What is Content Marketing?
A few people have wondered why there is a spike in and a craze for content marketing in the last 10 years.
They argue that there has always been content in marketing. There were radio jingles, billboards and TV ads.
We remember memorable ads that were told through great storytelling. Peak Papilo ad comes to mind or the famous Guinness ‘my-friend-Udeme story.
Brands have always found a means to tell their stories most fascinatingly.
Truth is, the digital era birthed a new phase of content marketing, gave it a new meaning by finding ways to maximize it as a marketing strategy.
So, yes it is special in the way that it makes brands acheive marketing success in a way that it wasn’t known before.
The birth of the internet content culture made available endless possibilities of how far brands can go to tell their stories and communicate their brand values.
The term Content marketing only began to be used in 2001 in Penton Custom Media by Joe Pulizzi. Content Marketing Institute ( founded by Joe himself) that same year defined content marketing as a…
‘Strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain clearly defined audience and, ultimately to drive profitable customer action’.definition by Content Marketing Institute
Perhaps, the subtleness of this marketing approach is what makes it unique.
The idea is to pre-sell your brand and place it in the sub-conscious of your prospects for when they may need what you offer. It’s like selling without actually selling.
Read further to find out all you need to know about content marketing for a start. This article covers the following about content marketing:
How content marketing works on prospects
Give value with content marketing
4 content marketing elements
From CMI’s definition above, Your content must meet the following criteria to succeed.
Your content must suit the audience you wish to target. It must match what they seek to find and what they come to find when they open search engines and type in keywords.
When your content matches the intent of your audience, it guarantees to deliver real-time value to your readers which brings us to the second point.
Your content must solve a knowledge-gap problem or solve a problem in practical ways. After using the right keywords to match readers’ query, your content should contain all the information about the topic you have chosen to cover.
It should be written with the tone and language that reflect the IQ level of your readers. It should be understandable and should identify to every reader on a one-to-one basis.
Nothing works in content marketing without consistency. You need consistency in your style of writing, tone of voice and content production.
It’s important to get an in-house style guide that would take care of the first two. Your style guide would contain everything about how you want to sound and write. It addresses the nitty-gritty like opting to use the controversial Oxford comma to the major issues like choosing the voice that would reflect your brand personality and archetype.
After putting in so much effort and time creating content, you need your content to work for you. If your content is just sitting in a spot, it won’t yield the desired results.
You need to put it in people’s faces. One way you can do this is by using a multi-channel approach. You repurpose it to suit each of these platforms. I will talk more about this later.
5 Goals of content marketing
Content marketing can achieve the following goals for your brand.
This helps spread knowledge about your brand and product. People become familiar with your brand and know what it offers. For instance, they are able to recognise you just by seeing your logo or colour.
Finding your voice isn’t enough. You also want to build a brand personality that brings you closer to your audience and your audience closer to you.
You have the liberty to engage customers individually. This is what social media can achieve. Websites are not flexible to make engagements on a blog post convenient and fun like we have them on social media platforms. Though through chat bots, your brand can improve engagements on its website.
It prompts your readers to perform an action. It could mean signing up for your newsletters or clicking to download any free resource.
It Could be a template, an eBook or a guide. These are content that serve as lead magnets to enable a follow-up in helping prospects through their buying journey.
This is where you get public support and recommendations from individuals who have turned to fans. Word of mouth is still one of the best forms of marketing for your brand and content help you achieve this.
In the long run, if content marketing is done right, it helps convert prospects to buyers and buyers to loyalists.
Below is a chart that includes more goals in addition to the aforementioned that Content Marketing achieved for B2B marketers in 2019 in North-America.
How Content Marketing works on your prospects
It leads them through the sales funnel and their buying journey in this order.
This helps them know what you do and offer.
It captures their attention with valuable content.
It answers questions they may have by giving additional information.
It makes them take action by offering value through a warm and personalised experience.
It makes them buy your product.
It encourages them to become repetitive buyers.
If we make this into a funnel, it looks like this.
Benefits of content marketing
Content marketing can benefit these various aspects that are important to your digital marketing growth.
Writing relevant and value-packed content means you have answers to people’s search queries.
The result will be that people will always visit your site to get value and find help. This sends a message to search engines and would make your content rank.
Builds brand authority
Constantly talking about what you do would make you a thought leader and an authority in your field.
A few brands have grown to this level through quality content. Forbes have been able to build their brand authority using this method. Making insightful content would help you acheive this easily.
Increases social media following
Through engagements and engaging content, your social media following improves tremendously.
With interesting viral posts, brands have successfully built their media pages through followership.
Enhances understanding and consideration
People understand your brand better because you can communicate your brand values and what you are out to offer. They know what you are and what you stand for.
This makes it easier for them to have you on their minds when they may need your service(s).
Supportive of all online marketing channels and digital activities
There can be no marketing without content. Content works in tandem with other online marketing tactics. It makes a strong impact on the success or failure of any marketing tactic that needs to be deployed.
Content types format
Content can come in different formats. The choice of which to use will depend on the digital platform that wants to be used, the audience or goal of the content.
Here is a list of content formats.
Videos are helpful and people love to watch interesting ones. It is less tiring to watch and more engaging than reading texts. It’s a good way to be an attention-grabber and can work on every digital medium. Hubspot is a good example of a brand that has utilised videos to build brand authority
Infographics are a good way to illustrate and summarise helpful topics in the most concise way. The picture below is what an infographic looks like.
Blog posts and articles
blog posts and long-form articles are the easiest and most common means that are used by brands these days. All you need is a website and content management system.
LinkedIn and Medium have maximised long-form posts to build brand authority.
Ebooks and white papers are also written content forms that have been used by brands to build expertise in their niche. An example of a blog post is seen in the picture below.
This is a portmanteau of iPod and Broadcast. It’s an audio file that is downloadable. It’s a recording where anything can be talked about. For prospects who are too busy to read, they can listen to them on the go. The good thing is you can convert your blog posts into podcasts. It’s an effective way to reach a wider audience. The picture below shows what recording a podcast looks like.
This is an online event where conversations are held. It has an online audience. It is a great way to engage your audience. It could be a seminar, a video presentation or training session. Zoom is a good platform to host webinars. Here’s is what a webinars look like.
Memes are a funny but powerful way to get across a message using pictures and captions. A case in point is the example of an Italian mafia boss who amassed an 18,000-person following on Facebook by just sharing gangster-flavoured memes. Chipotle is a brand that has amassed followers on Twitter using memes. Here is a picture of a popular meme below.
Templates and checklists
Templates are a model to guide your prospects to achieve a complex task in a very simple way.
Checklists are a list of must do’s to help them successfully achieve a task. Both can serve as good lead magnets that would help convert prospects.
Content formats can be classified into these two main categories.
Evergreen content are sustainable and has a longer shelf life. They are dynamic and can be repurposed. They also are efficient in creating leads and traffic for a very long time. Examples include, FAQs, checklists, etc.
These are content that are trendy and newsworthy. They can’t be repurposed and do not stay relevant for long. Making content that links to a story or event is a good way to make topical content. Especially on social media, topical content can go viral and give you the attention you seek.
Content marketing strategy
Hubspot defines content strategy as…
“the management of pretty much any tangible media that you create”. It has a well-planned purpose that takes an iterative process to achieve the best results”.definition by Hubspot
A content strategy takes the following process.
- Make a content calendar
- Create and curate
- Publish and measure
Research your audience to know what’s best for them. Research what your competitors are also doing. A good way to research is to engage in social listening. This would help you identify dangers, opportunities and understand your current position in the scheme of things.
Planning involves identifying your content goals, picking the right topic for your audience through keyword research, search trends audience insights and engaging in social listening.
Make a content calendar
This entails that you decide on a content management system and digital medium to employ. You also need to carefully choose what type of content you want to put out and when they should be published. Your content calender should have the following,
dates, time, and digital platforms to be used.This will help you plan, prevent writer’s block, stay on track, and align your content to the goals you set out to achieve.
Create and Curate
You can choose to create original content by giving new insights to a topic after much research or curate content by gathering content made by others and merging them into a single piece.
Publish and Measure
You should publish on any digital platform that you have chosen and track content performance through analytic tools. Various metrics can be used to measure the success of your content.
Your content metrics should also align with your business goals. The numbers of clicks or the number of engagements on a Facebook or blog post can be a yardstick to measure for consideration.
The number of people you have reached through your post can help measure for awareness while the number of conversions can help measure for sales.
There should be a distribution plan set up to help strategically distribute content. It’s best to identify the multi-channels that are available and see how they can be harnessed through content recycling. This can be done across three broad categories. Owned, collaborative, earned or paid.
Repurposing your content across these three categories of channels is a method that can help with content distribution. A long-form post, for instance, can be repurposed by turning it into an infographic and sharing the infographic on Pinterest.
Content marketing tools
This tool helps you track your website’s and social media’s performance.
A graphic design tool that helps you when you need to create simple designs like posters or infographics. There’s so much you can create with Canva and there is a free version available that can still do a lot for you.
It helps you organise your posts. you can schedule it to post across social media platforms at any given time. It helps you manage multiple social media accounts.
A good tool that helps you track where you are being mentioned and see what your competitors are doing. Shows you how and why they are trending. This is a tool that can help your social listening .
This helps you curate relevant content from the web and helps you plan.
Ahrefs Keyword explorer
It helps you research keywords that are relevant to your audience. Gives in depth information about each keyword and a breakdown of the first page competition.
Give Value with content marketing
Bear in mind that a value-packed content has to be helpful on all fronts. They must tell stories that are,
Your content should educate and inform. Give helpful tips about products. Offer customer service. it should also give information about the product and the offers available.
Your content should evoke emotions. They should entertain, inspire, make people laugh, curious or excited. Prove that you are an authority and leader in your field.
Remember, you need to make them see that you are available for business. Talk about prices, promotions and where your product can be found.
No doubt, content marketing is a lot of work but with massive, measurable results. Are you ready to scale ROI? Then, get started on content marketing today!