention of its own. If you're finding that your customers are increasingly coming to you for the usefulness of your content, make sure you continue to impress them. Useful content is "evergreen," and new customers will go to that old content again and again if it continues to remain relevant. Create a place where your articles, videos, podcasts, and other content can all be easily found. Then, do a little bit of marketing to make sure your ideal customers know about your useful library of resources.
One of the most significant advantages of content marketing is that can operate as an ad in disguise. When you make your content the advertising itself, it is no longer an interruption to what people are searching for, but it is the goal. As an example, 615 million devices used AdBlock software in 2017, and that number has only been growing. So if you're creating an ad, banner, or another traditional type of internet advertising, millions of people aren't seeing it. They've taken the trouble to download and install software that blocks any attempt to interrupt their browsing.
However, with content marketing, the content is the advertising. That means you need to create content apart from cut-and-dry ads. Blogs, articles, podcasts, and videos are all better ways to advertise to your customers subtly. When you work toward creating valuable content that will entertain and educate your audience, you remain unaffected by things like AdBlock. People are deliberately seeking you out instead of shutting you out. Focus on positively driving people to seek out your marketing tools, your content, rather than interrupting what they're trying to achieve online.
In the past, the classic marketing funnel concentrated on building up awareness and creating a "short-term relationship" with a customer that lasted only until a purchase was made. Once that goal had been achieved, customers tended to be regarded as "spent assets" and were subsequently ignored unless they had an issue that required customer support to deal with it, so as not to impact a business's reputation.
Today, content marketing is now viewed as a way to create an ongoing relationship with a customer beyond making the initial purchase. Content marketing expands the way a customer interacts with a business, going beyond just giving that business money or requiring technical or customer support.
For instance, people who buy a musical instrument from an instrument manufacturer establish an ongoing connection with that business through content marketing. The might return to that business's website for FAQs or video tutorials or any other content. They might even scan the business's social media for answers to their questions or to connect with fellow customers. That customer is now in a "long-term relationship" with the company. The addition of good content on a regular basis extends the length and quality of that relationship.
If content is king, and content marketing is one of the biggest movers in marketing, then the undisputed king of kings is video. New studies indicate that in 2019, 80% of general consumer internet traffic will be the viewing of videos. That figure does not even account for video chat but refers merely to the consumption of pre-recorded videos or live video streaming.
Video is one of the best ways to get attention for content marketing because it is easy for the viewer to consume. Video also combines all three benefits of valuable content; it is useful and informative while also being entertaining. For companies that are willing to invest in a good production team and set of equipment, video can be a great way to quickly create content on a regular basis. When your content strategy is combined with other uses for video, such as live video broadcasts—especially with social influencers—you can quickly establish a relationship with customers and maintain it. Two types of video content are especially useful to customers, and they include:
In the same way that the user review is one of the most critical pieces of research that potential customers undertake, video testimonials can be even more sought after. By showing other customers highlighting uses and positive aspects of your product or service, you are inspiring consumer confidence.
People are always interested in learning new things and guaranteeing that a purchase is worthy. While detailed articles can be very enlightening, but sometimes, especially when involving an action, it is better to use a video. Create or share customer videos with actions, animations, and explanations to reinforce learning.
The important thing to note with these popular types of video content is that they are centred on enriching the customer's understanding of your products and furthering the customer's goals. Make sure that any actual marketing or advertising is secondary, and not pursued in an aggressive manner. You want these forms of video to build trust and authority. Consumers are very wary of being sold to. Like content marketing itself, the value of the content takes precedence over product or service promotion.
Some may make the mistake of thinking that with the importance of quality content and the dominance of video as a marketing tool, SEO or search engine optimization may not be as crucial in 2019. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the content is ultimately what your customer engages with, good SEO practices are still what enabled those consumers to find your content, if they were only inputting a general query into a search engine.
While SEO is important for "conventional" computer users on desktops and laptops, the push to prioritize mobile search and content consumption will continue into 2019, and there will be an even greater emphasis placed on optimizing for voice search.
The rules and practices for voice search optimization are not yet set in stone, and it will involve a bit of tweaking and experimentation. After all, search engines themselves will have to see what works best for people conducting searches via smartphone, and how it differs from other computer use. In the same way, the interface and outputs for verbal searches are very different. You don't have a visible SERP with meta descriptions to inform your next time. There are a lot of unknowns, so this is pioneer territory for SEO that you'll want to keep tabs on.
Social media has become one of the most important means of communication and entertainment for the general public. And that means it has now become one of the most critical virtual spaces for marketing, including content marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and many, many more are where people are digitally these days. As a result, it's no surprise that social media is where a lot of digital marketing takes place. Even customer support systems are moving over to social media, with some companies establishing reputations for themselves, such as the humour now associated with the Netflix Twitter account.
But general digital marketing isn’t limited to social media. Content marketing can be just as at home here as well. Videos can be published anywhere, whether it's on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or directly on a company website. However, other types of content marketing, like blog articles and photos are still being successfully promoted on social media or linking back to fuller sites. A combination of proper social media usage, the careful selection of accompanying captions, tags, and cover images, and consistent engagement with consumers will all provide great results for your content marketing campaigns.
The one thing that should never be forgotten is the cornerstone of content: quality. When you create a reputation for producing high-quality content, it will draw in new and repeat viewers. Quality is the more attractive part of content, and the market will reward you for it with more new customers and greater success!
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