Content Marketing – Trend Theme or Strategy for Future?
"Content is king!“ – Who doesn’t know this slogan? Content marketing is one of this year’s trend themes and at the same time a term that concerns specialized media. We ask ourselves: what is behind it? And how does content become king?
What is content marketing?
At the heart of it, content marketing is about useful information for customers and their cross-media processing and distribution. It is the aim to win over a target group by offering value added content via all available media channels. This is based on the knowledge that only high-quality, attractive and targeted content is suitable to really impress customers, to increase consumer acceptance and to bind them in the long term to a company.
Which content offers added value?
For content to offer added value, it must surpass simple product information. It must show approaches for problems and offer background information or application examples. These then are, in an ideal case, the basis for decision-making and lead to buying the product or to use the offered services. The golden rule is: the sooner a company establishes a relationship to a potential customer, the higher is the probability that the interested party turns into a customer. Customer loyalty works all the better the less advertisements are contained in the content. Because in the age of social media and changing consumption behaviour, attention-craving advertising messages are increasingly without force and effect.
The perfect combination is crucial
It is thus important to gain the customers‘ and interested parties’ attention by (industry)relevant, serious and always up-to-date information. This can happen via the corporate website, the company blog, the company’s social media channels, a webinar, or an app with additional benefit. In an optimal case, the information is linked in a meaningful way on the various channels. Thus, a message on the homepage can link to an extensive background report on the blog, and can be boosted by a thematically corresponding video on Youtube.
A clearly structured, media specific processing of the message as well as a rapid retrievability of the information in the various channels is of particular importance in this context.
Let me entertain you!
Potential customers are not into wastelands of text, even if these are written in an appealing way. Above all, they react way more emotional to images and videos. Thus, images and pictures are “liked” five to ten times more on Facebook than texts and links. Also the development of branded videos on YouTube has made a gigantic jump upwards in the last two years, as is demonstrated by the following chart.
Monthly released videos on YouTube
It is a fact that users want to be informed and entertained, especially in the B2C-area. Story-telling, meaning the telling and developing of an authentic story, is a functional instrument. If story-telling happens in a professional, credible, visually supported way, and, furthermore, cross-medial, it has the best chances to embed the brand with the user and to turn him into a loyal customer. By sharing positive messages in his social networks, a loyal customer even turns into ma multiplier. Thus, images, stories and emotions increasingly replace texts and product information. According to the motto: "Facts tell, stories sell" also success stories and case studies that tell about successfully realized projects or product launches are an appropriate tool to make interested parties be aware of the own company.
Dialog instead of monologue
The dialog is the third dimension. It is not enough to continuously play at ones target group with multimedia information. It is far more important to be interested in the client and his wishes and opinions and to ask for dialog. All commentaries, reactions and suggestions must be absorbed, answered and, if necessary, be included in the further development of the product or service. The gained insights from an intensive interaction are furthermore a valuable input for corrections regarding the direction of the content strategy.
Even Google likes content!
Content marketing is not only an advantage for customers and interested parties, but also helps companies to gain a better position within the search engine ranking. Because even Google and the likes prefer high-quality content, as demonstrated by the last Panda update. Another advantage is that good content also leads faster to backlinks.
Examples for successful content marketing
We’ve been meeting examples for applied content marketing for a long time, also in the non-digital everyday life: recipes on the supermarket calendar, the pharmacy gazette, the information brochure of health insurance companies containing fitness and nutrition tips, the customer magazines of car manufacturers, etc. The imprinted baking recipes on Dr. Oetker baking powder sachets at the end of the 19th century are one of the earliest examples. The following video offers an interesting overview about the history of content marketing since the end of the 19th century, using examples of well-known brands.
The company Schwarzkopf has particularly professionally addressed the topic of content marketing in the digital age. The internet user receives a lot of valuable information and tips regarding hair care, styling and fashion hairstyles on http://www.schwarzkopf.de/ without Schwarzkopf products being present on the cover page. Only the subordinate site discreetly points to them in form of product information. Due to the high journalistic quality of the content and supporting measures – for example interactive offers on Facebook and on a YouTube channel with video tutorials for hairstyling – Schwarzkopf manages to establish a long-term commitment with the customer. At the same time, the access figures regarding the Schwarzkopf website have increased rapidly and lasting.
Another interesting example is Coca-Cola. Its internet magazine Journey, which has also been launched in Germany last year, replaces the corporate website and literally goes on a journey with the readers. Coca-Cola creates an entertaining as well as informative world, consisting of myths, social commitment, scientific studies, videos and interactivity. The brand Coca-Cola is embedded positively in this media world. Another interesting point regarding this content marketing example also is that the content does not only come from the company itself. The website is also continually enriched by guest articles from prominent authors.
Content marketing is no new phenomenon and also no phenomenon of digital media. It has been practiced for decades in various forms, even though the mediums in the beginning have been different than the ones today and the term was not yet defined. Unlike in past times, content marketing has become a "Must-Have" instead of a "Nice-to-Have". It is a trendsetting possibility to engage customers in the long-term and to successfully further develop the own products and services. For content to really become king, a detailed planning, the aims, target groups, matching content and media, should be at the beginning of each content marketing strategy.
An overview of the advantages of a well thought out content marketing strategy
- Stimulates enthusiasm for the company and its products
- Increases the consumer acceptance of potential customers
- Long-term customer engagement by useful, target group relevant information beyond the company and its products
- Intensive, for both sides fruitful customer dialog
- Branding and image building
- Better position within search engine ranking