Guest Column: Five best practices for content marketing: Vishal Gupta, co-founder & MD,

Instead of selling a brand to consumers, companies should focus on building a relationship and see how every piece of content either educates, empowers or entertains the consumer on a day-to-day basis, says Gupta

e4m by Vishal Gupta
Updated: Aug 22, 2017 7:50 AM

The best definition of content marketing I’ve come across is by the Content Marketing Institute and they define it as ‘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.’

I like this definition because it talks about:

(a)   creation and distribution of content in the same breath because they are equally important and need to be treated as such

(b)   doing this on a consistent basis as opposed to a ‘media burst’ or ‘campaign’

(c)    having a clearly defined audience for whom the content has to be valuable and relevant as opposed to simply selling the brand

(d)   linking content marketing to marketing outcomes and measuring the same

Let me expand on this by putting down what I believe are the fivebest practices for content marketing:

1.      Have a sharply defined audience but a broad communication objective

Having a clear target audience is the starting point as it definesfor whom to createcontent, what distribution channel to use and the best content formats to use in those channels.

It, however, makes sense to have a communication objective which operates at the broader end of the sales funnel. Brands that evangelize category benefits are likely to reap the benefits of content marketing much more than brands that eulogize product features.

In the case of a toothpaste brand targeting children, a brand would do well to help mothers succeed in their efforts to have children establish a healthy dental hygiene routine. It could mean suggesting a nursery rhyme a child should sing so that they brush for the right length of time oradvising children not to keep their toothbrush on the sink as it is a hotbed for picking up an infection.

2.      Invest in building a relationship

Content Marketing entails building a relationship with the consumer rather than adopting a transactional approach which prioritizes ‘selling’ the brand. Brands need to invest in this relationship by seeing how every piece of content either educates, empowers or entertains the consumer, on a day-to-day basis. In short, every piece of content needs to add value to the life of the consumer.

In the context of a diaper brand, for example, this could mean educating mothers on the pros and cons of cloth nappies viz-à-viz diapers, encouraging their husbands to change nappies and also have a laugh at diaper bloopers. By doing this consistently, a degree of trust gets established resulting in brand affinity and preference. 

3.      Involve the target audience at every step of the content marketing process

Making your target audience work for you increases the probability of a successful campaign exponentially. Right from identifying content topics for the content calendar, creating content and distributing that content within social media and micro-communities, brands can benefit from working closely with their target audience.

At mycity4kids, a sanitizer brand usedMombloggers to create the content calendar for them. It threw up many interesting and unexplored content ideas. One such was the connection with 3D films where mothersspoke of the need to wipe the 3D glasses with sanitizers prior to the kids wearing them.

Similarly, Mom bloggers are members of various micro-communitieson Facebook and WhatsApp. They are happy to share content created by them and bloggers they follow in all these groups thereby enabling brands to reach micro-communities that they would have no other way of reaching and that too, on an organic basis.

4.      Prioritize distribution channels based on audience

I started off saying that content distribution is as important as content creation. If anything, it’s more important because a brand can create great content but if does not reach the intended audience, it’s of no value.

LinkedIn may be the preferred destination for content targeting professionals and Facebook for mothers and Instagram for the youth.Based on the distribution channels, brands should experiment with content formats that work for their audience in the distribution channel they choose. For example, a mix of content ranging from blogs, videos, slideshows, memes are likely to work much better on Facebookthan any single format.

Brands should also leverage all their ‘owned’ media beyond their social media pages to distribute content so whether it’s their website or email signatures of employees, every bit of incremental reach available should be leveraged.

One key thing for brands to remember is that more than 80% of all content across distribution channel is being consumed on mobile devices and therefore, optimization of content for mobile is an imperative.

5.      Measure and enhance ROI

The starting point is to identify the right KPI’s for the brand. Depending on the objective of the brand, these could range from reach, engagement,building brand association, sales conversions and so on, or a combination of these.

Once a baseline is achieved, there are some simple ways to enhance the ROI. The first is to continuously optimize the strategy and try new methods to enhance ROI. This could be as simple as trying a new content format in the same distribution channel. The second is to re-use and re-purpose content. If some content has done exceedingly well, it makes sense to bring it back and also explore other content formats and channels in which it can be delivered. Often the brand team will fail to milk the complete value of a great content piece because of internal fatigue. The third is to make content easily discoverable on an organic basis, so if the content strategy includes videos on YouTube, it makes sense to optimize the video so it ranks well and appears in searches. The fourth is to make all content ‘share-friendly’ so that brands can leverage consumer endorsement and get free reach.

Vishal Gupta is the co-founder and MD of

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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