What is Content Marketing?
Written by Luke SmithJul 07, 17
Have you been hearing the term “Content Marketing” a lot lately, but have no idea what it is or if it’s right for your business? To get to the bottom of your questions iSolutions will walk you through the industry jargon in the effort to bring you a (relatively) unbiased view into Content Marketing.
You’ve probably heard the term “Content Marketing” thrown around a lot lately; and as the most recent buzzword in an industry full of buzzwords, your scepticism is well justified. But, as we’ll explain, content marketing is worthy of both the hype, and your attention. With the help of some of the brightest marketing minds across the world wide web, we've put together this article to help clarify exactly what content marketing is; how it works; and, how it can benefit your business.
Diving right in – there are 4 key ways content marketing impacts our businesses and our customers:
- Increased awareness
- Improved brand perceptions
- Increased satisfaction and customer loyalty
- Increased sales
Bottom line: Content marketing is good for your customers and your business. But, to get to the bottom of these questions we’ll walk you through the industry jargon to bring you a (relatively) unbiased view of Content Marketing and how companies are using it to drive engagement, loyalty and sales.
Table of contents
What exactly is Content marketing?
To paraphrase the Content Marketing Institute: ‘content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant and engaging content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action’.(1)
Which is a great explanation, if you’re a marketer, but what content actually does and how it works might be lost on some people (myself included). To better understand this definition, It’ll help to clearly define what we mean by content: Specifically, content refers to blogs, images, graphics, social media posts, videos, podcasts, white papers, lead magnets, anything that can be shared and consumed, really.
How does it work?
It’s all about Trust
These days, the average shopper is doing the majority of the research. They educate themselves, evaluate their options and make a choice based on the brand they trust to provide the best solution to their problem.
Breaking it down into it’s most basic form, content marketing is about delivering value to your audience and is the fastest way to build relationships and establish trust. By engaging and educating your audience with content they’re interested in, chances are they’ll be significantly more likely to make a purchase.
More specifically, this content helps businesses improve relationships and move customers through the sales funnel: delivering value before, during and after a purchase; improving the customer experience, and their overall satisfaction.
Delivering value prior to purchase
- Solving a problem for them
- Answering a question
- Providing them with information, tools and/or resources
- Sharing interesting and engaging content
Helping your customer make a decision and evaluate their options
- Educating them on the benefits of your product/service
Or, by delivering value after a purchase
- Helping them use your product
It all starts with an understanding of your customer
Anyone can write a blog. Content only becomes valuable when it serves a purpose and has been created to solve a problem of the target audience. Armed with a deep understanding of the audience, their needs and the problems they face, content marketers are able to create engaging pieces of content that appeal to the needs and interests of the demographic.
Basically you want to create content that will attract customers to your business, with the aim of building relationships that hopefully lead to sales. Content marketing allows you to narrate to your target audience and explain how your product/service fits into their lives.
To explain it in some marketing jargon: Content helps potential customers find brands, products and services they are interested in; and, helps move customers through the sales funnel. By recognising the unique needs of your customers at each stage of the funnel, you’ll be able to create and delivering content that addresses their questions and reinforces the positive associations with your brand as a trustworthy and reputable business.
Armed with an understanding of your audience, their interests and concerns, you’ll be able to create content that targets these aspects of the demographic. Creating content that your audience is already looking for and interested in. Increasing search visibility with a blog that answers a problem, or a Facebook post they find interesting, entertaining, engaging, or educational.
Before a customer makes a purchase, they’ll weigh up their options, conduct research and educate themselves. This is your opportunity to educate them on why your product is better than the competition and to help them make an informed decision.
At this stage, the customer is actually making the purchase. With an accurate understanding of your customers and their stage in the funnel, you can create tailored content that caters towards an audience with a deeper understanding of your product or service. Case studies, white-papers and testimonials are some examples of content used to encourage customers to make a purchase.
Improve customer loyalty and experience by delivering content that helps a customer use your product. Turn your customers into brand ambassadors and capitalise on the power of word of mouth.
How could this benefit your business?
Let’s look at a few examples:
1. Generating more traffic to your website:
According to Hubspot “Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5x traffic than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.” (2)
While this number may be a little unrealistic for most small businesses, it does highlight the impact content can have on website traffic alone.
Share useful and relevant information about a product or service that your customers need to solve a problem. The customer will turn to researching online to further educate themselves; therefore generating traffic to your website, increasing leads and eventually sales.
2. Builds brand awareness and recognition
“This is where you develop higher levels of relationship and engagement with your targeted audiences. The higher the quality of content you provide, the greater authority and awareness you generate for your brand.” (3)
The objective for content is to create content that your audience is already searching for. Providing answers to questions they already have and solving problems for them. This content will naturally generate exposure and interest on social and through organic search traffic.
Creating the right relevant content for your customers, is a great foot-in-the-door technique: it solves a problem for your customer, it not only creates awareness, but also builds rapport and strengthens relationships prior to the customer making a purchase.
According to a Content Marketing Institute survey, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are the most common platforms used by Australian marketers. This breaks down into:
- LinkedIn - 83%
- Facebook - 81%
- Twitter - 79%
- Google+ - 59% (increased by 12% from 2014)
3. Helps to create authority in your industry- Thought Leadership in your industry
”Establishing a reputation as an expert, authority and thought leader is extremely valuable to your business.” (4)
A great example of a Thought Leader is Mark Zuckerberg (founder & creator of Facebook), a thought leader in the digital industry. He is recognised as an authoritative figure in social media and seen as a go-to person for his expertise. To create authority you need to considered trustworthy by your audience.
Which takes us to the last example.
4. Building trust and loyalty
Be honest with your targeted audience, produce high-quality content & be consistent so that your customers know when you’ll be posting next. The idea is to understand your audience & create content related to their interests, whether it be educational, entertaining or statistical. Forming a relationship with your customers comes from building trust, which can come from producing valuable content on a regular basis. Allow your customers to become comfortable with you.... build their trust.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”, and while this is true, it’s probably more accurate to say “Google is king”. With 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and Google commanding the lion's share of that, at 68%, it’s safe to say they’re in the businesses of directing their users to the best websites on the interweb. Despite using an algorithm that's undergoing constant tweaks and updates, one thing has remained constant: Google, et al. place a huge weighting on content and is arguably the single biggest factor impacting your website’s rank. So by creating quality content, you’ll not only be appealing to the robots over at Google; you’ll also be improving your customer's experience and increasing the likelihood of generating positive word-of-mouth and brand ambassadors. Content is probably looking like a no-brainer at this stage but here are a couple of other ways content can benefit your business:
Increase visibility on search engines
- Targeted articles and keywords
- Fresh content
- Providing answers to questions
- Long-tail Keywords and search terms
(stay tuned for our post on Search Engine Marketing for more info)
Reducing cost per click
Although seemingly unrelated, Google uses content to establish relevance, credibility and authority, all of which impact your cost per click.
Long vs short term strategies
Adwords and PPC is an excellent way of generating traffic immediately, but for the most part, it’s expensive and shouldn’t be relied upon as your sole source of traffic. Content on the other hand is a long-term strategy, where you look to build a reservoir of valuable content over time, increasing organic traffic to the point where you can reduce your expenditure on PPC traffic.
With the meteoric rise of social media, Google looks favourably upon traffic generated from these channels as a strong indicator of a company’s ability to generate relevant and engaging content.
It's just not possible to continually create content solely based on your product/service 24/7. The concept behind content marketing is to create content based on the interests of your target audience, then tie this back to your industry and encourage customers to take action and get in contact with you: Call to action, email, call, quote etc. Demonstrating quality of your service.
Content Marketing simply doesn’t deliver results overnight. You need to be patient, it's a long term tactic and the results will take time to show.
If you need some help getting things sorted or getting it all down on paper, then get in contact with the team here at isolutions. Call 9443 2221 or Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for the next part in our series, How to Create Good Content.