What is content marketing? According to a definition, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Traditional marketing usually relies on media tools like television and newspapers. Due to high costs, it is necessary that the marketing must work. However, the advertising messages are usually considered by the receiving end as words from the manufacturer or brand owner who aim to sell their products or services.
The above approach is called “push”, or pushing the products or services to customers. It is also called interruption marketing, which means interrupting viewers with the forceful message while they are watching TV.
However, content marketing is much more subtle. Thanks to the internet, the length of the message is not limited, unlike in the traditional media. Therefore, some free articles, videos, emails, texts, reports and books have appeared in various online blogs, social media platforms and websites, trying to be informative, educative and entertaining.
The aim is to help consumers know more about the brand, and help build a positive image and then gradually prompt them into purchasing.
The advantages of adopting content marketing are more remarkable for brands and advertisers.
The content lasts longer than traditional ads, which mostly appear in specific channels at specific time. And advertisers need to pay on the basis of viewers or readers. However, content is similar to a magazine that never gets out-dated. It exits on the internet. As long as the story is interesting, the content will pop up every time from the search engine. Advertisers do not need to pay extra every time the content is read.
And the readers will increase day by day. A simple blog will be able to attract readers as it stays there, and the blog will be repeatedly forwarded. That will help grow and expand the readers automatically.
Compared with traditional advertising, digital content may be used more easily to send messages across different targeted groups. That is due to fragmentation of online groups, which would help make the content more tailored, to “speak the right words to the right person”.
Also, digital content will help build interaction, connection with users, for getting their feedback and setting up big data marketing platforms. More importantly, that will enable the advertiser to establish one-on-one relationship with customers immediately. And the connection is ready for long-term development, unlike the way that traditional ads have to attract different users each time.
Digital content will also beef up competitiveness. If rivals only choose traditional marketing, they might have to spend much more than content marketing to get the same effect. Therefore, traditional ads are suitable for deep-pocketed large companies, while content marketing will help smaller ones.
A survey from UK’s Content Marketing Association shows that 60 percent of consumer products have adopted content marketing. And they are said to spend up to 20 percent of their budgets on content marketing, compared with 14 percent on TV ads, 11 percent for online ads, and 10 percent on printed ads, among others.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 2.
Translation by Julie Zhu
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