Do you know the difference between content and format? And how to use each of them to optimize your 360º marketing strategy? Here are the keys to developing a digital content strategy.
What is content and how to create a strategy? How many times have you heard that content is king? Have you ever wondered what exactly we mean when we talk about content? From my point of view, on the one hand, I consider it an excellent opportunity for small and medium-sized companies to acquire visibility and authority in their market niche. On the other, however, it is often misunderstood and is considered the perfect solution for any problem that a brand is experiencing due to its presence on the Internet (#contentisking).
What is content marketing
Content vs. Format
For a long time the content of a website was conceived, above all as something written, words. But when you ask a marketer what content is, they will usually answer “a post” (or an ebook, a long form or a microcopy) or if they are a little more creative, “an infographic or a video”. All these answers may seem correct but, in reality, they are not content, they are formats.
Content is the message (a story, data, practical information, a theory). The format is the medium through which we communicate the message. If the message is poorly communicated, no format will make it stand out. In addition, the same content can be recycled under different formats. For example, a public talk can be broadcast in a variety of ways:
- The talk itself.
- On video (live or as a recording of the talk).
- As a presentation.
- Like a series of posts.
- As a long form in which we add more information (for example, that related to the content linked or cited in the talk).
- As an infographic, which synthetically presents the data that has been shared in the presentation.
- as an e-book
- Like any other format that comes to mind and that makes sense to use.
In addition, we can have content that is expressed using one main format, but also uses others at the same time. Snow Fall from The New York Times is a classic example of this combined use of different formats.
What is content
If we agree that content and format are not the same, what does the former mean? As I have said, the content is the message or, if you prefer, the explanation of information.
Content is the communication of what (what), and it can take the form of a post, a video, a data table, an infographic, streaming video, live talks… This means that everything in a website is content. Therefore, basing our content marketing strategy on infographics, posts or videos that we must produce is not a strategy. This should answer the following questions taking into account a well-defined audience:
- What type of content should we communicate to that audience throughout their customer journey and at their corresponding level in the conversion funnel?
- Depending on the level in the conversion funnel, what is the format (or combination of formats) that best serves us to transmit the content?
- What best meets the needs of our audience?
- How can we measure the effectiveness of our content?
Content strategy is an opportunity
Using content as a marketing tool is an excellent strategy, and has been for centuries. In fact, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing, which has gained a lot of ground over more traditional advertising. In this sense, digital content is combined with offline content and there are many brands that, for example, publish their own printed magazines. Then, they enrich their website with valuable marketing content created for those magazines.
In addition, even if a company does not publish a magazine, we often discover, talking to their managers, that they are producing content in the form of books, academic studies, research and presentations. In other words, many brands are already publishers; they just aren’t aware of it. In conclusion, there are also very current reasons why content has become a mandatory marketing option for brands.
The objectives of the content
The objective of a content is different according to the discipline that uses it. For example, for the Content Marketing department, content is an instrument to obtain leads; however, from the SEO point of view, it is the tool to achieve visibility in search engines, thanks to the links it is capable of earning.
However, while these goals are real, it is interesting to consider content goals based on the customer journey and stage in the conversion funnel. Therefore, the objectives would be:
- Get visibility at the top and middle of the funnel.
- Gain the trust of the audience through your authority.
- Increase the number of return users.
- Increase conversions.
These four objectives determine the ones that content marketing, SEO, social, email marketing and branding seek individually and are the ones that, in reality, all the disciplines of web marketing share and towards which, finally, they are directed. You must design a 360º marketing strategy.
Content Marketing Examples
Content as a conversion tool
A good case of content to generate conversions is the excellent work done by a Spanish website: regalador.com. A product page like this is not only unique, but above all, it is capable of targeting and responding to all the needs of users who are in both a MOFU and BOFU phase. Also, if we think in terms of SEO, a product page like this answers all potential questions related to the product. Likewise, it also gains the trust of users, who will probably remember regalador.com as the best website to buy a gift.
Content as a product
A good example of content as a product is Momondo and its “Trip finder” section, which differentiates it from its competitors. This company presents informative content about transportation, weather and average costs in a destination.
However, we all know that ‘cold’ information is not enough to make a decision, especially in the field of travel. On the contrary, information such as prices, weather and others, are usually just rational excuses to choose something that, in reality, we have already emotionally decided. Momondo seems to know this very well, because it presents an almost infinite list of things that we can do once in the destination, classifying them by the most common reasons and, therefore, classifying a very broad spectrum of buyer personas.
Content as hook
The best branded content is not only the one we want to share, but also the one that makes us want to do those things that the content itself is suggesting to us. An excellent example is represented by Icelandair’s Northern Lights.
This content, which sees a mix of formats (long form, moving and Parallax images, and Ajax web application, among others), has a single goal: to make us want to fly to Iceland to see the Northern Lights with our own eyes. With this, it wants to be a benchmark for this type of fashion destination.
Northern Lights content achieves all of its goals: satisfies curiosity, targets TOP aurora-related queries, is visible on search engines, engages and engages with users, and is highly shareable. .
These are just some of the examples that show that – really – it should be understood by content. As you have been able to see, I have not talked about formats, but about content: a message to someone about something and expressed under one or more formats. Only if we understand the content in this way, we will be authorized to use the phrase: the content is the king.