How does a well-built Content Marketing strategy support and grow your business? After all, isn’t consistently posting on social media considered creating content?
Well, yes and no.
Let’s dive into what Content Marketing really is and the top ways it’s used as an effective marketing strategy. You and I are going to look at:
What Content Marketing really is
Why you need a strategy
Four ways Content Marketing is used
What is Content Marketing
Let’s tackle a clear definition of Content Marketing first. According to the Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
So, yes, while it can be a facet of a solid Digital Marketing strategy, it has its own merit.
Think of it like this. Traditional marketing – advertisements, billboards, direct mail – these are disruptive. Your audience wasn’t looking for your ad so you’re not really owning your audience’s attention. You’re borrowing it for a few seconds while they are focused on something else.
When you’re producing content, though, you’re putting yourself out to an audience that’s actively searching for what you have to say. For example, if you’re a fitness coach, you may want to create content relevant to weight loss or exercise programs. With proper promotion and optimization, your content may be what lands on your target audience’s desktop or phone when they’re searching for weight loss or exercise programs.
Content Marketing allows you to own your audience’s attention.
This isn’t to discredit traditional advertising; in fact, there’s a place for it in your Content Marketing strategy. But it is to say that, as HubSpot notes, relying solely on traditional marketing isn’t going to be as effective for your business anymore.
People are searching for answers. And Content Marketing means your business can provide those answers.
Content Marketing is not just about mass-producing pieces of content, though. To effectively capitalize on its benefits, you must develop a content strategy to support your marketing initiatives. A well-built content strategy allows you to:
Identify your content goals + metrics
Build your target audience
Choose content types
Identify deployment channels and promotion strategies
Design measurements and testing
To quote Michael Brenner from Marketing Insider Group, you need a content strategy because “your content has to be awesome.”
When building your content strategy, talk to your existing customers or clients. You’ll get valuable input and learn whether your content ideas are aligned with what your audience really needs.
Recognizing that there’s a well-defined strategy behind the content being produced helps shed some light on how Content Marketing is used; it is a strategic tool for creating sustainable, relevant visibility for your business.
A key component of a well-defined content strategy is addressing the needs of your audience across all buying phases; while paid ads may catch the attention of people ready to buy, there’s an entire segment of the population who are just looking for general information or, if they’re in the consideration phase, some more in-depth info on your business in particular.
Using content to meet the informational needs of customers in all phases of the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration, and purchase – positions your business in front of your entire ideal audience, not just a segment of them.
Content Marketing is Used to Build Brand Awareness + Loyalty
Positioning your business in front of your ideal audience is one of the most powerful ways content is used. It builds brand awareness and brand loyalty in a way that traditional outbound marketing simply cannot.
Outbound marketing refers to traditional marketing efforts because they push your marketing out onto an audience. Inbound marketing refers to the ability of content marketing to pull your audience in by providing educational, relevant, engaging resources.
By creating content that’s available to people when and where they are searching, you’re continuously positioning your business directly in front of them. Because you’re creating content within the framework of your content strategy, each piece will have a consistent message and voice. And it’s this consistent delivery that etches your business in the minds of your audience.
When they search, you’re there. With the answers. And people remember that.
Brand awareness is pivotal in the very crowded digital world. Effectively using Content Marketing to bolster your online presence can mean the difference between being recognized in the crowd and being lost in it.
Not only does that pay dividends with people becoming aware of your brand, but it also does wonders for your brand loyalty. Building powerful content that educates consumers positions your business as an expert resource. And, according to Matthew Foster from Convert & Convince, if you become the expert in your field, your target audience will trust your opinion.
What happens when a consumer trusts your brand? They are loyal to it.
It’s content that builds your brand awareness and loyalty among your actual and potential customers.
Content Marketing is Used to Boost Organic Reach
Effectively used content can potentially save you some money by capitalizing on organic reach over paid ads. The strength of Content Marketing lies in how well it aligns with what people are looking for; in other words, you want to create pieces that will answer search queries better than other content that answers the same question.
This takes some work.
Keyword and key phrase research, as well as competitor analysis, is going to be critical to rolling out a well-developed content strategy. You must understand:
What questions about your area of expertise are people asking
How your competitors are answering them
How you can answer them better
Doing this research and implementing that information into building out your own content will be a powerful tool in helping the pieces you create to rank organically. Search engines, including Google, want to provide their audience with the most comprehensive and relevant query results possible. Your goal is to create content that does exactly that.
Investing in content that is “better” involves not just providing the most relevant and comprehensive answer to the original query but answering those questions a person may ask next. And if you rank well enough, that will continuously build brand awareness.
There is absolutely merit in boosting your content with paid advertising. It’s more cost-effective, however, to build sustained reach through organic ranking
Is there any reason, then, to run paid ads? Absolutely. There is unquestionable merit in boosting your content with paid advertising, particularly as part of your launch plan for a significant piece of content.
It’s more cost-effective, however, to build sustained reach through organic ranking. It takes time for Google to understand your new content piece, whereas your paid ads will populate immediately (provided you’ve built in the correct keywords and bid price into your ad campaign).
Organic content, on the other hand, can be displayed for months, even years. Imagine the cost of running an ad campaign for that length of time for a singular piece of content.
Content Marketing is Used to Convert Customers
Consumers in the B2B world consume an average of 13 pieces of content before deciding to purchase from a particular company, according to MarTech Today.
Think about that.
The fact is:
If you’re not creating and providing content across all buyer phases to address the questions consumers have about your product or service, they’re going to look elsewhere.
No matter how compelling you think your product is, no matter how much value you believe your product brings.
Consumers want to trust that you’re an expert, that you understand their need, that you’re trustworthy, and that you can provide the guidance they want. You use your content to prove that.
Think of your content as a map for your customers: how are you going to guide them from learning about your business to understanding why your business is a better option to purchasing from your business? If you’re not addressing the first two stages with your content strategy, you are giving yourself a much harder task with your ask.
If you’re not guiding customers to a buying decision, you’re making it harder for yourself to ask them to buy something from you.
Content Marketing is Used for Sustained Visibility
You don’t just want to be seen right now or for the next few months, right? You want your business to be seen far into the future. One of the most compelling reasons to incorporate Content Marketing into your overall strategy is to build sustained visibility.
If you write a blog post or an eBook, for example, you can achieve longevity with that piece by:
Optimizing it for ranking
Parsing out content from it to use over the next quarter or two, taking care to link back to the original piece
Getting some press behind it
Including it in your email
Including it as a freemium for subscribing
Your social posts and your paid advertising will fall into obscurity much faster than a well-built piece of content. And because of that, you can use your content strategy to build sustained visibility and relevance.
And that, as we’ve already discussed, boosts brand awareness and loyalty.
How do I get Started with Content Marketing?
I’d love to tell you to dive right in and start, but you do need to build a strategy behind your content. Failing to do that will only put you in a position of creating a ton of content (exhausting) with no direction (inefficient) and without the results you want (frustrating).
You have a few options when it comes to kicking off your own Content Marketing.
Work with a Content Marketing expert to help you build a strategy, create and deploy content, and measure your results.
Start on your own. You can email me for a guide on getting started with Content Marketing.
Content Marketing is used to build your business and drive sales in a way that traditional marketing simply cannot. Have fun, be strategic, and don’t forget to test, experiment, and find what works for you.