1contentContent marketing has become the number one buzzword in the communications industry within the past two years. Unlike traditional advertising and PR, it is determined to address the target group with informational, consultative and entertaining content. But will this new communication technology be able to prevail over the well-tried advertising strategies in the long run?

There are quite a number of definitions swirling around for content marketing, as it is actually an umbrella term, covering different business goals and marketing practices and it has to deal with the constant changes in today’s marketing and customer reality. The most commonly used definition is the one by the Content Marketing Institute describing it as “the technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience in order to drive profitable customer action”. Thus, content marketing is any marketing effort that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers and is most successful when it provides consistent, high-quality content that solves people's problems.

Traditional advertising alone is outdated

In fact, content marketing is basically a customer-centric, integrated approach and part of a broader marketing view, as customer experience and needs, preferences and questions of people and so-called target audiences are at the center. That’s why traditional advertising is no longer enough to attract customers and to distinguish yourself from the competition. Many consumers are simply annoyed by constant advertising, forcing companies to look for alternative ways to put their products in perspective.

The content approach can offer new marketing opportunities: In-depth information rather than superficial advertising, exciting stories rather than monosyllabic phrases, dialogue rather than monologue. To consider all this is essential, since today’s consumers are more and more active in looking for information rather than passively receiving advertising messages.

Good content is essential everywhere and using it in a smart way is key, too

Certainly one of the most spectacular examples of successful content marketing is Red Bull, the manufacturer of the homonymous energy drink. The Austrian company has long been more than just a beverage producer: With the in-house television channel "Servus TV" and the magazine "The Red Bulletin" (monthly circulation: 2.7 million), the enterprise has set up its own media company. The contents produced there are virtually indistinguishable from traditional publishers’ magazines. However, Red Bull boss, Dietrich Mateschitz, succeeded in October 2012 with an amazing marketing stunt, when the company supported the Austrian Felix Baumgartner who soared into the air to about 40 kilometers with a balloon and then jumped back down to earth with a parachute. Media companies around the world reported extensively on the spectacle and the story was running like a thread through all Red Bull marketing activities.

Increasing investment in content for better quality

Looking at Red Bull, investing in content marketing seems to be paying off and for many companies, publishing high quality content has become in fact a must for customer communication, acquisition and above all customer loyalty. It proves to be true that good content attracts, informs, persuades, serves and engages prospects and customers across the entire lifecycle and relationship with your organization and brand, as it responds to the questions and needs of your target audience. Therefore, it is essential to move away from a campaign-only mentality to a consistent approach.

Considering ROI for content marketing, we can look at the visibility and ranking in search results as well. Here, content marketing has become particularly important, as unique content is rewarded by search engines when ranking the website. This is a decisive factor to keep in mind, as pages that are chipped or not listed in the search engines are in fact invisible for those searching, such as for example potential customers. An outstanding content or text, on the other hand, invites the page visitors to stay and read more, consequently, listing the page in the long term even higher or on top of the search engine's result pages.

Conclusion: It's all in the mix

Dismissing the content trend as a mere flash in the pan, would be fatal. In fact, many marketing experts will have to rethink what they are doing as there is a lot of talk about integrated communications and multi-channel marketing, but many companies still don’t do that consistently, despite the fact that a sophisticated content marketing concept could be the significant advantage over competitors today.

As i-Scoop explained it to the point on their website: “Content marketing is not a holy grail, it’s a popular term for a way of working with content to do better. Focus on your customers and overall marketing. As a marketer you want to know what works and what your customers need, not the little debates over definitions. Your customers don’t care about your content marketing definition, nor will your CEO. No one is even forced to like or use the term, all that matters are good marketing practices and great customer experiences. Nobody agrees anyway. This is partially because people with different backgrounds all look at content marketing from their own perspective and individual goals: branding, acquisition, retention, SEO, demand generation, media strategies, etc. Content is essential, no matter what. A good content marketing strategy is really a mix of different tactics and strategies, aligned with the buyer journey and overall marketing strategy.”

By Daniela La Marca