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Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 16, 2017

Let’s face it: Traditional marketing methods are not as effective as they once were. Have you ever watched a viral video on a social network? Read a blog instead of picking up a newspaper? Turned off the radio to listen to a podcast?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ll see why conventional methods for delivering marketing messages—television, print and radio—are losing some of their value to newer platforms.

These platforms include search engines, blogs and social media. They are increasingly influencing your customers’ behavior and informing their purchase decisions. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute reports 70 percent of consumers would prefer to learn about a company via a blog post or article rather than an ad.

The most effective way to capitalize on this is to incorporate content marketing strategies and software at your company. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to implement, perform and track content marketing activities for your team.

Click on a section below to read more:

What Is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing Tools Explained
Common Functionality of Content Marketing Platforms
Content Marketing Software Deployment Options
Industry Trends to Understand

What Is Content Marketing?

Research and advisory firm Gartner provides one of the most comprehensive definitions of the term:

“Content marketing is the process and practice of creating, curating and cultivating text, video, images, graphics, e-books, white papers and other content assets that are distributed through paid, owned and earned media. These assets are used to tell stories that help brands build and nurture relationships with customers, prospects and other audiences to drive awareness, generate demand, influence preference and build loyalty.”

Gartner IT Glossary

Think of it this way: Content marketing encompasses the many different types of content your organization shares publicly to build an audience and encourage interactions with your brand. Here are some examples of content marketing in action:

blog content marketingWriting a post for the company blog

social content marketingAnswering a question about your services through networks, such as Quora, Slack or LinkedIn

video content marketingProducing a video about a new product launch and posting it on YouTube

survey content marketingConducting a survey to gain industry insights and emailing the results to clients

Content Marketing Tools Explained

Content marketing tools help manage the distribution of your content across your own web properties and the internet at large. They facilitate the creation, deployment, management and storage of your team’s content.

For instance: companies such as camera vendor GoPro that regularly share videos with their audience may benefit from content marketing software that can store and organize visual assets.

Go Pro Video Content Marketing

Source: Content Marketing Tips: Learn From Brands That Are Killing It

That said, the term “content marketing tools” refers to more than just dedicated software. It can also include certain techniques and resources that any content creator can benefit from, regardless of budget or size of business.

Sometimes teams aren’t ready to invest in new technology and are just looking for simple solutions to enhance their content marketing efforts. Here’s how some free or low-cost tools can help you do just that:

  • Google AdWords can let you check whether there’s high search volume for certain keywords, which indicates demand for information on a given topic
  • Websites that offer glyph icons (e.g., The Noun Project) enhance the design and visual appeal of your content
  • Writing and editing applications (e.g., Grammarly) identify typos and sentence structure issues

Common Functionality of Content Marketing Platforms

If you find your needs aren't addressed by the basic tools mentioned above, you may be in the market for a more robust content marketing system. Here are some of the most common capabilities among such systems:

Audience targeting Target content to specific audiences by segmenting customer data and/or creating buyer personas. Buyer personas model potential customer personalities, behaviors, motivations and pain points.
Campaign management View and manage all planned and in-progress marketing campaigns. This includes every part of the process, from refining content briefs to assigning tasks and sharing files.
File management A searchable file repository that makes it possible for team members to upload and download multiple digital assets, such as PDFs, videos and images. Some let you assign tags to particular assets for better organization and easy retrieval.
Customer tracking Track how readers interact with your website’s content. This includes measuring bounce rate, clicks and conversions. This data may be shown in a dashboard or report.
Content editor Design and build content, such as blog posts and landing pages. Many systems have drag-and-drop functions to move blocks of text, multimedia, tables and/or lists around the page until they’re satisfied with the design.
Editorial calendar Schedule deadlines and publish dates in advance.
Multi-channel publishing Publishes the same piece of content to multiple channels, such as: social networks, websites and blogs. These channels are connected to the platform to make it easier to push pieces live from one single hub.

Content Marketing Software Deployment Options

Content marketing software can either be purchased as a best-of-breed application or as part of an integrated marketing software suite that offers content marketing tools, in addition to other applications (e.g., lead generation or mobile marketing). This graph can help you consider your options:

Content marketing software options

The type of deployment you choose will depend on what kind of buyer you are. For example, large businesses looking for an enterprise solution may be better off with an integrated suite. Suites can automate nearly all of the marketing functions they need beyond content marketing, and there’s no need to worry about duplicate data entry or multiple tracking methods.

On the other hand, small businesses and solopreneurs may benefit more from a stand-alone content marketing system. They may not have a need for the extra “bells and whistles” an integrated suite can offer.

Industry Trends to Understand

As you get closer to choosing a mobile marketing tool, there are a few market trends you should really consider:

Search engine optimization (SEO): The goal of SEO is to increase the number of visitors to websites by securing or maintaining a high ranking in the results page of a search engine, such as Google. This is an important concept to integrate into your content marketing strategy because it helps your audience find your content organically, rather than paying for ad space or sending emails.

Community building: One of the best ways to set up your content for success is to nurture a community of engaged followers. When creating content, think about ways to get readers involved. For instance, invite them to leave comments on your articles or ask them to subscribe to your video channel. The more you encourage community engagement, the quicker you can build an audience for your brand.

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