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Content Marketing Essentials 2013

The biggest and most successful companies in the world are currently using content marketing campaigns to drive their business. A few of the big names that currently have these campaigns in place include Coca-Cola, American Express, Microsoft, P&G and even GE. Why are these large, prosperous companies using content marketing?
It works. Even small business owners currently take advantage of content marketing, but new marketers must understand that this type of marketing goes far beyond throwing out a few blog posts and hoping for the best.

Chapter 1:
What is Content Marketing?
Many people throw around the words "content marketing." However, few people can accurately define it. Before diving into a content marketing campaign, it's essential to understand its definition, how it works and all it entails.
Traditional Publicity
Content Marketing
Traditional publicity only holds consumers' attention for a short period. Another flaw is that it interrupts instead of providing consumers with something of value. It also has the disadvantage of being quite expensive, especially when publicity campaigns fail to provide results.
Content marketing provides consumers with valuable information. First, content marketing helps to educate consumers, opening the door to a future purchase. It also provides consumers with something valuable, creating brand loyalty. Since various formats can be used, it's easy to use content marketing to grab the attention of different groups as well.
What is
content marketing exactly?
The creation of content that is relevant, compelling, entertaining and valuable and this content must be consistently provided to maintain or change the behavior of customers. Content marketing is an essential marketing activity that helps retain customers, acquire new ones and helps companies to build a strong brand.
It should encourage some kind of positive reaction from customers. If the content is not able to change or maintain customer behavior, it has no marketing value. Content marketing requires engaging content that in some way drives business.
This form of marketing doesn't involve direct selling. Instead of focusing on a hard sell, it focuses on providing useful information to a target audience on a regular basis. The goal is to become established as an expert, drawing customers to buy from your company when they are ready to make a purchase.

Chapter 2:
Content Marketing Examples

From History

Michelin Guide Developed by Michelin Company
In 1900, The Michelin Guide was developed by the Michelin Company. This 400-page guide is known for its iconic red cover. Helpful information for consumers was included in the guide, including information on finding good lodging and car maintenance.
Another fascinating example is the "soap operas" that were begun by P&G during the 1930s. The company jumped into radio dramas with popular soap brands of the time like Oxydol and Duz, which led to the name, "soap opera."
P&G Dives into Soap Operas
G.I. Joe Comic Book Created by Marvel and Hasbro
Marvel and Hasbro partnered together in 1982, creating and releasing the very first G.I. Joe Comic Book, leading to a toy marketing revolution. This comic book was the very first one to be advertised on television and would later be turned into a well-known cartoon series.
Another extraordinary content marketing example from history is the running application created by an Apple and Nike collaboration. This partnership led to the release of a product that helped runners to map out their runs and keep track of progress as well.
Running Application Created By Apple/Nike Partnership
Red Bull Stratos Campaign
One of the most recent significant examples of content marketing has been last year's Red Bull Stratos campaign. It included a jump by Felix Baumgartner, who now holds the record for the highest recorded parachute jump. During his jump, he broke the speed of sound while millions watched live. Huge amounts of footage were taken, providing a huge amount of content for Red Bull to use for marketing purposes in the future.
Chapter 3
Interesting Facts About Content Marketing Industry
Companies interested in content marketing will find it enlightening to look at a few of the facts surrounding this industry. By looking at some of the stats, trends, formats used and other facts, it's possible to glean excellent information while further understanding how beneficial content marketing is for both small and large businesses.
  • Content Marketing Stats
    Stats surrounding content marketing show how important this industry is for those seeking marketing success. First, this form of marketing helps to increase visibility for companies, with businesses reporting that adding a blog increases site visitors by 55%. Companies that have blogs bring in 97% more inbound links than companies without blogs. Stats also show that content can improve sales, with 67% of users on Twitter reporting that they are more likely to make purchases from brands they actively follow. Businesses can enjoy more solid footing with consumers as well, with 60% of consumers saying they feel more positive about companies after reading a company website's custom content.
  • 70% of consumers state they would rather learn about a company through articles than advertisements
  • Big Trends
    What's trending right now in content marketing? 2012 showed a huge surge in video usage as content. Also trending right now is the use of various content marketing tactics by companies. In fact, large businesses today often use as many as 18 different content marketing tactics. In 2012, money spent on content marketing increased from 2011. It's thought that budgets for this type of marketing will only get larger this year as more businesses realize the important of this form of marketing.
  • In 2012, money spent on content marketing increased from 2011. This trend will continue in 2013.
  • Usage
    It's also a good idea to see how content marketing is being used. The top goal for businesses using it is to increase brand awareness, with 79% of companies focusing on this goal. Other top goals content marketing is being used to achieve include customer acquisition, website traffic, thought leadership, customer loyalty and customer retention.
  • 79%
    of companies using content marketing to
    increase brand awareness.
  • Commonly Used Content Formats
    Many different formats are used within content marketing. According to marketers, case studies are one of the most commonly used forms of content marketing. However, many other formats are very popular as well. A few of these formats include press releases, ebooks, white papers, blogs, videos, online articles, webinars, e-newsletters, social content and infographics. While these are the most commonly used formats, it's important to note that the most effective formats include case studies, white papers and ebooks, online articles, videos and webinars, according to trend reports from 2012.
  • Marketers focusing on formats that viewable by any device.
  • Commonly Used Distribution Channels
    Currently, many different distribution channels are used to distribute content in a variety of formats. Among the top channels of distribution are social media websites and blogs. Top social media websites used to distribute content by marketers include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. Print magazines, article marketing websites, microsites, digital magazines and traditional media are all distribution channels that are commonly used as well.
  • The top channels of distribution are social media websites.
Chapter 4:
Content Life Cycle
When preparing to delve into content marketing, a thorough understanding of the content life cycle is essential. Content that will be used to increase online brand visibility, retain current customers and convert new ones must be dynamic, well written, well researched and shared correctly. The following are the five different parts of the content life cycle that are essential for every content marketing campaign.
Research & Gather
The content life cycle begins with researching and gathering information. Various sources and places can be used to bring together information on particular topics, themes, trends and more. Both print and online sources can be used for research purposes. It's important to note that failing to spend enough time at this state will result in poor content that fails to present helpful information to consumers.
Organize Information
Once the research stage is over, the next stage in the content life cycle is curating and organizing the information that has been found during the gathering and research stage. Content that has been gathered can be organized to surround a specific, relevant theme.
After organizing the information gathered together through research, now content goes into the writing stage. Now, that collected information will be shown in written form, whether it is put in the form of a whitepaper, article, blog or other content form. During this stage of the content cycle, it's essential to avoid plagiarism. While it's fine to gather sources and information on your theme from various places, you legally cannot plagiarize the work of other people when creating your own content.
Publish & Share
Next, once content has been through the writing stage, the next stage is to publish and share the content. This involves telling others about your content and sharing it with them. To ensure your content reaches your target audience, it's imperative to share content where your audience will find it. One of the best places to share content is on social networks. Some of the top social networks for sharing include sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Also pushing its way into the picture is the newer social networking site, Pinterest, which should not be ignored.
Once content is published and shared, then it's time for the content to be recycled. Content can be gathered and curated by other people. Then content ends up back in the content life cycle once again.
Chapter 5:
Measuring the Effectiveness of Content Marketing
When businesses get involved in content marketing, one problem often faced is measuring the effectiveness of the content produced. Content costs a business, so it's essential to measure and understand the results of your efforts. While content can result in big payoffs, if you're failing to measure how effective your content is, you'll never know if you're making headway or what changes you need to make to ensure your content marketing campaign becomes more effective.
Clear Goals
Before you can begin measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing campaign, you must have some clear goals. If you fail to have clear goals, you won't have anything to measure.
Do you want to increase your website traffic, bring in more leads or see an increase in the deals you close? Take some time to decide on your end game. Then, you'll be able to measure how well you're doing at achieving those goals.
Key Performance Indicators
Once you're ready to begin measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, there are some key performance indicators that can help you figure out how you're doing.
One key performance indicator to look at is the number of page views you're getting or the amount of traffic your content is bringing to your page. You may also want to look at the average time visitors are spending onsite. If you're offering content for download, the number of content downloads will be a key indicator to consider. Page rank and inbound links can show how well content is performing. If you're using content on social media websites, key performance indicators to look at include comments, the number or shares, increase in fans or followers and the number of mentions your content achieves.
  • Pipeline value
  • Qualified leads
  • Form submission rates
  • Click-throughs
  • Number of opens (for emails or newsletters)
  • Funnel conversion
  • Closed deals
  • Meetings achieved with sales opportunities
Content Marketing ROI
What is ROI?
"Return on investment is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments" - Wikipedia
ROI (%) = Net profit / Investment × 100
While you expect to spend money on content, the money spent must provide results or it's a big waste of marketing funds. To begin measuring your return on investment (ROI), you'll want to begin by understanding what you'll be measuring.
Measuring the ROI for your content goes beyond simply looking at ad revenue and readership. Your goal should be to build better brand awareness or to see some form of conversion with your content. Conversions may include various user interactions, such as a sale, signing up a new user or adding someone to your mailing list. Deciding on and understanding what you want to measure will help you begin measuring your ROI. For example, if you want to measure your increase in sales, you first need to have a baseline to compare it to so you can measure your results to the baseline you already have established.
For smaller businesses, it can take some time to build up good momentum with a content marketing campaign. However, certain proxies can be used to help measure your current content ROI and success. Some proxies that can help you measure the ROI for a blog include retweets of your blog link, links back to the blog, comments on your blog, average page views, likes on Facebook, shares on LinkedIn and other social networking sites and an increase in your blog followers. By paying attention to these proxies, you can begin seeing how well your content is performing for your company. Even small signs of progress should be seen as encouraging when beginning a new campaign.
Primary and Secondary Conversion Indicators
When measuring the effectiveness of content marketing, it's easy to simply look at primary conversion indicators, such as raw conversion numbers. Conversions can be easily measured with software, but it's not enough to simply measure primary conversion indicators.
Measuring secondary conversion indicators is crucial and can provide you with important information on the effectiveness of your content. For example, if you're measuring the leads that your content is bringing in, some of the secondary conversion indicators would include lead quality, the lead's lifetime value, sales cycle length, the retention period of that lead and more. Pay attention to more than primary indicators, making sure you carefully track content users to get the real picture of your return on investment.
Keep in mind, measuring the effectiveness of any content marketing campaign can take time and patience. It can take some time to collect the data you need to understand how effective your content is, as well as the actual return on investment it is producing. By paying attention to even the smallest indicators, you can learn more about your content and work harder towards content marketing success.
Chapter 6:
Content Marketing Mistakes
As businesses begin to delve into content marketing, there's much to learn and many mistakes that are commonly made, even by large companies. Content marketing is exploding and it offers more benefits than basic advertising. However, bad content marketing is worse than having no content marketing plan in place. As you begin investing marketing money in the creation and sharing of content, avoiding common mistakes is vital for success. The following are some of the most common content marketing mistakes every business needs to avoid.
Mistake #1 : Failing to Have a Plan
When asked about the biggest content marketing mistakes, leading content marketing strategist, author and speaker, Joe Pulizzi, cited failing to have a plan as the top mistake companies are making today. Jumping in with both feet without every creating a plan is a huge problem. Businesses often begin creating content for distribution in different forums without ever planning what they should write and whom they are writing the content for. Without a plan, it's easy to fall back on advertising and hard selling instead of focusing on creating content that actually works to develop relationships with consumers. Developing a plan and a mission for content helps guide a marketing campaign in the right direction.
Mistake #2 : Failure to Segment
Failure to segment content is another huge content marketing mistake companies make regularly. Failing to target specific audiences, develop relevant content for that audience, and then offer that content through channels appropriate for the segment will fail to bring in a return on your investment. Companies often fail to think about who they need to reach as a company, which messages will reach out to their audience and how those messages can best be placed in front of that audience.
Mistake #3 : Impersonal Content
Another content marketing mistake to avoid is the creation of impersonal content. Content that is bland and impersonal will never provide the results you seek. Remember, when you create content, you're creating content for people. Your goal is to create relationships with these individuals. Use creativity to develop content that reaches out to people, creating personal relationships instead of staying blandly impersonal.
Mistake #4 : Non-Engaging Content
Creating non-engaging content is a mistake, especially when individuals today have such short attention spans. To get people to notice your content, you'll have to engage them quickly. In most cases, you'll only have a few seconds to engage your reader or they will simply move on to something else. To keep content engaging, use attention grabbing headlines, ask questions, provide ways to interact with content and consider adding visual aspects to it as well.
Mistake #5 : Grammatical and Spelling Errors
Last, failing to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors from content is a mistake that can quickly turn off consumers. Many marketers fail to simply take time to go back and proofread content before distributing it. Use spell check and grammar check. Re-check work yourself. It's even a good idea to have another pair of eyes look at the content before it goes out for public viewing.
Chapter 7:
2013 Content Creation Trends
Content marketing saw a huge explosion in 2012, going from a popular buzzword to a highly utilized form of marketing for many companies. That growth is expected to continue in 2013 and the new year is quickly bringing about new trends in the industry. Whether you're new to content marketing or you've already been using it for your business, it's essential to learn about new trends that are emerging to keep your marketing campaign current. The following are five important content creation trends to consider using this year.
Trend #1 – Bigger Focus on Visual Content

Marketers are realizing that pictures can be processed by the brain much faster than words can. Add that to the fact that consumers are more likely to share visual content and you have a trend that cannot be ignored – a bigger focus on visual content for 2013.

Photos are twice as likely to be shared on Facebook as text based posts. Videos are even more powerful, being shared twelve times more than text updates and links. The explosion of Pinterest in 2012 also testifies to the preference for visual content among consumers today. Photos and videos on Pinterest are providing more traffic for websites than Google+, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Twitter combined. Pay attention to this trend and focus on visual content as you plan your content for this year.
Trend #2 – Larger Focus on Mobile Content Marketing

Another content creation trend for the new year is a larger focus on mobile content marketing.

Mobile content marketing uses many of the same skills used for traditional content marketing. However, mobile devices have certain demands and needs that must be met for this form of marketing to work in this forum. Short sound byes are critical, since it's even harder to attract and retain consumer attention when they are using mobile devices like Smartphones and tablets.
Trend #3 – Gamification

If you're not familiar with gamification, it is a big part of experiential content, which provides consumers with a marketing experience that is immersive.

Gamification uses game design and mechanics to engage audiences in non-game contexts. As mobile marketing and social media marketing has grown, gaming has become more prevalent in marketing, providing consumers with a more unique way to interact with brands. This includes interaction with companies that may include video contests, scavenger hunts and other game-like experiences.
Trend #4 – Newsjacking
2013 also brings with it the content creation trend known as newsjacking. This involves brands generating and publishing their own news, finding opportunities and methods of inserting stories into news stories as they happen. For successful newsjacking, one must carefully bridge the gap between marketing content and interesting news, which can take careful planning and creativity.
Trend #5 – The Emergence of Agile Marketing

Agile marketing is quickly becoming a big buzzword along with content marketing and it's an important trend for content creators to be aware of and follow.

Agile marketing includes measuring and tracking all efforts put into content, analyzing content results to figure out what is working and what isn't working. Then, based upon gathered information, content strategies can be changed. Throughout the marketing realm, agile marketing is trending and it offers many benefits to content marketers. Expect to see more content marketing tools to pop up, making it easier to employ this strategy.
Content marketing continues to evolve, even after being used for more than a century. There's little doubt that content marketing will continue to grow this year and in the years to come, which is why businesses, both large and small, can benefit greatly from implementing this form of marketing into their overall marketing campaign. By learning the basics of this form of marketing along with new and developing trends, you too can begin enjoying the benefits of content marketing, using content to build your brand, connect with new customers, promote customer loyalty and much more.
Mark Gavalda
Mark is the founder of MandLoys Web Design Agency and has ten years' experience in digital marketing. He's a strong believer in content marketing and that social media is shifting the balance of centuries-old political and economic clout.