Content marketing now plays a key role for any brand and in any industry. However, at a time when users are constantly bombarded with information, creating valuable content is definitely the best strategy to differentiate your brand from competitors and at the same time, allows you to be more engaging.
In this post, we’ll dig into the factors that make content marketing a winning approach. We’ll also take a look at how to choose the most suitable content for your target audience and at the most relevant content marketing trends for 2021.
Before getting into the heart of the matter, however, it is necessary to give a brief definition of content marketing, identifying the objectives that can be achieved, and the fields where a content marketing strategy can be applied. Let’s get started!
Why content marketing?
Content marketing is about creating and sharing content to reach a target audience and entertain them. There are several reasons why a brand may decide to do content marketing, however, among the main objectives are the following:
- Brand awareness, which is how much users and consumers know and are able to remember a brand. Compelling, quality content is a great way to grab a user’s attention, engage them, and make them remember the brand positively. Whether it’s a blog post, a video, or an infographic, content helps increase the perception of a brand, thus enabling it to position itself accurately and definitively in the market.
- Lead generation, i.e. acquiring qualified contacts with the aim of turning them into loyal customers. This is the case of downloadable content, also called lead magnets, which encourage users to leave their data (e.g. email address) to access it.
- Lead nurturing, the phase where you build a relationship with the acquired contact by sending relevant and personalized communications and content to turn them into customers. As we explained in a previous post, content marketing plays an important role in lead nurturing because it allows you to offer value to leads and prospects and bring them closer and closer to the brand.
Finally, another reason why brands might be driven to undertake a content marketing strategy is the financial investment. In another post, we saw that content marketing costs about 62% less than other types of digital marketing and generates an average of about three times as many leads.
Content marketing: People before content
Before identifying the most suitable types of content for a content marketing strategy, it is necessary to focus on the analysis of the target audience.
The questions to ask are: “Who is my target audience? What are its needs and pain points?”
After answering these questions, all that remains is to create content that is in line with the users’ needs, but also with the brand’s goals, values, and identity.
It is important to emphasize that the value and quality of content is determined by its usefulness, the information that the recipient can utilize to meet his needs, but also by the possible interactions that it can generate between users.
In a previous post about marketing trends for 2021, we saw how brands are increasingly putting people and their needs at the center of everything. It’s clear that focusing on a more customer-centric and less product-oriented content marketing strategy is now a winning choice, because it enables greater user involvement and the creation of a more solid relationship.
This tendency to create more customer-centric content, aimed at entertaining the user, is confirmed by what’s known as branded content, which highlights the values and culture of the brand rather than simply promoting a product.
In fact, according to recent research by Getfluence, around 70% of marketers are very likely to use branded content for brand awareness and consideration.
This choice is justified both by the need to offer innovative content and by the fact that users are more interested and stimulated by branded content than by traditional content. In fact, it has been proven that branded content helps users more easily remember a brand.
What companies need to take into account, then, is that advertising is no longer just about promoting a brand; it’s increasingly about telling a story and moving the user. It’s about promoting a product without necessarily talking about it. To achieve this, we have to rely on content marketing.
Content marketing: What content?
Moving on to the choice of types of content, we can say that this depends on the communication channels used to convey them, which in turn are closely related to the target audience (eg social media).
It is impossible to do content marketing today without considering social media. Each social channel corresponds to different audiences and different types of content. In our post on how to create a content strategy on Linkedin, we have seen that the choice of social channels to follow is influenced both by the type of company (B2B or B2C) and by the channels used by the target audience.
Depending on the objectives to be achieved, a content strategy can and must include different types of content. Thanks to this diversity of formats and durations, the narrative takes different forms and offers the user different experiences.
Let’s look at which formats are currently the most used and effective, and which, among the traditional formats, can still be successful according to how they are proposed.
Traditional content: Why and how to use it?
Despite the diversity of content types, in this post, we will examine the most popular ones, especially in the B2B world.
Ebook and whitepaper
Two types of content that appear similar but actually have different functions and reading times.
While ebooks are generally more interactive and concise because they offer an overview of a specific topic, whitepapers are more specific and in-depth.
It’s worth keeping in mind, however, as we mentioned at the Doxee Digital Club, that this is low-conversion content. This means that their creation and dissemination need not be too frequent. Examples of this are the annual digital marketing reports from Hootsuite and We are Social or the social media marketing report from Buffer.
Unlike whitepapers and ebooks, infographics are content with a shorter reading time. Their effectiveness lies in giving information in a concise and direct way. Moreover, the combination of text, images, and colors makes infographics more attractive and makes it easier to memorize the data and information conveyed. (source Visme)
Despite being a traditional form of content, infographics are still among the most used types in a B2B context.
In fact, according to research by the Content Marketing Institute, around 67% of B2B marketers include infographics in their content marketing strategy.
A very interesting fact concerns the use of infographics in the Healthcare sector. Research has shown that patients who receive information about their health status through infographics are 2.4 times more aware of their condition and related risks. (source Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association)
This is one example that allows us to understand that content marketing is now an applicable and applied strategy in any sector.
In terms of email marketing automation, we have seen that email marketing is still widespread and effective.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, about 81% of B2B marketers believe that the newsletter is the most used content type.
The newsletter is a great content marketing tool for increasing user engagement and improving brand awareness. Periodic updates, and in this case we’re talking about acquired contacts, can provide greater awareness and knowledge of the products/services offered by the brand.
Moreover, in the current customer-centric perspective, the newsletter is effective because it is totally customizable according to the recipient. This customization, which takes place through data and CRM tools, allows you to create a unique relationship between brand and user.
As statistics show, blogging is an essential content marketing tool. (source Hubspot)
A blog allows a company to create content on topics related to its business and gain authority in the industry in which it operates.
In addition, the blog allows you to increase traffic on the website and thus visibility of the company itself, offering visitors useful information and insights in return.
At the beginning of this post, we said that the usefulness and quality of a piece of content are also given by the interaction that this manages to generate among users. Research has found that users will share blog posts, articles, and other content on social media because they believe that they can be interesting to others. (source Propel Your Company)
Finally, among the main content marketing trends of 2021 (and beyond) we find two types of content: video and podcasts.
We have often talked about the potential and benefits of video marketing for brands on our blog. Whether in the water, pharmaceutical, automotive, or food sectors, video is currently among the most used content by marketers and the content most appreciated by users, both for its strong communicative power and for its ability to generate excellent ROI.
Statistics speak for themselves: video was one of the undisputed protagonists of 2020 (including webinars, live streaming, video advertising), and it will continue to be popular in the future. Around 93% of marketers believe that video is a fundamental element for their content marketing strategy. That figure stood at 78% in 2016. (source Wyzlow)
Regarding the duration and formats of video, there is no single defined formula. However, we can say that the number of users from mobile is continuing to grow.
This behavior automatically affects the need to optimize content from a mobile-friendly perspective.
Moreover, despite what you might think, both short and long videos are effective, proving that the priority of today’s users is the quality of content.
With the steady increase in the enjoyment of streaming audio content and the emergence of true audio socials such as Clubhouse (and soon Facebook), we can say that the audio revolution has now begun and the podcast is a type of content that is having a lot of success, both from the point of view of users and brands.
It’s no secret that people like podcasts because they inform and entertain listeners while they do other things. Marketers like it because it allows brands to be more easily remembered.
In fact, as we saw in a recent blog post and a Doxee Digital Club event, more and more companies are becoming aware of the potential of audio as a tool for promoting corporate values and culture.
However, the podcast can also be used for educational purposes. Examples are “Children of War” by Save the Children, created for the International Day of Peace, and the recent “Podcart” by Comieco created for Paper Week 2021.
To conclude, we have seen how content marketing is becoming an opportunity for companies to create relationships with consumers and potential consumers, informing and entertaining without necessarily talking about the product.