Content marketing is a marketing technique in which companies publish content that is intended to offer added value to the target group. Among other things, content marketing aims to improve the public’s perception of the company and build customer loyalty.
Content marketing is a marketing technique in which advertising companies engage their target audience with helpful, entertaining, and advice-giving content. Content marketing is one of the tools of inbound marketing. This aims to offer relevant content to potential customers as they search for information on the web. Unlike outbound marketing, this content is not presented on advertising banners, for example, which users find difficult to avoid (push marketing). Instead, inbound marketing focuses on providing users with relevant information so that they can easily find it themselves when needed (pull marketing).
Content marketing as an instrument of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing, as a sub-discipline of online marketing, is the reaction to the user behavior on the web. Today, the Web is the number one information medium. Before making major purchasing decisions, consumers research extensively online for the best product. During this research, they should be provided with relevant content according to the techniques of inbound marketing.
The content used in content marketing should add value to the target audience and thus positively influence the perception of the company and its products. In contrast to other marketing disciplines (e-mail marketing, direct marketing), companies avoid direct advertising messages in content marketing and rarely highlight performance features of individual products in detail. In addition, companies do not directly ask their target group to buy products with content marketing. Experts believe that content marketing will continue to gain in importance in 2021.
Content marketing in practice
Many companies rely on storytelling as part of their content marketing. The Coca Cola Group, for example, replaced its corporate website with its own online magazine called “Journey.” Via this platform, Coca Cola publishes content on the Internet that often only marginally addresses the company’s beverages, or not at all. The company itself describes its online magazine as “a journey into the world of joie de vivre, refreshment and responsible action.” The Group organizes the content into the categories “Happiness,” “Entertainment,” “Society,” “Brands,” “Company” and “Myth.” The primary aim is not to place clumsy advertising measures. Rather, Coca Cola uses content marketing to try to arouse the interest of the target group through clever storytelling and to evoke positive associations with the brand.
To this end, Coca Cola relies on content around the core theme of “Happiness” on its platform. The entire new website aims to link the beverage manufacturer with positive feelings in the minds of consumers. In terms of content, the articles deal with topics including health and nutrition, sports, society, and entertainment. In many “stories about people who make others happy,” Coca Cola addresses its target group in a particularly emotional way. For example, the website presents the story of a young woman from a sheltered background who, even as a toddler, gave her birthday presents to children in hospices and homes. Coca Cola cleverly links the young British woman’s touching story with the tour of its own Coca Cola Christmas truck under the motto: “Help Santa: Make others happy!” For every wish that users submit to the company, it subsequently donates one euro to a charity for children.
It goes without saying that the latest magazine articles are always shared on Facebook and other social media. Coca Cola also focuses on the feel-good factor on Facebook: on the most important social media platform, the company presents touching quotes, various photographs, and stories about its own brand.
But it’s not just beverage manufacturers like Coca Cola or Red Bull that use the Internet for their content marketing. Companies from various industries disseminate high-quality content relevant to their target groups on the web, for example via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or their own blog.
Hair cosmetics expert Schwarzkopf, for example, offers its target group a wide range of information about hair on the company’s website. Whether the user has a problem with stressed hair or sensitive scalp, Schwarzkopf has helpful tips at the ready. The layout and design of Schwarzkopf’s online presence are more reminiscent of a fashion blog than the website of a hair cosmetics brand. Valuable content that helps users with their individual questions is clearly the focus of the website: In numerous articles and videos, readers learn how to straighten straw-like hair, put an end to dandruff and which hairstyles are suitable for thin hair. In keeping with the idea of content marketing, Schwarzkopf is not primarily concerned with directly promoting its own product. Instead, the Schwarzkopf brand presents itself as a competent contact and source of inspiration on all issues that affect the target group.
What tools do companies use for content marketing?
In content marketing, the communication of information plays an important role for many companies. More and more companies are using whitepapers and e-books for this purpose, for example, but an infographic also represents an optimal content marketing tool.
Whitepapers: Very few companies have sufficient resources to commission their own studies and thus generate content. However, if you want to convince your target group with high-quality, informative content, whitepapers are an interesting alternative. The content of a whitepaper is more reader-friendly than that of a study. In addition, whitepapers are usually smaller than studies: most whitepapers are between 10-15 pages long, but some whitepapers are only two pages long. The term is particularly familiar in the IT industry and has increasingly spread to the German-speaking world. As information material with a high utility value, whitepapers usually contain detailed information and advisory texts that support the reader in making a decision. Thus, in the spirit of content marketing, these documents do without heavy-handed advertising and create trust in a company and its products among readers. As a result, they are ideally suited for image cultivation.
Infographic: Many companies rely on facts to convince their target group of their own products. To present figures as clearly as possible, companies often use an infographic. Such a chart is often graphically very elaborate and creatively designed, which makes it easier to absorb the information. Especially in social networks, infographics spread particularly quickly, as important information can be grasped at a glance. Thus, infographics are a valuable tool for companies that want to conduct content marketing via social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter.
E-book: E-books are a practical way to illustrate the expertise of one’s own company to potential customers. Many companies in the web industry use this approach and write about topics related to their business area. Often, such e-books contain advice texts that offer the reader high-quality prepared information with real added value, in keeping with the spirit of content marketing.
Blog: More and more companies have their own blog where employees write on topics that affect their company or industry. By integrating social media features such as Like buttons, the posts can be shared on Facebook and the like, which increases the reach of the posts. In-depth blog posts demonstrate the company’s expertise and can thus be an important component of content marketing. Those who find it too time-consuming to set up their own blog can instead use the microblogging service Twitter to keep their target audience and potential customers up to date with news about their own company.
How does content marketing influence search engine rankings?
Good content marketing can help with search engine optimization (SEO). Even though content marketing is not one of the classic SEO measures, content marketing can positively influence the rating of a website by search engines. After all, Google rewards sites with high-quality or user-relevant content with a good ranking in the search results. Google itself repeatedly calls on site operators to focus first and foremost on the quality of the content on their site before investing in additional SEO measures. Before search engine optimization (SEO) can succeed, the necessary basis must be created with the right content.
Content marketing is also an important topic in SEO circles: just a few years ago, SEO experts were able to improve a website’s positioning on Google through short-term measures. In the meantime, however, SEO has become a long-term process in the course of which the content of a web presence must be continuously optimized. In addition, links and shares in social media such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are now only achieved with good content. Consequently, content is now the top priority in both SEO and content marketing. At the same time, investing in high-quality content has a particularly lasting effect on a website’s SEO.
According to many online experts, the following factors, among others, have an influence on search engine rankings on the Internet:
Dwell time: Dwell time describes how long a user stays on a website that he or she has accessed via the Google SERPs (Google’s list of results). The longer the dwell time, the more relevant Google rates the content and thus the website for the user’s search term. After all, a longer dwell time means that the user is engaged with the content of the page and that it is consequently relevant to their query. Since content marketing focuses on content that interests the user and helps them with their query, well-implemented content marketing can positively influence this ranking factor on Google.
Backlinks: How often a page is linked to by other pages is still considered an important factor for ranking on Google. After all, a link is usually considered a recommendation from another page. As part of an effective content marketing strategy, companies need to produce high-quality, link-worthy content. Interesting and relevant content is more likely to be linked to by users and shared on social networks. This way, you support organic link building without using special SEO practices.
With good content marketing, entrepreneurs can target their users and their customers today by creating content with added value. In times of information overload, content marketing offers the possibilities of clever and useful pull marketing, where customers search for products or solutions on their own. Many large corporations already rely on content marketing strategies and thus build up the image of the competent problem solver. There are many ways to do this, from whitepapers to blogs to e-books – coupled with a good distribution strategy via social media, customers can now be reached unobtrusively and make positive associations with the company that helps them. Last but not least, content marketing also promotes positive search engine optimization and contributes to a wider reach, a better corporate image, and ultimately to more sales.
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