Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that focuses on the creation and distribution of content to attract and retain a target audience in order to drive a specific action. With it, your business can achieve a wide range of marketing goals like acquiring new customers, retaining current ones, or raising awareness of your brand, products, or services.
In this article, we’ll explore how content marketing works and why your business should use it, even if you have limited resources.
Great Marketing Needs Great Content
If you stop to think about it, you can’t do any type of marketing if you don’t have content of some sort which is why it should be part of your overall strategic process and not treated as something separate. Content is involved in many forms of marketing such as:
- Social media marketing: Without content, your social media marketing will produce less engagement and slow follower growth.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Search engines use content to crawl, index, and rank pages in search results.
- Pay-per-click (PPC): It’s not enough to get people to click on your ad, quality content needs to support your PPC advertising to generate conversions.
- Public relations: Content is important for PR as it allows your business to effectively address the issues that your audience cares about.
Content is particularly integral for SEO because search engines need something to display in search results. Want to learn more about SEO? Check out our “What is SEO?” article
Content and SEO
Let’s take a quick look at how content improves SEO in Google since it’s the most popular search engine in the world. Google uses three signals – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – to determine content quality so it can give users the best, most relevant content for their search query.
These signals, known as “E-A-T”, are outlined in greater detail in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. Here are some ways you can improve the perceived quality of your content:
- Make it easy to read
- Link to appropriate resources
- Have a visually appealing format
- Use quality imagery
- Make it easy to access
Another factor that Google considers is freshness, but it depends on the topic. Freshness is important when it comes to time-sensitive events and information like a presidential election or yearly industry trends.
However, a good place to start with content marketing is to create ‘evergreen content’ which is content that is always relevant to a specific search query. For example, a page that ranks in search results for the keyword phrase “how to play the guitar” will remain mostly unchanged because the basics of playing guitar will be the same weeks, months, and years from now.
When creating evergreen content for your business, make sure to select topics that will carry the same value as time passes to attract organic traffic at the same or higher rate from now.
Content Marketing Benefits
This versatile marketing approach offers many benefits for businesses. While some can happen sooner than others, it’s important to view content marketing as “playing the long game” since it will generate a return long after that initial investment.
- Increase brand awareness
- Establish expertise
- Build trust
- Encourage team collaboration
- Increase site traffic
- Increase time spent on site
- Improve SEO
- Generate conversions
Again, keep in mind that these benefits usually don’t show up immediately. How long it will take varies but the more you work at it, the less effort it will require to see comparable results. Just because you don’t see a big spike in site traffic overnight, don’t be fooled into thinking it isn’t working.
Here are some notable content marketing statistics that show its effectiveness:
- Content marketing generates over 3x as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less (Content Marketing Institute)
- Content marketing costs 41% less than paid search on average (Kapost/Eloqua)
- 65% of B2B content consumers strongly agree they have higher preferences for credible content from industry influencers (Demand Gen Report)
- Businesses with websites that have 401-1000 web pages get 6x more leads than those with 51-100 pages (HubSpot)
Even if you don’t have the resources to regularly produce quality content, your business can still reap the benefits of this marketing strategy with evergreen content since it’s not time-sensitive and requires less upkeep. Having limit resources just means that you’ll need to be more focused and strategic with your content. With content marketing, quality beats quantity.
Types of Content
When we talk about “content,” what exactly do we mean? Content encompasses a wide range of written, visual, and interactive formats. You don’t have to create every single type of content to have success with content marketing.
Instead, focus only on a handful and do them very well rather than create a lot of low-quality content. Here are some popular types of content that your business can leverage to increase site traffic, conversions, and brand awareness.
Having a blog on your site and publishing regularly is a great way to attract new visitors. Posts that provide something of value to your audience will motivate them to share, which creates backlinks and increases referral traffic. While blog posts vary in length, experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
Videos are an engaging content type that can be used to demonstrate products and services, make company announcements, provide tips, and much more. They may require more time and resources than written content, but they’re often worth it since videos are more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content. According to Tubular Insights, 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social videos.
Regularly posting on social media can amplify your brand’s reach and deliver your content to customers on the social networks they spend time on. Popular social networks include:
Make sure to post the type of content your followers expect to see on a particular social network. For example, Snapchat is more intimate and laidback than LinkedIn which is more of a professional discussion forum. Find out which social networks your customers use and tailor your content to their expectations of the platform.
Webinars (short for “web seminars”) provide comprehensive, educational content to your target audience that can be live, recorded, or both. It’s an interactive format that is able to naturally attract backlinks to your site. Most importantly, webinars are effective for capturing leads and engaging directly with qualified prospects.
Written content isn’t always the best for organizing and visualizing data which is where infographics can be helpful. They’re ideal for sharing a lot of data in a clear and easy to understand manner.
Generate leads while providing value to your audience with templates. Whether the template helps customers save time or solve a problem, they’ll appreciate the useful resource and remember your brand every time they use it.
Case studies are like testimonials that tell the story of a customer who succeeded in solving a problem by working with you. A case study can take many different forms – blog post, video, podcast, infographic, and more.
Case studies show prospects that you can actually do what you claim to do. When creating a case study, first determine which format it will take and the area of your business you want to drive value.
A white paper is an in-depth report or guide on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. Their purpose is to be persuasive and make the brand look authoritative. Use white papers to educate your audience about a particular issue or explain and promote a product or service.
Podcasting is the digital evolution of radio broadcasting that involves creating one or more audio or video files that can be streamed or downloaded on the internet. Podcasts are a clear and concise format that provides value-driven content to a captive audience anywhere, anytime. They allow brands to tell their story, helping them become an industry thought-leader while creating brand advocates.
Like webinars, ebooks are effective for capturing leads. Prospects can download the ebook after submitting a form with their contact information. While they’re typically longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts, they can play an important role in the inbound marketing process.
For example, after reading a blog post, visitors might want more information. With an ebook, the business uses a ‘call-to-action’ (CTA) in the blog post to direct visitors to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook for more valuable information. In turn, the business receives new leads for the sales team to contact.
Other Content Types
While the content types discussed above are some of the most popular, there are many others your business can create such as:
- Influencers/Sponsored content
- News releases
- User-generated content
- Interactive content (quizzes, calculators, etc.)
Your business doesn’t need to create a lot of content types to have content marketing success. In fact, not all content will be the right fit or perform the same for every industry.
For instance, a B2B software company’s audience will be much different than that of a B2C restaurant chain so it’s crucial that the types of content you create will actually make sense for your target audience.
Why a Strategy is Essential
Whether you’re new to content marketing or have been doing it for a while, having a content marketing strategy that is clear, up to date, and creative will help you achieve objectives more easily. Additionally, it should include the management of all your content while demonstrating who your brand is and the expertise your business offers.
In your strategy, there should be content dedicated to each stage of the buyer’s journey – awareness, evaluation, and decision – to help move prospects along. Depending on your business, your buyer’s journey may have more stages, but these three stages work for most businesses.
Here’s how the buyer’s journey work: once your potential customers know what their problem is (awareness), they will search for ways to solve this problem (evaluation). After considering their options, they will make a purchase (decision).
Every piece of content you create should have a purpose. Below are some important considerations when developing a content marketing strategy.
Who Is Your Audience?
Define your target audience and how many audiences you will create content for. Your business probably has more than one type of customer so your content marketing strategy can cater to more than one type of site visitor. By delivering customized content to each target audience, you’ll be able to engage with everyone you do business with.
What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
Your content should educate and guide your audience through a problem that affects them. Whether they’re still figuring out their main challenges or already use your product/service to overcome these issues, your content should reinforce that you offer the solution.
What Makes Your Brand Unique?
Prospects need to know what makes your offering better, or at least, different from competitors. When done well, content is an effective way to prove to prospects why they should do business with you or pay attention to what you have to say.
What Types of Content to Create?
After identifying the topics you want to focus on, you’ll need to determine which types of content your resources allow and the best format to communicate your message.
Where Will the Content Be Published?
There are many different channels you can publish content like your own blog, social networks, and other sites (just make sure they’re reputable).
How Will Creation and Publication Be Managed?
It’s essential to know who’s creating what content, where it’ll be published, and when it’s going live – especially if your business is regularly producing multiple content pieces. Not only does this help organize content, but it also keeps team members accountable.
When creating a content marketing strategy, make sure that it clearly explains how your business will educate customers, nurture prospects, and closes sales.
Without content, there’s only so far your business can go to increase brand awareness, site traffic, and online conversions. Although content is essential for SEO and other marketing strategies, it also helps to build trust with customers as well as assist prospects through the buyer’s journey.
In summary, content marketing will make your brand stronger and more memorable while creating and deepening customer relationships. Before creating any content, however, it’s important to research your target audience and market to ensure your content will be truly relevant and valuable to customers.
Mavericks Marketing provides content creation and strategy services to help brands disrupt their industry, drive traffic, and increase conversions. Contact us today to see how content marketing can scale your business.