The what, why, and how of content marketing
The phrase “content is king” is a buzzword in the digital marketing industry. While the debate over its accuracy is still prevalent, the point is that many other areas of marketing like social media and SEO exist only because of content.
Think about it.
Without content, there is nothing available to optimize for the search engines. Every step taken towards achieving good SEO requires a piece of content. Every mail, tweet, landing page - they are all examples of content. Ian Lurie, of Potent, Inc. describes content in the best way possible:
“Content isn't 'stuff we write to rank higher' or 'infographics' or 'long-form articles.' Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.”— Ian Lurie, CEO, Portent, Inc.
At the heart of every marketing effort made is content. When we talk to customers, clients, and readers, regardless of the form of communication, it is content that is at the core.
What exactly is content marketing?
According to 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.
In other words, content marketing is an extensive game plan that focuses on building a strong relationship between a brand and its target audience by providing high-quality content consistently. Brands constantly bombard audiences with information in an attempt to sell them their products.
However, the term ‘valuable’ and ‘relevant’ is what sets content marketing apart from one-time advertising. When you provide your audiences with relevant content that doesn’t always focus on selling products, you gain their loyalty. With your audience’s loyalties already on your side, they will prefer your company over others when it's time to make a purchase decision.
Why Content Marketing?
Consumers spend an average of 79 days conducting online research before buying. Today’s potential customers need all the information they can get before they make a purchase. They study different options, compare prices, and features before considering buying a product. Basically, people depend on good content to help them make the right decision. However, consumers don’t like making purchasing decisions based on advertisements. A Roper Survey of business decision makers found that 80% prefer to get information about a prospective purchase from articles instead of advertising.
For Search Engines:
People find solutions to their problems on search engines. Therefore, it's important that companies use this opportunity to acquire new customers. You may already have an SEO strategy planned. You may also know that search engine algorithms are constantly updated in an attempt to improve the result qualities.
Google's recent updates have put content on the forefront. Up-to-date and fresh content is rewarded. On the other hand, content stuffed with keywords is punished. Therefore, content should be written with the reader as the priority, not the product. The best content is both user-friendly and SEO friendly.
For Your Business:
As is clear, effective content helps build loyalty with customers and search engines. Good content marketing establishes you as the subject matter expert and can draw traffic to your website and social accounts. This will further propel visitors to share your content with their friends, increasing your reach and visibility.
Why Do You Need A Content Marketing Strategy?
Statistics support the fact that a good strategy is what differentiates a successful content marketer from the rest. According to Content Marketing Institute,
-62% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy vs. 16% of the least successful.
-72% of content marketers who increased their level of success over the past year credit their strategy as a major contributor.
Your content strategy should consist of three steps:
Your purpose and goals
There are multiple goals you can set for your content marketing strategy - brand awareness, audience engagement, website traffic, lead generation/nurturing, increasing ROI, and customer retention and loyalty. All of these goals require different content strategies.
Your audience personas and buyer’s journey
While you may hope that your content appeals to everyone, content marketing works best when it's focused on serving one audience. Providing content that covers a broad subject won’t provide much value to anybody. Start by identifying your customer and develop a picture of who they are. Identify their interests, goals, and challenges and keep these pointers in mind when planning your content.
Your individualized editorial mission
Once you have a firm understanding of your goals and buyer persona, it's time to understand what will set your content apart from your competitors. Create a brief of your unique content visions, the value you want your content to provide, and the benefits your customers will receive from your content. This will help your content team to make distinguished brand content that is aligned with your goals and vision.