There's no shortage of definitions for 'Content Marketing', but one that resonates well with us is from Eloqua
“Content marketing is the art of creating, curating and distributing valuable content, combined with the science of measuring its impact on awareness, lead generation and customer acquisition.
Simply put, it's business-relevant communications … minus the selling. It's the antidote to "interruption marketing." Instead of pitching products or services, a content marketer equips buyers with the knowledge to make better-informed decisions. Central to content marketing is the belief that if businesses deliver consistent, helpful information to buyers at the right time, then prospects will ultimately reward the company with their purchase and loyalty.
Why Content Marketing?
That’s a rhetorical question, isn’t it?
Particularly if you’re a B2B marketer. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) 90% of B2B marketers are using content to promote their business.
So why even ask the question?
Because understanding the reasons why content is important improves your chances of using it effectively to: generate leads, improve brand awareness, and engage a loyal customer base.
Technology, computers, the Internet - they’ve changed everything from watching movies to how we communicate. And it continues to do so. From a marketing perspective the biggest change is that the buyer, or decision maker, is more informed than in the past. Some studies show the B2B buyer completes up to 80% of their research before contacting a vendor. Marketing automation is helping marketers start and develop an ongoing dialogue with buyers throughout the buy-cycle - and this practice is proving to be a common trait amongst top performing companies.
Where do they research? The Internet - where they find readily available content via search engines, forums, news and social media. They are looking for you, or rather your solutions to their problems. Your job is to get - and keep - their attention until they are ready to make a purchase decision.
Simple right? Not so much.
Twists, Turns, and Trends
Things to Know in 2012
Perhaps change is too strong a word. B2B marketing is evolving to match the buyer’s changing behavior.
Of course social media grabbed headlines over the past year for being the “must have” component in marketing campaigns. Whether you’ve figured it out, or are still making sense of it, there is more you need to know. Here’s a twist on the subject that is so simple to implement, yet completely unexpected.
The mere presence of sharing buttons on content increases the perceived value of the content.
That’s right. We all knew that sharing information via social networking increases the visibility and consequently the return on investment (however you measure it). But in Eccolo Media’s 2011 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report, researchers uncovered this surprising little tidbit of information. Even if your content is never shared, the fact that it could be raises your value in the prospects eyes.
Their study also confirmed a few trends seen over the last few years. White papers and case studies are still viewed as the most influential types of content. But another interesting, and valuable, fact is that all types of content showed an increase in perceived influence on decision making over the last year.
Your prospects are turning to their preferred form of content and placing a higher value on it. Given more choices they are simply choosing more: More content, and more types of content.