You've probably heard the term content marketing thrown around a lot and just nodded along, unwilling to admit that you actually had no clue what it is. Is it different from marketing?
Is it hard?
Don't worry, we're about to unpack everything you need to know about content marketing right here and now.
What Is Content Marketing?
What's marketing? Marketing is the promotion of your products or services so that people know about them. Content marketing, on the other hand, is the creation and promotion of valuable content for a defined audience.
There are two key things within that explanation:
Content refers to information in the form of blogs, guides, ebooks, or anything else! So that's what we're marketing when we talk about content marketing.
The use of the phrase 'valuable content' is completely intentional. This is part of the key to how content marketing is different from marketing.
Marketing often tries to push a product or service that the customer may or may not need. However, content marketing focuses on targeting customers who are interested in the content being created. It should be information that people are already looking for, and content marketing provides it to them.
It uses a 'pull' strategy, rather than the 'push' strategy used by many product marketers.
Types of Content
When you're considering what type of content to create, you likely considered a blog and a website. Perhaps some information or social media posts. But there are far more content types than that.
Here's a list of content types that's certainly not exhaustive, as we could never name them all:
- Case study
- Social media
Phew, that's a lot, and it's not even close to listing all the types of content you could create.
Anything that imparts information is considered content, so get creative and have fun with it! You can create anything you like as long as you keep it interesting and informative.
Content Marketing Examples
Let's take a more in-depth look at some of those examples of content marketing we listed above so that you can better understand what it is.
We had to include blogs, as they are one of the most common forms of content marketing. They are a wonderful way of sharing information and tips with your audience.
You can attract readers by providing useful information and then transform your readers into customers.
Depending on what you're trying to achieve with your blog, you could write about your own products. Or you could write blogs about a product, such as one that compares yours with competitor products.
We know, social media is a hugely broad term. So, let's take Instagram for example. Many brands use content marketing on Instagram to sell their products.
There are 2 main ways of doing this.
- Post on your brand's account. Post photos of people wearing or using your products and create an enviable lifestyle that others will want to emanate.
- Get others to post your products. This shows that people enjoy using your products, so in this way, it operates much like a review. People trust brands that others trust.
The internet has given rise to the creation of the eBook. eBooks are offered online and are usually free or cheap. The benefit for the company offering it is that they will require the customer's email address.
They can then use this to direct email marketing to the consumer.
The consumer gets free or cheap but quality information on the subject of the eBook. Creating an eBook relevant to your products or services is a fantastic idea. If the information is high-quality and informative, you can turn these readers into future customers.
Why Use Content Marketing?
If my content is great, surely it will sell itself. Well, no. Keep in mind that you'll be competing with other brands who are using content marketing. In fact, it is listed as the number 1 priority for the majority of B2C content creators.
Businesses everywhere are discovering that paid marketing is not a great tactic to get your content noticed. So they are moving towards a more synergistic approach of improving SEO and their organic presence.
There is also much more creation of content in blog form. That's because this will attract people to your site who actually need your products and services rather than just pushing your services onto those who don't need them.
You'll see below that different forms of content marketing and creation are now topping the list of company priorities for marketing projects.
Attract Customers Who Need Your Services
There is a reason why content marketing is such a priority for the vast majority of creators of B2C content. If you're going to go to all the effort of creating fantastic content that solves an issue for the user, you want people to see it.
In fact, you should be marketing your content because these people deserve to have their issues solved.
Sell More By Providing Information
These days, people don't just go to a shop and make an expensive purchase. They thoroughly research the product online first and go through the pros and cons of all the options.
If you make your site one that is a reputable source of information, you can establish a market presence. People will be more likely to buy from you if they trust your information.
Help Buyers Use The Product So They Keep Coming Back To You
Ever taken a new product out of the packaging, then never used it again? Yeah, us too. For many products, it can be useful for you to provide after-purchase information.
For example, say that you sell slow cookers. You could offer some tips for cleaning a slow cooker, slow cooker recipes, and other related information.
This will ensure that people actually use your product. In this way, they may buy a new one from you eventually or, more likely, purchase related products. 86% of buyers say that they would pay more if they got a better customer experience. After purchase information is a huge part of that.
Content Marketing Strategy
Just like any marketing strategy, you also need a content marketing strategy. How will the people who are interested in your useful information be able to find it? That's the question that should be at the foundation of your content marketing strategy.
You need to create a content marketing strategy before you even create the content, that's how important it is. That's because you need to ensure that your content will be useful before you put the hard yards in to create it.
There are 3 steps in this model:
Map to the pain point
What is the 'pain point' or the gap in the market that you can solve with your content? For example, you may want to write about kitchens. But what people really need to know is how to cook.
This is the 'pain point' - that people can't find quality information about learning to cook. So that's where you can come in and create content that offers the solution. So, you can start to see why you need to start with a strategy before churning out content that potentially isn't useful for people.
Map appropriate content
Next, you can start to generate ideas on what relevant content would be. Are you going to target people who want to learn to cook with no prior knowledge?
Or experienced home chefs who would like to improve their skills?
These are two very different niches. If you go with experienced cooks, your content may be around more high-level skills.
For example, 'How to season your cast iron skillet' or 'how to create the perfect souffle'. These topics would not be suitable for beginner cooks.
Map to buying cycle
Then, you need to figure out when people are buying the items relevant to your content.
Are people trying to find out how to season their skillets in winter or summer?
Perhaps over winter months, you will focus on indoor cooking and in the summer months, switch to grilling or barbecuing advice.
This will help you create relevant content exactly when people are searching for it.
List of Actions To Take
The 3D model is one lens through which you can consider a content marketing strategy. However, it is more of a summary of what to consider. Here are some actionable steps you can take to start developing your content marketing strategy:
Analyse what content will you need across the customer journey. In our example, someone is likely to go from researching 'best skillets', to 'skillet dishes', to 'season skillet'. You can see that in this life cycle, they have gone from choosing a skillet to buy, to cooking in the skillet, to improving their skillet cooking.
Considering the customer lifecycle will help you generate different types of content that are all relevant to your target audience.
Take note of what content you already have on your site. This may be in the form of infographics, eBooks, blogs, and more. You may also have access to other resources from which you can generate content, such as studies or research.
Next, you need to come up with a style of writing that suits your brand image and voice. Consider style, tone, and your audience. For example, your brand might be targeted towards millennials in their 30s. You would use a completely different tone of voice than if you were writing for 60 or 20-year-olds.
Now, what channels are you going to create content for? This could be your website, Facebook, email, LinkedIn, and more. The content strategy for each of these would be different. For example, blogs can be a great idea on LinkedIn but don't send anyone an email with an entire blog in it!
How will you measure that your content is reaching the people who need it the most? You need to define what your KPIs will be for each channel and create a plan to achieve these.
Using content marketing can be a fantastic thing for your company to start doing. By creating fantastic content that engages your audience, you can also engage them in your brand. Get them hooked and coming back for more to convert your readers into customers.