Lee Odden

Content Marketing: Definition & Tactics

content marketingContent Marketing – Tactics and Best Practices

Here is a series of practical tips on tactics that marketers can use to complement their content-focused online marketing efforts.

The idea of content marketing seems to vary with different people, so to start, my definition of content marketing is: “Aligning business and consumer information needs with content.” We’ll see if that holds as we build out a deep dive on each of these different tactics.

A lot of the information on content marketing that we promote here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog offers process, strategy and models of approach. This series makes the bold assumption that the reader has already considered goals, audience, strategy and measurement and is looking for tips on tactics that fit within their planned online marketing mix.

I’ll be going through the list in alphabetical order and following a fairly consistent format.  Below is the list of tactics I’ve decided on and as the posts are published, links will be added below so this page will serve as an index.

  1. Advertorial & Native Advertising – Content intended as advertising but structured like news or an article. Infomercials are a common video form of advertorial.
  2. Blogging – Content published using blog software that organizes pages chronologically and/or by category. Blogs also provide an RSS feed so readers can subscribe without visiting the blog website.
  3. Case Studies – “Facts tell, stories sell” and case studies continue to serve an effective purpose for telling successful problem/solution brand and product stories.
  4. Crowdsource – Along the lines of “collective wisdom”, this tactic may involve inviting a network to help solve a particular problem or to contribute insight/expertise/option towards a particular topic. The resulting content attracts the attention of participants’ networks.
  5. Content Curation – As an art gallery employs a curator to find, organize and manage the best art, a content curator does something similar with information.
  6. Digital Newsletters – Newsletters provide a consistent source of useful information, advertorial and links to web pages that further engage the reader.
  7. eBooks – Robust content, especially with B2B marketing and the education involved with longer sales cycles, can be compelling and an eBook provides an in depth look at a particular topic of expertise.
  8. Email Marketing – From timed sequences of articles to special promotions, messages via email continue to provide the highest conversion rates of any online marketing tactic.
  9. Gamification -From frequent flyer programs to unlocking badges in Foursquare, gamification is permanently embedded in our cultural DNA.
  10. Infographics – A picture is worth a thousand words and an infographic might be worth a few thousand eyeballs and nearly as many links, tweets and shares. Annotated with descriptive text and repurposed, infographics that are well planned and executed are high impact for social sharing.
  11. Interactive Tools – Tools that allow user input and that publish customized output as content can be very effective but tools can also simply answer questions or facilitate a process.
  12. Microsites – Dedicated web sites for specific campaigns, promotions or to serve as a social hub can provide a focus for content that doesn’t really fit on the corporate website or blog.
  13. Mobile Applications – The popular web is increasingly mobile, so apps that provide information and experience can be very effective as part of a content marketing program.
  14. Mobile Content – Content specifically written and formatted for mobile consumption is also a worthwhile consideration and for some markets, essential right now.
  15. News Releases – Press releases are certainly content, although the format, application and distribution has evolved.  Press releases can still reach journalists, but are also effective as direct to consumer content as well.
  16. Online Magazines & Apps – Creative web design can simulate the page turning experience of a print magazine, yet offer all the convenience of a website through online magazines. iPads are an effective device for consuming online magazine content.
  17. Podcasts – iTunes provides an effective distribution and promotion platform for many popular podcasts which can be audio or video.  Like newsletters, podcasts are often published according to a schedule and provide regular, useful information.
  18. Print Magazines – While the print world has experienced substantial changes, print is very much alive for certain markets. Print magazines may be based on a subscription model on topics related to the brand, such as a lifestyle magazine.
  19. Print Newsletters – One of the oldest forms of content marketing, printed newsletters that arrive via snail mail can provide an effective compliment to online promotions or serve niche markets where print is a preferred format.
  20. Real-World Events – The content opportunities around an industry conference or trades show are abundant, from pre-event storytelling through interviews and advance articles from speakers to liveblogging during the event.
  21. Research & Surveys – Statistics and data based insights can be very engaging and sharable content that work in tandem with many of the tactics on this list.
  22. Social Content – Content created specifically for social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn may be a different format, but can have significant impact on awareness and engagement when planned and implemented using best practices.
  23. Traditional Media – Advertising, education or advertorial can take many forms with traditional digital media besides TV/Cable and radio.
  24. Video Content –  Engaging and rich as a content format that can be repurposed, video is effective for consumer and B2B markets.
  25. Virtual Conferences – An online conference aggregates a variety of content and incorporates many of the content tactics included in this list from promotions to presentations to the social exchanges inspired by the event.
  26. Webinars – Audio combined with presentation slides, Q and A and chat provide a content experience that can also be replayed when stored in an online archive.
  27. Wikis – Community content creation, curation and maintenance can create resources that would be extremely resource intensive for an individual marketer. More importantly, they give a community of interest the opportunity to contribute and be recognized for developing a resource that serves the greater good (or a very niche topic).
  28. White Papers – In digital format, a deep dive into a specific topic can be very effective for educating and persuading B2B prospects. Reports co-authored with marketing partners or industry analysts can boost credibility and reach.

In the course of writing this post and compiling information for the series, a reasonable question arises: “What is content?”.  Does it have to include text? Is it images, video or audio as well?  Or is it information that people can experience? The latter definition is what emerges for me, but that’s something I’ll be exploring more in future posts. I’d love to hear your opinion on what defines content.

For the series of blog posts, I’ll provide an overview, examples and tactics. When the series is done, the information will be compiled into an ebook using the following format for each tactic:

  • Definition
  • Applications
  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Expert Opinions
  • Brand Examples
  • Best Practices
  • Related Software & Resources

To help make this series as useful as possible, feel free to share any specific questions that you have on the above list of tactics in the comments below.

Of course, if you have need of a content marketing strategy and discovering the right mix of content for your marketing, check out TopRank Marketing’s content marketing services.

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About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.