A true, all-encompassing definition of content marketing would span several pages and probably sound more like a university thesis than a blog post.
However, we’re going to keep this entry short and focused on how content marketing benefits small to medium sized businesses’ digital marketing strategies. So here’s the most basic and useful definition we’ve seen:
Content marketing is the creation, publication and distribution of relevant and useful content to specific audiences in order to provide value, increase trust, encourage profitable customer action and turn satisfied buyers into loyal advocates.
Why is content marketing important?
A content marketing strategy is the heartbeat of any inbound marketing campaign. If you’re unfamiliar with inbound marketing, or just need a refresher, read “What is Inbound Marketing?”
Basically, providing quality content to the right audience segment, at the right moment, can turn strangers into visitors, visitors into leads, leads into customers, and customers into advocates that promote your business for you – the holy grail of any marketing crusade.
Businesses are turning to content marketing because creating and publishing valuable resources creates long-term lead generating assets. PPC, list purchasing, social promotion/ads, influencer marketing, and other short-term campaigns may get you quick leads, but as soon as you stop putting money into these efforts, the leads stop coming in. With content marketing, the assets that you publish remain in place to continue generating leads indefinitely. Their value can actually increase as you create a larger, more in-depth and far reaching content strategy.
Content marketing is the solution for businesses that are looking for a long-term, cost effective, predictable and scalable source of traffic and lead generation.
Different types of content
The main components of a modern content marketing campaign are your blog, emails, social media profiles, visual content (videos, images, infographics, etc.), customer reviews, and premium content resources (ebooks, whitepapers, tools, webinars, etc.). However, instead of looking at each of these as a separate category, these should all be considered components of one cohesive content strategy.
Here’s an example:
A customer writes you an email and gives you a stellar testimonial. You reach out, thank them, and ask if they would like to be featured on your blog. They agree. You publish a short blog post that features their endorsement. You then create an email targeted at your audience members that haven’t made a purchase yet. The email sends the reader to the blog and offers them an introductory discount code. You also publish a social media post that thanks your customer for their testimony and encourages any other satisfied customers to share their experiences and get featured on your profile. Now you’ve leveraged a piece of content created by a customer to promote your business, build trust, increase sales, and generate more valuable content. All in a day’s work for a content strategist.
What type of content should I create?
The types of content you create and distribute will depend directly on your industry, target audience and the goals of your campaigns.
For example, a restaurant should use content saturated with images and videos filled with pictures of delicious food and smiling faces in order to get their audience hungry and excited about going to eat and socialise in their establishment.
However, a local bookshop will create more in-depth, text heavy content with soft colours that their customers will relate to and will inspire them to curl up with a good book.
Here are the 4 steps to creating a successful content strategy for your business:
1. Create buyer personas.
Buyer personas will help you identify, define, and relate to your target audience. They provide detailed, goal-oriented descriptions of who you are speaking to and create cohesion across your business and marketing efforts.
2. Do some competitive analysis.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing to market their business. Sign up for their email lists and engage with their brand. Take notes on what is effective and where there are opportunities for improvement.
3. JUST DO IT.
You won’t generate any leads by strategising. You won’t gather any data from planning. Content strategies are constantly changing and being reworked as you gain insights, grow your audience and gather more resources. The only way to get to this point is to get started. So publish that blog. Schedule those Instagram posts. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.
4. Analyse and adjust
As I just said, content strategies are always changing. Using a tool like HubSpot, that keeps all of your assets in one place, tracks your progress, and provides valuable insights and suggestions is the best way to learn from your own work. If something isn’t getting the results you need, don’t push the issue, try something else. If a certain element of your strategy is really paying off, milk it for all it’s worth. There’s no magic formula. Trust your research and instincts, and leverage the data you gather for the best results.
If you’d like to get started by creating your own unique buyer personas for your business, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide that contains instructions, examples and blank templates. Get it here for free: