What Is Content Marketing and Why Is It Important?
Customers, leads, as well as audience members want quality content from your brand. The content must feel natural and organic, not disruptive. This is what content marketing does for businesses. It describes how to attract, engage with, and delight your target audience. You can increase conversions, brand awareness, revenue, industry leadership, and more by focusing on content marketing.
Whether you’re just beginning to create a strategy or updating your current one, it’s a good idea to review your processes and think of new ways to create and share your content. This guide will provide a quick overview of the basics of content marketing.
Content marketing refers to strategically creating and publishing content via social media channels, blogs, websites, podcasts, apps, and more. The goal is to reach your target audience to increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.
In simple terms: Content marketing is a great way to increase your ROI.
Unlike other forms of digital marketing such as PPC (pay-per-click advertising), content marketing can deliver long-term results for your business. It can drive traffic and leads for years, unlike a Facebook advertisement, for example.
Why Is Content Marketing Important?
The effectiveness of outbound marketing (or anything that visually interrupts your audience) is of the past. Instead, today’s content should naturally reach your audience (in marketing jargon, you call this “inbound marketing”). This is done by telling a story or creating a narrative. It will make your content more authentic, relevant and your audience can connect with it.
What Are the Different Types of Content Marketing?
There are many types and styles of content marketing you could choose to use in your strategy. It can include even in-person demonstrations of product development, seminars, and physical leaflets. The important thing is that the content supports a business goal by providing information or entertainment.
Here’s a list of some of the most commonly used:
1. Video Content Marketing
Wyzowl’s research shows that 69% of consumers prefer video to learn more about a brand’s products or services. Additionally, 74% of marketing professionals and online consumers even said the pandemic made them more likely to use video, while 26% say it became less likely.
Video marketing can increase conversions, improve ROI and build relationships with your audience. Your video content can be shared on social media platforms, landing pages, or on the website of a co-marketer.
One of my all-time favorite examples of a professional and impactful promo video is by Dollar Shave Club from 2012. It gathered over 27 million views ever since and jumpstarted its business. In fact, their website crashed after 30 minutes of releasing the video because it couldn’t handle the vast amount of traffic.
Their marketing efforts are on-brand, humorous, and entertaining. Dollar Shave Club has seen remarkable growth and brand recognition after making a name for itself via video content marketing.
Cisco’s annual report projects that there will be nearly a million minutes of video online by 2022 and that 82% of all consumer web traffic will be from video. Video has been the preferred medium for communication as marketing strategies change. This is unlikely to change anytime soon as video has become a key part of our daily workflow and is no longer something we reserve for extensive campaigns.
2. Blog Content Marketing
Blogs are a powerful form of inbound content. They allow for creativity in terms of both their topic and purpose. A blog-posting strategy that resonates with your target audience will help you achieve your goals of generating more leads and establish your business as an industry thought leader.
Each time you create a blog post, you add another indexed page to your website. This is something Google and other search engines love. It is a sign that your website is active. Every page you add will give you another chance to appear in search results.
3. Infographic Content Marketing
Infographics present information and data in a visual format that is easy to understand. They can be a great way of effectively communicating your content. Infographics creatively combine text and graphics elements to accomplish various goals:
Breaking down a complex concept
Make boring numbers and data look beautiful
Here is an example I designed about the benefits of meditation. It gives you a glimpse of how it can improve your health if practices regularly:
Infographics can be a great tool for marketers to add meaningful design to their visual content marketing strategy.
4. Social Media Content Marketing
Social media marketing is a popular investment because of its over 3.6 million global users. Because of the sheer number of people who use social media, it is easy to see why your brand should be sharing information related to your products or services and details about your company via at least one or two platforms.
It has been proven that social media can increase brand awareness through increased engagement. Engagement is a combination of comments, likes, shares, and re-posts.
It may seem overwhelming to determine your company’s social marketing strategy. However, it is possible to avoid being overwhelmed by learning about social media trends and the many available resources on the subject.
5. Podcast Content Marketing
A 2020 survey revealed that 49% (12-32 year-olds) in the U.S. listen to podcasts at least six hours per week. For this reason, many media outlets and businesses have started creating and sharing their podcasts.
Podcasts are open to creativity because they can cover any topic. You can also control other aspects of the podcast like the cadence, who is on it, where to advertise it, and how long the episodes are.
Why Invest in Different Types of Content Marketing?
You can reach different audiences by publishing content in different formats. Publishing various types of content allows you to be “everywhere” that your audience spends their time online.
For example, someone may miss your latest blog article when you share it on social media. But they might see it on their phones during their lunch break. Some things work better in certain formats. It all depends on what the content is and the message you want to communicate.
What Are the First Steps of Creating a Content Marketing Campaign?
1. Define Your Target Audience
The first step in any content marketing campaign is to identify your target audience. Who are you trying to attract?
Most people I have met are clear about what they want to share with their audience. But many of them stumble when I ask them the simple and direct question: “Why should they care?” To get the results they desire, they realize that they must change how they originally wanted to approach the topic.
Figuring out your target audience isn’t a hard or complicated process. If you’re in contact with your audience regularly, you will probably have a good idea about the types of desires or problems they have that you can satisfy.
In marketing, you call this step creating your “Buyer Persona.” Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations based on research and data of your ideal customer. These personas help you concentrate your time on qualified prospects, guide product design to meet the needs of your target customers, and align all work within your organization. I even have a shortened version of a buyer persona questionnaire in the contact form, so I’m up to speed with our new collaboration.
HubSpot’s “Make My Persona” tool can help you understand your audience. This tool is free and allows you to create a customer avatar you can share with your team.
2. Create Content Tailored to Your Audience
Once you know who your audience is, it is time to create content that appeals to them. Thanks to the research that went into our buyer persona, we now have a blueprint of the audience’s pain points. This is usually the most straightforward way to create engaging content that really leads to conversions.
Keyword research is another way to find issues your audience cares about. What do people do when they need to find something? They search Google.
My pro tip: If you want to dig deep, you use search listening and social listening tools that help you understand why, where, and how these conversations are happening and what people think – not just when they’re tagging or mentioning your brand. This will help you create future campaigns, improve your content strategy and messaging and outpace your competitors, build an influencer program, and establish more powerful brand partnerships.
Answer the Public does a perfect job at this. It is a keyword tool that visualizes search questions and suggested autocomplete searches in an image called a “search cloud.”
In the above example, I was searching for the term “weight loss.” I ended up with many interesting results that could help me with my next content ideas. These are four question examples from the 80 results of the query:
can weight loss cure sleep apnea
can weight loss lower blood pressure
are weight loss pills fda approved
how weight loss affects cholesterol
Although Answer The Public is not the “end all, and be all” of keyword research, it can help you find questions that can be converted into organic traffic and boost your content marketing campaign success.
You might focus on building topic clusters, creating evergreen content, or leveraging newsjacking. It will give you ideas for both of these strategies.
3. Start Working on Your Content Marketing Plan
Since you now know your audience and the type of content they consume, it’s time for you to implement your learnings into a content marketing strategy.
You want to create content that is relevant to people at different stages of your marketing funnel. Yes, that’s right, we even refine our strategy further. 😉
Each step in a marketing funnel has the goal to encourage people to move on to the next. And in a perfect world, people would consume your content or go to your website and start from the top of the funnel. But in reality, people enter your content marketing funnel at lots of different stages, and that looks more like this:
This is precisely the reason why you want to have content that appeals to people at each stage. So, let’s start to break down each step and go into more detail.
Top of the Funnel: Attract
At the Top of the Funnel, you will likely encounter primarily random people. This is where a prospect seeks to solve problems, find answers, or fulfill a need.
They want top-quality educational content to direct them to the solution. They are not likely to buy from you, so their value as leads is low. However, they may continue to the middle of your funnel if they find your content engaging and helpful.
You might consider these types of Top of the Funnel content for your attract stage:
Blog & Social media posts
YouTube videos & Live content
The power of Top of the Funnel content lies in two key reasons:
First, this content is highly in demand. This means you can use Top of the Funnel to drive substantial amounts of traffic directly to your website. Additionally, this content can also be used to establish your company as an expert in your field.
Middle of the Funnel: Engage
While the Top of the Funnel is intended to educate prospects, this stage is where you should show your prospects why your solutions are the best. Once someone enters from the Middle of the Funnel, it is a sign that you have their attention. They are aware that they have a problem, and they are trying to find the best solution. As they evaluate their options, the need to make a purchase commitment in the future becomes more apparent.
You might consider these types of Middle of the Funnel content for your engagement stage:
Email marketing newsletters
Case studies & Product demos
Ebooks & whitepapers
Bottom of the Funnel: Delight
It is important to continue marketing after a prospect has become a customer. Customer relationships that go beyond the sale can result in higher customer lifetime values, as well as word-of-mouth referrals.
It’s important to exceed expectations and offer a simple and seamless customer experience. Although this may seem like a linear process, you can target different stages through multiple contents. So you may be able, for example, to still delight someone who’s still a prospect.
You might consider these types of Bottom of the Funnel content for your delight stage:
Sales emails & pages
Understanding your audience is key to creating a funnel that works for your industry and audience. Then, create a content marketing strategy that maps custom content to each stage of the funnel.
If you do it well, this will have the greatest impact on your customer relations and conversions. Thinking outside the box is one of the greatest joys in content creation.
4. Repurpose Your Content for Different Channels
As I mentioned above, typically, you want to reach different audiences by publishing content in various formats. If you are repurposing content for a prospect at a different stage in the Content Marketing Funnel, it is important to adjust the content format and angle to match the information they consume.
For example, you can repurpose an ebook intended for those in the engage stage into a blog post for leads in the attract stage. Or you can repurpose a heartfelt story from an email newsletter into a video as I did for a client here:
5. Make Your Content Desktop and Mobile Friendly
According to a Statista study, mobile devices generate about half of all website traffic globally and have consistently accounted for about half of all global web traffic since the beginning of 2017. So it’s important your content doesn’t just work on all devices but looks appealing and doesn’t lose its functionality (Responsive design).
6. Keep Your Content Production Consistent
To reach your audience, consistency is a must. Although a few pieces of content may help understand a topic, they will not help you connect with your audience on every level. They won’t help build a lasting relationship.
Being a consistent content creator is the best way to achieve that. Blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, and other media are all driven to the top 1% by consistency.
This doesn’t mean you need to publish a thousand blog posts to be successful with content marketing. Instead, you should publish great content regularly. It could be once a week, or once per month. As important as consistency and sticking with your content is, it doesn’t matter how many you post.
I hope you found this guide helpful, and it answered your question, “What is content marketing?”. Content marketing is not a strategy you can implement overnight, but when it starts to get traction, you’ll attract more potential customers, leads, and traffic.
Marketers are investing more in content marketing than ever before. 82% report actively using content marketing, up from 70% in 2020. However, 44% of those who have not yet invested in content don’t know if they will start investing in 2021.
After over a year of “virtual everything” (from school to job interviews to shopping), video is back at the top of content marketing. In 2022, video will be the main form of marketing media created. Next are blogs (used by more than half of all marketing teams) and infographics. For more information on how to get started with video marketing, read this article.