2018 is a great time to start utilizing content creation tactics for your business. Maybe you’re opening up a business for the first time and you’re trying to find a marketing solution that can easily communicate your brand identity, or maybe you have an existing business and you want to make your online presence more accessible and engaging. If that’s the case, then content creation is perfect for you, but honestly, content creation is perfect for everyone: it’s where the future of all marketing lies in this increasingly digital world, so strap in and get ready to be introduced to the wild world of content creation.
The first thing to understand about content marketing is that even if you’ve never heard the term before, you know exactly what it is because we’re bombarded with it all the time. Think of the recipes that come with a story by the author, the guides to pizza places and coffee shops written by various businesses, podcasts that give free advice that comes from a book written by the host: all of these are examples of content creation, and it’s everywhere these days because it’s ridiculously effective at getting people to become loyal customers. The Content Marketing Institute provides us with this definition of what content marketing is:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Since content marketing uses the content to attract and build your clientele, the content creation part of the process is, simply, creating the content. Except, it’s not as simple as it sounds.
In order to have any success whatsoever with this strategy, you need to have content that is, “valuable,” and, “relevant,” to your potential customers. This involves knowing what your client wants to know about by researching the kinds of things people are searching for, deciding what format works best for the information you’re trying to spread, and actually creating the content that needs to get delivered out into the world.
The internet is a pretty busy place, and while it’s often cited as a space that’s shortening our attention spans and turning us into mindless browsers, The Atlantic actually found that users browsing on mobile devices were reading articles of 1000 words or more with high levels of engagement, and that with longer articles the number of seconds spent on the page actually went up. And on mobile, of all places! This might be great for culture, but for a marketing dynamic, it can mean putting in the extra work to create longer pieces that are engaging to your readers.
The shorter pieces can’t be ignored either when considering what kind of messages your audience needs, since not everyone necessarily wants to read the long articles, so we have to find a way to communicate our message to the reader in the shorter amount of time they’re spending on the piece. And that’s just with written material, with videos and podcasts comprising a whole different territory.
The task can be pretty daunting, but the payoff is worth it: according to Demand Metric, it’s 62% cheaper to use content marketing than outbound marketing while getting three times as many leads. It also gets you more conversion rates that are up to six times higher than competitors who don’t use content marketing, and the best content marketers out there report 7.8 times more site traffic than those without engaging content. The strategy works, and it’s a remarkably efficient way to build and grow your business.
So now the problem is getting the social media, video, podcasts, ebooks, blogs, and podcasts out on a monthly, or even weekly basis. This is the reason that 73% of businesses hire someone to manage their content as a full-time gig. But just like the advertising agencies we’re already familiar with, we’re seeing more and more businesses handing over the task of online marketing to an outside organization. These businesses are aptly called content creation agencies, and 62% of businesses now utilize their services to consistently push out engaging content. So what is a content creation agency, and what can you expect from them?
Content creation agencies are taking the marketing world by storm and for good reason. They shoulder the huge responsibility of creating content for the world’s businesses. It’s clear that content creation isn’t a one-man job, but you might be skeptical about hiring a full-blown agency to do your marketing for you. Can an outside company really understand what your consumers want as well as you do? Can they create the content that your audience wants to see? That depends on your needs, and we’ll go through the reasons you might want to consider using a content marketing agency to cover your needs.
Content creation agencies aren’t only concerned with one medium for distributing your brand across the internet: they also ensure that you create a variety of different levels of content, from the top-tier articles and publications that will cement your legitimacy as experts in your field, to the weekly stuff that you put on the web to keep people updated and to catch their interests on a whim during an internet search.
And then, there’s also a need to manage the social media aspect of this campaign, with posts, events, and comments supplementing and promoting all of the other messages you're putting into the internet.
It’s important to maintain every level of this hierarchy and understand where they lie in relation to each other. Each of these forms of content is equally important, but they require radically different approaches, and each of them requires a different timescale for maximum efficiency.
If there’s one thing we all know about the internet, it’s that it’s anything but slow. When thinking about creating different posts for your business, there needs to be an understanding that these things have a short digital lifespan before your consumer needs more, and in order to stay relevant at the breakneck speed of the web it needs to push on a strict and consistent basis, ranging from daily posts at the social media level to quarterly for your most engaging work. Of course, the dream is to create evergreen content that can be relevant time and time again anyone searches for it, but that doesn’t mean that we can stop after a handful of timeless posts. Consumers need to be constantly engaged to keep their attention focused on you and your brand, and that requires maintaining a presence on the internet which regularly updates your audience with valuable content. It also requires a consistent brand presence, and potential consumers are much more likely to be on board with your company if you provide a variety of insightful content that nonetheless always conforms to your values and identity as a company. This is a lot of legwork, and people require a framework to make sure that they follow a process that works.
Finally, a content creation agency can have a powerful and persistent strategy for getting all this content built and distributed to the world. Models like the Curata Content Marketing Pyramid help define marketing strategies as a whole to distill themes that you want to convey to your customers. From there, you can create content that directly sprouts from those themes, which will end up affirming your overall content strategy. Strategies like this also make sure that you distribute your content across the internet in a variety of different formats, so people who browse the internet for different kinds of material will find it in their own way. Your strategy will also ensure that across all of the different platforms your content spreads to, and regardless of the variety of the content, it all revolves around your core corporate objectives and themes. This consistency and unity are incredibly powerful for maintaining and conveying your brand identity to potential consumers, and without a strategy, it’s difficult to bring that all together.
Despite its current face on the internet, content marketing is nothing new. A quick trip to Wikipedia gives us these great case studies in how content marketing is a prime way of engaging with your audience.
This wildly popular publication by Benjamin Franklin was a hit in the colonies for its witticisms and serial stories, but it actually started out as a way for Franklin to advertise his printing press business. It ended up becoming his claim to fame, printing more than 10,000 copies a year for the next 25 years.
Radio was the newest and coolest form of entertainment in the early 20th century, and in order to capitalize on a growing number of women who desired to be entertained as they worked within their homes, Procter & Gamble sponsored a series of serialized radio shows that advertised their products during the performance. Today their legacy lives on as having defined an entire genre of entertainment.
As you read that slogan, you might have thought of the pencil-like commercials that Red Bull puts out, and you might have also thought of the numerous races, contests, and events that Red Bull hosts every year. Curating and filming these events is actually a particularly potent form of content creation, and it’s been so successful that Red Bull is practically synonymous with extreme sports and challenges that are always ready to give you a thrill.
A true success story built out of content marketing, Mint.com created a personal finance blog to appeal to a neglected niche of the professional world, and to drive traffic to their product for appeasing the needs of these people. In the end, it was the content marketing blog that made the product ubiquitous, not the app itself, since the finance portion of the product was too personal to share online, but the articles themselves could be shared easily and enthusiastically. 2 years later, Mint was bought for $170 million dollars. Wow.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty clear that the internet is only heading towards more content, and the bar is being raised higher every day. People are starving for content to thrill, excite, and inform them, and the business world is working hard to deliver all that and more. Companies are striving to find the most effective and efficient ways of connecting and engaging with their audiences, and marketing strategies that don’t involve some form of engagement with their consumer are likely to be fighting hard to keep their potential clients from choosing them over businesses that regularly capture their attention.
Even simple things like starting a blog can lead to monumental success like we’ve seen through Mint.com, and having an entire team of people dedicated to creating and curating content designed around your corporate objectives will probably prove invaluable to communicating with your client base. And with its economic sense to spend less money to make more returns, even with the expense of hiring an agency the case for a content creation strategy is compelling regardless of your industry or size.
Was there a piece of information that you found particularly interesting, or something you didn’t know about? What’s your reaction to the success stories of Mint.com, Benjamin Franklin, Red Bull, and Procter & Gamble? Also, did you ever expect those four names to be mentioned together? Let us know in the comments! And good luck with all your content marketing efforts!