Content marketing: a definition

by Steve Seager

Content marketing is a US born term that is now gathering serious momentum in Europe. Content marketing US-style is primarily focused on the lead nurturing capability of content (everything from blogposts & .pdfs to video & whitepapers) on the social web.

Content marketing European-style, however, has a different slant. There is often a good dose of thought leadership, PR, search engine optimisation & customer engagement involved too. Meaning that content marketing isn’t ‘pure’ marketing. Content can be used in more than one way. That’s the type of content marketing we advocate too.

Content marketing definitions …

Wikipedia says content marketing is “… an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content … [it] subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information … drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing … improv[es] brand loyalty better than traditional marketing techniques.”

Nice. Pretty clear. What about another definition? (Content marketing is also known as custom publishing in the US.)

The Custom Content Council says: “Custom publishing marries the marketing ambitions of a company with the information needs of its target audience. This occurs through the delivery of editorial content – via print, Internet, and other media – so intrinsically valuable that it moves the recipient’s behavior in a desired direction.”

That’s a little better. Understand your stakeholders’ informational needs. Create content that fulfils those needs. Publish it & you can move the recipient’s behaviour in a desired direction. i.e.: click, download, buy. Nice.

Ok. A last definition – with a bit more detail – comes from the Junta42 Content Marketing blog who proposes these Five Pillars of Content Marketing:

“Content Marketing is:

  • Editorial-based (or long-form) content. It must tell a relevant, valuable story. Must be informative, educational or entertaining.
  • Marketing-backed. The content has underlying marketing and sales objectives that a corporation, association or institution is trying to accomplish.
  • Behavior-driven. Seeks out to maintain or alter the recipient’s behavior.
  • Multi-platform (print, digital, audio, video, events). It can be, does not have to be, integrated.
  • Targeted toward a specific audience. If you can’t name the audience, it’s not content marketing.”

Neat. That’s where I stole my own content marketing definition from back in 2009. There’s only one clarification I would add here & that’s on the ‘Editorial based’ element:

Editorial based content means that content marketing should always be based on a clear storyline. A narrative. But photos, videos, illustrations, podcasts & the like can all be used to flesh out that story. In many cases, they act as visual & emotional triggers to the marketing action you are aiming for.

And that’s it! Hope this definition of content marketing helps point you in the right direction.

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