As consumers realize they can use technology to their advantage to skip, avoid and ignore many direct advertising methods, marketers, too, have become more savvy in their tactics to reach them. One of the most popular trends involves content marketing, an indirect method that reaches consumers without bold sales pitches in an effort to build a following while developing loyalty and ultimately brand sales.
Content Marketing in a Nutshell
Content marketing involves the creation and distribution of relevant, valuable and consistent content that’s meant to pull in a well-defined audience and lead them through a marketing funnel. The ultimate goal is to drive customer action toward a brand, but in a manner that’s less direct than pure advertising. The notion is to provide consumers with information they can use, that is of interest to them or provides entertainment value to help develop an audience that returns for more content consumption. The idea behind brand-sponsored content that isn’t pure advertising is the notion that consumers who find content informative and valuable will gain trust in the business that delivers it and ultimately reward the business with purchases and loyalty.
Content marketing is a process meant to develop an audience while building the potential for forging lasting consumer relationships with products or services. Content used in this practice includes:
- Text – Blog posts, white papers, articles, eBooks and other forms of written material meant to engage and inform
- Videos and graphics – Video presentations, infographics and other visuals designed to inform, educate and entertain all serve the purpose
What the Future Holds
Content marketing is considered one of the hottest, most talked about trends in the field, but not all marketing budgets reflect that. Contently, a software company that works with brands and freelancers to provide content, found in a survey that 52% of marketers said a quarter or less of their 2015 marketing budgets would be dedicated to content. The online survey conducted between November 5 and November 17 of 2014 focused on the content marketing tactics of 601 marketers.
Contently uncovered some of the frustration points marketers have with content. It found that some marketers are frustrated with a lack of budgeting for content (34%), an inability to measure business results (22%) and a lack of time to dedicate to the craft (11%). The company also found that many Fortune 500 companies spend between 26% to 50% of their marketing budgets on their content efforts. Most, an estimated 57%, have two or more people dedicated to content marketing. Those figures give credence to the growing importance of this form of marketing.
Trends in the Industry
As content marketing continues to grow, a number of trends are emerging that experts anticipate will drive efforts in 2015 and perhaps beyond:
- Quality over quantity – As content marketing grows, so does the deluge of information available to consumers. The key, experts say, is developing a focus on quality over quantity to help published pieces stand out.
- Niche focus – Rather than focus on overall reach, marketers are learning to target niche audiences to drive value.
- Interaction is vital – Though video remains a valuable tool, consumers want content they can interact with, thus increasing the demand for social media.