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What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing definition

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Instead of pitching products or services, a strategic content-driven approach provides relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve issues in their work (B2B content) or personal lives (B2C content).

Effective use of this approach requires a documented strategy. Building one doesn’t have to be complicated. Read How To Write a 1-Page Content Marketing Strategy: 6 Easy-to-Follow Steps to learn what questions to ask and how to develop your strategy.

Why use content marketing?

For one thing, marketing today is impossible without great content.

Content should be integrated into your marketing process, not treated as something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing, including:

  • Email marketing: Consistently great content trains your audience to anticipate, open and read emails from your brand.
  • Social media marketing: Content strategy comes before your social media strategy.
  • SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
  • PR: Successful PR strategies should address issues readers care about, not their business.
  • PPC: For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
  • Inbound marketing: Content is critical to driving inbound traffic and leads.
  • Digital marketing: Content forms the foundation for an improved or rebooted integrated digital marketing strategy.
  • Content strategy: Content strategy (which determines how content is created and managed throughout an organization) must be considered.

We asked marketing experts about the role, importance, and challenges of content in 2023.

Here’s what they told us:

What are some examples of brands using content marketing?

CMI research shows the vast majority of marketers use content marketing. In fact, it is used by many prominent organizations in the world, including:

It’s also developed and executed by small and mid-sized businesses around the globe. Even government agencies are getting on board.

Here’s some advice from John Gonzalez, who leads social media content for Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District:

 Why? Because it works.

You’ll find definitions of key terms in our Essential Content Marketing Glossary.

How does content marketing support the bottom line and customers’ needs?

Wouldn’t it be great if your customers looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if when they received it (whether through print, email, social channels, your blog, or website), they spent time engaging with it? What if they anticipated it and shared it with their peers?

Go back and read the definition one more time. Notice the phrase “relevant and valuable.” That’s the difference between strategic content and informational spam sent by companies trying to sell first rather than help first.

When businesses create excellent content, they can expect one or more of these four benefits:

  • Increased sales
  • Cost savings
  • Better customers who have more loyalty
  • Content-driven revenue (i.e., content as a profit center)

Content is the present – and future – of marketing

Ready to learn more? We can help. Here are a few popular ways to dig in:

  • Just getting started? Check out this guide, where you’ll learn the basic steps for putting a plan in place.
  • Are you in content or marketing leadership? Subscribe to Chief Content Officer to keep up with content and marketing trends.
  • Want to benchmark your career and salary against others? Download our latest research into the 2024 outlook for content salaries and careers (including AI’s impact on both).
  • Want to learn from your peers and industry experts? Attend a CMI event.
  • Need advice, coaching, or training specific to your organization? Contact our consulting group, led by strategist Robert Rose, to find out how they can help you meet your content challenges.

If you have questions about content in marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.