Content marketing

Content marketing infographic showing the deluge of digital engagement options.

A definition or two to clarify things:

The objective of content marketing is to captivate and retain customers by consistently developing and curating relevant and valuable information with the intent of changing or enhancing customer behaviour over time.

While closely aligned to Content Strategy, Content Marketing is a different stream of work. The two terms are often interposed to refer to the same role or tasks. This can make for some confusion when it comes to job descriptions, recruitment and business expectations.

In early 2015 I wrote a post – Content Strategy 101 – that sought to make sense of that new term/role. I cited Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at the CM Institute in the US and his explanation behind the differences and crossover between the two:

Content marketing addresses the ‘why’ (as in, why would the customer be interested in this?), while content strategy addresses the ‘how,’ and together they work out the ‘what’ and ‘where.’

But the content strategist must also ask ‘why’ of the marketer when needed, in order to better understand the requirements in a deeper, more thorough way, especially if technology and its capacity are part of the query. Doing so becomes the catalyst for delivering on the ‘how’.

In essence, content marketing is about publishing content in a variety of forms, in the channels where your audience spends time so you can address their interests and concerns … It [content marketing] is an essential part of an integrated marketing approach. It builds awareness, drives interest and ultimately should help generate revenue and/or advocacy.

A little bit of history helps

Ten years ago, marketers and content managers (and maybe a few others , like Product and IT) collaborated to work out what content would be best suited to a particular channel. Issue was that there weren’t many online channels to choose from. You had the corporate web site (or micro sites) hosting landing or product offer pages. eDMs, SEO, AdWords or various display ads might have been the conduits to these desktop web pages.

Then the iPhone changed everything. Add the associated social explosion – Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for professionals – along with their interconnectedness, and content marketing very quickly became a separate and busy enterprise, in and of itself.

The challenge is however, that with all the channels and audiences proliferating these days, not to mention the ever growing mountain of data and analytics available, a new hybrid role or activity has evolved; the content strategist.

For mine, this role is the crucial connection between content management and content marketing, given as I said, the sheer volume of publishing options and formats.

So a traditional content manager of old, like me, with a huge digital writing, editorial and SEO backstory (primarily directed at the web), now finds stories needing to be told (sometimes the same story) via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, podcasts, infographics, SlideShare, eBooks, white papers, eDMs, native long/short form features, and others. The working assumption is that mobile is the main engagement device too. That’s marketing content; that’s what I can help with.

But how do you know which content is best suited to which channel for a given audience segment? That’s where the data can help drive the content marketer’s decisions. In other words, you need to fish where the fish are. And the content strategist can help work out the best bait to use.

At the end of the day, we’re still just talking about storytelling, and words are the essential ingredient, no matter the medium or method. That’s why the word person who excels at content management (hello there), is often the same person morphing into the content strategist, but who is also the perfect fit to craft those stories to meet the content marketer’s brief.

Need a content marketing strategist or digital copywriting guru?

Get in touch and let’s get going.