By Adam Landrum, Merge

Content marketing is "the practice of developing awareness, recall, purchases and loyalty through the use of content published online or offline."

It goes by many names: thought leadership, social media, email marketing, whitepapers, press releases, etc.

Through the mass adoption of smart phones, tablets, data plans and ubiquitous high-speed internet plans, the market has made it clear that it wants content. Not spam, but value-adding, quality content.

So that's the good thing about content, that the market wants it. The tough side of content is that it's hard to produce. It takes time, precious time. It takes skill. Practice. It takes many disciplines as content can be more than just writing; it can be graphic design (infographics), video, illustration, etc.

Content Marketing at its core is sharing valuable information with your market. It's not about spamming. It's not about stuffing social media channels with useless information. Content marketing is about adding value to your audience and doing it in such a manner that is consistent and of high quality.

Believe me, it is harder than it looks. That's why you see few companies doing it very well. But there is a whole cottage industry springing up around content marketing. Why? Because the demand is there. The market wants it and it doesn't look like it's letting up. It's extremely time intensive to consistently create good content. And so companies are outsourcing this relatively guerilla marketing tactic.

Such channels for content marketing may or may not be obvious. Your web site for one can house your blog, whitepapers, news releases, articles, etc. You can further leverage your website's content by integrating it with your social media accounts. Sharing relevant blog posts with your followers via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are great options. (There are so many qualifiers that need to be said here, I'm going to ask for your understanding that I'm not simply pushing social media as a marketing channel – we're promoting good, relevant and valued content to those followers who want it!).

Content marketing strategy adoption is growing: Just 12 months ago, 55% of companies outsourced their content marketing. Today, that's grown to 62%. Why do companies do this?

The top reasons are:

  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Customer Acquistion
  3. Lead Generation
  4. Customer Retention and Loyalty

In many cases, Content Marketing can contribute to all four of these goals. Well, I've used too many words to make my point. Blueglass Interactive created an awesome infographic that tells the story.

This article originally appeared on the Merge Digital Marketing Blog and is used here with permission.


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