What is content marketing? In my opinion, most companies don’t understand what it is. It’s something that will transform marketing more broadly over time.
It’s been around since the beginning of time. Some would say content marketing is everything because content is the only thing that markets.
I typically think of it as connecting around utility, education, information, community and entertainment.
But enough about what I think. Let’s dive into what content marketing actually is and why is it important for your brand.
If you’re new to content marketing and you want to learn how to use it for your business, then keep reading because, in this post, I’m going to walk you through a complete guide to content marketing for beginners.
So let’s start with the basics and talk about what content marketing is.
What is Content Marketing?
According to Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is 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.”
It’s a great definition but it could use some clarity.
Simply put, content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable content to attract and retain customers. Your content’s job is to lead people towards a profitable action.
It’s the art of business storytelling. Through content marketing, you can highlight your target audience’s problems and provide solutions to those problems to make change happen.
It allows you to build a long-term relationship with them and earn their trust and loyalty. And once you have your audience’s trust, they will buy your product and prefer it over your competitors’ options.
Content marketing shows that you actually care about your audience and that’s very important. Because, in today’s noisy world, people want to be heard and feel you care about them.
If you think about why and how you made your last purchase that wasn’t a necessity, I bet content was involved along the way.
With so much information available at the tip of our fingers, consumers are influenced by content.
Types of Content Marketing
There are as many fish in the sea as there are types of content marketing so there are far too many to cover.
But my goal is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you to think like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you.
With that said, here are nine types of content marketing you can use for your business:
- Case Studies
- White Papers
Let’s take a look at each one of them individually.
Blogs are websites or part of a site that contains regularly-updated content about one or multiple topics.
The content on a blog usually comes in the form of articles on individual web pages called blog posts. The article you’re reading is one such example.
Ebooks are non-editable text that is converted into a digital format and displayed and read on an electronic device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone.
A great e-book with quality content can significantly impact how a brand is perceived.
Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event, community or business.
You can use them to show how your product or service has been implemented successfully by customers. Instead of simply talking about a product, case studies allow you to show how your product can be used.
Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge, intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.
They are a clear, effective and artistic way of presenting information without losing the attention of the viewer.
Videos are a versatile and engaging content format that not only gives us a real-life picture of what is going on; it’s also easy to share across multiple platforms
Consumers like it because it’s easy to digest, entertaining and engaging, and marketers like it because it can give a potentially huge return on investment through many channels.
Podcasts are streamable and downloadable audio entertainment, easy for on-the-go listening. Simply put, they are internet radio shows on demand.
They allow brands to tell their story anywhere at any time, which helps to establish authority in your industry.
White papers are informational documents usually issued by brands to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer.
Webinars are video presentations, workshops, or lectures hosted online. They are usually interactive, business-related and allow you to share your knowledge with virtually anyone in the world.
Webinars are a highly interactive form of marketing and can be used as a relationship-building or authority-building tactic.
Email marketing is the strategy of sending emails to prospects and customers. Effective marketing emails convert prospects into customers and turn buyers into loyal, raving fans.
Email marketing is used to inform, drive sales, and build a community around your brand.
Why is Content Marketing Important for your Business
When it comes to marketing your business, you’ve got a lot of different options available. Too many, in fact. But nothing comes close to content marketing. Why? Because it’s a go-to tactic that’s proven to work.
It’s one of the most effective methods of growing audience engagement, developing your brand presence, and driving sales. In short, content marketing is the lifeblood of most businesses.
According to the State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers. Moreover, on average, content marketing accounts for 26% of B2B marketing budgets.
There are four key reasons and benefits for businesses to use content marketing:
- Increased sales
- Cost savings
- Better customers who have more loyalty
- Content as a profit centre
Content is king in creating awareness and generating quality leads which sustains healthy sales growth.
The higher the quality of the content, the more valuable it is to your audience, and the more likely they are to engage with your business.
Content Planning and Optimization
You’re literally in a war for consumers’ attention but with so many other brands competing for your target audience’s attention, what can you do to stand out in your market?
It can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 steps to help you come up with an effective content marketing strategy that will scale your business:
Identify your audience
To create content for a particular reader, you need to have a clear idea of their priorities, challenges, and preferences.
Talk to your current and potential customers. Learn about the challenges they’re facing, the language they use, and the types of content they prefer to consume.
This will give you a solid insight into what content topics to write and the type of language you’ll use to write those content.
Define Your Brand
Your brand is the promise you make to your customers. It’s what ultimately differentiates your business from your competitors.
Here are a few questions you can consider when defining your brand:
- What’s your company’s mission and vision?
- What benefits does your product or service offer your target customers?
- How do your existing and prospective customers perceive your company?
- What qualities do you want your target customers to associate with your brand?
- Do you want your business to be known as the highly innovative or experienced brand in your industry?
- Is your brand voice funny? professional? Informal?
These questions will help define your brand and the key messaging you want to communicate to represent your brand.
Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy
Developing and documenting your strategy is essential to your content marketing success. So how do you go about it? Here are a few strategies you should consider incorporating into your content marketing:
- Clear, specific and measurable marketing objectives you set to accomplish with your content marketing efforts
- Your target audience based on your market research
- Content topics and formats that appeal to your customers
- Editorial calendar and publishing schedule, including the content pieces you’ll produce and when they’ll be published
- Promotion and distribution plan, including the channels and platforms you’ll publish to and use to amplify your content
- KPIs you’ll measure and use to evaluate your content marketing performance
Create Your Content
Once you’ve developed your content marketing strategy, it’s time to create your content. This is the fun part!
Whether you’ve decided to create blogs, infographics, videos, podcasts, ebooks or a combination of these content types, you need to make sure your content actually adds value to your readers.
Your content needs to be relevant and appropriate. It needs to provide the information and actionable insights your readers want and it should help solve the problems they’re facing.
Measure Your Content Marketing Strategy
Measuring your progress is essential. If you don’t know whether your content marketing efforts are working or not, how will you know if your marketing objectives are being met?
Track your KPIs and target metrics on an ongoing and regular basis, so you understand whether your strategy is working or not.
Content marketing makes it easy for the right prospects to find your business and you can do that via search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. But SEO has evolved so that search success depends in part on how well your content does what it says it’ll do.
Search engines review content copy, assess its relevance, and determine whether it delivers on what the headline promises.
Here are a few ways how SEO and content marketing can fuel your online success:
- Focus on 2 keywords: Avoid keyword stuffing by writing about what matters to your prospects with a focus on just a few keyword phrases.
- Use keywords in the title: Make what the article is about clear and explicit.
- Use keywords throughout: Find a way of naturally sprinkling your keywords into your content.
- Stay on topic: Quality content that provides value related to a headline will perform best.
Social media is probably the most powerful type of content marketing in the online world. It gives free access to a massive amount of people within any target market.
Leverage social media to promote your content. You write a post and link to your content, and then voila! People are engaged.
Use these three steps to promote your content on social media:
You can do this through 3 steps:
Focus on the right channel
The best social media outlets for you are the ones where the majority of your readers hang out. Ask your audience what channels they favour and build a manageable list based on their preferences.
Craft your copy to fit the channel
Each social media channel is different. Before you write posts for a channel, spend some time reviewing posts to familiarize yourself with these details. Then, give your posts some of your own company spirits.
Test and modify your approach
A winning social media promotion effort involves trial and error. Track responses from the various channels for quantity and quality. Fewer high-potential engagements may mean a channel is a good fit, as opposed to a slew of clicks that never turn into an audience.
The world is getting louder and noisier every day. You have to leverage content marketing if you want to remain successful.
Those who focus their energy on telling good stories, no matter the platform or context, will win the war.
Shouting won’t help you anymore. Only shouting about better things will.