What is content marketing?
Content marketing involves using content to provide value to the receiver in an informative and strategic way. Let’s break down the phrase. Content encompasses everything from ebooks to webinars to blog posts. The marketing portion is how you distribute it, which channels you use and the subsequent metrics that are produced.
Unlike a cold call from a salesperson, content marketing is more like a marathon. In content marketing, you take existing content or create new content and then distribute it in a way that helps the person receiving it.
When you publish a company blog post, the blog post is the content. Deciding when and how to promote it, such as via a newsletter and social media, is the marketing. You might even decide, based on historical data of past published blog posts, to identify the best days and times to share it.
The most important part of content marketing is that you aren’t trying to rein in a customer immediately. You use your content to establish trust and authority so that your customer associates you with the topics covered in your content. For example, for a beauty brand, when a customer is eventually they thinking about which eye makeup palette to purchase, if they’ve been in your content marketing flow, they’ll recall the useful video you published detailing how to do basic eye makeup.
The Top 13 Reasons to Invest in Content Marketing
1. Because Google likes content.
Don’t believe me? Just head over to YouTube and look up interviews with Matt Cutts (the former head of webspam at Google). You’ll be hard-pressed to find him to respond to a question about how to rank higher in Google with anything other than “write great content.”
Google is obsessed with providing its users with the search experiences that deliver what they’re looking for. High-quality content is often the best way to provide that experience.
2. Content marketing drives more sales
Most of your customers won’t be ready to buy from you the first time that they hear about your business. People go through a buying process before committing to a purchase. With smaller products (ex. a pack of gum), this buying process is quick; with larger products (ex. a new car), this process takes much longer.
Before making a purchase, people realize that they have a problem that needs solving (awareness). They take time to research and better understand their problem (consideration). Then, they make a decision on which solution is best for them (decision).
3. …And helps put sales on autopilot
Around March 2017, we stopped doing cold outreach entirely. Instead, we decided to focus on digital marketing, with the majority of our efforts being put towards content marketing.
Today, potential partners reach out to us when they’re ready to work with us. We have a conversation about their goals, identify the right approach to help them grow, and see if we’re the right team for them to partner with.
4. Content marketing lets you control the conversation
Let’s say you sell high-end sofas. Someone on the hunt for a $300 sofa isn’t going to be easy to sell to. By the time they walk into your store, they’ve already made up their mind about what type of sofa they need.
However, what if you could talk to that person while they were researching sofas? What if you could talk to them about the importance of paying a premium for quality before they made up their mind about how much they were going to spend?
5. It’s way less annoying than traditional marketing
Sure, banner ads can be a good way to showcase your brand. But spending money on TV commercials and other forms of advertising that interrupt your customers doesn’t sound like the best way to win them over. Especially in B2B contexts.
6. Content marketing amplifies your brand awareness
And that’s just for the exact phrase “how to invest in stocks.” There are an additional 40,000 people who search for the exact phrase “how to buy stocks” every month on top of that, not to mention the other close variants. At least 1 million people search for this theme every year. Click to Tweet this.
7. …And the credibility of your brand
Assuming you put time into making the article helpful to your readers, 250,000 people will now view your brand as a thought leader and credible information source every year. Many of those people will go on to become your customers over time or tell a friend about your website and turn their friend into a customer.
8. Content marketing provides compounding ROI
Over time, you rank 1st on Google for “best dividend stocks,” which is searched for 22,000 times every month. You’ve now put your brand in front of an additional 260,000 people every year, which results in an additional 65,000 qualified website visitors every year.
Each additional article has the potential to significantly increase your qualified website visitors each month. To add to this, other websites link to helpful information sources. Each of these links helps to drive more qualified website visitors to the article that is linked to, as well as the other pages on your site.
9. Content marketing grows your social media following
Many of these readers will follow you on Facebook or Twitter so they can stay up to date on future articles that you write. Many of these readers will also share your articles with their friends and family on social media, which helps to exponentially grow your following over time.
10. Content marketing drives more visibility to your product pages
Assuming you write articles that relate to what you sell, many of those readers will go on to visit your product pages after reading your articles (especially if your articles link out to those product pages).
So How Do You Get Started with Content Marketing?
- Because Google likes content
- Content marketing drives more sales
- …and helps put sales on autopilot
- Content marketing lets you control the conversation
- It’s way less annoying than traditional marketing
- Content marketing amplifies your brand awareness
- …and the credibility of your brand
- Content marketing provides compounding ROI
- Content marketing grows your social media following
- Content marketing drives more visibility to your product pages
- Content marketing makes like WAY easier for your customer service team
- …as well as your sales team
- Content marketing scales your retargeting audience
How to get started with content marketing
- Identify your audience. To create content for a particular reader, you need to have a clear idea of their priorities, challenges, and preferences. If you have detailed descriptions of your various segments, choose 1 or 2 to write for. Otherwise, craft profiles of your audience members and prospects before starting.
- Determine the right formats. The right format corresponds with what stage of the sales cycle you’re creating content for. Another important consideration includes what formats will best help you showcase value. For some, this will be a video; for others, a checklist.
- Decide who will write, edit, and proofread your copy. An audience will judge your content on its quality, and they should. Identify the right resource, internal or external, to create this work. Regardless of who creates it, hire a professional proofreader to review anything before it goes out the door.
- Determine how you’ll distribute. Will you post content on your site, email it to people, or print it for an event? Start with “where” you know your audience is likely to be, and choose formats that make sense. For example, an article makes sense to send via an email, a checklist or worksheet can be posted on social media, and a buyer’s guide is a good follow-up to a pitch.
- Choose a sustainable schedule. It’s easy to make a content marketing plan that’s overly ambitious. Once you know the target readers and the formats, create a short-term (3-6 months) plan for a realistic number of content elements you can create, based on your budget and resources. Keep track of how long it takes you to create each piece of content, so that you can build that time into your schedule.
- Follow best practices. Compelling content is clearly written, without jargon that only you and your peers will know. It should also include how-to advice. A short, relevant, actionable piece of content is best.
Keywords are the foundation of your SEO effort. These all-important words and phrases are the terms a prospect types into a search engine when they’re looking for a company, product, or service.
SEO has evolved so that search success depends in part on how well your content does what it says it’ll do. Search engines review content copy, assess its relevance, and determine whether it delivers on what the headline promises.
Once you have content, it’s time to get the word out about it. Social media—Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Medium, Instagram, and others—is a proven and easy way to promote your content. You write a post and link to your content, and then voila! People are engaged.
- Focus on high-potential channels. The best social media outlets for you are the ones frequented by your audience. Consider the big, popular channels, as well as smaller, industry-focused ones that are likely to connect you with good prospects. Ask your audience what channels they favor and build a manageable list based on their preferences.
- Craft your copy to fit the channel. Each social media channel has a level of professionalism versus fun, an accepted voice, and other details all its own. Before you write posts for a channel, spend some time reviewing posts to familiarize yourself with these details. Then, give your posts some of your own company spirit.
- Test and modify your approach. A winning social media promotion effort involves trial and error. Track responses from the various channels for quantity and quality. Fewer high-potential engagements may mean a channel is a good fit, as opposed to a slew of clicks that never turn into an audience.