Good content sells. However, content alone may not be enough to boost your visibility. Adopting an essential guide to content marketing is the easiest way to grow your audience reach. The best part of using content marketing to boost your brand and generate sales is that it comes in a wide range of methods.
Whether you use blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, social media, or e-books, to mention a few, content marketing is almost guaranteed to work when it’s done right. According to research, companies operating blogs as a form of content marketing generate more than 50% more leads than those without blogs.
What’s more, companies that integrate content marketing into their process receive more leads and more visitors, and ultimately, generate more revenue.
Are you wondering how you can benefit from it? This in-depth guide to content marketing details everything you need to know to get started.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves using various tools, including social media posts, blogs, and even YouTube channels, to stimulate interest in your product or service. What sets content marketing apart from other marketing types is that it doesn’t directly promote a brand.
Instead, the purpose of content marketing is to attract, engage, and retain the audience and potential customers. For this purpose, content marketing comes in a variety of methods, each appealing to different kinds of audiences. Examples of content marketing to help your brand stand out include:
- Social media posts
- YouTube Channel
Benefits of Content Marketing
Content marketing aims to answer important questions that the audience or potential customers may have. It also builds trust, boosts conversions, and generates leads.
Here are the common benefits of using content marketing:
- More engaging than traditional marketing
- Grows and creates a brand identity
- Increases SERP rankings
- Boosts site traffic, generate leads and increases sales
- Audience and customer retention
- Creates loyal customers and ambassadors
- Builds the brand’s authority and trust in the industry or niche
- Can be entertaining to audiences
- Can be a cheaper marketing form, especially for smaller brands
How Is Content Marketing Different from Traditional Marketing?
Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing creates valuable content to engage and draw in your target audience and potential customers. Moreover, content marketing strives to create longer-lasting and sustainable engagement.
It provides customers with useful information to help build trust in the company rather than just focusing on aggressive product or brand marketing. In addition to easier tracking than traditional marketing, content marketing’s versatility allows for a far larger reach (even global) and is generally less expensive.
Understanding Your Target Audience
When it comes to your content marketing efforts, identifying your target audience is key. It’s super easy for your content marketing to end up in vain if you don’t even know who you are trying to reach.
Identifying and Defining Your Target Audience
Content marketing is generally only effective for a specific target audience. You want to narrow down your niche and know exactly who your target is. This, in turn, allows you to create effective campaigns. A target audience can be identified through demographics or behavior. Consider factors such as:
- Geographic location
It also goes a long way to identify the common behaviors of your target audience. This makes it easier to devise the right type of content marketing and design it to ensure optimal results. Key behaviors you can focus on include:
- Purchase Intentions and purchasing behavior
- Subcultures (a group of people with a particular shared interest, such as a similar fashion or music scene)
Conducting Market Research
Conducting market research is the best way to identify your audience. Designed right, proper research gives you invaluable data, from knowing your true target audience to determining holes in your business and trends in your industry. The market research also identifies your non-target audience, helping you better shape your content marketing efforts.
Analyzing customer behavior and preferences
For some business owners, factors for identifying the target audience and market may be easy.
However, for others, this analysis may be more challenging. How does one start to collect data and identify their customers? Now, this is where some available online tools come in handy. You can find a vast range of tools to assist you with your target audience or market identification.
Here are some of the popular tools to use:
- Use Google Analytics to study your current customers.
- Use social media analytics and insights to identify the type of audience you attract.
- Engage with your customers and audience to get to know them better.
- Create public surveys.
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives
Establishing clear goals and objectives plays a significant role in achieving positive content marketing results. You have to define what your intentions for the marketing campaigns are and what results you expect.
The purpose of defining content marketing goals is to achieve brand or business objectives. These include increasing site traffic, generating leads, boosting conversion rates, and fostering loyalty and awareness about your brand.
Defining Content Marketing Goals
When it comes to defining your content marketing goals, choose a consistent strategy to simplify things. A good strategy is to set “SMART” goals – ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
As always, make sure the goals and the actual content marketing campaigns are tied to your brand and identity. Further, throughout your goal-setting approach, always have the target audience in mind.
Establishing Measurable Objectives
Setting up clear goals and objectives for your content marketing is essential. However, this doesn’t mean that there is a standard one-size-fits-all strategy for doing so. Every brand takes its own approach based on what works for them.
Nonetheless, there are key deliverables worth integrating to ensure positive results. According to Semrush, brands should always integrate 5 key elements of content marketing into their strategies. These include:
1. Audicence personas
Identify who you want to target and who you don’t want to. You can even find inspiration from competitors. Next, create a relatable persona based on the profile of your target audience. Doing so allows the brand to relate to your target audience on a more personal level.
2. Brand story
Having a brand story and positioning makes it easier to curate the right message and topics to add to your content. Your story should include the hero (customer persona), their challenges, and the solutions to help them reach their goals. You should also share your brand’s values. Lastly, include how your product and content lead to the goal and achieve the purpose of your brand story.
3. Content marketing missions
You should also create a content marketing mission across your marketing channels, whether social media, blogs, or online channels. Always keep three factors in mind, i.e. your audience, benefits of the content, and desired outcomes. For instance, Semrush uses a blog component as part of its content marketing strategy. The purpose is to help digital marketing managers find multimedia information about SEO and content marketing to grow their companies through organic channels.
4. Business case
To get your message across, it’s a good idea to integrate a business case in your marketing efforts as an extension of content marketing goals. This is an internal affair, letting your marketing team track your marketing efforts. For easy traceability and alignment across the team, turn a business case into a project and even use project management tools for easier tracking. Simply identify goals you intend to achieve for a particular campaign and how it can help the brand closer to these goals.
5. Action plan
The action plan implements your entire strategy. This is where you choose and create campaign topics, determine formats for the campaigns, and pick the ideal channels. The marketing team goes a step further to identify key online tools, such as topics and keywords, target days, and target personas, to name a few.
Aligning Goals with Overall Business Objectives
Content marketing goal tracking and analytics should be an integral part of your campaigns. Most of the tracking usually happens during the actual implementation stage where you put up the campaigns.
The Importance of Goal Tracking and Analytics
There are two types of tools to use. The first tools are those that help you optimize your campaigns for the best results. For instance, the simplest content-optimization tools for blogs would be Yoast, Grammarly, and Surfer, to name a few.
The second kind of tool tracks the effectiveness of your campaigns. These tools not only give you quantitative results of your campaigns but can provide a lot of other valuable insights as well.
A good example of this type of tool is SimilarWeb, which measures and compares website traffic and performance across the web. It tells you how much traffic you get, and from where, and lets you see how your site ranks among other competitors.
These types of tools also offer qualitative results, letting you know if your campaigns are effective or if you need to implement alternative solutions. A good example of this is tools that track conversion rates over time.
Does your content marketing help boost traffic and does it turn visitors into actual paying customers? The best thing about resources online is you can get tools to help you measure the parameters you want.
Developing a Content Strategy
Content marketing is an ever-changing process. So, even after you develop and share your marketing content, there needs to be frequent auditing. Content auditing is just as important as tracking and analysis. It involves a comprehensive review of all the content on your site and other related marketing strategies.
Conducting a Content Audit
Conducting a content audit helps to evaluate the content, gauge its effectiveness, and even identify any possible gaps.
Here are additional possible reasons to conduct a content audit:
- Analyzing your content performance and using data to determine what to improve
- Identifying pages or channels that need optimizing (adding the right keywords, titles, media, etc.)
- Enhancing the quality of your content for better reception by picking content to repurpose, improve, or discard
- Performing content inventory to strategize on future content creation and addition
- Enhancing content inclusivity and accessibility
Identifying Content Gaps and Opportunities
Content audits should involve taking inventory, creating a list of possible issues on each campaign, and addressing the issues. But, you should also note that content auditing should be done against certain criteria, based on your brand’s needs. You should always go into auditing with a clear strategy.
Here are essential strategic steps to follow when you are about to conduct a content audit:
- Identify your auditing purpose/goal (for example, a brand may want to revamp an old blog and ensure its content offers consistent messages based on its new mission).
- Identify the type of content to include, improve, and remove.
- Define inventory or audit facers – what features will you be looking at in each piece of content?
- Conduct the actual inventory and audit.
- Implement the planned changes.
Creating an Editorial Calendar
For some people, content audit only resonates with them when they want to revamp an old channel or redesign it. However, consistent content audit ensures your marketing efforts remain relevant and on point. Creating an editorial calendar is a great way to stay on point with your content auditing across your marketing channels.
An editorial calendar is also resourceful for everyday content marketing efforts. It shares a visual workflow for the team, helping you pinpoint and schedule consistent work (daily, weekly, or monthly). It also helps with content tracking and adding other significant resources, for instance tracking promotional content on particular channels.
Crafting Compelling and Engaging Content
Creating content for digital marketing is not all about crafting campaigns that pass SEO checks alone. You really have to let your creativity show through. Remember, it’s about captivating your audience and standing out. It goes a long way to equip yourself with various strategies for curating engaging and creative content.
Understanding Different Content Formats
There’s a multitude of various content marketing formats to choose from based on your brand identity and personality. Many brands take a holistic approach, integrating various types.
Here are the most common content formats you can explore:
- Client and customer testimonials
- Blog posts and articles
- Videos and channels, such as YouTube
- Social media pages
- Influencer marketing and paid partnerships
- User-generated content
- How-tos and guides
- White papers
- Case studies
- Email marketing
Writing Captivating Headlines and Introductions
Whether you are crafting a blog post, choosing an introduction photo, or putting together a YouTube title, or thumbnail, these details have to be captivating. Your audience is more likely to click on the page if you have an attractive, but short tile that tells a story.
Moreover, the introduction is another way to hook your audience. This can be the introduction to your blog, choice of YouTube thumbnail, or how you start your podcast. You don’t need a long intro that rambles on and on.
Strive to identify the problem, how it affects us all (since you are with the customer), and how the brand can resolve it. The titles and introduction of the content also determine how you perform SEO-wise, so think of factors like meta titles and descriptions.
There is also a wide range of tools, like Yoast, to guide you with this and ensure your content stands out. Remember, you can craft an incredible blog post, with the right tiles and introduction, but it will do little good for your brand and audience if it ends up on the third page of the Google search results.
Storytelling Techniques for Effective Content
As outlined above, storytelling and hooking techniques don’t end at the title or introduction. The key to crafting successful content is always featuring a relatable protagonist in your content. The protagonist’s story must resonate with your target audience.
In addition, you should use emotions, integrate cliffhangers, but most importantly, always address the problem and the solutions. Since content marketing is an endless process, you want to create a series of consistent narratives within your content to ultimately position your brand over time.
Incorporating Visuals and Multimedia Elements
Visuals and multimedia elements play a significant role in content crafting too. Visual and multimedia elements make it easier to visualize and tell a story. For example, adding complementary photos throughout a how-to article makes it easier for the reader to understand the instructions and replicate them.
Similarly, social media videos, for instance for a cooking page, tend to be more effective than just posting the recipes or photos of the food. Multimedia and visual elements are also great decorative and aesthetic boosts for your content.
Naturally, humans are attracted to visuals rather than plain words, and a good visual design makes it easier to go through the content. According to experts, multimedia and visual elements in content can also make it more memorable, interesting, and persuasive.
Optimizing Content for Search Engines (SEO)
As mentioned above, unlike regular content, marketing content requires optimization. When preparing your content, you have to make use of tools to improve your SEO results. For example, content, such as articles and blog posts benefit from tools, like Yoast, Surfer, Grammarly, and RankMath, to mention a few.
Content Distribution and Promotion
Content marketing doesn’t have to be limited to in-house efforts, like blogs or social media sites alone. You can bring on other stakeholders into your marketing process to expand the reach and distribution. Similarly, you want to choose different channels for an even wider reach.
Collaborating with Content Creators
Crafting content should not be a one-person affair, but rather a team effort. This allows you to craft the best content. After all, you can bring together a team of professionals with various creative skills and knowledge to produce a stellar campaign. These include writers, site designers, and videographers, to mention a few.
Choosing the Right Distribution Channels
It’s a good idea to also diversify your content marketing channels and choose the right distribution channels. With multiple and diversified marketing channels, you will enjoy a far bigger audience reach and enjoy better results.
In addition to in-house marketing channels, you can explore external opportunities, such as guest blogging and influencer marketing, depending on your brand and budget.
Building an Audience and Community
Further, content marketing should strive to build an audience and community. You will come to realize that a community advocates for your brand and helps to simplify your work over time.
According to Debutify, creating communities encourages product improvement, and learning about other people, and even offers emotional connection. Further, through reviews, queries, and comments, communities help boost brand awareness and improve your overall products.
Building communities through marketing content is possible as well. It all depends on how you position your content. For example, incorporating shareable content like animated infographics via social media, like Twitter and LinkedIn, is a great way to engage and interact with the audience.
Further, big brands create communities and relatability by directly engaging customers. This can be something as simple as retweeting someone’s comments on the brand’s tweet. Another great way of building engaging communities is by organizing online events around particular marketing campaigns.
Leveraging Influencers and Partnerships
As pointed out earlier, one of the most effective ways to grow your brand’s reach and awareness is by leveraging influencers and partnerships. In this case, you can explore opportunities such as influencer marketing, paid partnerships, mentions on YouTube channels, native advertising, and even guest blogging, to mention a few.
Measuring and Analyzing Content Performance
Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing doesn’t focus on broadcasting brand messages. Instead, it focuses on creating valuable content to engage and attract a target audience. The content remains in the digital realm indefinitely, unless the creator decides to take it down. Therefore, content marketing is easy to track, analyze, and extract data from.
Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Since marketing content lets you track it, you can create key performance indicators for all your campaigns. KPIs simply refer to a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a particular objective.
For instance, you can create a campaign to increase traffic to your site and convert visitors into buying customers. For this content, your KPIs will be measured through visitor rates and conversion rates. You can also integrate your sales report, comparing pre- and post-content publishing results.
Tracking and Analyzing Website Traffic, Engagement, and Conversions
Thanks to the inherent trackability of content marketing, you can find a wide range of tracking, analyzing, and reporting tools. These include simple tools such as Google Analytics along with more complex analysis and reporting tools.
Many marketing channels, like social media, YouTube, and even blogging platforms (like WordPress), also offer their own analytics to integrate into your processes for more seamless tracking.
Monitoring Social Media Metrics and Sentiment Analysis
Analysis and reporting of content marketing don’t have to be about metrics alone. Undoubtedly, marketing metrics give you a vast range of invaluable information. But, so does sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis, especially in social media, simply collects and analyzes information based on how people talk about the brand.
Instead of just counting the interactions and comments added, these intelligent tools consider the emotional and opinion aspects of the target audience’s perception. This data is very instructive about how your marketing campaigns impact the audience.
Iterating and Optimizing Content Based on Performance Data
Analytics are invaluable data for content marketing as they are useful in many facets. Whether during a content audit or deciding how to optimize content, performance data through analytics gives you directional decision-making ability.
Nurturing Customer Relationships Through Content
Many brands invest in customer relationship management (CRM) tools within their in-house operations. While these investments are necessary, the fact is other components of marketing like content marketing also do a fair share of nurturing customer relationships through the content.
Building Trust and Credibility Through Valuable Content
Over time, content marketing builds trust and credibility through valuable content. A good example of this is through big SaaS brands. There was a time when these brands were small and up-and-coming.
But, through good quality products and an incredible investment in their content marketing, these brands have become the authority in the industry. Audiences are more likely to trust HubSpot or SalesForce content when it comes to CRM, sales, and marketing management than a smaller unknown company.
Engaging and Interacting with the Audience
Based on the content you share, there are various ways to engage your audience. Here are some of the common examples:
- Reading out social media comments and suggestions for your podcast during one of the episodes
- Running a pop quiz online
- running a live and interactive social session
- Q&A session on live YouTube streaming
- Encouraging user-generated content and interacting through tags and commenting
Personalization and Segmentation Strategies
Some content marketing channels allow for personalization and segmentation strategies. For example, social media platforms, like Instagram allow brands and creators to create private channels and invite their followers for more exclusive content.
On the other hand, marketing platforms, such as MailChimp, offer email marketing features for companies that allow for segmentation and personalization. For example, you can create a personal experience for all your subscribers by automating happy birthday or happy holidays emails.
Alternatively, you can also pre-set special discount emails for every first-time customer or those celebrating a milestone birthday.
Using Content for Lead Generation and Conversion
Similarly, you can use content to generate leads and boost conversions. In most cases, call-to-action content usually garners a higher rate of leads and conversion. The type of content can be anything from videos to competitions or posts. For example, you can run a one-day discount program, where the first 50 customers to spend $15 receive a $5 discount or a surprise gift giveaway.
Retention and Loyalty through Ongoing Content Marketing Efforts
While content marketing is effective in bringing new customers, you have to be even more creative and inventive to keep retention rates high. Content marketing is still effective at maintaining high retention rates with the right campaigns.
Frequent offers, personalized content, and even fun interactive content can all retain customers. For instance, running social media Q&A sessions to get feedback and comments from customers to improve service delivery shows loyal customers that the brand cares.
Evolving Trends and Best Practices in Content Marketing
Content marketing is an ever-evolving digital concept. While it’s nowhere near phasing out, newer advancements in technology also bring about more content marketing options. To get the most out of content marketing, it’s wise to familiarize yourself and stay up to date with the ever-changing trends.
Content Marketing Automation and AI Technologies
The introduction of AI tools in recent years has made marketing automation easy. Content marketing automation lets you initiate and complete redundant and repetitive tasks related to content marketing processes. Many SaaS providers curate a range of AI tools to assist with marketing automation.
A good example of how marketing automation tools operate is when you receive a thank you email and survey after purchasing a product online. Companies preset these automated campaigns, conditioning them to certain actions.
After purchasing, you get a thank you and feedback email, but if you simply add products to the cart and leave, you may receive an abandoned cart email prompting you to complete the purchase. These are all examples of marketing automation functionalities.
User-Generated Content and Influencer Marketing
User-generated content and influencer marketing are all relatively newer concepts in marketing. Instead of the in-house marketing team doing the job, customers and paid influencers take up the load.
Large companies such as Coca-Cola usually take advantage of user-generated content, with “Share a Coke with” being the most prominent example. On the other hand, influencer marketing works even for smaller brands, as long as you have the budget.
In fact, getting together with an influencer with a good following may be the easiest way to build brand awareness and authority. For instance, if you are a SaaS company offering a particular app, the influencer may simply create social media video campaigns showing or talking about using the app as a way to endorse it.
Interactive and Immersive Content Experiences
Many brands, big and small, also use interactive and immersive content today. This versatile content marketing experience doesn’t just allow brands to reach and attract audiences. It is also a way for them to collect a vast range of data to gauge their overall content marketing efforts.
For example, you can use polls, quizzes, and Q&A sessions to do sentiment analysis for the brand. Other interesting types of immersive content include animated data visualizations, such as 3D imaging and infographics.
Mobile and Voice Search Optimization
There are over 5.48 billion phone users globally today. So, digital content marketing should certainly involve a mobile component. The simplest way for a brand to do so is to create mobile-optimized and mobile-friendly content.
Additionally, create content that uses phone features that make processes much easier. A good example is factoring in the voice search feature on smartphones for your campaigns by optimizing content to make it discoverable through voice commands.
Ethical Considerations and Transparency in Content Marketing
According to Forbes, transparency is a hallmark of ethical marketing practices. While this may not resonate with you, many committed audiences do their own research on the brand. It goes a long way to be transparent with your audience to maintain a good reputation and a loyal customer base. It is very easy, especially for a brand with an online presence, to topple over with the simplest scandal online.
With the ever-so-prominent technological and digital world dependence, brands benefit significantly by integrating content marketing into their awareness-building efforts. What makes content marketing unique is its versatility and vast benefits. Knowing which strategy to implement and the right content to use is the easiest path to building a bigger audience and boosting revenue.