What is Content Marketing? Going Back to Basics

















“Content marketing” is a term that’s been popping up all over the Internet for the last several years. Most marketers are familiar with the idea (content marketing equals marketing via content, right?) but would be hard-pressed to explain the intricacies of the process.

With that in mind, let’s go back to the basics of content marketing in order to build a usable and easily accessible definition for everyone who comes into contact with the term.

What is Content Marketing?

According to online authority, ContentMarketingInstitute.com, content marketing is the process of creating, distributing and sharing content for business and marketing purposes. Content created for content marketing caters to the express goal of attracting, acquiring and retaining new customers while also engaging a pre-defined target audience and driving customer interaction. Content marketing comes in the form of digital and physical content and is employed by a huge variety of businesses across many different industries.

The Origins of Content Marketing

Some content marketers would joke that the practice dates back to 4200 B.C., when the first example of custom publishing was found in cave paintings. One of the earliest examples of content marketing in America was tractor company John Deere’s 1895 publication of The Furrow, a magazine dedicated to providing useful information and content to its customers.

In 1900, Michelin followed suit with the first inception of The Michelin Guides, a consumer pamphlet dedicated to helping customers maintain their vehicles and find comfortable lodging and delicious food. Since then, being included in the guide has become one of the most prestigious accomplishments a restaurant can hope to achieve and Michelin star restaurants are sought out by travelers from across the world.

Throughout the 1900’s, content marketing examples kept pouring in with everything from Jell-O’s recipe book to Lego’s 1987 launch of Brick Kicks magazine. By 2001, marketers were spending nearly $20 billion annually on custom content creation and Penton Custom Media from Cleveland, Ohio had begun referring to the craze as “content marketing.”

In 2008, the pivotal work Get Content, Get Customers was released as a handbook for marketers everywhere and, by 2010, 25% of all marketing budgets were spent on creating custom content. Today, 59% of content marketers expect their content creation and distribution budgets to increase within the next 12 months and it’s clear that the reign of content marketing goes on.

Forms of Content Marketing

By nature, the term “content marketing” casts a wide net. “Content” encompasses everything from a blog post to a videocast and stops to pick up everything in between, as well. Although marketers all use different forms of content to fulfill their marketing goals, these types of content are typical and widespread in today’s content marketing environment:

1) Infographics:

Infographics have seen an 800% increase in Google searches in the last two years. If that’s not evidence enough to warrant their use, we’re just not sure what is. Infographics are today’s content heavy-hitters. In addition to combining the power of visual and written content, they are easy to share via social media platforms and they cram a huge amount of useful, interesting information into a condensed and easily digestible package. Plus, they’re easy to create and there are dozens of online platforms that allow marketers to create free infographics in a snap.

2) Videos:

Videos are a great way for marketers to meet their customers where they’re at. Although text-focused content is important and helpful for many users, videos are often easier to digest and access, which means that high-quality video content can offer a memorable platform for dispensing information. A great content marketing video can be anything from a videocast to an instructional, how-to lesson.

3) Guides:

People want information and guides are a great way to provide it for them. Every company is an expert at something and publishing helpful guides is a fantastic way to boost your company’s authority and gain customers through unique and useful content. Guides are generally longer than blog posts and are designed to delve deeply into one specific topic.

4) Lists:

Lists have been dominating sites like BuzzFeed for years and the reason is that they’re so amazingly effective. Lists are a great way to deliver content that ranges from instructional or helpful to hilarious. In addition to being easy to read and understand, lists are also ideal for sharing and have a tendency to go viral.

Although content marketing is an extensive subject that has warranted the writing of many books, this simple outline, and functional definition is enough to help you impress your friends and strike fear into the hearts of your enemies. Additionally, there’s no time like the present to be well-versed in the ins and outs of content marketing since it seems like the practice is only gaining popularity and becoming more and more embedded in the fabric of today’s marketing practices.

To learn more about content marketing and how your company can elevate your content strategy to the next level, contact Bigfoot Media today.

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