When people first hear about content marketing, it usually sparks many questions. How does it differ from traditional marketing? Are there different types of content marketing? What are the benefits of content marketing? If you’re looking for answers, this article covers all of that.
Traditional marketing often revolves around consistently being in potential customers’ faces, bombarding them with sales messages and advertisements over and over again, usually without the customer’s permission. It’s like feeding a toddler with a very big spoon; of course, you get the food into the toddler’s mouth, but by making the toddler uncomfortable during the process.
Content marketing is the exact opposite.
Instead of forcing your business onto people, you attract them to you through helpful, high-quality content. Content that answers their questions, inspires, or shows them how to do things. Effective content doesn’t focus on the business—it focuses on the customer. Because you’ve helped them, people tend to develop a favorable impression of your brand and are more willing to consider your business as a potential solution.
Now, let’s dive in. There’s a lot to learn about creating an effective content marketing strategy.
So, What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves the production and sharing of content to generate traffic to websites, acquire leads and customers, and grow the business’ revenue.
Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing is more like permission-based marketing. Potential clients freely invite this type of marketing into their lives and sometimes share it with their friends. To gain the trust of your potential customers, you need to provide relevant and useful information; content marketing is built on this idea. The objective of implementing content marketing is to provide actionable insights that will guide your target audience to exactly what they might be interested in.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “a marketing process whereby a company or marketer seeks to create and distribute relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, nurture, and engage a clearly-defined audience. The goal is to effectively drive profitable customer action.”
Why is Content Marketing Important?
Content marketing is a popular strategy for modern marketers—the proliferation of blogs, eBooks, white papers, and videos attest to its popularity. It frequently delivers higher conversions than traditional marketing outlets—including radio, TV, and newspapers. Almost every business that wants to have high rankings on the search engines is doing one form of content marketing or the other. There’s a chance that your competitors are too. According to data from the Content Marketing Institute, more than 91% of B2B companies are using content marketing to improve their bottom line.
My mom always told me not to do something just because everyone else is doing it, but because of what I stand to gain. With content marketing, you stand to gain a lot.
Now, let’s consider some of the benefits of content marketing.
4 Benefits of Content Marketing
1. Content Marketing is the Heart of a Customer’s Journey
Let’s look at this illustration. Let’s say you are interested in buying a gaming PC (I love gaming), and the first thing you do is go to Google with some queries like “number one gaming PC” or “best affordable gaming PC.” Well, it should interest you to know that you’re not the only one using this buying strategy. GroupM conducted research and found that a whopping 86% of buyers begin their customer journey with non-branded search queries like that.
What’s even more interesting is that users trust organic results more than paid ads. Another research study confirms that about 85% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic search results instead. With consumers interested in gaining knowledge about a product before they buy, content can shape a customer’s choice and experience.
2. Content Builds Brand Awareness, Trust, and Loyalty
Customer-first marketing is an effective marketing approach. It’s always a win-win situation for both consumers and marketing brands when brands educate and inform consumers by creating valuable content. The quality of your content will determine how your brand performs. In the findings of the Havas Group, “meaningfulness” in brand marketing can increase wallet share up to nine times. By creating high-quality content, at the same time, you’re increasing the trust your customers have in your brand.
3. Content Powers Sales and Drives Purchase Decisions
Although content marketing isn’t as easy as it sounds, its rewards are reaped over time. Currently, the most effective way to drive conversions is through content marketing. Several studies have shown that effective content marketing is six times more powerful than traditional marketing when it comes to converting website visitors into leads and customers. Content is often the driving force behind the decisions of a potential customer. A quick look at the Demand Gen Report revealed that 47% of buyers viewed three-to-five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
A B2B Buyer’s Survey Report shows that:
- 75% of customers agree that the content brands created had a “significant impact” on what product they ended up buying.
- 89% of respondents stated that they prefer that winning vendors provide helpful content that made it easier to show ROI.
4. Content Marketing Puts Your Audience First
Content marketing focuses on the needs of your target audience. Instead of flashy advertisements and feature-heavy sales pitches, content marketing answers buyers’ questions. Content isn’t focused on the brand; it’s focused on the buyer. The key to successful content marketing is cultivating a deep understanding of your buyer and then using that information to create resources that help them make better buying decisions.
In the words of Gill Worby, Head of Digital Marketing at Virgin Media:
“Previously, we always thought about what we wanted to talk about and now we talk about what our audience wants us to say. This is against a backdrop of people wanting to be educated, entertained and stimulated every minute of every day, and it is harder than ever to grab people’s attention.”
That said, take a closer look at these striking content marketing statistics:
- Online consumers benefit from a brand’s content. In the Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands Study, 84% of consumers always look for fresh and valuable content from a brand.
- Roughly 70% of people want to discover and learn about products through content versus traditional (often annoying) advertisements.
- 96% of B2B buyers want more input and content from industry thought leaders.
- Nearly 100% of successful B2B content marketers prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their promotional message.
Types of Content Marketing (Various Ways to Implement Content Marketing)
Content marketing is a proven strategy for capturing the hearts and minds of your target audience. It’s often referred to as “pull marketing” since it draws readers and potential customers in—instead of pushing them to you, as traditional marketing techniques often do. However, for content marketing to yield significant results, it needs to be implemented through proven channels and methodologies.
Let’s examine some of the various ways to get results with content marketing:
A very effective type of content marketing is publishing a blog that answers common questions your buyers have. Don’t take blogging lightly. Companies that blog consistently generate 64% more leads than those who do not, based on HubSpot’s study. In the State of Inbound Report, generating traffic and leads are the two main challenges that companies are facing. If you struggle with generating traffic and leads, blogging could be a solution.
Blog posts increase your site’s relevancy in organic search results. With high-quality blog posts, visitors will spend more time on your website, which is an all-important ranking factor that Google seeks to reward. Therefore, a blog post could be a low-budget organic traffic booster.
Good blog posts should include:
- Content that addresses a specific question or answers a question related to the search intent of the keyword(s).
- The use of a pillar or cluster model to organize your blog topics.
- Content relevant to your products or services.
We all love videos, don’t we? Hubspot research states that 54% of audiences want to see videos from brands they support. A good way to captivate your audience is by creating high-quality video content that would build customers’ suspense and leave them wanting more. A good video marketing strategy could prove very effective in attracting customers.
For instance, almost every country in the world benefits from Microsoft. Recent Microsoft commercials emphasize how they define “everyone.” The main message is focused on how Microsoft’s technology can inspire anyone to achieve their dreams.
YouTube is another channel you should consider using, as it’s the largest video sharing platform in the world. Its growth has been on the increase because people love watching videos. For long-term success with video marketing, you need to create videos around your brand story, not the sale. Warby Parker’s How Glasses are Made’ video demonstrates effective storytelling through video.
It highlights how the brand started, the ethos, culture, and the desire to encourage people to showcase their eyewear.
As the name implies, infographics display information in the form of graphics. Infographics are low-cost to produce and can be very effective if done properly, especially if concrete data is involved. A well-designed infographic is easy to understand and provides value to the viewer. You can design infographics yourself using Canva, Adobe Creative Suite, or outsource to a professional graphic designer at Dribbble or Upwork.
Case studies are one of the best ways to implement content marketing. But why is that? Well, it’s because, with case studies, you’re showing people typical results. They get to follow a buyer’s journey and relate it to their situation. This case study shows how Capgemini, a consulting company, generated nearly one million new visitors in the first year by engaging the audience in a content marketing campaign. Take a look at our case studies. In them, we walk you through our client’s challenges, our marketing strategy, and the results that we were able to achieve.
eBooks and White Papers
eBooks and white papers are similar to long-form blog posts. However, they often include more information. They’re typically organized into sections so that it’s easy to learn new information. Tips, step-by-step instructions, and checklists are often included.
Take a look at our recent eBook, “The Ultimate Blueprint for Building a Data-Driven Healthcare Marketing Organization.” In it, we share specific data-driven marketing strategies, as well as how to report on important marketing metrics.
eBooks and white papers are typically offered for free. However, to access them, you have to provide your email address. This is a great way to build an email list. Once you have their email, you can nurture them with relevant content and offers until they’re ready to buy.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Now that you know what content marketing is, its benefits, and the various ways to execute it to get great results, you may think you’re good to go—but there’s one piece of the puzzle that’s left.
You need to have a content strategy.
Content strategy consists of the ways you manage any content you own. Who you are and the know-how you bring to your industry is demonstrated by your content strategy.
For effective content marketing, we’ll delve into some of the points you need to consider in your strategy.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
This is the section where we learn the basic steps involved in creating a content marketing strategy.
1. Define Your Goal
Do you have a tangible reason why you need a content marketing plan? Of course, everyone wants to generate leads and convert them into buyers and brand ambassadors. But knowing exactly what your goal is will make it easier to determine what content will work for you. Maybe you want to grow a specific product line? Or enter a new market?
If you set your goals before you start planning your content, you will develop a more effective strategy.
2. Conduct Persona Research
Knowing the audience that you plan to target with your content is imperative for a successful content marketing strategy. After setting your goals, research your audience so you know everything you can about them. This is even more important for new marketers. By knowing your audience, you can create content that will answer their questions, therefore, increasing your conversion rate. Whether you’re experienced in the business of marketing or your target audience has changed, buyer persona research is still important, especially if you intend on targeting a new group of consumers or widen your present audience. My advice is that you conduct market research each year. This is crucial in growing your business.
3. Run a Content Audit
Most content marketers start by publishing blog posts. But if you feel the need to stand out or change the direction of other content pieces, make sure you know what will work for you and your audience. You may need a spreadsheet template like this to get started.
For instance, if you’ve been on the weekly blog posts path for the past year, creating a video that further explains your blog posts with detailed illustrations is another way of providing helpful information. If you’re not new to content marketing, conduct an audit of your present content marketing strategy and look for new ways to improve, set new goals, and embark on better ways to achieve them.
4. Choose a Content Management System
Having a system for your content management will bring structure to your marketing efforts. A content management system must, at the very least, include:
- Content creation
- Content publication
- Content analytics
New marketing software like Hubspot Marketing Automation Software, can also help you plan, publish and produce, all in one place. Some software even allows you to measure your results. Content management can also be carried out using a WordPress website hosted on a WP engine.
Examples of Content Marketing (Content Marketing Case Study)
Both small and large companies are capitalizing on the immense benefits of content marketing to drive traffic, leads, and sales. Here is an example of content marketing from a trusted brand: The Coca-Cola Company.
Coke’s “Share a Coke” Campaign
I don’t think there’s anyone on this planet who hasn’t heard about this campaign—unless you’re living in a cave in isolation somewhere. With Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, anyone could personalize their drink. Coca-Cola researched the most popular names in Nigeria, for instance, and added them to the bottle’s label, and people loved it. Everyone wanted to share a Coke.
Personalization is the reason behind this campaign’s success. Coke made each person feel special, I mean, you could buy a bottle and see your name on it. Here, Coca-Cola puts its customers first. Coke wasn’t using any online targeting method. Instead, it targeted what most consider as very important to them— their names. Research by eConsultancy shows that 74% of marketers understand that personalization increases customer engagement. But, only 19% of them ever use it. Here’s what you can take from this example: put yourself in your customer’s shoes and work on how to get them to listen to your brand’s message. Personalization and emotional connection are good places to start.
Now You’re Ready to Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy
If providing great customer experiences while generating leads and conversions is your goal, then content marketing is the right place to begin. With all the great benefits of content marketing as mentioned in this article, I am surprised that not everyone is on board. But that’s good news for you. Now, you can get serious with content marketing to drive qualified traffic and leads to your online ventures. Remember to create an editorial content calendar. This will keep you organized, help you overcome distractions, and channel all your efforts towards creating and distributing content that potential buyers can’t resist.
Founder and CEO
Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).