Despite the vast amount of marketing literature in circulation, content marketing is a concept that continues to mystify readers.
Still more confusing is the relationship between content marketing and native advertising. Everywhere we look, we find blog posts and articles comparing their respective ROI, or arguing that they are or are not the same thing. It's baffling to read, and we feel it's time to clear the air once and for all. Below you'll find an infographic that "connects the dots" on how these two concepts relate to one another.
It's helpful to imagine that content marketing and native advertising exist in the same marketing ecosystem, with each performing a different function: While content marketing is the branded message, native advertising is a distribution of that message. Allow us to clarify:
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as "the marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage with a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
At its most basic, content marketing is a marketing strategy. It involves brands creating and distributing content (blog posts, infographics, videos, how-to's, reviews) using various channels (print, online, in-person, mobile and so on) to engage with a targeted audience. The content should benefit readers in some tangible was, as the ultimate goal of content marketing is for brands to develop a relationship with their readers and nurture them towards lead conversion or purchase.
As a process, the first step in content marketing is to create content.
The creation stage can involve multiple players. It can be outsourced to marketing agencies, or it can be done in-house by a brand's own content team. Rather than get into these nitty-gritty details, we've simplified to the most common types of content.
1. Created Content
When a brand creates unique, original content for their blog or website, that content falls under the category of created content. It's new content that brands create from scratch in order to impart their knowledge and research to others.
2. Curated Content
Curated content involves carefully selecting and sharing highly relevant and interesting content that was previously published by a third party. Brands basically comb the web for existing content that is relevant to their customers and re-publish it on their online properties.
3. Guest Content
Brands will sometimes co-author content with guest contributors to build credibility and brand awareness. With off-site content—guest content which appears on someone else's website—brands have an opportunity to spread their content through other channels and reach new audiences. On-site content allows brands to demonstrate the quality of their brand through a guest blogger.
Once content has been created, the next step is to distribute it as widely as possible.
The distribution stage can also involve multiple players, however the most common ways to distribute content are as follows:
One of the most important strategies to build long-term organic search results is search engine optimization (SEO). This involves developing an effective keyword list to increase online authority and ranking on relevant search terms. It's free and brands can use a number of SEO platforms to increase the searchability of their content.
Social media provides a variety of platforms and formats to distribute content and engage in dialogue with prospects, customers and the general public. Brands can engage their audience by sharing content on their social channels, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Brands can also use paid content distribution platforms to quickly grow their audience and jumpstart engagement with their content. And while paid distribution costs money, unlike organic and social media distribution, it usually yields the biggest return for brands. Two of the most effective methods for paid distribution are platform-specific boosting and native advertising.
- Platform-specific boosting involves running campaigns on specific platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook or Outbrain. Promoted Tweets are one example of a way that brands can increase the reach of their content.
- Native advertising is a strategy brands can use to seamlessly present their content to their customers. This form of paid distribution allows brands to distribute their content through ads that preserve the 'look and feel' of the property that they're displayed on. As a result, native advertising is an effective way to present branded content to potential customers.