Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It is often used by businesses in order to:
- Attract attention and generate leads
- Expand their customer base
- Generate or increase online sales
- Increase brand awareness or credibility
- Engage an online community of users
Content marketing attracts prospects and transforms prospects into customers by creating and sharing valuable free content. Content marketing helps companies create sustainable brand loyalty, provides valuable information to consumers, and creates a willingness to purchase products from the company in the future. This relatively new form of marketing does not involve direct sales. Instead, it builds trust and rapport with the audience.
Unlike other forms of online marketing, content marketing relies on anticipating and meeting an existing customer need for information, as opposed to creating demand for a new need. As James O'Brien of Contently wrote on Mashable, "The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story." Content marketing requires continuous delivery of large amounts of content, preferably within a content marketing strategy.
When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer's need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc. Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
Digital content marketing is a management process that uses electronic channels to identify, forecast, and satisfy the content requirements of a particular audience. It must be consistently updated and added to in order to influence the behavior of customers.
F.A.Q about Content Marketing
What Types of Businesses Can Content Marketing Help?
Small and large businesses in virtually every industry use content marketing to their advantage. From major consumer brands and retail stores to tech companies and service-oriented businesses, content marketing can help you reach out to your target audience.
Both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies have developed successful content marketing strategies. The techniques and goals vary between B2B and B2C companies, but that doesn’t make content marketing any less effective.
How Can Content Marketing Benefit My Business?
The beauty of content marketing is that it serves multiple purposes. Depending on your goals and the type of content you create, it could boost your brand in several different ways.
First, content marketing can increase awareness of your brand, especially if the material you produce has an educational angle. As customers get to know your brand and the value that it provides through high-quality content, you can also increase customer loyalty. As you grow your brand’s base, you can also generate website traffic and drive sales.
Can Content Marketing Generate Leads for My Business?
With the right strategy in place, you can use content marketing to generate a steady stream of new leads for your business. While most brands offer content like blog posts, articles, and videos free of charge, they also create high-level content, such as white papers, case studies, and eBooks to serve as lead magnets. Then they require readers to opt into a mailing list before gaining access to the high-level content.
Once you’ve gained permission to email interested customers, you can introduce your leads to your sales funnel. As your leads discover and engage with your other content marketing efforts, they may convert from potential to current customers.
What’s the Most Common Content Marketing Mistake?
For most businesses, the biggest content marketing mistake is jumping in without a coherent strategy. Like any type of marketing, you need a plan to get the results you want from content marketing. Launching a blog and producing posts regularly may never help you achieve your objectives if you don’t know what you want to accomplish or how to get there.
To develop an effective content marketing strategy, you’ll need to understand who your target audience is, what kinds of content they want, and how your brand can offer the greatest value to your audience. Many businesses opt to create buyer personas so they can get to know their target audience and design content that’s sure to resonate.
What Type of Content Should My Business Create?
While the right content balance varies from business to business, most brands consider a few essential types. Blog posts and articles tend to top out around 1,000 words and usually help readers understand how and why to use your product or service. Case studies, white papers, and eBooks are substantially longer and typically feature original research related to your industry. Infographics and videos generally explain and illustrate concepts that you simply can’t convey via text. Depending on your brand’s goals, you might include one, two, or all types of content in your strategy.
How Much Content Should My Business Produce?
Just as content type depends on your unique brand, so does content frequency. A lifestyle brand may benefit from developing and sharing short snippets of content daily, while others may get more value out of creating long-form content once a week or twice a month.
No matter what type of frequency works best for your business, however, strive for a consistent schedule. A regular schedule will boost your reliability and ensure that your audience anticipates your content.
Is Content Marketing the Same as Social Media Marketing?
These two branches of marketing aren’t the same, but many businesses integrate their content marketing and social media marketing strategies. This synthesis helps brands ensure that they’re optimizing their marketing efforts.
While content marketing encompasses written, graphic, and video material that can live on your company’s website or any number of other places online, social media marketing takes place strictly on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Many social media marketers build their editorial calendars around sharing links to content that their brands have created, as this practice can drive views and value.
How Can You Measure the Results of Content Marketing?
When you invest in a content marketing strategy, it’s essential to track the results and determine your return on investment (ROI). As a general rule, your goals determine the metrics you’ll track as you assess results.
For example, if you want to increase brand awareness, you might track website traffic, bounce rate, or social shares. If you want to generate leads, you’ll track the number of leads, conversion rates, and an average time to close.