It’s no secret in the digital space that content is king. Why does the New York Times receive 57 million unique visitors every month? The same reason why ‘Gangnam Style’ is the highest viewed video on YouTube: the content and, more importantly (and debatably), good content.
All funny dances aside, quality content is becoming increasingly more important, and is no longer reserved for juggernaut publishers like the New York Times. As the digital advertising space gets significantly more crowded, content is one of the few remaining ways brands and businesses alike can separate themselves from their competition. Having a strong content strategy for your brand can accomplish a few crucial objectives:
- Allow your brand to tell its story – Nobody knows your brand the way you do.Content provides the perfect outlet to show not only what you do, but why you’re the best at it, and showcase your brand’s identity beyond the dollar sign.
- Establish your brand as the authority of whatever it is you do – By providing consistent and informative content relevant to what your brand or business offers, you will come across as knowledgeable, reliable and, most importantly, experts within your industry who are able to provide valuable insight as opposed to just another sales pitch. All of this combines to build both brand loyalty and trust. In fact, according to a 2014 study by Vibrant, the public trusts branded content almost as publisher content.
- Educate – Whether it’s a new product or service or you’re just in a niche, difficult-to-explain vertical, quality content can be a cost-effective tool and the difference between potential customers understanding what you offer and bypassing you all together.
- Entertain and engage – Not all content has to be serious. In fact, some of the best brand content is hilarious and has very little direct tie to its brand.Many brands have embraced this fun (sometimes viral) content; Budweiser, Red Bull, Doritos, and Pepsi are a few that prove content doesn’t have to be monotonous and boring. Any time you can get people talking about your brand in a positive light is a check in the ‘win’ column.
The reason for putting some (and, perhaps, increasing amounts) of your advertising budget behind your brand content should be apparent. (Hint: It’s for the same reasons listed above!) With the growth of online advertising —it is predicted that in 2015, $60 BILLION will be spent on digital ads in the US alone! – separating your brand from others in your industry is becoming an increasingly difficult and expensive task and paying to market your content is, in most cases, a cost-effective way to achieve that.
What Content Works
- Infographics – This short-form piece of content is usually catchy, colorful, graphic-filled and super easy to digest with only the hardest hitting of information. Infographics are a great way to engage your audience and they function great as socially sharable pieces of content.
- Educational – Authoritative and usually long form, educational content informs potential customers and other industry insiders on a particular subject and also presents your brand’s philosophy on the matter. Educational content, especially content that demonstrates your knowledge of solutions to typical audience problems, is great for establishing your brand as a thought leader, especially in more technical verticals. Examples include blog posts and white papers.
- Entertainment – This can be anything from videos, articles, lists, images, and anything in between. The idea of content that entertains is to show a lighter, more human side of your brand and can really get people talking about your business. Entertaining content can also help reach a younger, more engaged demographic. Examples include lifestyle content and funny videos and photos.
- Promotional – You’re in business to make money and self-promoting content is one way to accomplish that; however, this strategy should be used sparingly and tastefully to prevent scaring away your audience. Some examples include testimonials, case studies and advertorials.
- Video – According to a 2014 comScore study,64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. Video provides a perfect outlet for product demos, testimonials, company overviews, behind-the-scenes material, lifestyle content, previously recorded events/seminars and much more. Videos also function as great sharable content.
As you can see from the list above – and many other examples not listed -- there are many options in terms of what types of content brands can produce to keep current and future audiences engaged.
Where to Put Those Advertising Dollars
So we know why we should market our content and what to market. Now let’s take a look at some options for how we can pay to market content.
- Your own email subscribers – Besides your own blog, your own email database is the next best place to push out your own content. Your email list is comprised of individuals who already know your brand and are looking to engage with your content; plus, it’s very cost effective.
- 3rd party email marketing – If your email subscriber list doesn’t give you the reach you’d like or you’d like to reach a new audience, you can supplement your internal efforts by paying to have your content included in an email campaign from a vertical-specific publisher who has a much larger mailing list.
- Social media – The most effective paid way to promote your content on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is by sponsoring your posts. Sponsored posts act as traditional, organic posts, but putting dollars behind them can do wonders for your content’s reach and engagement.
- Content discovery platforms – Content discovery platforms allow you to pay to have your content, especially educational or solution-oriented blog posts, hosted on much larger publisher websites to increase your content’s audience reach and drive valuable traffic back to you.
- Direct relationships / native advertising – Most large publishers and sites have their own proprietary paid strategies for you to use to promote your brand content. Most of these strategies are labeled as ‘native’ advertising offerings and function very similar to the site’s own content; however, with your dollars behind it, you can piggyback off of the publisher’s reach and audience. Due to their nature, however, these direct relationships tend to be one of the more expensive strategies.
- Traditional online advertising – Combining the best of both worlds, using traditional online marketing strategies like paid search and video advertising are great ways to promote your brand content. However, these increasingly popular methods are not as cost-effective as some other strategies mentioned above.
What Are You Waiting For?
If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you to pay to promote your content, these stats might:
- According to the 2015 B2B and B2C Content Marketing Institute reports, only 27% of B2C and 35% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
- In 2014, Contently has found that over 50% of marketers have 0-25% of their budgets devoted to content.
This means the space is primed for growth and having a well-outlined content marketing strategy (and budget) can separate you that much further from your competition.
Here at Liquid, we have a full scale digital marketing & content development team ready to help you plan, execute and optimize your content strategy, both paid and organic. If you have any questions about paid content marketing, reach out to Ron Sears or Bret Ludlow for a free consultation today!
About Ron Sears (Alumni)
Ron served as a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Liquid Interactive. Ron worked with Liquid’s clients to plan, implement and manage paid online advertising campaigns.