The word “advertorial” is quickly becoming archaic in today’s marketing lexicon. Despite the advertorial’s resemblance to a feature with editorial substance, its first syllable betrays its true identity.
The decline of this kind of content can be attributed to the fact that marketers are increasingly embracing the value of relevant content to consumers, and consumers are increasingly disgruntled by not-so-thinly veiled sales pitches.
Successful marketing professionals understand that what people really want is useful content that means something to them personally and doesn’t obligate them to a purchase. Today’s content marketing is not about selling a product or service; it’s about engaging the community through ideas, information and experiences that are produced and published for free on owned media, such as a website or blog.
Content, or inbound, marketing builds relationships with your audience so that when consumers want or need something you can offer, you will already have gained their trust and you will be top on their list of providers.
So, what makes good content marketing? A simple rule of thumb is to imagine that whatever someone (you, for instance) would voluntarily read, watch or listen to, with no expectations but to be enlightened in some way, is fair game. Content marketing can entertain, inform, solve a problem, inspire, counsel, change minds, change lives…the sky’s the limit, as long as it’s genuinely rooted in a desire to add value to your audience. Period.
Format is important to consider when developing effective content as well. Assuming the essentials are in place (content is compelling, relevant, well-written, well-organized, and graphically appealing), is your content better as a blog post, white paper, e-book, newsletter, video, Facebook post, Twitter stream, photo, infographic? And is it grounded in the critical establishment of search engine optimization and keywords?
Keywords (e.g., “senior living”) should drive your overall content strategy, and the needs and interests of your audience (e.g., a fulfilling lifestyle for older adults) should anchor every user experience your content creates. Without getting too technical (let your marketing experts take care of that!), this process takes into account both what your audience is seeking and how search engines such as Google rank, or “think about,” keywords.
Another word to the wise: visuals are essential to all content. Keeping in mind that 10% of online visitors don’t scroll through articles at all, much less the whole way through, graphics bring life to your content and capture attention in a way that words alone cannot. Research shows that photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes than the average post, and photos on Twitter bring about a 55% increase in leads.
The right marketing team can help steer you from old practices cloaking sales pleas in “substance” into sincere content development that means something to your audience and keeps you in the forefront of their minds.
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