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Content marketing is at the core of any successful campaign, as it can make an uninterested person become a loyal customer. But knowing the ins and outs of it can be quite tricky. When I was starting out in the industry, I asked myself more than once, “What is content marketing?”
Luckily, that is a thing of the past! And I want you to learn everything about it, too, so that you can take your business’ campaigns to the next level.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll tackle the key concepts you must know about strategic content marketing. I’ll give you a definition, explain how it works, go over its different types, and even give you some examples so you can see what good strategies look like for yourself 😉.
Now, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
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Content marketing is a long-term strategy focused on consistently delivering valuable and relevant content to your target audience. It serves to attract, engage and retain that target audience and, ultimately, encourage people to take action and become customers.
The most important characteristic to remember is that any effective content marketing strategy isn’t meant to sell your products or services. Instead, the goal is to use content to attract, engage and retain prospects, building a strong relationship with them in the long run.
That’s what makes it a key strategy for any business. To gain a loyal customer base, you need to deliver more than just sales pitches to your audience. Additionally, strategic content marketing establishes your expertise, drives traffic, builds trust, and increases brand awareness and recall.
Online content marketing can take many forms, most of which I’m sure you’ve come across before. The most popular ones are:
Each of these serves a specific purpose and belongs to a particular stage of the Buyer’s Journey. That’s why deciding the goal you want to achieve with your content before starting your strategy is so important.
Now that we’re on the same page about the theory on the forms strategic content marketing takes, I want to go over how it works in practice.
One of the crucial features that make content online marketing so important for your business is that it can be used throughout all stages of the Buyer’s Journey, and achieve great results. Let’s take a look:
During this first stage, your content should focus on your audience’s pain points and challenges, and how you can solve them. That’s why, at this point, your content marketing strategy should be purely educational.
This type of content will help people discover your brand and start building trust. Then, when the time comes to make a decision, you’ll be one of the first thoughts that come to mind.
Blog articles (like this one!), social media posts, videos, eBooks, and whitepapers are your best friends for this stage since they’re all amazing tools to convey information in a way that’s both educational and engaging. Moreover, they allow you to showcase your expertise without making your content sound like a sales pitch.
While it can take a long time for customers to move through this stage, all content marketers will tell you this process can be accelerated if you put out good, useful content.
During the consideration stage, your content should focus on building trust and continuing to engage those people that are interested in your products or services. While the content should still be educational and provide value, you can start to lean toward a more “sales-y” approach.
Infographics, brand videos, newsletters, and other types of content that show potential customers your values and stances on certain topics, while also telling them exactly why you’re the best choice, can help build trust and guide them toward the next step.
Finally, during the decision stage, you can pull out all the best marketing tactics to get those customers.
Your prospect is ready to make a decision, so the content you put out has to help them to finally make that purchase. At this point, your expertise, knowledge, and the benefits your products and services provide are your content’s main protagonists, as they emphasize why your business is a better choice than the competition.
Testimonial videos, product demos, and case studies are the best way to show potential customers the positive experiences others have had with your business and encourage them to make a decision.
Well, now you know how content marketing works, but how do you actually start your next campaign? Worry not, I’ll give you a quick rundown:
The first thing you need to do is determine exactly who you’re putting out content for. You could have the best content marketing strategy ever, but it won’t work if it isn’t aimed at a specific target audience and tailored to their interests and experiences. So, do some extensive research to discover exactly who your target audience is (you need information about their demographics, mainly) and what their pain points are.
Once you know the people your online content marketing is aimed at, you can start brainstorming about the most effective assets you can create and the best distribution channels for them.
As I’ve mentioned before, choosing the right content type goes hand in hand with the Buyer’s Journey stage you’re focusing on. So, you should focus on educational pieces for the Awareness stage, full-on marketing ones for Decision, and most likely a hybrid approach for Consideration.
Regarding content distribution, you need to find out where your audience is more likely to be and adapt the content to that channel. For example, you could opt for articles or newsletters for your email subscribers, and leave entertaining videos for social media followers and YouTube subscribers.
Dealing with your business’ daily tasks is already hard enough, and it’s easy to be overly ambitious when first creating a content marketing strategy. That’s why it’s crucial that you keep track of your posted and future pieces to get the best results possible, and avoid repetitive content or significant time gaps where nothing is published.
That’s why you should create a sustainable schedule that aligns with your budget, time, and resources. It’s a better idea in the long run to plan fewer high-quality pieces rather than a lot of lower-quality stuff just for the sake of posting content daily.
Content in marketing should always follow best practices if you want to organically increase engagement and achieve your goals. Your content marketing strategy should be built around keywords related to your field, and you should keep an eye on your analytics to know what’s working and what isn’t. Additionally, I would advise you to outsource content creation when you’re not familiar with a particular medium, to ensure you’ll get great results.
The answer to “What is content marketing?” should be more than clear now. But before I round off, I want to show you 3 amazing examples of online content marketing done right, so you can get some inspiration for your next campaign 😉.
Writing guest posts is an amazing content marketing strategy. Not only does it increase your authority, but it’s also great for building quality backlinks.
Victor Blasco, our CEO, has published several guest posts on sites such as HubSpot (which is the example I chose here!), Godaddy, Zapier, and Semrush. He has even been featured in a Forbes article as a video marketing expert!
These posts have helped position our agency as an authoritative voice for our field, as well as make our content reach huge audiences.
Newsletters are one of my favorite types of online content marketing because they’re the perfect tool for building relationships. They’re also quite effective in reminding your audience you’re there and want to solve their problems.
What I love about Apartment Therapy’s newsletters is that you can choose twelve different subscription options, according to your needs and likes: organization and cleaning tips and tricks, style and decoration inspo, and even a 6-week lesson on homebuying!
They know their audience perfectly (who doesn’t need some good spring cleaning tips?) and deliver valuable and relevant content that perfectly adapts to their preferences.
As I mentioned, case studies are an amazing tool to convert those leads on the last stage of the Buyer’s Journey. It’s what can make them decide to choose you over other competitors.
Fantasy was given the task of redesigning the MET’s website, and what better way to showcase its new features and style than by letting them be the stars of the show? The site’s images are the focal point of this case study, with only a short accompanying paragraph for each of them.
Each section is simple and to the point. And, if you want to know more about their work, you can click on the CTA at the end of the study. Short and sweet hits the spot with this one!
Well, that’s all for now! I know it was a long read, but I’m sure you learned a thing or two.
I hope I could answer the question “What is content marketing?” effectively with this article. It’s one of the most important marketing strategies you need to implement for your business, so it’s crucial you understand what it entails!
Yes, it can seem daunting, especially since it takes so many forms, and deciding which one will work best implies a lot of research and decision-making. But I promise it’s all worth it in the end!
Whether you go for the DIY approach or enlist the help of a professional agency, it’s time to go out and start working on your content marketing strategy. I’m sure it will be awesome 😀.