Content Marketing

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of online content designed to attract and engage an audience.

Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing has no sales pitch. It does not try to directly advertise or sell a particular brand, product or service. Rather, it aims to capture mindshare with valuable, relevant information that is educational, entertaining and/or emotionally satisfying. In this way, content marketing succeeds in creating interest and awareness of the brand and its offerings.

The best kind of content marketing gently leads the audience to convert their interest into some form of online action - whether clicking on a website link, downloading a whitepaper or brochure, requesting a demo, or contacting a sales rep.

Why Content Marketing?

In recent years, content marketing has exploded, with 89% of B2B marketers currently using content marketing. The reason? The internet. The shift to online media, and more recently, to mobile, means that audiences are consuming content in new and savvy ways. This has led to brands big and small developing comprehensive content strategies with allocated marketing budgets.

Another reason? People are just not that into ads. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust In Advertising report, people trust text ads less than any other content medium, especially on mobile. What’s more, on the list of trusted mediums, editorial content outranked ads on all traditional channels, including TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines.

Bottom line: editorial, informational, entertaining content works best.

Content Marketing
Content Marketing

History of Content Marketing

Content marketing is not a new concept. Brands and businesses were already publishing content in the earliest magazines and newspapers over a hundred years ago. Then, like now, the aim was to strengthen customer engagement, customer acquisition and brand awareness by providing useful, engaging information.

With the rise of digital, marketers increasingly saw the potential and appeal of content marketing. At first, it was a new and exciting approach to inbound marketing, and an effective way to drive online traffic.

Now, with increasingly sophisticated marketing automation and analytics tools, performance marketers are using content marketing as an advanced method for attracting qualified leads, nurturing their engagement down the funnel, and converting them to customers.

What are the Common Types of Content?

Common types of content employed in a content marketing strategy include:

Blog Posts
or Articles

Blog posts or Articles

This is content in text form that could be on your own domain or a third-party site.

White Papers, eBooks,
and Reports

White Papers, eBooks, and Reports

This is in-depth, longer-form content that is educational in nature and often downloadable via a pdf.



Audio content like radio, but accessible anytime via the internet.

Email Newsletter or
Nurturing Campaigns

Email Newsletter or Nurturing Campaigns

Content delivered via email that serves to consistantly educate and inspire over time.



The movie picture we all know and love, most engaging in short segments no longer than two minutes.

Thought Leadership
or POVs

Thought Leadership or POVs

Bold opinions and ideas intended to move an industry forward.



Information displayed in graphic format typically including interesting data points.


How-To Guides

Educational content that lays out specific steps to learn and accomplish a goal.

Social media

Social media posts

Writen, graphic, and video content that takes on different formats depending on the social channel.

Case Studies and
Client Profiles

Case Studies and Client Profiles

Successful customer examples that showcase the problem and solution that your product or service has solved.

Content Distribution Channels

Creating content is just half the story. In order to be effective, content must be consumed by the target audience. How to distribute content is a critical part of a content marketing strategy.

Generally speaking, there are 4 models for content marketing distribution:

Owned, Earned, Shared and Paid:


Earned content is press coverage or media mentions by other publishers or sites. In the nonstop news cycle and noisy media landscape, it gives you great visibility.


All the content under your direct control is owned media. This includes your website, blog, newsletter, even your social media pages.


Shared content is a two way street - it’s community-driven, social media-driven and co-created content. The trick is figuring out how to get more views, comments and shares.

Paid content

Paid is content is just that - it’s distribution and exposure that you’ve paid for. This can include paid search, social media campaigns, display ads, sponsored content, and content discovery platforms like Outbrain (that’s us).


Pretty much every type of content marketing falls under one of these umbrellas. But it’s not quite that simple. Earned, owned, and shared content can be paid content as well. Whether earned, owned, shared or paid, all content must be effective to get results.

What Makes a Piece of Content Effective?

To do content marketing successfully, each piece of content within your content marketing strategy should hit on at least one of the below characteristics.

Social Currency

The extent to which people share content related to the brand or information about the brand as part of their everyday social lives at work, on the go, or at home.

Emotional Connection

The extent to which content can immediately and easily be acted upon, without people having to spend too much effort or money in order to reap its benefits.

Practical Value

The extent to which content can immediately and easily be acted upon, without people having to spend too much effort or money in order to reap its benefits.

Telling a Story No One Else Can

The extent to which an audience member’s content journey is shaped by an experience that is unique to only your brand.

Article Resources

For in-depth information on each of the areas above, please visit the following articles:

B2B content marketing

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History of content marketing [infographic]

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Native ads vs. Content marketing

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A good content marketing strategy

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