Subtle Selling: The New Art of Content Marketing
By Jorie Henrickson
Just last month, 100% of advertisers for American Eagle, General Mills and other major players surveyed by Outbrain reported using content marketing in their overall campaign strategies.
What is content marketing?
Basically it’s online content that’s more useful or entertaining than salesy. It’s rich with photos, reviews and other media that your target audience seeks out on its own. Especially when combined with social media, it can significantly expand brand awareness and help drive sales both online and offline.
Get an excellent ROI.
Content marketing in the hands of experts provides a high return on investment. Unlike traditional means of promotion – radio spots, TV commercials and newspaper ads – it isn’t the ephemeral mentioning of a weekend sale or highlighted product. Many investments made in content marketing have the potential to last indefinitely on the Internet. YouTube videos and product review blogs are just two examples of content marketing that endures. Good Content can bring so many things.
Examples of Content Marketing
Content marketing involves creating (or simply passing along) informative or entertaining material that appeals to your product’s target audience. This material might be a blog post, an online game, a video or a free download. Here are some examples.
Here at Vab Media we write a lot of blogs for content marketing. For example, imagine that a client wants to populate an online dating website in San Francisco. Our marketing strategy might include posting blogs with titles like:
- The Best Singles Bars in San Francisco
- How to Write a Dating Profile
- The Many Dates of Jerry Seinfeld
These blogs would be optimized to rank prominently in Google, Bing and other search engines without the need to pay for keywords. People seeking “singles bars in San Francisco” would naturally stumble upon the client’s blogs and online dating service. Exponential growth in brand awareness could come with the integration of Facebook “Like” buttons and other social media.
As the graphic below illustrates,blogging combined with social networking can help maintain your current following and attract new traffic.
Vlogs or Video Blogs
Content marketing also takes the form of video blogs. In the dating website example, a video blogger might:
- Provide relationship advice
- Share an amusing dating disaster
- Show how to prepare a romantic dinner
- Review dating websites
For a great example of effective humor in this genre, see Jenna Marbles on YouTube. Her video How to Avoid Talking to People You Don’t Want to Talk To has garnered more than 21 million hits:
Professionals with a more formal style are also using Internet video as cost-effective advertising. Ideally they post a combination of video and text to help with search engine optimization and appeal to different visitors’ preferences. For example, Vab Media worked with Reverend Gail Swain to advertise her Monterey Bay wedding services with video and a written statement of her philosophy:
Another example of using mixed media in content marketing comes from HBO. They used video blogging to support the hit drama Big Love. Although blogging wasn’t mentioned during the episodes, Internet fans became engrossed in the character Margene Henrickson’s video blog and her written commentary.
Posting video blogs on a regular basis is an excellent way to attract and maintain a following. How can you get the most payback for your efforts? See this article for the latest tips about optimizing your video for YouTube and other search engines.
Infographics are the hottest form of content marketing for 2012.
What are infographics?
They’re basically traditional charts on steroids. They pack plenty of information into easy-to- understand pictures or charts. Ideally, infographics are engaging and are shared through social media.
Working with our dating website client, we might create an infographic like this one posted at Visual.Ly:
An unexpected company – Timberland – also created a dating infographic. As Timberland’s efforts show, with content marketing it’s possible to boost brand awareness without selling your products or services in the usual way.
Producing this infographic gave Timberland a reason to venture beyond its traditional territory and raise brand awareness in new settings. Posted in blogs about dating or the environment, the image can engage Internet users who aren’t actively searching for Timberland’s product (outdoor wear). Subtle selling, indeed.
It’s easy to make your own infographics. Check out Visual.Ly for useful tools and one of the Internet’s best infographics collections.
More Forms of Content Marketing
Content marketing takes many forms. At Vab Media we provide clients with blogs, vlogs, Twitter content, Facebook pages and content marketing media in additional formats. Bookmark us and check back for new tips about content marketing, SEO and web development.
Want to learn more about how Vab Media can help you?
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Jorie Henrickson is among our top copywriters. She writes and rewrites creative content to help websites draw traffic organically and keep visitors engaged. A highly adaptable writer, Jorie has extensive experience with traditional and SEO writing for academic, corporate, and non-profit organizations. Connect with Jorie on linkedin: Jorie Henrickson – SEO Writer on LinkedIn.