Content marketing on the internet has surged and is part of nearly every aspect of the web. Companies are using blogs, social media posts and videos to better engage audiences and build a loyal customer base.
"The old adage that content is king has gone by the wayside, because everything is content," said Daniel K. Lobring, vice president of marketing communications at rEvolution. "Competition for mindshare means that brands and others who deploy content marketing have to be smarter."
Good content marketing comes down to finding the right message for the right platform, Lobring said. It's important to make your content authentic and not churn out content for content's sake. As the internet evolves and the ways people interact with it change, new technology is making it easier for companies to present creative content marketing and gain more engagement.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for content marketing. What's the point of making content if no one will see it? When developing websites and uploading videos to YouTube or social media, how search engines find your content and present it to audiences must be part of the process. If you use SEO tools to your advantage, they can give you great insight on how to improve your content.
"Search engine optimization is revolutionary when it comes to marketing," said Damon Inlow, owner of Vaporizers.ca. "It allows us to properly measure how many people were reached through our content marketing and the conversion rate from articles/blogs to website clicks. It allows us to see what messaging works so we can repeat similar themes [or] which [ones] aren't working [so we can] change our strategy for future content."
Natasha Kvitka, digital marketing strategist with Gift Baskets Overseas, says keyword research and analytic tools go a long way. Tools such as Google's Keyword Planner and Bing's Keyword Planner can give businesses insight into search trends.
"Often, when creating a viable content marketing strategy, we need to analyze the competitors' efforts in this field," Kvitka said. "Tools that allow [you] to quickly analyze published content, its optimization, mentions, citations and links acquired, and ... social media ... performance can give marketers [a] really significant pool of information to analyze and adopt in [their] own strategies."
Mobile and video
"If your platform isn't optimized for mobile, you're ignoring the fact that 69 percent of digital media engagement happens on mobile devices," said Courtney Fanning, content marketing manager at MojoTech.
Mobile video is a popular avenue, with short, easily digestible content on social media feeds attracting a lot of engagement. A popular format is video with subtitles so viewers don't even need to turn their sound on when browsing their feeds. Live video is also garnering a lot of attention.
"Facebook Live is huge because it saves the video even when you're not live, so viewers can see it at their leisure," said Shea Drake, content strategist with Verizon. "Lots of people assume videos need to be well produced. However, you can create a great video with an iPhone. All you need is somewhere decently well lit and quiet. There are so many apps you can edit with that there's no excuse to not be doing video."
Sometimes you don't have to create the content yourself but simply encourage your audience to do it.
"Seventy percent of consumers trust user-generated content over regular content marketing materials, so those reviews, pictures of the product/service in action, and ratings are huge and only getting bigger,” Drake said. "Coca-Cola is a master of content marketing. Look at their #ShareACoke campaign that they do every summer. This works for a few reasons: A) It's limited to the summer; B) it's personal. You can find your name or someone you know. And if you can't find it, they will make it for you. What does this cost them? Next to nothing."
Drake said Amazon reviews count as user-generated content, with customers sharing photos, videos and their experiences with the product.
Automation and personalization
Automation is becoming a force in just about every industry, and content marketing is no different. This is helpful in generating another desirable aspect of content marketing: personalization. Automation is needed, since marketing departments can't build profiles and craft individual marketing materials for every individual customer. At the same time, a balance needs to be struck.
"Paradoxically, while tech is pushing content creation toward automated personalization, customers are demanding a 'human' connection with the brands and businesses they follow, more than ever," Fanning said. "Brands using artificial intelligence, natural language processing and automation tools to distribute their content are learning how to optimize content for a specific customer without making them feel manipulated."
For example, U.K. mobile phone dealer O2 has 1,000 versions of its video ad that shows relevant information based on the viewer.
"The ad showed the viewer the current value of their phone, the best offer to upgrade, what similar people upgraded to and the closest store," said Stephen Jeske, senior content strategist at Can I Rank. "This personalized experience saw a 128 percent better click-thru rate than their regular ads."
In 2016, CNN bought popular YouTube personality Casey Neistat's company Beme and hired him to produce content aimed at younger audiences. Neistat has 6.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and millions of social media followers. This is one of the biggest examples of influencer marketing. It's basically the modern version of celebrity endorsements.
Influencers don't need to have the staggering following of Neistat; they just need to be authentic. Meltwater is a marketing service that can connect you to local influencers who will spread the word about your brand; you just need to find the right one for your brand.
"It is pointless to have a fitness model with lots of Instagram followers post about the restaurant chain we worked with," said Kristen Prager of Ockupy Inc. "[Instead] we went to a local blogger who writes about different places to go around the Hoboken and Jersey City area and has a large following. She posted on her Instagram about an event we were hosting."
One of the key takeaways is that authenticity fosters engagement. Good content marketing blends in with the content people view on their social media feeds every day. The quality of your content will speak for itself depending on how many people engage with it and spread it.