Content marketing has been building momentum in marketing for the past few years. It’s easy to see why marketers favour it; people are hungry for good quality content. The need for unique and interesting content has skyrocketed during the Covid pandemic. So, by putting money into creating purposeful content, whether it’s blog articles, video or social media posts, content marketing can be an effective marketing strategy.
If I asked you now to tell me what content marketing means, could you? Don’t feel silly if you can’t. There are so many different definitions, it’s hard to know which one to use.
The one I often quote is from the Institute of Content Marketing: “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.”
Historically, marketing has focused on pushing out sales messages using channels like radio, print advertising and paid for advertising. While this still happens, it’s usually in support of content marketing. You may be asking why the change? Well, as advertising increased, people started to tune out these sales messages. Now they look for content that satisfies a need – typically an answer to a question or a problem.
The type of content that provides these answers can come in the form of videos, blog articles, social media posts, images, infographic, ebooks, case studies etc. You can pick and choose what to include in your content marketing strategy. Or you could decide to focus on one media type.
Find out what content marketing involves by reading my article ‘What is Content Marketing?’
Content in the greater context of marketing
Content has always been central to marketing. For example, a sales leaflet may contain images and written text that’s promoting a product/service. Or, a new product may be advertised in a newspaper.
Today, many businesses are finding that the type of marketing that ‘pushes’ out sales messages is failing. Marketing campaigns that are achieving results are ones that focus on satisfying a need. For example, if you’re looking for a watch for a 12-year-old. Instead of reading individual reviews of every child’s watch, you may read an article you’ve found online from a seller of children’s watches. The owner of this site may have written this article because they know that their customers frequently ask ‘What is the best watch for a child aged 10 and over?’
Creating content that encourages someone to take action such as visiting your website or filling in your contact form falls under the term inbound marketing – the act of distributing content to meet your business goals.
You can find out more about inbound marketing and its relationship with content marketing in my article ‘The relationship between inbound and content marketing.’
Taking a strategic approach gets results
With your content marketing strategy, you need to be thinking long-term. You’re not going to get lots of likes and comments from posting on social media once a year. Neither are you going to see a surge in web traffic from one blog article.
Consistency and quality are what makes content marketing work. To maintain this, and so you and your wider team (if you have one?) know what to do and when you need a content marketing strategy.
Your content marketing strategy needs to include what your overall business goals are. These will shape what topics your content covers and how you plan to deliver it e.g. videos, podcasts, written articles etc. Next, list who is responsible for creating the content and who is signing it off. Also include details of your customers (buyer personas) and a calendar of content that you’ll be posting.
Sounds like a lot of work? Not really! Check out my article to find out how to create a ‘Content strategy in 12 easy steps’.
Include blogs in your content strategy
If you don’t have a clue where to start with content marketing. Or if you’re struggling to think of original things to post on your social media, then creating a blog and writing articles is the easiest place to start.
There are so many advantages to writing blog articles. Here are just a few; you build up a bank of content that you can put on social media or repurpose into other media like video, infographic or ebooks, articles help to drive traffic to your website, blog articles also help you build authority in your industry and trust with your readers.
For some writing comes naturally, for others it doesn’t. Something that puts people off writing is overthinking the idea and content – yes your articles need to be interesting and tell people something new but if you spend too much time worrying about the content, you’ll never write anything.
My article ‘Are blogs dead?’ gives you simple tips to get you started on writing blog articles.
Content marketing gives good ROI
There are all sorts of reasons why businesses use marketing; to get their name known, to get people interested in their product/service, but mostly it’s to make more sales. Content marketing is good at all these things.
A stat that stands out for me comes from DemandMetric – it’s 3 times cheaper to generate leads through content marketing than traditional marketing.
This impressive stat can’t be ignored and it’s probably one of the reasons why 90% of businesses are using content marketing to generate inbound leads.
When calculating ROI (Return on Investment) there are numerous things you have to consider. Depending on what media you use for your content marketing campaigns, there are different metrics to consider also.
With marketing budgets constantly under review, being able to show that your content marketing strategy is generating a return on investment is crucial. To ensure you’re reporting accurate figures, refer to my article ‘What ROI can you get from content marketing?’.
It takes effort, but it doesn’t have to be hard
Anyone who is involved in creating content will tell you that it takes time. Some organisations have dedicated teams that spend all their time writing articles, shooting and editing videos or designing graphics. Others may be able to outsource some of this to agencies or freelancers.
If you’re an SME owner, the reality is you’ll probably be creating content yourself. This probably seems a huge task on top of all the other things you have to do, but help is available in the form of apps and online platforms.
If you’re planning on creating a hub of written content – blogs, case studies, testimonials, whitepapers – grammarly will ensure that your sentences flow properly, your content is engaging and that it’s free of spelling and grammar mistakes.
Need attractive visuals but can’t afford to hire a graphic designer? Or, your design skills are somewhat lacking (like mine!)? Then Canva can sort you out with all your visual needs, including social media banners, presentations, business cards, images for social media and email, plus much more.
Find out what apps and platforms I recommend to make content marketing easier by reading my article, ‘8 content marketing tools & apps that I can’t live without’.
Content marketing – you’ve got to be in it for the long-haul
I’m going to be honest, if you’re looking to make quick sales, then content marketing isn’t the right option for you at this time. But, if you’re looking to be known as an expert in your industry, to attract people to your brand and keep them going back to you due to the quality and relevance of your content, then you need to be willing to put some marketing budget behind your content marketing strategy.
Get all this outstanding advice in one document by downloading my FREE guide – Content Marketing for Busy Business Owners and start planning your content marketing.
About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for writing and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong sustainable, social and ethical mindset.