Content marketing might very well be older than the internet itself. Brands have been building personas around themselves for as long as there have been products to sell and qualities that sell better than others. Where a one size fits all approach would’ve worked well in the print media era, it doesn’t quite cut it anymore, the least of all because of the sheer volume of content being churned out on the daily.

How do we define Value-added content?

Value-added content is defined by some as “content that adds value”, which isn’t incorrect per se, but it is a little misleading. This definition leads people to believe that the only way they can put out value-added content is if they have a clear value proposition embedded into the content itself, which just isn’t true.

A better definition would be to consider value-added content as any media you release that leverages uniqueness of perspective to provide your end-users with a content experience that they can’t find anywhere else. In almost all cases, this will mean you’re generating value for your client, but what makes it value-added content is that it is unique to you and that your client can’t find it anywhere else.

Looking at an example

Say, for example, that you run a blog that caters to petrol heads; that is, people with interest in the automotive industry. As you approach the end of a particular year, you decide to do a recap of the year in terms of the specific models that industry giants introduced that year and measure the success of these new additions to their catalogues by looking at units sold and buyer satisfaction. To start off, you look up Honda, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar, and find their company reports for the last few quarters.

Now, if you simply published the numbers exactly as you read them, you’d barely be making the cut for what is considered value-added content. There would be some value-addition, sure, since you’re compiling material from multiple sources and presenting it in one place, but that’d be all.

If you took things a bit further and created helpful infographics and charts to showcase the information to your end-users in a form that’s easy to process and doesn’t take long to consume, you’d truly be delving deep into the realm of value-added content. And if you went even beyond that, and compared the numbers of different companies to each other, or you compared different models to each other and concluded with your “recommendation of the year” you’d be presenting an opinion that your users can’t possibly find elsewhere, and therefore be reaching towards the pinnacle of content marketing. You could rely on all manner of tools and media to do this; it could be a purely text-based piece or a rich ensemble containing videos, infographics, statistical charts, and more.

You should get the picture by now: Value-added content attempts to bring something unique to the table. This could be in the form of an original structured experiment, or even a case study as conducted by you, or it could rely on presenting an expert opinion based on existing facts and figures. All three are examples of value-added content. Other examples of high-value value-added content include:

  • Video tutorials and how-to guides
  • A white paper that tries to generate hype and gauge reactions for a product or service you intend to offer
  • Promotional content that lets consumers know about an upcoming sale or event
  • Opinion pieces that present a unique perspective
  • Case Studies that represent independent inquiry into a domain or field

Several other types of Value-added content exist, but the question still stands, why is value-added content such an important tool in the content marketer’s arsenal, and why should you try to generate value-added content for your business?

What makes value-added content such a valuable tool for businesses?

If we were asked to sum up the benefits of value-added content into one word, our answer would simply be “engagement”. Value-added content allows businesses to respond to customers with exactly what they need when they need it. This brings us to the first aspect that makes value-added content uniquely beneficial.

It allows your brand to stay calendar-sensitive

In the automotive industry example we outlined above, we mentioned one critical detail that you might not have focused on. At the very beginning of the example, we talked about “approaching the end of the year”. We specifically addressed the year-end milestone and how it represented a particular avenue of consumer interest, that too in a very specific niche.

The same applies to the holidays and the summer. If you run an e-commerce store and you have a sale coming up as you approach Christmas, for example, any content you create to generate leads around this highly critical time period will be value-added content. Shopping season means you can use your newsletters and mailing lists in unique ways, sending in special coupons for people who’ve subscribed to either kind of alert. The results of this are immediate; you’re offering your users a reward with a short shelf-life (in the form of an added discount that only lasts for sale), thereby encouraging them to make purchases, that too with a sense of urgency embedded in the promotion, since it’ll expire eventually. Not only is this a great way to generate a buzz, but it also ties in very well with any other promotions you might have going on. But it also has another benefit.

It enhances the effectiveness of your lead-generation mechanisms

When you talk about rewarding members of your mailing list or recipients of your newsletters, what you’re effectively saying to your wider audience is, “Signing up is good for you, so why not do it?”. One of the greatest features of good value-added content is that it effectively turns each of your readers into potential marketing beacons.

Think about it. You send in your newsletter to a particular individual, and in the first few pages, you include a coupon they can print out or a QR code they can scan to get a double discount on certain products or categories of products. They use the coupon to make a purchase, and they also let a few of their fellow bargain-hunting friends know that you’ve got an ongoing promotion underway. This encourages these friends to visit your site and potentially sign up for your mailing list in anticipation of the next sale you’ll have in the future.

It allows you to try out truly fresh approaches to marketing

We’ve talked about uniqueness at multiple points in this article, but the value of having your own spin on marketing collateral cannot possibly be overstated. In a world where content marketing has unfettered access to the best of the best in terms of content marketing, talent is always just a hyperlink away; utilizing that talent to stick to the classical approach to marketing is just a waste of your resources. The same applies to in-house talent but it is doubly true for those of you who’re working with an agency since they sink or swim based on the quality and variety of assignments they can handle.

Keep in mind that revolutionary strategies like guerilla and viral marketing were both just the results of successful experiments by pioneers in the field of marketing. Their legacy was built on the fact that they made their clients a lot of money, and that too via unconventional means that relied on engaging with their audiences in ways that hadn’t been tried before, well, at least not successfully. Your approach to value-added content could help you become the next success to go down in the textbooks as an example for future businesses, provided that you’re willing to experiment a little.

It allows your business to respond to your customers (on your own terms)

Creating content that engages your users, and encourages your users to engage with your brand, is the crux of successful content marketing. But engaging with your users means more than just using all your material to address a pronoun representing your audience. Customers’ time and attention have been appreciated greatly as more brands have sprung up and the internet has made it easier for brands to interact with consumers. You need an approach that is personalized and tailored to your clientele just to cut it these days, and value-added content allows you to do just that.

As an example, you can look up your own website’s search engine metrics to get an idea of what keywords are leading people to you. Once you know that, you can implement content based on those keywords so that those users are faced with exactly what they’re there for, that too as soon as they navigate to your site. In some cases, one of your hottest long-tailed keywords might just be a question, in which case you have the title of your article right there.

Tools like search analytics and social media profiling let you get to know your audience in a way that just wasn’t possible with classical media, letting you work on a responsive approach to your marketing that adapts to the audience you’re getting. If executed appropriately, such an approach puts you leagues ahead of any of your competitors in terms of user retention and satisfaction and lets you form a community around your product profile. But a community can only exist when it’s centered around some common interest or goal, which brings us to our final boon.

It allows you to work towards a cohesive, multi-pronged marketing strategy (and take your brand to the next level)

Brands have evolved to become more than just vehicles to sell products. These days, people only truly get behind brands that either have a near-ubiquitous reach, i.e. brands that are synonymous with their product category, like Apple or Google, or brands that represent the sort of values that connect to them on a personal level. Since getting into that first category requires years of being at the very top of a certain field worldwide, your best bet is trying the second route.

You might’ve noticed this as of late, but many brands are now making qualities like “cruelty-free” the crux of their marketing campaign. Others have characteristics and personality traits embedded into each piece of collateral with their name on it, while others still attempt to address their customers in a unique and over-the-top way.

On the content front, lending personality to your brand can only be done through value-added content, as it lets you embrace the qualities that make your brand unique, and more importantly, the qualities that you want people to associate with your brand. The approach by which you do this will vary immensely depending on the domain you’re active in; some will choose to focus on long-form, scientific evidence-based content peppered with expert opinions, while others will rely on constructing a “Rockstar” image through the tone of their collateral and by association with the sort of personalities that people connect with that image. Either way, you’re looking at a very nuanced, complex footprint for your brand, and your means to achieve it is value-added content.

That does it for our piece on value-added content, but we’d like you to note that this was only a summarized description of what value-added content is and what it can do for you. If you’d like to know more about how you can add value to your content and what adding value can do for your business, give us a call, or drop us an e-mail here. When it comes to content, regardless of what it is that you need, it’s safe to say that we’ve done it before. So drop us a line, and let us help you take your content to the next level.