Key takeaways

  • Content marketing is about strategic creation and curation of content to drive engagement or action
  • Planning content marketing activity in line with a broader digital strategy will be more beneficial to overarching business objectives
  • Beyond traditional branding, content marketing can shape ‘who’ a business is and ‘humanise’ it

The latest buzzword to hit the digital marketing scene, content marketing, is once again enjoying the limelight. I say once again, because content has always been fundamental to any marketing activity. Though it may have changed in shape, form and transmission – it is still an asset that is sorely under-utilised by many businesses.

Taking the ‘con’ out of content marketing

Like other buzzwords, the meaning of content marketing can often be shrouded in mystery and marketing enigma – but really when you get down to it:

Content marketing is the strategic creation and curation of any type of content to engage or facilitate an action from a particular target audience.

With the proliferation of digital communication channels over the past five years (e.g. Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.), this has driven a resurgence in the importance of curated content.

A new consumer playing field has been created that doesn’t tolerate one-way communication or content that is uninteresting, uninspiring, irrelevant or pious. Where it used to be easy to slap together a communiqué for the masses – content now needs to go beyond just a product or service push. It is about the alignment with lifestyle, professional interests, ethics, morals and various other ‘life factors’.

If a business’ content doesn’t meet these needs, that’s fine there is plenty of it to go around – a consumer has the choice to simply tune out and stop listening.

Is content marketing really critical?

In short… yes. When addressing a digital strategy it’s often the technology and design that is prioritised, and while certainly critical elements, content should not be an afterthought. If planned and prepared in parallel with a broader digital strategy – content marketing efforts will be more impactful and beneficial to overarching business objectives.

Above and beyond this, content marketing may well become the barometer by which a business is measured and appears in ‘organic’ or non-paid search results. As search engine algorithms become increasingly sophisticated in order to deliver the most relevant results, content needs to be a keystone in the mix of activities for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Strategically planning and setting a clear direction for content and sticking to it, should mean that – whatever changes occur within a search engine’s algorithm – organic search result positioning should be maintained (provided that the content is legitimately relevant).

Content marketing for brand and beyond

For many businesses the dream is to create a loyal community of advocates, those that organically spread the message – digital word of mouth so to speak. Just ten fans or followers can mean a reach of hundreds, if not thousands – which really puts into perspective the importance of what is being said to cultivate these connections.

‘Like a mysterious shadow, the intricate black lace casts stylish intrigue onto this white scoop-neck top. Noir panels finesse the front with fringed scallop edges, distinguishing this loose-fitting sleeveless shirt as an ethereal wardrobe favorite.’

Modcloth uses content marketing in its item descriptions

ModCloth embodies its personality through the content on its website, including product descriptions.

This is the description of the ‘Inky Echo Top’ that is a part of the range featured online at ModCloth, a US-based vintage fashion retailer. I discovered ModCloth a number of years ago while writing for another publication and to this day, it is the retailer’s item descriptions that stay with me as an example of very effective content marketing. This style and personality is reflected right the way through the ModCloth website and it speaks volumes to ‘who’ the retailer is.

To this point, content becomes an extension of a brand. It enables a business to have a personality – whether an inspirational leader, vying to make a real change or a helpful, informative and reliable source of information – content marketing can shape ‘who’ a business is and ‘humanise’ it.

Equally the channels chosen for content marketing, are another indicator to consumers of what a brand’s essence is. For example, though Snapchat has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence with a reported 100 million users.  With 71% of its users under 25 and female – it would probably not be the best channel for a B2B business focused on reaching the c-suite. Nonetheless it is important for businesses to know and understand which communication channels will yield the best results for their target audiences.

After all content marketing can only be effective if it is seen by the right people!

In the next instalment, we will explore the the top tips for setting a content marketing strategy.


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Nirosha Methananda

With a marketing and communications background, Nirosha is the former marketing lead for PwC’s Technology Consulting services.

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