Like many others who come to this blog, you may be wondering what the content marketing definition is and how it can help your bottom line. In a nutshell, content marketing is the process of creating valuable content and sharing it with your target audience in order to attract and convert them into customers. It can be a great way to build trust and credibility with your audience, which can lead to increased sales and revenue.
Just think about it: content marketing helps bridge the communication gap between human customers and businesses. There’s an old saying in sales: people pay people, not companies. Content marketing helps your sales team build rapport with customers, making them more likely to make a purchase. In this post, we’ll explore exactly what content marketing is and how you can start using it in your business today. Stay tuned!
A Definition of Content Marketing
Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves creating and sharing content for the purpose of promoting a product or service. The discipline of content marketing is often part of a wider marketing campaign with multiple marketing strategies, such as online advertising or public relations. In addition, content marketing can be an effective way to reach out to potential customers and create a relationship with them.
In the quest to favorably present a company’s products and services, this marketing method helps build brand awareness and credibility while generating leads and sales. In short, this is a useful way to market a business of any size or industry.
Why Use Content Marketing? This is What the Statistics Show
Many business owners find content marketing somewhat intimidating. After all, it can seem like a lot more work than traditional forms of advertising. While this is true for some content types like blogs, social media-focused content will normally take about the same amount of work as a more traditional ad campaign or account maintenance. Our content marketing definition is about more than just great self-promotion.
With that said, the statistics show that content marketing is a great option for most businesses due to its high level of effectiveness. For instance, content marketing costs 62% less than other marketing methods and generates 3x the leads. As most of us know, marketing leads are the fuel that powers our salespeople and our advertising. This is especially true in the B2B space, and in industries that still depend on in-person sales. However, every business type needs sales leads on some level.
Similarly, one study found that 62% of consumers prefer to buy things from brands that have a content marketing presence. This can be any kind of content, from blogs and clever social media posts to elaborate videos. And of course, this content has more than one purpose. For instance, any kind of content marketing can increase brand awareness. At the same time, viewers get to know something about what your company has to offer.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a whopping 90% of consumers consider content marketing to be valuable. This can be because you’re introducing people to your products and services, showing them how to use them, or even providing some entertainment through lighthearted humor. Even sales offer-based content marketing is useful because customers can decide if the “price is right” and it’s time to buy.
Consumer sentiment towards content marketing is reflected in business practice. In fact, 52% of companies that use content marketing do so to help build customer loyalty. There’s a reason for this: it works. When companies build a relationship with their customers through content marketing, it helps keep their brand top-of-mind. Combined with other strategies like great customer service, there’s a real incentive for people to work with companies they know well.
Finally, a significant 75% of marketers are increasing the amount spent on branded content creation. Not only is there significant pressure to make the best content out there, but marketers like to make their content memorable because it’s more effective that way. Plus, marketers don’t “double down” on strategies that don’t work. The overall increased spending is a great indicator that content marketing is highly effective.
What are the Specific Benefits of Content Marketing?
Part of the content marketing definition is that it’s a beneficial part of many companies’ efforts to find and retain customers. However, even though we’ve already established that this type of marketing can benefit companies and consumers alike, this only scratches the surface when it comes to its benefits. Here are some of the reasons that you should consider content marketing.
Control The Narrative Around Your Brand
No matter what kind of business you run, it’s important to ensure that people see your brand the way YOU want them to see it. There are a few reasons for this, including the risk that your competition will control the narrative. In addition, taking charge of your brand identity lets you differentiate your business from others, show your target customer base why you’re awesome, and present a cohesive brand story.
Make Your Company Look Like An Industry Leader, and Its Executives Thought Leaders
It’s easy to present your company’s goods and services as something that’s desirable. However, everyone else in the industry is doing the same thing. One of the most important aspects of marketing is showing that your products are either the best available for the price, or cutting-edge in general.
When you run campaigns that follow the content marketing definition, you also get the chance to show people that your leadership knows their stuff. For instance, a blog post about industry issues can build customer confidence, especially in the B2B space. Businesses, whether large or small, want to ensure they’re maximizing value and buying the very best for their company.
One of the things that Google and other search engines look at when ranking a website is the extent of relevant content. As a rule, just having products and descriptions up on your site isn’t enough, you want articles. These articles demonstrate your knowledge of a subject. They also contain keywords that you can try and optimize your content for. Either way, with better SEO your website will rank higher in the search engine results and, at the same time, boost traffic to your website.
Further Reading: Small Business SEO: How to Get Your Site to Rank in Google
More Website Traffic and Sales Leads
Another reason you should do content marketing is that it boosts your traffic and sales leads. For instance, if you have a link in your social media content, then as people click through that link they’ll increase traffic. Likewise, if a potential customer likes what you have to say, for example, in an offsite blog, they’re more likely to check you out.
Similarly, with an expanded content marketing definition you’ll see a larger number of sales leads. For instance, one way you can do content marketing is through whitepapers and other lead magnets. Here, you can use social media to draw people in, then offer more content in exchange for their contact information.
Customer Education Helps People Decide Which Products to Buy
No matter what you sell, customer education is quite valuable. With content marketing, you can educate your audience about what your products are for, how they work, their limitations, and much more. Even e-commerce brands can benefit because not all products in a line are appropriate for each customer. In addition, some products have variations, like sizes or specifications, that customers may need help with. By educating your consumers, you’ll help them be sure that their selection is the right one.
Types of Content Marketing
Now that you understand the content marketing definition, and how it’s useful, let’s look at some different types of content marketing. Your choices will vary significantly and depend on your particular goals from one campaign to another.
Blog posts can appear on your company website or a third-party website like LinkedIn or Medium. Here, you can talk about any topic that’s relevant to your audience, such as industry issues, buying guides, and product explanations.
This category covers a large number of options, from TikTok skits to long explainer videos on YouTube. Because people often learn well through video, and video is highly engaging, it’s unsurprising that video is very effective. In fact, a lot of people prefer videos over written content, at least if it’s short or creative. So, feel free to have fun with explainer videos, tutorials, and more.
Similar to video, a podcast involves communicating with consumers in non-written form. For podcasts, though, you don’t have pictures. These are great if you have a customer base that’s busy and like to listen to things while they’re driving, flying, or even exercising. You can talk about anything that’s relevant to your audience, bring in guest speakers, and more.
You can do live streams, both in audio and video format. These live streams help to build a community around your brand and give you an opportunity to have some fun. For instance, you can take questions, have a contest, or do a live demonstration. Each of these helps build rapport with your audience.
Likewise, photos are a great part of the content marketing definition. Often, these are put on social media, but they’re also effective on websites. Photos can simply present your product, or they can help demonstrate a way to use it. In addition, inspirational content is a good way to connect with your audience, especially on social media.
Lead Magnet Written Content
Finally, especially in the B2B space, there’s an opportunity to use written content as a lead magnet. For instance, whitepapers discuss a problem or issue in an industry and then suggest a solution (this could be your product). With a case study, you can discuss ways in which your product or service solved a client’s problem. And finally, ebooks let you explain things in-depth, or give people an introduction to your industry. All of these are valuable for customers and businesses alike.
This is a huge category that contributes to the content marketing definition. In a nutshell, user-generated content is anything that originates from your end-users or customers. For instance, you might ask people to write reviews on your website or a review site like Yelp or Google My Business. Or, you can encourage people to take pictures of themselves using your product. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless.
Content Marketing Examples
Even understanding the value of content marketing, it’s great to get some examples. Some of these are easy to adapt to your company, while others might be harder. Either way, you can see a range of creativity, campaign goals, and formats.
Skittles: Brighten Everyone’s Day
One thing about candy is that it helps cheer people up. Skittles took advantage of this by using their signature rainbows to comment on the latest movie for young people. Of course, the idea was to give people a good laugh and then associate the laugh with Skittles. The marketing team had fun with this one.
Colgate: Educate Customers About Oral Health
Colgate has been doing this for a long time, and unsurprisingly, they also distribute samples through dental offices. In this example, Colgate created a glossary of dental terms and a series of articles that covers many oral health topics. This way, they’ve become a reliable source for oral health information.
Hubspot: The Power of Keywords
Finally, let’s look at Hubspot. Their website uses impeccable SEO techniques and, as a result, ranks well for thousands of relevant keywords. As a result, this is one website that people who want marketing information will visit again and again. Of course, getting people to go straight to your website is a good idea as well.
How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Now that you understand the content marketing definition and how it works out in practice, let’s look at content marketing strategy. As with most other things in marketing, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. In other words, you need to have a good strategy, and implement it competently, to get good results. Fortunately, I have some tips for you.
1. Know Your Audience
As I’ve pointed out many times, the first step of making a content marketing strategy is knowing, and understanding, your audience. For instance, if you sell factory machinery then you know that the target audience is people who buy, and use these machines. Often, this will be the production manager in a factory and other operations personnel. As you define your audience, think about their buyer journey from clueless about your product to making that purchase. It’s a bit different depending on your
2. Know Your Competition
Remember, your job is to “beat” your competition in the marketplace. However, knowing your competition includes understanding their marketing strategies and what works for them. Armed with this information, you’ll find it much easier to meet the challenges that your competitors present.
3. Be Strategic
Know what you want to do with each content marketing campaign, keeping in mind that evergreen content will continue to be relevant long after it’s over. For instance, if you want to do brand awareness, then the content will be different than how you market for lead generation. Also, even within a content type, you’ll create something different based on your goals.
4. Choose Your Benchmarks
At the end of the day, what do you want to happen as a result of this campaign? Is it a certain percentage of additional site visits? A certain number of sales? How about many people signing up as newsletter recipients or for a sales call? Whatever it is, make sure there’s a matching KPI and appropriate benchmarks.
5. Find Your Keywords (or Hashtags)
Next, figure out what keywords or hashtags will get your content marketing efforts the right amount of attention. As you create the content, these keywords are added to your post and optimized for SEO. From here, your marketing team can maximize engagement and process any leads that come through the campaign.
6. Choose Your Content Types and Start Creating
Once you’ve done the planning, it’s time for execution. Choose your content type (such as video or a blog), and create it to successfully target your audience. As a rule, you’ll want to make it both relevant and memorable. For B2B brands, you’ll typically make content that’s businesslike, though some dry humor may be appropriate. For B2C, there’s more creative flexibility. Either way, know your audience.
7. Measure Results, Then Adjust
Once you’ve created and posted your content, it’s time to measure results over time. Using your website and social media analytics data, compare your actual results to what you expected. Then, adjust your strategy (and spend) as necessary to optimize results.
How to Measure Content Marketing ROI
Finally, once you’ve run a content marketing campaign, you’ll need to evaluate the ROI. In most companies, there are minimal benchmarks that you’re expected to meet. And, especially for small businesses, a minimal ROI is crucial for controlling costs.
Measuring the ROI of content marketing can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few key metrics that you can focus on to get a clear picture of your content marketing performance. First, take a look at your website traffic. Are more people visiting your site since you started publishing content? If so, that’s a good sign that your content is resonating with your audience.
Another metric to consider is engagement. Are people spending more time on your site, or bouncing off after just a few seconds? If people are sticking around to read your content, that’s another positive sign. Finally, you can also look at leads and sales. Are you generating more leads and sales from your content marketing efforts? If not, then it’s time to adjust.
At the end of the day, your return on investment is a function of how much you paid to get each desired action, divided by the cost of your content marketing campaign. So, if you wanted to get more site visitors, it’s the price of each site visitor. Likewise, for leads, consider the value of each lead. Over time, you’ll learn what works well, and what doesn’t. Then, you can maximize your ROI more easily.
Further Reading: How to Growth Hack Your Content Marketing for Optimal ROI
Knowing the content marketing definition is an important thing for business owners. Increasingly, content marketing has become a part of growing businesses of any size, whether it’s customer reviews or complex whitepapers. However, with the proper planning, and a bit of creativity, companies can master this growing field. By following the directions in this guide, almost any business can make their content marketing successful.
Hero Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash