What is content marketing nowadays and what types work the best?

updated on 22 November 2021
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Content marketing is the strategy of generating interesting and useful content in order to attract more visitors to your site or users in your app. These visitors and users can be eventually turned into loyal customers, but it is unlikely to make immediate sales with the help of content marketing: the strategy works best on lead generation and brand recognition. Generally, content marketing requires a blog, Facebook page, Stories tool, or any other media on your site or app, so to implement this strategy, a business needs to create its own media first.

Nevertheless, content marketing is a powerful tool: according to the Content Marketing Institute, 79% of B2B and 73% of B2C marketers use content marketing in their campaigns. That’s not surprising at all. Look at these benefits a business can easily get from using a content marketing strategy:

  1. The business will become more visible. The more content a business produces, the higher it ranks in search engines (thanks to SEO).
  2. Content generates more and better leads than banner ads and other forms of advertising. At least 40% of internet users already use ad blockers, so they won't see a traditional internet advertisement. What they will see is useful content. And it’s totally free organic traffic!
  3. Engagement and time spent on business resources by users increases, and so does their trust. Creating and sharing content helps businesses build a relationship with their audience. It's a great opportunity to interact with future customers, collect feedback and answer their questions.
  4. Making content has a beneficial effect on conversion rate. Original content about your production or services will help customers to make educated purchases and support them through all the customer funnel stages.
  5. Decreased marketing costs. Content production is definitely the most cost-effective marketing strategy available. It requires only time and a highly qualified content maker on your team. Therefore, it provides a compounding ROI: after a few months of implementing this strategy, you'll see growth in audience and sales.

Then and now: what’s the difference?

The first attempts to use content marketing began in the early 2010s or even earlier. In the beginning, every brand just tried to create as much content as possible. You had to blog daily, otherwise you'd be forgotten. Also the search engine algorithms worked differently and SEO texts were long and full of keywords and phrases, sometimes bordering on the meaningless.

With the rise of social networks, content became more original, deep and trustworthy. Nowadays, you can’t just hop in the feeds of potential customers and be happy, rich and gorgeous — you have to work on the quality of the content to make it interesting, useful and catchy, otherwise you won’t get anyone’s attention. These days, content marketing is all about gamification and personalization: if you want to build strong relationships between your brand and your customers, you should put your customers’ needs first.

Another great leap forward was made when video content became popular. It's a more dynamic format compared to text or images and it saves customers a lot of time. That’s why video is still the most commonly used format in content marketing, according to this HubSpot survey:

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The chart source: HubSpot blog.

There were a lot of great content marketing campaigns at that time too. Let’s have a look at the most notable ones:

Best content marketing cases from the 2010s

General Electric and the #GEInstaWalk campaign

GE produces vacuum cleaners, washer-dryers, wind turbines, jet engines, locomotives, and much more. In 2013, the company started the most effective Instagram promotion using influencers, and didn't waste a cent.

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They invited six Instagram influencers and several superfans to walk around their manufacturing facilities and take, upload and hashtag pictures. As a result, they got 8 million views of the GE page on Instagram and more than 3,000 new followers. Remarkable success for a technical equipment manufacturer.

Hootsuite and a Game of Social Thrones

One of the largest social media content management platforms released a viral video in 2014 about the mechanics of social networks. Might seem boring at first glance, but hold on: the whole video was stylized as one of the most popular shows in those days: Game of Thrones.

Today, this video is the most successful branded content on their YouTube channel, with 1.3 million views and 24 thousand likes.

Nike “Breaking2” 2017 campaign

To support their new shoe, the Zoom Vaporfly Elite, Nike organized the streaming of an attempt to complete a marathon in less than two hours. Three runners took part in the race: Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese, and Lelisa Desisa. Nike livestreamed the whole race on Facebook and Twitter and shared behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram.

It worked out great and went viral, and not only because Nike's core audience definitely likes athletic challenges. The campaign’s message about unlocking human potential brought a much broader audience. As a result, Nike got 584,000 mentions on social networks and their hashtag #Breaking2 was used over 400,000 times. Also, this is a good example of how video content and social networks can work together and boost sales.

New trends in content marketing

As we mentioned before, video content is king of the hill, and that’s unlikely to change. But there is one big difference between content marketing strategies then and now: quality now beats quantity every time. Since Google changed its algorithms, quality became one of the top ranking factors. Also, it’s not enough to post something on a regular schedule to catch users’ attention: you have to find something that will meet users' needs to earn their trust.

It’s also important to remember that mobile data traffic takes up a huge part of global statistics. Web media content should show perfectly on any kind of device it could be opened from, as well as any content sharing in an app. Adding a Stories section to an app is a good idea too: it’s a simple version of a blog, and it’s perfectly adapted for mobile devices.

To understand current trends in content marketing strategies, let’s have a look at the following examples:

Best content marketing cases nowadays

Shopify blog and case studies

Shopify provides software to help businesses go online and run a successful e-commerce store. But they also publish great content on their blog in categories like Branding, Dropshipping, Digital Marketing, etc. They post practical tips and ideas, and share in-depth case studies from existing customers. 

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[See more visual materials in the blog post]

This strategy works on different levels: it helps to build trust with the audience and captures attention with consistent and creative content like screenshots of content examples, customer testimonials and showcase videos. As a result, Shopify is the world's third most visited website in the "Business Services" category, and achieved $184.1 million revenue growth in 2019.

Adobe Honor Heroes campaign

The software company released a one-minute video to honor and thank scientists, medical personnel and other key workers during the pandemic. More than a hundred people were drawn with the help of Adobe tools, so the video also discreetly demonstrates examples of what people can do with their powerful creative suite.

It's a genuine and heartfelt video, and it doesn't seem like any kind of advertisement, so the audience was thrilled. It launched the hashtag #honorheroes on social networks, engaging people to create their own images using Adobe Creative tools. The video now has 3.4 million views and a lot of references in major media worldwide: a truly fantastic result.

My I.T. Galaxy by Eaton

The power B2B management company thought outside the box, used some gamification techniques, and made really viral content. They let everyone build their own planet and get useful infographics through it.

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The concept took the bronze award from Chief Marketer’s Pro Awards in the “Best B2B Campaign” category. The campaign itself got nearly 900 IT pros to take a survey and get rewarded for it: quite a good result for a B2B brand.

How to start using content marketing successfully

  1. Set attainable business goals and adapt your content to them. What do you want to achieve with content marketing? Is it a short-term or long-term goal?
  2. Identify the target audience you're talking to. Establish the way you will communicate to your customers. What needs do they have that you can address?
  3. Choose the type of content you want to make. It can be text, graphic, video, games, or a mix of all these types.
  4. Choose content channels which fit your audience. How often do your potential customers use social networks? Would it be better to use in-app media opportunities, such as Stories, simple games and in-app blog sections?
  5. Find creators who will make your content brilliant. Another option is to outsource content from a company or individual with the relevant experience.
  6. Just start creating and distributing content.

5 common mistakes it’s better to avoid

  1. Creating too much content that doesn’t fulfil the user's needs. Remember: every piece of content you share should be useful for your audience. It’s better to make less but better quality content.
  2. Not using visual content of any kind. Images, videos and other kinds of visual content are much easier to digest than blocks of text.
  3. Expecting quick results and giving up after not getting them. Content marketing is all about long-term results: just be prepared for it.
  4. Choosing the wrong content distribution strategy. It’s not enough to publish something: you need to make sure people will see your content. Try to mix some content channels together: company blog + social networks + in-app Stories = good distribution strategy.
  5. Not paying attention to user-generated content. According to Reevoo statistics, 70% of people trust reviews and images of products that come from other customers instead of brand-generated ones. So let your customers do the hard work for you, and encourage them to create their own content. 

In conclusion

It’s clear that content marketing was and still is an efficient and effective way to boost sales, build trust between a brand and its audience, and increase user engagement. Plus, content is at the top of the marketing pyramid nowadays, more than ever before, and it’s the best time to start using it on maximum. Think about the type of content — texts, video, blog, your own media or social networks — that will be the most suitable for your brand and will take your company’s popularity to the next level. And remember, it’s a long-term strategy, so the sooner you start, the better your results will be.

This blog post was brought to you by InAppStory — the embeddable Stories service.

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