What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a long-term marketing strategy for businesses that involves:
- Creating valuable content to attract your target audience
- Regularly feeding valuable content to retain that audience, and
- Ultimately converting that audience into paying customers.
Your goal is to create trust in your brand by answering questions that your customers are searching for.
For instance, if you are an online grocery store, and people are searching, “Which fruits are in season?” you can write a blog post around the top 10 seasonal fruits. Here, you’re not necessarily pushing your brand. Instead, you’re pulling in a potential customer who is learning something/ getting value from your content and might eventually purchase from you.
Why is it Important?
There are many reasons why content marketing is an effective strategy. It helps in:
- Establishing you as a thought leader and the go-to-resource in your industry
- Building relationships with your customers
- Creating a sense of community around your brand
- Educating leads and prospects about your products and services
In this blog, we’ll guide you through content marketing, how to create a strategic content marketing schedule, and some tips on how to analyze data for the best results.
What is NOT Content Marketing?
Before we go any further, let’s clarify what isn’t content marketing. Content marketing is not promotional, i.e. it does not directly advertise your brand’s products/ services. That is promotional marketing, where you are telling your audience about the benefits of your brand, without adding value to them or helping answer any questions they may have.
Think of it this way- if traditional marketing is a person standing over your shoulder with a megaphone, shouting into your ear while you’re just trying to read the morning paper, content marketing is politely tapping your shoulder, offering you some information that is actually relevant to you, while also informing you about the benefits of the brand’s products/ service.
But don’t worry! Your content marketing strategy doesn’t have to skew one way or the other. You can use a combination of content and promotional marketing to get the best results. In fact, Impact recommends a 80:20 approach, where 80% of your content is educational, while 20% is promotional. Again, keep in mind that content marketing is a long-term strategy, where the aim is to develop a loyal audience that keeps coming back to you.
Successful Content Marketing Examples
Content marketing is the reason that most of us associate a tyre company with high-end dining. That’s right, we’re talking about Michelin. One of the earliest, and most successful, content marketing examples, the Michelin Guide simply started as a free publication that the Michelin brothers offered their customers.
The initial issues offered all kinds of information from maps, accommodation options, to instructions on how to change a tyre. The aim was to encourage people to get into their cars and discover more of the world around them. Today, fast-forward 120 years, and the Michelin guide has not only sold 30 million copies, but it’s also considered to be equivalent to winning a Nobel Prize in the restaurant world.
Also consider Blendtec. The brand’s biggest USP was the quality of its blenders. Pretty meh. Would we watch a video where a Blendtec blender is making a regular smoothie? Probably not. Would we watch a video where a Blendtec blender crushes an iPhone? Um, YES.
That’s right. Blendtec perfected viral online content marketing with its ‘Will it Blend’ video series, and the YouTube channel is alive and thriving with over 800,000 subscribers. Best of all, this video series resulted in a 700% increase in sales for the company! So who says content marketing doesn’t show conversions?
What Types of Content Marketing Are Out There?
Today, content marketing makes up an important part of your digital marketing strategy. Content marketing can take many forms. Here are a few broad and popular examples to help give you ideas:
1. Social Media Marketing
Today, a social media presence is no longer an option. Businesses need to reach their customers and social media provides the best way. With the variety of networks available, social media content can take many forms, from creatives, photographs, and videos to stories and live interactions.
2. Blog Content Marketing
Typically hosted on a brand’s website, blogs are an easy and powerful way of improving your site’s organic traffic. By identifying and optimizing your blog posts for the right keywords, you can position your blog as the go-to-source for answering your customers’ queries. This helps increase website traffic and increase brand awareness.
3. Video Content Marketing
Video has dominated online marketing in the past few years. With 90% of customers saying videos help them make buying decisions and mobile video consumption rising by 100% every year, it is absolutely necessary to include video in your 2020 marketing strategy. Today, most social platforms prioritize video content, which means it can be easily repurposed to suit each platform, helping expand your reach and boosting conversions.
4. Podcast Content Marketing
The podcast boom is hitting the world with over 1 million shows and 30+ million episodes as of April 2020. It’s considered to be an economical and effective way to reach consumers. Plus, it’s an easy-to-digest form of content that can be consumed on-the-go, without requiring fast internet speeds. 2020 might be the year of audio marketing.
Remember, content can take many forms, so it’s important to first understand where your audience is and what they’ll respond best to. Remember, research research research. And then, research some more.
How to Create a Strategy?
Content marketing can’t happen on a whim, it needs to be defined and documented properly. Every successful content marketing plan is made up of the following key steps:
- Setting your SMART goals
- Researching your audience
- Creating content
- Distributing the content
- Analyzing and measuring results
Setting your S.M.A.R.T. goals
This framework helps you set clear goals and focus your efforts to achieve those goals.
- Specific: define exactly what you’re trying to achieve. I want to generate more leads from Linkedin.
- Measureable: trackable and numeric. I want to grow the number of leads generated from our Linkedin by 50%.
- Attainable: realistic. Since we generate 10 leads per month from Linkedin right now, I want to grow that number to 15.
- Relevant: should tie back to business impact. I want to grow our Linkedin leads to 15 per month because we have seen that Linkedin leads convert to customers at 3x the rate of Facebook leads.
- Time-based: set a timeline for meeting your goal. I want to grow our Linkedin leads to 15 per month because we have seen that Linkedin leads convert to customers at 3x the rate of Facebook leads. I’ll reach 15 leads generated per month by 3 months from today.
Researching your audience
The more you understand your audience, the more relevant content you can create for them. The entire aim behind content marketing is to solve your customers’ problems. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B or B2C company, you always need to have your end consumer’s pain points in mind. A good exercise in knowing your audience is to create a buyer persona, or a customer profile. A detailed buyer persona can help you nail your audience’s behaviours, which can help you create the content that will resonate with them. You can try talking to existing customers or even see your competitors’ customers on social media for inspiration.
Now that you’ve developed your buyer personas, you need to understand their pain points – what questions do they have, what are they searching for, what information do they need in order to make a purchasing decision? If you’re a sunglasses brand, think about your ideal consumer. What kind of things might they be searching? You can use Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to identify top search terms in your industry. This will help you determine 3-4 key topics which will become the foundation for your content strategy. Remember, all these topics must help the end consumer. And also remember, these topics are not set in stone. Keep conducting keyword searches, or even identify existing customers on social media and see what they’re saying about your brand/ industry. Keep your eyes, and ears, open.
Distributing your content
You’ve created the content, now what? A big part of your content marketing strategy deals with identifying the right distribution channels for your content. There is no one-size-fits-all formula (though we wish there was!). Don’t try to be on all platforms at once. See what fits your brand and audience, and for which platform you’re able to create content. And most importantly, how many platforms you’ll be able to effectively manage. There’s nothing worse than starting strong and losing steam midway. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Analyzing and measuring results
Is it working for you? Let’s check. No content marketing strategy is worth its salt if there aren’t any metrics to determine its effectiveness. There are different ways and tools to analyse if your content marketing strategy is working. Identify a few key metrics that can help you track your strategy’s success. Always refer back to your SMART goals and KPIs to ensure that you’re on track for your long-term and keep measuring and analyzing your results so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Finally, you’ve made it to the end! Congratulations, you’re now on your way to developing and implementing your very own content marketing strategy. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, or get in touch with us!