Everybody has a story. It’s a common, well-known, and well-quoted phrase. It’s usually used more sentimentally, but today it can also be applied to content marketing! In the age of social media, you’re essentially your own product. Instagram models and freelancers have similar, if not the same issue, marketing themselves. The most common strategy is also what defines content marketing: a story!
So, how exactly does this tie into content marketing? Why is content marketing even necessary? What makes content writing good? There are valid and important questions when looking into such a vast field. But first, like any good story, let’s start with an introduction.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing has been around for absolute ages. It’s not a recent phenomenon by any means. To really put things into perspective, content marketing can be traced back as far as 1732! It was Benjamin Franklin who wrote ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’ as a way to advertise his new printing business.
From then on, content marketing started being used heavily. You’d see magazines, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and more! Obviously, times have changed, and marketing has evolved along with it. But at its very core, content marketing has been running on the same strategy. Find a problem, exacerbate the problem, and then solve the problem!
Like with everything else, content marketing has also evolved to keep up with the times. In modern times, for example, you see different types of content being posted. From videos to blog posts to helpful infographics, the content of all kinds saturates the internet. The internet is truly the magazine of today!
The core of content marketing has also stayed the same; its purpose is to attract the attention of a consumer and then convince them to buy a good or service. It centers around providing value, in the form of information, that eventually keeps them invested in the enterprise!
What Franklin did with his almanac, you see companies and individuals do today with tweets, videos, and blog posts. For example, you must have seen an Instagram influencer promote their new project, or a company put out a compelling advertisement. These are all examples of content being used for marketing themselves!
What Is A Content Marketing Strategy?
Any good marketing requires a strategy. Content marketing is no different! It requires meticulous planning, maintenance, and value to have any effect. Anybody can make a few random Tweets, but it won’t be as useful as having a whole strategy planned out and implemented.
Let’s begin by establishing that having a strategy is wildly important. Not only does it make things more organized, but it is less of a hassle to create content when you know exactly what you’re planning out. To put it in perspective, isn’t it better to have your days planned out and organized than to double book yourself?
A content marketing strategy involves planning and maintaining a consistent stream of valuable content for consumers to interact with. It doesn’t seem so complicated, does it? That’s because it actually isn’t! A content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be elaborate and confusing, especially if you’re a smaller business or individual. No Instagram influencer has a four-page strategy, but they probably do have content ideas for the next week planned out.
A strategy revolves around the kind of reputation you want to cultivate for your brand. What is your brand about? Who is your consumer? What is your consumer like? And most importantly, how can you measure the success of your content?
Answering a few simple questions can get you well on your way to creating a content marketing strategy of your own!
Why Is Content Marketing Important?
While everybody harps on about the importance of creating good content and having the right strategy, the question ‘why is content marketing even important’ can pop up. Well, there’s a straightforward answer to that. It’s because the world runs on content.
When someone wakes up in the morning, the first thing they reach for is either social media or a newspaper. Both happen to be full of content that is avidly consumed at a truly alarming pace. People are watching videos, television, and consuming infographics faster and faster. As a company, if you can put out valuable, relevant, and engaging content, then you’re automatically trustworthy!
As a quick example, Redbull consistently put out advertisements that were entertaining, intriguing, and engaging. They had you talking about them long after the ad was over. They made an impact and built an audience that eventually turned into customers!
Content marketing is about creating an impression and building a reputation. A company, business, or individual that is consistently putting out quality content, is automatically labeled as trustworthy. It is a way of connecting with your consumers that no other form of marketing can achieve.
It’s always helpful that a business can push a product along with some quality, engaging content.
Content Mapping: Why The Customer Matters
Having a strategy is all well and good, but there’s no point to it if you don’t know who you’re targeting. Ideally, you’re targeting an audience base that is going to be most interested in buying a good or service from you. This is where content mapping comes in!
The most integral part of any content marketing strategy is content mapping. Never heard of it before? No issues, you have now!
Content mapping is understanding your audience to the point where you can create different types of content for every stage of their journey. From discovery to buying, you can create the perfect content to draw them in deep enough until they decide to buy the product. Understanding this journey and the people on it is what will truly decide the effectiveness of your content strategy.
But why is it so important to understand your consumer? The most logical answer is because they are who you are targeting. You aren’t creating content for yourself but rather to draw in a consumer. It’s like when you’re trying to make friends; you need to understand them in order to maintain a friendship!
Another reason you need to understand and create so much different content is that not every customer goes straight to buying your product after discovery. The chances are that most of your consumers probably discover, think, see several targeted ads, and then make a decision. It takes time, and in the time it takes, a business needs to do all it can to make the sale.
Before you start creating content for each stage, you need to understand them. The consumer journey has three basic stages:
Have you ever been interested in someone you’ve never heard of? The same rule applies to business. If your ideal consumer has never heard of you, they’re never going to buy from you, which is why the first stage of the consumer journey is them becoming aware of you!
Awareness is created when there is great content that is published. They see an ad or read a blog post on your website and now know that you exist! But, it isn’t that simple to get noticed.
So, how is it possible to make consumers aware? Let’s counter that with the question, how are you aware of Wikipedia? That’s right; they’re a reliable source of information that always show up in the first few links on the Google Search page.
Much like Wikipedia, the goal of a business is to make their content show up when their consumers search for it. One way to have this happen is to use a clever mix of SEO and content marketing. It starts with creating brilliant content, showcasing it in an appealing and easy-to-understand manner, and then using SEO principles to bring your consumer to it!
What happens when you make it to the top is that future consumers will click on your link, view your content, see your website, become aware of the brand!
Congratulations, that’s step one done!
Awareness does not equal a purchase how much ever you pray it does. Before a consumer buys anything, they’re bound to think about it, a lot. Just because the consumer needs some time to consider doesn’t mean you can’t guide them along.
In the consideration phase, content changes, and along with the tactics you use, change drastically as well. The content that is being created and marketed not only needs to build a trustworthy image for the brand but also needs to guide the consumer into buying. A salesperson worth their salt will tell you that guiding a consumer is more likely to lead to a sale!
So, what kind of content would be useful during the consideration stage? Newsletters, e-books, and long-tailed keywords are the key to success. Before you get too confused, here’s an explanation.
E-books are a great way to create content that is relevant, opinionated, and valuable. During the consideration stage, a consumer is looking to understand the brand and its viewpoints. An e-book is a great way to showcase an opinion that also is easy to consume!
Newsletters are the way a brand stays in touch with its consumers. If a consumer has signed up for an email list, then they’re probably heavily considering the brand. Sending out content regularly means you’re regularly reminding a consumer of your brand.
Now that you’re done with step two, onward to the end!
A consumer is finally at the end of their journey. They have become aware of a brand, considered it for a long time, and are now finally ready to decide. This is the last time a brand gets to take a shot at converting them into a buyer. Content helps here too!
When a consumer is teetering at the edge, and you’ve played almost all your cards, it becomes time to pull out the big guns. This is when you start targeting the really long-tailed keywords, for example, “how do you start an eCommerce store” or “how do you create a website.” When you target a long-tailed keyword, and you make it to the top of the search, a consumer is more likely to buy from you!
Well, it isn’t that simple. When a consumer is searching for a long-tailed keyword, they’re most likely looking for specific solutions to their problem. They’re not looking to go through the whole journey over a span of months. If you’re the first link they can see, then you have the best chance at convincing them.
Decision stage content is slightly different. It’s littered with CTAs and backlinks to products or services. As you’re solving their problem, you’re providing immediate solutions.
For example, if someone searches for “how do you create a website” and a WordPress article comes up on the topic, they see something like this! Wouldn’t you want to take that offer?
How To Market Content?
The tricky part about content marketing is that great content, content mapping, and a strategy isn’t enough. After you’ve created your content, you need to market that content as well! With the internet already so saturated with information, it can be tough to get noticed, which is why it is necessary to market content.
Social media is the most powerful marketing tool in the world at the moment. Most brands, including the biggest ones like McDonald’s, have a dedicated social media presence. It has become a platform that can make or break you!
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are vast spaces that allow a brand to interact directly with an enormous amount of consumers. Social media allows brands to push their brand image and create awareness faster than ever. It is a great place to promote the brand and its content!
Social media content on its own is extremely nuanced; getting it noticed requires a lot of planning and luck. But, promoting brand content on a social media page makes it all the more likely that somebody is going to be reading your other content. For example, bloggers use their Instagram pages to promote their new blog posts.
If your own social media presence isn’t that significant, there’s always the option of riding off someone else’s! A lot of social media influencers are approached by brands to promote their products. This is because these influencers have a significant following that they can reach out to. Since it is coming from someone trustworthy, the audience is more likely to use the product!
The most well-known type of advertisement is paid one. You see the elaborately directed ones on television, the flashy ones on billboards, and less conspicuous ones in newspapers and magazines. Paid advertising is a popular and fairly common form of advertising.
Paid adverts don’t always have to be about just showing off a product; it can also be a way to lure the consumer in with content. Advertisements that are paid can be a great way to get an audience to visit your website or page, maybe read a few blogs, and to create an awareness of your brand!
Why would you pay to direct them to your website? Well, if you’re a particularly new business or just have a low following, it can be a way to quickly develop one. Organically growing an audience takes time, patience, and a whole lot of effort. If you don’t have all of that in spades, paid adverts are a great way to kickstart the process!
Paid advertisements are also a way to divert consumers to your most remarkable content. The idea is that once a consumer views some incredible content, they keep going back for more!
Audiences love communicating with a brand through mediums, where they can connect in real-time. Well, that has become easier without setting up Google Hangouts or Zoom.
Live video is one such tool that allows brands to hold virtual conferences using social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Moreover, these live videos can be accessed by millions without the need for extra sign-ups, registrations, or fees!
Given the new live video culture, customers are more drawn to short video content. Videos are easier to retain and way more engaging compared to plain text or images.
Plus, live videos form a real connection between brands and customers, thus making it engaging and transparent.
This high level of transparency and visual effects make live videos attractive, convenient, and a great content marketing tool. Plus, everyone loves to watch, hear, and speak to real people. The human element in live videos makes marketing more impactful than ever.
Interestingly, people tend to remember 80% of what they watch compared to a mere 20% of what they read. Plus, 95% of global customers prefer visual and crisp content. Simply put, if brands want to sell better, live videos could transform their campaign into a conversation with their buyers.
For instance, BuzzFeed loves hosting live videos. From Zendaya to former President Obama, BuzzFeed has used its platform to share relevant, interesting, and fun content with their audience as they subtly grow their brand presence.
Google Analytics: An Essential Tool
Google Analytics is an underrated marketing tool that brands seldom use in their marketing campaigns. However, it is one of the most important and convenient tools that help analyze the results of marketing campaigns whilst comparing and storing data in real-time.
Google Analytics acquires data from different channels to help achieve clarity on how well a website or individual campaign is doing. It looks at organic searches, social media, paid searches, referrals, as well as direct webpage traffic to study the trends that help a webpage grow.
Google Analytics is useful for comparing different channels and platforms to understand what is boosting sales and traffic. Since all the data is stored and analyzed in one place, monitoring growth on a large scale becomes easier.
Plus, one look at the time on the page or the bounce rate can help a brand understand the changes that are needed. Alongside Google Analytics, you can even use tools like CoSchedule to manage all your content ideas in one place.
Essentially, Google Analytics, with other data management tools, can make content marketing much simpler and organized.
How are brands using offline mediums to market content?
Offline might not seem like such a fad anymore, but actually, it still is! Content marketing is highly dependent on the internet, but many brands have used offline mediums to their advantage and more than doubled their sales!
One of the best examples of offline marketing is Marvel. While the Marvel Universe is loved by fans across the globe for the movies, comics were how they started in the 60s!
Their stories were read by people around the world, and eventually, Marvel sold a minimum of a million comic books a month!
What’s more, comics weren’t where Marvel’s strategy ended. They even started selling attractive Marvel merchandise as part of their marketing strategy. Marvel and DC Comics merchandise cumulatively sold for over 4 billion dollars in 2016!
So, if brands can tell good stories and combine them with products that are reminiscent of those stories, they are bound to sell!
How Has The Internet Helped Brands Grow?
The World Wide Web has become more vast than ever and has given unimaginable scope to brands to advertise. “What is the code?” This article published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek is 38,000 words long. Simply put, it’s almost like reading a novel!
However, this “article” was never published on paper. Instead, Bloomberg was released on the internet and for free! With all kinds of statistics, graphs, images, and sections, this article beautifully grabbed readers’ attention.
To put things in perspective, “What is code?” earned 126,000 shares on social media, which increased their audience by a huge number!
While Bloomberg went out of their way to create a massive blog, brands tend to do the same with smaller but equally relevant blog topics. Well, what better way to engage with an audience than to provide value!
Let’s take another example of podcasts. Some brands have concluded that a major part of their audience loves to listen. So, they came up with content that would match these needs. Shopify’s podcast “TGIM” takes the concept of Monday blues and transitions it into Monday motivation!
TGIM is a podcast that narrates stories about entrepreneurs and their success stories to give the audience a much-needed boost of energy and inspiration.
Lastly, e-books and guides have done exceedingly well when it comes to offering value in the form of information. Essentially, these methods have proven effective in increasing organic traffic and boosting sales as a result.
What Is Hybrid Marketing?
Hybrid marketing is one of the most commonly used content marketing techniques. It blends both offline and online mediums to create an impact. While some brands focus on using offline platforms as a medium to flourish online, some do it the other way around.
For instance, brands make use of social media to promote physical events, whereas some businesses start their campaign offline and then transition into an online forum.
Another such example is that of tweets during a live show. Offline events ask their audiences to help trend a hashtag while they interview someone in real-time! This not only engages the offline audience but also builds on the online audience for the brand.
Overall, hybrid marketing takes the best of both traditional and online tools to create a sustainable marketing strategy that helps boost sales across varied mediums.
Great marketers are also really efficient storytellers. However, storytelling comes with its set of modern challenges such as keyword optimization, campaigns, strategies, and more. While this guide equips brands with the best ways to implement a content marketing strategy, it also brings forth examples that help understand the essence of contemporary marketing.
With a market saturated with brands and cut-throat competition, a story is heard only if it is the better story out there. Plus, with the current scenario, social media and content marketing is the way forward.
For boosting sales or generating traffic to websites, brands need to focus on content marketing strategies that sell. Essentially, the path to success during these competitive times lies in phenomenal brand presence.