What is Content Marketing?
Today, content marketing is huge. Organisations across many industries are turning to it to grow their brands. But what exactly is content marketing and why is it important for your business?
The Definition of Content Marketing
Content marketing is a strategic form of marketing that involves distributing educational, informative, engaging, and relevant content to your audience. Unlike other marketing disciplines, content marketing does not focus on immediate conversion. Instead, it is designed to develop brand trust with potential customers and expand the reach of your organisation.
Over time, the earned trust will become one of the most powerful tools for business growth.
Why Content Marketing is so Important?
Content marketing can transform your business. Let’s have a look at the various things it can help you achieve. With content marketing, you can:
- Attract and retain customers with storytelling. Storytelling has emerged as one of the best ways to build brand awareness and make your customers receptive to your sales efforts.
- Indirectly funnel leads and nurture them. This has been shown to increase sales opportunities by 10-30%.
- Make your customers aware of your unique selling proposition (USP). Communicating your USP well is what will make customers buy from you instead of your competitors.
- Personalize your offers. This aspect of content marketing is especially important since 80% of people are more likely to buy from companies that provide personalised offers.
- Establish industry authority. Content marketing will not only build your credibility and set you up as a thought leader in your industry, but your website will also be seen as one with a high level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) by Google. This will make your site significantly more visible on search result pages.
- Become an integral part of a buyer’s journey. A robust content marketing strategy will help you to create custom content that best supports a customer’s journey towards making a purchase, from the awareness stage all the way to the decision stage.
- Improve customer experience. Analysing how well your audience engages with your various content marketing efforts can help you create more relevant content that improves customer experience.
Content marketing is also great for fuelling your social media reach and improving conversion rates, especially with products and services with long sales cycles e.g. furniture, cars, insurance and software.
More Benefits of Content Marketing
So content marketing can help your business achieve numerous things, but you may still be wondering just how effective it is. Let’s look at the numbers:
- The ROI of content marketing is three times higher compared to paid search.
- Content marketing generates three times as many leads compared to outbound marketing.
But that’s not all.
- Content marketers who blog are 13 times more likely to see positive ROI than those who don’t.
- Blog website traffic is 8 times higher for companies that practice content marketing.
The best part is that content marketing costs 62% less compared to other marketing channels.
Content marketing is essentially a cost-effective way to create more conducive conversion environments in the long run. This is why over 91% of B2B organisations use it as part of their overall marketing strategy.
The Difference Between Content and Content Marketing
People are sometimes confused by the difference between content and content marketing. The difference is actually quite big, although very simple to distinguish. It’s like comparing an apple tree with fresh apples, apple jams, apple pies, apple juice, etc.
Content is basically an expression of an idea or information in the form of text, speech, audio or video. Content can be created for sales, events, customer service, handbooks or even marketing. Content marketing, on the other hand, is the creation, curation and dissemination of content to selected demographics with the aim of getting the people’s interest, and hopefully, converting them into customers.
A piece of content is meant to be read. It might even have calls-to-action (CTAs) meant to convert.
Content marketing takes that piece of content and distributes it to a target demographic, either organically or through sponsored content marketing.
How to Get Started with Content Marketing
Content marketing is a long-term strategy, but a solid foundation is essential. Perhaps one of the most important elements to have when you are getting started with content marketing is a robust strategy.
Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy gives your content marketing direction. It also makes measuring the effectiveness of your efforts is easier. It’s no surprise then that over 60% of businesses have a documented strategy for their content marketing.
You can create a content marketing strategy by following these steps:
1. Get Insights
Before you can develop a comprehensive strategy, you need to set goals and establish key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs will help you measure your goals. You will also need to analyse your audience and assess your current content and content distribution channels. All these insights will help you identify any content gaps and help you decide the type of content you need to create.
2. Know the Different Types of Content
Knowing the type of content that serves your objectives best is critical when developing your strategy. The type of content you choose will depend on many factors including your audience’s preferences, your industry’s standards, and, of course, your bandwidth and budget.
Here’s a basic overview of the types of content you might consider:
Ebooks are one of the most common forms of content marketing, especially in the B2B world. These digital books vary widely in length, level of design, and subject matter, but typically follow a narrative from start to finish, have some element of design, and contain educational material. The more valuable and relevant your ebook, the better success you’ll have enticing your audience to share and download it.
A company blog is a great place to share educational thought leadership, industry insights, upcoming events/announcements, and awesome new content. But maintaining a blog is different from other types of content marketing. It’s essential to continuously update your content to keep it fresh and engaging, otherwise, your audience has no reason to keep visiting your blog.
Videos can achieve multiple objectives – they can improve branding, demonstrate instructions, answer questions, provide customer reviews, and/or entertain your audience. Based on the production quality and timeline, videos can be a big investment, so maximize your time and money by integrating the footage with the rest of your marketing plans. This usually involves developing all of your content at the same time, so think ahead.
These graphics present complex information using a combination of images and text to simplify core concepts. Infographics attract backlinks and add visual interest to dense material. Marketers can use infographics to attract buyer attention and simplify complicated information, like warnings and instructions. Because they are a longer form visual, you can use infographics to present facts and data that are too complex for a single graph or chart.
Visual content offers short summaries of a specific topic. Generally, no more than a few pages long, the summaries are typically designed to be printed and displayed for easy reference. The summaries often include images, checklists and bullet points, so that readers can quickly absorb, and act on the information.
Often the most compelling story comes from your current customers. Just because a case study is a more traditional content medium does not mean that it should be overlooked or that it doesn’t provide high value. The best way to use a case study is to talk about the light, not the candle that produces it, meaning the story that you share is about the value, outcome and results versus the tool, product or service.
Whitepapers and reports are informational, educational, and typically only minimally designed. To enhance credibility, you may want to work with a third-party source to create these assets or purchase the rights to an externally created report.
Courses are educational and great for establishing thought leadership. When creating courses, one of the crucial aspects is determining the most effective and engaging delivery methods for each lesson.
Social media posts
Social media marketing is a form of content marketing that’s specific to social media platforms. When it comes to social media marketing, keep in mind that you don’t have to create content on every platform and channel. The key is to understand your market, audience and reach, and develop an omnichannel content strategy around the relevant channels.
Choose your Content Channels
Once you decide on the type of content you’ll create, you need to choose where you will share the content. For certain types of content, the distribution channel will be obvious. For example, your blog posts will likely end up on your website and social media content will end up on relevant social media platforms.
1. Set a Budget
When you know where your content will go, the next step is to set a budget. How much you set aside will largely depend on the content you want to create and your distribution channels. For instance, producing whitepapers and infographics will likely cost more than producing blog posts. Similarly, paying for ad space or specific content creation technology will likely increase your budget.
2. Create Content and Distribute It
Understanding the different types of content you need to create is not enough on its own; you need to create and distribute great content.
The important thing to remember with content marketing is that your content should educate and inform, not sell. When you freely give your audience something so valuable that they’d be willing to pay for it, you build trust – which, ultimately, is your most powerful selling tool.
For example, you create content that educates your audience about marketing automation and how it helps marketers be more effective at their jobs. Instead of just pushing sales messages to your buyers, you also teach them marketing best practices and clarify the benefits of investing in marketing automation. In other words, even when you’re talking about your core competency – marketing automation – you focus on educating your audience with thought leadership, rather than pushing our solution.
How can you do this? Apply the “411 rule,” one of the core tenants of content marketing. Based on the rule, try to create four educational, entertaining assets for every one “soft promotion” (such as a 3rd party report) and one “hard promotion” (such as a product demo). This approach also works well in email marketing, on our blog, and in social marketing.
This approach isn’t just about numbers. It’s about building relationships with your audience and making their lives easier. Once you build relationships and loyalty, the rest follows.
3. Analyse and Measure Results
Lastly, you need to measure your results and improve your strategy accordingly. Some key metrics you can measure include:
- Reach/traffic: Measures the total number of interactions with your content on the various distribution channels. It’s useful to understand how much traffic your content is driving. Traffic measures the very top of the sales and marketing funnel.
- Click-through rate: This measures how well offers and calls-to-action work. For example, the rate will help you measure how well a “Download” call-to-action on your ebook landing page works. Click-through-rate shows the quality of the marketing content—or lack thereof.
- Conversion rates: This is arguably the most important metric to understand the path to purchase or take action. It’s up to you what constitutes a conversion. For example, in some cases, the goal might be to make a sale while in others, it might be to increase brand awareness and authority.
- Social media engagement and social shares: If you create social media content, you can measure its effectiveness by measuring things like likes, shares, and comments.
- Generated leads: This is one of the most popular marketing metrics since it involves converting people into prospective customers. A lead with contact information can be moved through the path to purchase.
Ultimately, the metrics you measure have to link to your goals and KPIs.
But a strategy is only one part of the equation. You need to create an action plan for executing the strategy and staying organised while you’re at it. For this, you need a content marketing workflow.
Content Marketing Workflow
A workflow defines each step in the content creation process and establishes your team members’ roles and responsibilities. Each content type should have a documented workflow, which has the following key steps:
- Plan: Identify topics and themes and also consider any necessary keywords.
- Create: Write the content and create any supporting design elements.
- Edit/revise: Review the content for structure, grammar, voice and tone, and make the necessary revisions.
- Approve the content.
- Optimise the content for the keywords identified in the planning phase to ensure visibility in search engines.
- Publish and distribute the content across appropriate channels.
- Measure how well the content is performing and pivot as necessary.
After defining the tasks, you need to determine which team members will be responsible for the deliverables to keep your content production process efficient. While each team will vary according to your organisation’s needs and size, as a minimum you will typically require a writer, editor, designer, publisher, and project manager.
With a process defined and roles assigned, you’ll just have to deal with one more issue – putting all these parts together in a way that’s easy to manage.
A content calendar, which is also known as an editorial calendar, is one of the most important tools you can use to bring your workflow together. The calendar will help your entire team stay on top of all the content being created, scheduled, and distributed within your organisation.
Here are three simple steps to help you implement a company-wide content calendar:
1. Decide on your content calendar locale.
A content calendar is dead on arrival if no one knows where to find it. Whether you choose to go with a simple spreadsheet or a cloud-based platform to manage your calendar, the most important thing is to choose a platform that works for your team. The platform you choose to host your calendar should be easy to access, update, and share.
2. Simplify your calendar.
The more complex the calendar, the less likely you will get the participation you need from your team. Make sure that the entire team understands the key elements of your calendar.
Some common elements to include in the calendar include:
- Publication date, time, and platform
- Content topic and title
- Content author
- Content completion status
- Content completion deadline
The calendar can also include the status of the visual content required and a section that tracks the content’s analytics. How much you include in your calendar will depend on your team. Remember your calendar is an enabler, not an obstacle!
3. Keep it updated.
The team needs to be in the know when any changes are made in the calendar. Sharing real-time adjustments will help your team collaborate better and avoid missed deadlines.
The key with a calendar is ensuring that your team follows it – the calendar should be at the centre of your team’s workflow. You can check out these 15 content calendar templates to help you create a successful content marketing strategy.
If you would like to learn more about the power of content marketing and how it can help your company grow, get in touch with us today. Contentor is the leading copywriting and translation agency for e-commerce in the Nordics.