Finding success with traditional online advertising is becoming increasingly difficult. Statistics compiled by HubSpot indicate that 91 percent of people say adverts are more intrusive than they used to be. And, 73 percent of people dislike pop-ups. As a result, the number of downloads for ad blocker software has dramatically increased. This is estimated to have cost publishers almost $22 billion in 2015 alone. Content marketing methods are a viable alternative to traditional advertising. It involves providing value-added content that customers want to see, rather than paid-for adverts that they would rather not see. There are many ways to approach the creation of a content marketing system. But, understanding the benefits of the various methods makes it easier to put together a plan of action.

5 Content Marketing Methods You Should Be Using

1. Blogging

Every company needs a web presence, and that starts with a company website. You can post photographs on Instagram. Send out newsletters. Or, publish white papers. Whatever you do, your ultimate goal is often to get readers to follow links to your website to subscribe or make purchases. If you greet them with a badly structured site devoid of valuable content, there’s a good chance all your efforts have been for nothing. Disenchanted readers aren’t going to stick around.

Combining search engine optimization techniques to draw in readers with content marketing methods to provide value transforms a website into a powerful marketing tool. Start by including static content that provides relevant information about your company so visitors know what you’re all about.

To keep traffic flowing, run a blog. Many business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers rate blogs as one of the most effective formats for distributing content. More than 70 percent of them blog regularly. Keep in mind that many people don’t have time to wade through walls of text. So, make your blog instantly engaging with visual elements such as infographics, charts, and pictures. Ensure blogs are easy to read, well-formatted, and factually accurate, and post regularly to keep people coming back. You want to build a reputation as a reliable source of quality content.

2. Social Media

There are 3.196 billion active social media users worldwide (around 42 percent penetration). It should come as little surprise that social media has become a powerful platform for content marketing methods. Most businesses realize the importance of having a social media presence. In fact, 96 percent of B2C marketers regularly use social media to engage with customers.

If you’re making social media part of your campaign, you need to know which platforms are right for your brand. For example, Facebook remains the dominating force, with an average of 1.15 billion active users every day. But, it’s more popular with the younger crowd. Only 62 percent of people aged 65 and over use the platform, according to statistics from Sprout Social.

YouTube is a good option if you want to take advantage of the increasing popularity of videos. Blogs and written content are still important parts of content marketing methods. But four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Shoppers who view a video are almost twice as likely to purchase compared to shoppers who don’t.

3. Influencer Marketing

Working on a social media campaign without noticeable results? It may be time to call in a heavy hitter. Whether they’re fashion bloggers writing about the latest trends, fitness gurus posting tips on Facebook, comedians performing comedy skits on YouTube, or television personalities drawing in the crowds with pouting Instagram shots, social media influencers have the star appeal and the audience engagement to put a positive spin on your marketing campaign.

The most successful content creators shape culture and brand perception. Nearly 60 percent of YouTube subscribers claim they would follow advice about what to buy from their favorite YouTube creators.

Before partnering with influencers, you need to establish if they’re the right fit for your brand. Relevance is particularly important. You want someone who creates content that relates to your business in some way, and has a large audience comprising the type of people that buy your product or service. For example, partnering with a popular video game reviewer might increase the number of people who see your range of life insurance options, but since many of those people are going to be young gamers, you may not see a good return on your investment. There are many influencer marketing tools available to help you find the right creators, and many of those tools offer some free-to-use features if you don’t have much of a marketing budget to spare.

4. Newsletters

Newsletter may seem “old hat,” but 86 percent of B2C marketers use email to distribute content, and email has the highest return on investment, according to a report from the Direct Marketing Association. The main advantage of newsletters is that you deliver them directly to customers. With more companies using content marketing methods, content creation has boomed, making it increasingly difficult to make your voice heard. Content output increased by 35 percent in 2016, while engagement fell by 17 percent, according to a report by Trackmaven. If you’re in a position to send content directly to customers on a mailing list, you don’t have to shout in a crowded market.

5. White Papers

White papers continue to be popular in the business-to-business sector, with 50 percent of marketers ranking them as one of the three most effective ways to achieve objectives. The content in a white paper is far more detailed than the content in blog posts, so it’s quite common to gate the content behind a simple subscription form. As readers complete the form, you create a database of strong sales leads while also building your reputation and reinforcing your position as a thought leader. The most important thing is to ensure your white papers offer significant value. The aim is to inform, and, in doing so, make it apparent that you’re a power player other companies want to deal with.

6. Count on Quality (BONUS)

Whatever kind of content marketing methods you adopt, you should always start with a foundation of quality content. It doesn’t matter how many people visit your site if what they find isn’t interesting or engaging, and it doesn’t matter how many names are on your mailing list if the newsletter you send out doesn’t encourage click-throughs and subscriptions.

Quality content is the reason people are going to return to you time and again, so it pays to put in the effort to make sure it’s as good as it can be. Unfortunately, dedicating resources to content creation isn’t always easy, especially for smaller companies, and 67 percent of business-to-business marketers that aren’t planning a content marketing strategy for the next 12 months claim the main reason is their small team.

Outsourcing the work is the obvious solution, but before you do that, take the time to develop your strategy and have a good understanding of which methods are going to be the most effective.

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