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What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is all about the creation and distribution of high-quality content that attracts and engages audiences online. Like other traditional forms of marketing, content marketing is typically used to drive customer acquisition, deeper engagement with current customers, and for brand awareness.

The trend in content marketing has grown significantly over the past two decades as audiences have shifted to new media, consuming content in entirely new and savvy ways. This has led to brands big and small developing comprehensive content strategies with allocated marketing budgets.

Generally thought of as being separate from traditional advertising, content marketing is about communicating with customers in a way that adds value, without the sales pitch. The content itself is editorially-minded, and while contextually relevant to a product or service, provides information in the form of entertainment, education, emotional connection, or practical value.

History of Content Marketing

Content marketing is not new — B2B marketers have been employing it for years, using assets like white papers and reports to pull in a target audience. With the rise of digital, however, marketers increasingly saw its appeal. Initially, it was an appealing and exciting inbound tactic for driving traffic.

Now, practitioners are successfully harnessing its power as an advanced method for capturing the attention of prospect, nurturing their engagement down the funnel to a more trustworthy and meaningful conversation.

For one thing, without content, SEOs would have nothing to optimize for search engines. The metadata they add to posts is an attempt to help robots like Google and Facebook wrap their digital heads around the complexities of the content they’re indexing. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find—yep—content.

The phrase “content is king” has generated a lot of buzz among online marketers. While there are great debates to be had over the accuracy of that phrase, the point is that content is a bit different than other areas of marketing like social media and SEO, in that many of them are really only around because of content.

Content is the heart of what we do as marketers; we talk to our customers, our clients, and our readers, and what we say to them—regardless of what form it takes—is our content.

So what is content marketing, then? Well, it’s pretty simple. Content marketing is the use of that content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else. We’ll go into many of the most popular and effective ways of doing all of these things throughout the rest of this guide.

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