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How is content marketing different from traditional marketing?

“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.”

– John Buscall

If you’re wondering how is content marketing different from traditional marketing then you’re in the right place. In this article, we guide you through the transition from offline to online, and the different aspects of content marketing that make it so unique and valuable for businesses.

What is traditional marketing vs content marketing?

Woman organising post-its on a whiteboard in front of a teamIn a nutshell, content marketing is a marketing strategy that is focused on distributing content online which is intended for a specific audience. It allows you to disseminate value to potential customers through various means, such as blog posts, website articles, email newsletters, social media, podcasts, and more.

The more you engage in content marketing, you will have a better understanding of brand perception and what your unique selling point is for customers.

By contrast, traditional marketing is broadcasted offline on platforms such as TV commercials, banner ads, newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, and more.

Now, both marketing strategies serve the ultimate aim of advertising products and services to potential customers. However, their differences in means of distribution have an impact on the approaches and advantages of content marketing and traditional marketing.

How is content marketing different from traditional marketing?

Here are 5 ways that content marketing and traditional marketing differ.

1. Direct advertising

Whilst traditional marketing informs the audience about a specific product or service, content marketing provides information surrounding a product that the user will find of value.

Let’s take TV commercials for example. As a traditional form of marketing, they attempt to seek out a specific audience by informing them about a product, what it does, why they need it, and where they can get it. Information is limited to the product it intends to sell. This is direct advertising.

However, content creation is indirect. It is not specifically tailored to one product, but to one demographic. If you’re a tiling company, you might feature blog posts on the best tiles for bathrooms or mosaic tiles versus natural stone tiles. This is information that the audience might find useful and insightful.

Ultimately, content marketing provides value. It doesn’t tell a customer what to buy but gives them information that leads to them seeking out your business when wanting to buy.

Through calls-to-action at the end of engaging blog posts or thoughtful web articles, you can drive new customers to your business. The difference is that they choose to view your products, rather than having them thrust upon them.

2. Communication

The key difference in communication is that “[t]raditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them” (Doug Kessler).

On traditional marketing platforms, the audience can’t interact with your brand. They have no choice but to view it, and opportunities for queries or comments are often limited or non-existent.

Content marketing does the exact opposite. This marketing strategy allows (potential) customers to research a brand and engage with them.

Social media is a good example of how content marketing can engage audiences on multiple platforms. The Content Marketing Institute found that 92% of marketers use social media as it is the most popular way for customers to engage with their content.

Quite simply, traditional marketing is a monologue and content marketing is a dialogue. Customers are provided with a choice when it comes to content creation. This means that the customer retains a level of control, which leads to trust-building and customer loyalty.

3. Personalisation

The word 'audience' written on a white board with arrowsThe disadvantage of traditional marketing is that, since it rents its audience from TV broadcasters or magazine and newspaper publishers, it has minimal control over who sees its advertising.

Yes, such forms of traditional media have a certain demographic that they appeal to, but it is not specific to the business’s product or service. This means that traditional marketing has a vast, and likely diverse, audience. Think of it as a scatter-gun approach to marketing as opposed to a targeted one.

On the contrary, content marketing can be aimed at a specific segment of your audience base or even a specific individual with personalised content. It gives you the opportunity to target certain users with certain products or services, as well as helps you refine your brand offering.

For example, a tyre company could feature information on 4×4 tyres, standard tyres, or motorcycle tyres separately across different blog posts. This would drive in customers interested in each service respectively. Style, pitch, and voice should echo across all distribution channels to link all content.

4. Shareable content

Although traditional marketing methods may instantly reach a broader audience, content marketing is shareable which, ultimately, gives it a longer life expectancy.

Traditional marketing means that a business has no choice but to pitch a product in a sepcified time frame and persuade the audience that they are a reliable service. It gives up its goods immediately.

Since content creation is more indirect in its methods, providing useful tips, inspiring information, or even funny content, and all on interactive platforms, a chain of communication is created. Content can be shared between potential customers, and even spark interest months after publication.

This is why content creation is seen as a momentum-building strategy. A large audience is not always guaranteed immediately in the same way that it is with traditional marketing. Yet with increasing exposure through loyal customer interactions, SEO-optimised and shareable content, rankings will grow, social media followings will swell, and subscribers will multiply.

5. Responsive

Woman viewing metrics on a laptopContent marketing can use analytic programs to measure success, relocate resources and respond to new insights in real-time. Marketing campaigns are therefore easily refined and always in accordance with the story that big data tells.

One useful analytical program is content scoring. This allows content creators to track the performance of individual content and convert this information into new business leads and effective marketing plans.

Traditional marketing is static by comparison. Marketers cannot be sure of the results until after publication. This means that there is no data or pre-formed analytics beforehand to assess performance.

In conclusion

Successful businesses tend to use both traditional marketing and content marketing. This allows them to reach out to potential customers on various platforms.

However, the advantageous differences in content marketing cannot be ignored. A report found that content creation is essential for 53% of marketers, so ignoring this trend potentially puts your business at a disadvantage for exposure rates.

Content creation is an inbound marketing technique which allows consumers to make an informed decision when choosing your brand. In fact, 70% of consumers agreed that they would rather get to know a company through articles and blogs.

With content marketing, businesses can nurture their audience into a sale which better guarantees sales and campaign success.

Header image: Photo by Eleni Afiontzi

Embedded images: Photo by Leon, Photo by Melanie Deziel, Photo by Campaign Creators 

Emma McCabe

Emma has worked as a Content Delivery Manager with Copify since completing her BA (Hons) in English Literature and History at Lancaster University. As an undergraduate, she was a writer for the campus newspaper and started her own book review blog. She hopes to continue writing and editing in the future and increase her blogging activity.

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