What the Heck is Content Marketing?

by Clara Jacob
June 16, 2015

If your email box is anything like mine, you’re bombarded by messages about content marketing.

Now, I know what content marketing means, but I’m not always sure that the email messages are defining it the same way. Part of the problem is the terminology. It’s a bit slippery.

Today – or this week, anyway – content marketing, as defined by Wikipedia, “involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.”

Most of those emails you receive are about digital content marketing, which is the biggest thing since sliced, gluten-free bread – again, this week, anyway. And that’s what we’re going to discuss.

Clear as mud?

I really need specific examples in order to understand sweeping concepts. Content-driven digital media in the ag market includes, but is not limited to:

  • Native ads
  • Digital advertorials
  • Content-based video
  • Content modules
  • Branded content pages
  • Ad units populated by RSS feeds
  • Paid social media posts
  • Audio players

Winning in popularity

Basically – and this is vastly oversimplified – banner ads were limiting. While they were good at developing top-of-mind awareness, they didn’t get the engagement clients hoped for.

So the media industry invented content-based placement.

The great news is that content-based tactics are well-liked. In fact:

  • 61 percent of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content (Marketing Tech Blog)
  • 7 in 10 consumers prefer to learn about a company through articles, not ads (Marketing Tech Blog)
  • 90 percent of consumers find custom content useful (TMG Custom Media)
  • 68 percent of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they’re interested in (The CMA)
  • Social media and blogs account for 23 percent of all time spent online (Content Marketing Institute)
  • 78 percent of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content want to build good relationships (TMG Custom Media)

What this means is that people much prefer content-based tactics to regular advertising, even when they KNOW the content is coming from an advertiser.

This is remarkable. It’s as though your customer were to say, “OK, I know this is an ad but since you dressed it up so nicely, I’m going to pay attention now.”

Winning in effectiveness

Consumers don’t just prefer content-driven media – they engage at higher rates.

Paulsen has created many types of content-driven digital media, and these tactics have proven quite effective. Clicks and click-through rates are substantially higher than with standard banner ads.

Of course, there’s an art to crafting these tactics – just as there is with all advertising. It’s about truly understanding the target market and developing compelling messages.

Our ag media partners offer numerous opportunities for content-based media. The most frequently used content-based tactic is native advertising.

So what the heck is native advertising?

Here’s another bit of slippery terminology.

Some people use the term “native advertising” to refer to ALL content-based placement. But this is a misnomer.

Native advertising is paid content that appears much like editorial (see example). It’s always marked as “sponsored” or “partner content” or something similar.

Good native ads not only blend in with their surroundings visually and thematically, but offer unique information that people will want to read. And yes, they will want to read it even when they know it’s sponsored.

You’ll find native advertising in consumer media and increasingly in ag media. AgWeb offers “7 Keys to Building Effective Native Ads”:

  1. Make sure the content is of value to the target audience.
  2. Make sure the lures/headlines speak directly of that value. This isn’t ad copy.
  3. Target the content to the most relevant audience.
  4. Change the copy. After a week, the click rate falls 20%–50%.
  5. Test multiple headlines and then roll into the best performer.
  6. Change out the eventual landing page content on a regular basis.
  7. Treat different media differently.

Native ads provide a great opportunity for A/B testing. Another idea is to test messages with a pay per click campaign before running the native ads.

While creating high-performing native ads isn’t exactly like driving a sports car at 120 mph on a closed course, it might also be something you don’t want to try at home.

Your marketing partner – especially if it’s Paulsen – understands the medium, the techniques and the possibilities. And of course, we’d be happy to help!

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