In a sea of paid and earned content, creating a comprehensive content marketing strategy isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Should you create your own, pay someone to do it for you, or crowdsource? Here we’ll have a look at the different types of content out there, and see which ones you need to get started.
Back in 1996, Bill Gates stated that ‘content is king’. Despite the passage of time and enormous changes in technology, this quote is still relevant. Only now, content marketers need to be far more scrupulous about what they are producing, curating and aggregating. Unsophisticated content marketing strategies and laziness don’t do anyone any favours, and back in 2011 Google’s Panda update sought to penalise ‘thin’ sites that contain too much low-quality or duplicate content.
However, effective content marketing is hugely influential. By providing content that entertains, informs or is somehow valuable, brands can become stars in the eyes of their audience.
There are three major types of web content marketing:
- Created – new, unique content that has been created by a business
- Curated – content that already exists but has been hand-picked to be redeployed to a specific audience
- Aggregated – either third-party content, which a business collects and redistributes (often automatically), or created content which is pushed out to multiple channels.
With created content, a business needs to spend time and energy making it – requiring a high level of human input. That being said, it is very important for building your brand, and can still be outsourced successfully if you have a clearly outlined content strategy (the GForces content packages for example).
Curated content already exists via other sources, and therefore requires less effort from marketing staff (Pinterest is a good example of this). A business that is distributing this content does however need to ensure that it is reliable and right for the target audience.
Finally, aggregation is simply the reposting of content, usually undertaken by an automated system that uses algorithms to pick what it posts (such as auto re-tweets on Twitter). It can’t accurately assess the quality or reliability of what it finds and re-posts, but it also doesn’t require much in the way of human input.
All of these content distribution types are great when used intelligently by a business as long as it ensures that anything it creates, curates or aggregates is relevant, reputable and of good quality. Content can do more harm than good if you’re not careful, so having a solid base of reliable content and techniques before you get too heavy-handed with the automation options out there is very important.
One of the most important and impactful types of content is ‘earned content’ (also known as free content or user generated content). Earned content isn’t created by a business or its associates; instead, it is created by third party entities such as consumers and journalists. This kind of marketing is especially effective for businesses needing to produce a high volume of engaging content on a low budget.
The reason earned content is so powerful is that those that create it are not paid or duty-bound to do so; they are doing it because they want to, therefore bringing a certain level of trust and transparency.
People will talk about you and your brand whether you’re involved in the conversation or not, and that’s the kind of content you find on forums, social media and even in some publications. When it comes to influencing purchasing decisions however, customer reviews are the most powerful type of content – earned or paid. However, trust is vital when it comes to ratings and reviews, so they have to be done the right way.
A dealership could claim to provide the best customer service, and even post genuine feedback from customers on its website; but how can a web visitor be sure that a business isn’t simply posting what it wants? For maximum impact, reviews need to be collected and displayed by an independent third party that believes in genuine, unfiltered, unedited user generated content. Finding a solution to this problem and unlocking the power of genuine customer reviews is what lead GForces to partner with Reevoo.
These types of earned content are both important, but transparently displaying what your customers are saying about you will bring you a benefit that money can’t buy: trust. Trust is what will result in increased engagement and conversion on your website. And it’s not just your customers who will benefit from the reviews; you can harness the customer feedback across your business to improve your customer service or refining your marketing and advertising. The understanding you’ll get from listening to your customers could even provide valuable input for your own social media and paid content strategies.
Ultimately, content is about building a relationship between you and your customers. People trust what other consumers are saying over content produced by a business itself, so if you want that relationship to be meaningful, you better think about how your time and money are best spent.