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What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a popular concept and effective tactic in online marketing.

But what is content marketing, how is it used and what are the benefits? Let’s try one definition:

Content marketing is a method for distributing online content that contains a direct and measurable benefit to the core business.

Try to find a definition of content marketing through search engines or other means. Quite a few variations show up.

Wikipedia says, “Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.”

Definitions that work best identify the value that content marketing brings to the business and by necessity require a return on investment for the money and labor that go into content marketing.

The Benefits

Customer Acquisition

Customer acquisition has a direct financial benefit to the company in the form of paying customers. The measurement is in the form of revenue.

But not all customers end up paying. Store traffic for traditional retailers often includes people who walk through without paying anything.

Web sites often have visitors who don’t click on an ad, buy something, sign up for a newsletter or provide any measurable financial benefit to the company.

A store visitor who comes in because of an ad in the local newspaper and leaves again — never to return — does not deliver even one dollar of benefit. The same is true of the site visitor.

That means retention is essential for that non-paying customer or visitor to become a potential payer in the future.

Link Building

Link building is often seen as one of the core benefits of content marketing. It has an indirect financial benefit to the company because it grows search engine rankings, which in turn result in more potential customers coming to the Web site. The measurement is in the form of rankings and site visitors.

Companies use link building to gain SEO ranking value for their core sites or to gain actual clicks from the links, much as they do from online advertising.

“Content marketing that is concentrated in one or just a few efforts can result in spin-off products with their own profit”

It’s worth noting that the click-through rates from a high search engine rank or a well-placed content marketing link can generate a CTR multiple times higher than an ad, even with contextual advertising such as Google AdWords.

But content marketing that is concentrated in one or just a few efforts can result in spin-off products with their own profit, revenue and audience contributions.

Blogging is a perfect example.

The Tactics

Many well-known tactics fall under the banner of content marketing, such as blogging, article marketing and YouTube videos.

Blogging is often thought of as something that people simply do because they enjoy it or make money from it.

Blogging also is done for the main purpose of creating a presence in an online community that attracts members of that community, building SEO value in the links back to the core site and attracting some valuable click throughs.

But a blog that receives enough attention may develop into a popular spin off of the core site with revenue that more than pays for the effort.

Likewise, what used to be known as article marketing (the term has fallen somewhat out of favor) and accomplish the same thing.

Rather than writing a continuous stream of smaller articles for a blog, marketers produce longer and more authoritative articles that appear on sites which share advertising revenue and provide a great deal of audience access, such as HubPages and Squidoo.

Return on Investment

No thing is worth doing in this highly competitive economy if it doesn’t pay for itself. Content marketing must have a measurable return on investment.

That ROI can be measured as:

  1. Improved SEO rankings
  2. Clickthroughs from the marketed content
  3. Conversions on the core site from the targeted audience
  4. Revenue or other forms of value provided by the marketed content

It behooves the marketer to test multiple forms of content marketing, multiple types of content and as many sites as possible for the target content.

Each one should be measured for the amount of effort that goes into it and the benefit that comes out of it.

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