An Introduction to Content Marketing

Posted on 24 Jun 2013 by Jes Stiles to Content Marketing & Blogging

So you’ve heard of talk about content marketing as an effective way to connect with consumers. And chances are you know famous content marketing campaigns like Red Bulls parachute to Earth stunt or BlendTec’s Will It Blend video series.

But when you go beyond the hype, you see a strategic and focused marketing approach. One that is designed to lift your brand above the noise and offer your customers an engaging experience. No matter your industry, business size or budget.

What is content marketing and how is it different?

Content marketing is all about creating and sharing valuable media-type content to attract your target audience and turn prospects into loyal customers.

I think Attachmedia’s infographic did a great job of summing up traditional “push marketing” (aka self-oriented) to effective “pull marketing” (aka customer oriented).

content marketing vs. traditional advertising

Unlike traditional advertising, which interrupts customers to get noticed, content marketing focuses on sharing information that has value independent from your product.

Forget the hard sell. As consumers gain more control of which messages reach them, they focus on their needs - usually trying to solve a problem or be entertained - ignoring as much advertising as they can. And frankly, as customers become more informed, they need more than just a clever ad campaign to convince them to use your product above all others.

People don’t want advertising when making purchasing decisions, they want valuable information. Content marketing is the art of winning customers without pushy selling.

Put the customer first. With great content that’s tailor to your customer interests, you capture their interest, begin to build a relationship and then keep them engaged. Your audience voluntarily engaged with your brand and when they are ready to convert they know, like and trust your brand. That’s what content marketing is all about.

Top 5 benefits of content marketing

1. Attract new customers

Content marketing is a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness. But best of all, with each content marketing channel, you’ll reach an audience that you may not have reached otherwise. For example, people who listen to podcasts. By uploading a podcast to iTunes, you’re creating a potential traffic source and an opportunity to get your message in front of a relevant audience. By using podcasts, Youtube and blog posts, you’ve created three potential free traffic sources. Strategic content marketing will lead to an increase in website visits and help you convert these prospects into customers.

Metric backing: Blogs on company websites result in 55% more visitors

2. Engage loyal customers as brand ambassadors

Effective content marketing not only help you on that critical first conversion and then keep your customers coming back. But also creates opportunities for customers to become brand ambassadors, backing your brand with personal recommendations in their networks both online and offline.

57% of marketer has acquired new customers via their blog

Which leads us to our next point...

3. Content gets shared

Think about what people share online. If you look at a social network stream, chances are most links that are shared are to content, not links to a website. Even if customers like you enough to share your homepage, they can only share it once because, after a page is shared, there’s no reason to share it again.

But with content marketing, the same customer can share your content as often as you publish more. That’s many more opportunities to reach their network, multiplied by the size of their audience. Savvy content marketers leverage social networks to generate powerful word of mouth brand exposure.

People share content, not websites. A piece of content is much more likely to go viral than a link to your site. - KISSmetrics

4. Thought leadership brings links

By publishing information about your industry your audience will find useful, you educate and advise. You also have the opportunity to establish yourself as an industry expert, which more often than not leads to inbound links and guest post opportunities.

Metric backing: Companies with blog generate 97% more inbound links than those without

5. Free traffic from search engines

People actively seek out content. And so it’s great content that Google wants to rank high in its search results. So instead of paying per click, why not try writing a strategic blog post and attract customers for free. Thousands of people can read one post that took only a few hours to create. In the end, content is an asset, while advertising is always an expense.

Metric backing: Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages

Popular content marketing tactics

Content marketing can take the form of text, audio or visual content. But some tactics, due to ease of production, audience reach and return on investment are more common than others.

Popular content marketing tactics bar chart

When deciding which tactics to use for your business, look to the channels where your audience is already consuming content. And to what resources and talent you have in your team.

Strategic approach to content marketing

Brands need to go beyond simply creating content to develop a strategic approach to embedding content marketing into their larger consumer engagement plan.

The type of content you produce must meet three criteria:

  1. Interesting for your audience: create high quality, original content to capture their attention. It should offer value from either an entertainment or educational standpoint.
  2. Relevant to your industry: Showcase the parts of your industry that will resonate with your audience. You can strategically tie your product to your content as a solution to their problem. This way you can educate people on the need for your product and influence their buying decisions.
  3. Aligned to your strategic objectives: All content should be supportive of your brand positioning and embody your company values. It is important to ensure not only the message but also the media format supports your business objectives.

You need to be committed to making it work. This means putting in the time and resources to get to know your customers, deliver relevant content and track results.

Do content marketing well, or not at all. Quality is key. Churning out content for the sake of doing “content marketing” will backfire.

We suggest you plan a content marketing strategy which maps your business objectives and available resources.

Measuring content marketing success

It’s important to set goals and monitor results - otherwise you’ll have no idea what business value your content is generating. So before you launch your first content initiative, have a think about:

  1. What it is you want to achieve: Is you goal to increase traffic, begin a conversation, get social shares, attract inbound links or convert customers. How does that fit into your larger marketing strategy and business objectives.
  2. How you will measure success: What are you KPIs, what analytics tool will you use to track results and how long will it be until you can determine success.
  3. Record benchmarks (if necessary)

Bear in mind, each content piece may have a different goal - and this is OK. It adds variety to your stream and allows you to try out different strategies. Just be sure to adapt the writing style and call to action.

Pro Tip: Once you have generated over 20 content pieces, do an indepth analysis to determine which content receives the best response. Use this knowledge to focus your content marketing efforts.

If blogging is part of your content marketing strategy, why not take a look at our blog analytics tool which automatically tracks key content marketing KPIs and charts them over time for easy analysis.

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