If you want people to listen to what you have to say, you need to say something interesting. Content is and always has been the most important ingredient to online marketing success.
Content that tells a story with characters works best. Stories about people who use your product and how they use your product, make your product more interesting. Stories about people who work for your organization build a personal connection with your customers and prospects and strengthen your brand. When you make a statement about the value of your product or service it's instantly questioned, but when you tell the story of value from the character's perspective, it's more readily accepted as truth. Customer testimonials work very well both as interesting content and to establish value.
Content can also be engaging when it's a resource, such as a weather report, job posting or recipe. Resources don't always need to be directly related to the products or services you sell and often work better when they are not. If you're passionate about High School Football, you could easily create an online resource about your league and associate your business with it by making it a focal point on web page. The resource drives traffic to your web page and indirectly builds brand loyalty. Visitors to your resource will explore links on your web page that are related to products and services.
Special offers and coupons are the most widely used content in email marketing and online marketing in general. They work, but only for a short time. Combining them with articles and resources in a secondary position help make them more effective both initially and long-term. I think the greatest mistake email marketers make is to consistently spam valuable subscribers with coupons and special offers. Click-through and conversion rates drop off quickly and eventually subscribers unsubscribe or report your mail as spam.
Whenever possible, produce your content or resource in print, photos and video to extend it's reach. Images provide a great summary for your message and video is powerful and popular. But, I often find I'll finish reading a news article and move on before the video associated with it loads because the publisher's server is busy or youtube is busy.
Content is so important that often it becomes the product. Google was one of the first examples of a resource becoming a product that could be monetized through ad sales. Today there are a growing number of individuals who make a good living writing blog articles or producing videos and monetizing them through ad sales. Youtube and Facebook have realized the value of content and have offered ad revenue sharing to both encourage and capitalize on content creators.
200 cable channels and there's nothing on tonight. Dozen's of online and cable news providers and there never seems to be any good news. There seems to be an infinite demand for content and that means infinite opportunity.