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Posted on 01.04.2012

Content Marketing Grows Up: 5 Tips to Freshen Up Your Strategy

Read any marketing, PR or social media blog these days and you’ll likely stumble across dozens of articles on content marketing. Fueled by the growth of social media, it offers companies a new way to engage customers and build their brand. In fact, 2011 saw industry giants like NissanBoeing and HSBC embrace the concept with the launch of sophisticated websites and video content designed to share their stories in a fresh new way. While content marketing – also known as brand journalism – is getting a lot of ink these days, the idea of using customer-focused content to position your organization as an expert isn’t new. In fact, most companies are already engaging in some form of content marketing whether they know it or not. From newsletters to white papers and bylined articles, content marketing can take many forms. Today, these tried and true vehicles are being supplemented with blogs, dedicated websites, videos, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. According to new research, the content marketing movement is gaining steam in the B2B world as well. A recent survey revealed that 82 percent of B2B respondents use content marketing – making it twice as popular as mainstream outlets such as print, TV or radio advertising. And why wouldn’t they? Every company has access to a ready-made team of subject matter experts: their employees. The challenge comes in leveraging that expertise to create – and share – compelling content. Here are a few tips for doing just that:
  • Easy on the self promotion. Treat content marketing like you would a first date: less about you, more about me. Focus on engaging your customer with content that speaks directly to their needs and interests. Save content that is overtly promotional for an ad. The mere fact that you are broaching the topic speaks volumes.
  • Be transparent. As with all things in this digital age, transparency is key to winning the trust of customers. While you don’t want to hit the reader over the head with endless references to your company, a legitimate content marketing vehicle should never disguise its source.
  • Balance creation with curation. Many organizations struggle with the time and cost of creating original content. Companies can stretch their marketing resources – not to mention join in the conversation – through content curation. While it may sound intimidating, curation is simply the act of finding great content – often via a mainstream news article or blog post – and sharing it. Recent research suggests 40% of content should be original – leaving the balance for curation.
  • Make it a conversation – not a monologue. Engage customers by providing ways for them to interact with you. Whether it’s simply enabling comments on your blog or sharing content on a Facebook page, interaction breeds transparency, which in turn creates loyalty and engagement.
  • Measure, measure, measure. As with any marketing or PR tool, content marketing should be part of a broader strategy. However, there are ways to quantify your efforts. In addition to tracking the number of page views and email opens, marketers should track which prospects became qualified leads and which leads turned into paying customers. A variety of tools – ranging from browser cookies to lead forms and contests or promotions – can be used to gauge success.
The moral of the story? You don’t have to be Nissan or Boeing to create engaging content that positions your company as a thought leader and turns prospects into customers. Good luck!      

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