When we hear the term, ‘content marketing’, our mind immediately races to sensational elements like viral videos, tweets or advertisements that break the Internet. The core meaning of content marketing actually lies in the art of storytelling.
Content Marketing Institute very skillfully defines the term as being ‘a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating valuable and relevant content, distributing it to a specific audience, and, ultimately, driving profitable customer action’. This implies that content marketing is a long-term strategy that seeks to nurture a relationship with customers. So, just a viral post or a groundbreaking blog isn’t going to pass muster. The most accurate meaning of content marketing is the constant and consistent creation of content that represents your brand and, at the same time, staying relevant to your target audience.
There was a time when outbound marketing activities used to be successful (mainly before the internet became so heavily accessible). Now, with changing demographics, your customers might not resonate with content that interrupts them. And that’s what outbound marketing or the more traditional forms of marketing like TV commercials, radio ads, flyers, catalogues etc. is known for doing; it tends to sometimes bombard or interrupt a brand’s audience with content they don’t want or wish for.
This is the era of inbound marketing, which seeks to create value for audiences and understand their needs, and resolve issues. This can be achieved by creating a narrative that is tailored to their requirements or they can relate to.
The Importance of Content Marketing
As the world gets more cacophonous with each passing day, attention and loyalty have become the most valuable assets today. Your brand needs content that interacts with your audiences and has a lasting impact. Content marketing outlines this very process of attracting, engaging and nurturing your target customers by using the right kind of content. This in turn results in higher engagement, better conversations, brand loyalty and, eventually, higher conversion rates.
The key benefits that your brand can reap with strategic content marketing include:
- Saving costs and augmenting sales
- Giving your brand higher visibility in search engines
- Improving brand reputation and customer relationship
- Building a long-lasting and dependable relationship with your customers
Types of content marketing
There are various types of content marketing that you may opt for. A few common ones are listed below:
- Blog content marketing
A blog provides a lot of flexibility in terms of creative direction and topics. Another great thing about blogs is that brands can promote both external and internal content and even add product information to them. Brands can also touch upon social topics and create shareable content while organically promoting their personal content. By adding the option of sharing a blog on social media platforms, brands can ensure more visibility for their online content.
- Social media content marketing
Social media can help you reach countless people across the world. Having a social content strategy not only looks at platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn as distribution channels for your content, but also involves creating and curating content exclusive to those individual platforms. It is about recognizing the needs of the customer and the platform where he or she might be present and engage with them in a language that they understand.
- Video content marketing
Videos are one of the most engaging ways to reach out to customers. According to Wyzowl, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 66% of consumers prefer watching videos to reading about a product. Why are videos so effective? They play with the visual and acoustic parts of a user experience. They communicate the features of the product faster and have higher retention rates. Other benefits include an improved ROI and a more engaging relationship with your target audience. As a brand, you can publish your videos on various social media platforms, website landing pages or even on third-party platforms.
- Podcast content marketing
This trend has only recently gained popularity in the world of social media. In fact, data suggests that podcast listeners have grown by 37.5% in the last three years. Podcasts are accumulating a growing audience and could be an excellent medium for brands to communicate with their leads. Creating your own podcasts can give your brand a creative edge and earn better customer engagement. Brands can pick any topic of their choice and can add value to a podcast by inviting well-known guests to their show. Some interesting podcasts include:
- This Old Marketing
- The GaryVee Podcast
- Marketing School with Neil Patel & Eric Siu
- Advertising is Dead
- Pepper Spotlight
- Infographic content marketing
Infographics make it a lot easier for your customers to understand your business’ more complex aspects like statistics and comparative analysis. In 2020, 67% of B2B marketers used infographics. By complementing infographics with short and crisp textual content, your brand can effectively communicate with target customers. This type of marketing can be advantageous if your brand produces educational content or deals with complex topics.
How to create a content marketing strategy
Once you discover what content marketing means for your brand, you are all set to draw up a plan. The following steps are essential for creating a robust content marketing strategy for your business:
- Set a goal that suits your vision and brand identity
Setting goals is one of the most complicated parts of devising a content marketing strategy. Your marketing goals should complement your campaign goals and align with your company goals as well. For example, creating brand awareness can be an essential goal for a company at all stages. Some more objectives can be to hit a higher conversion rate, boost brand loyalty, attain consumer trust, attract investors or strategic partners, and improve customer engagement. To set concrete goals, remember to add concrete numbers. For instance, instead of ‘high conversion rate’, aim for ‘increasing conversion rate by xx%’. An effective method to set goals is by making sure they are SMART goals:
- Plan your KPIs
Once you have your goals in place, it is crucial to determine the parameters that can help you quantify and measure your success (or failure). With the help of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you can measure your performance and see if you are closer to achieving your goals. For example, brand awareness can be effectively measured by the traffic on a website, the number of followers on social media, the number of monthly subscriptions, etc. For increasing brand loyalty, some KPIs could include the number of recurring customers, referrals, promoters and product reviews.
- Determine the type of content
You now know that there is a variety of content that you can create to communicate with your customers. With an in-depth analysis of your target audience’s traits, you can ascertain the type of content that will resonate with them. Refer to common questions like,
what does your target audience need from your brand?
How can your product/service help them succeed?
What value does your brand add to their life, and who needs it the most?
How and where is your target audience spending their time?
What challenges are they looking to overcome and how can your brand help them?
The answers to these questions will help you to create the right kind of content for your target audience. For instance, if your product is a cloud-based accounting app catering to C-level executives who read a lot of data, perhaps an infographic that elaborates on the adoption of cloud-based services by B2B companies would resonate with your audience. Alternatively, if you’re a B2C make-up brand, perhaps a short video on DIY makeup tips will hit the spot for your chosen target audience.
- Decide on your platforms for launching content
Now that you know how your target audience spends their day, you have to decide on the media through which you will reach them. Content can be marketed on various platforms, so your medium of choice will fundamentally depend on your individual brand goals and target audience traits. Different mediums will help you meet different goals, so do not limit your content to just one marketing platform. Here are a few pointers to help decide the perfect platform for your content:
- Keep in mind the nature of your business: For instance, B2B brands might see more benefit in being on LinkedIn than on Pinterest
- Recreate content as per the platform: You could repurpose a blog post into a carousel on Facebook and Instagram and a video could be split into smaller bites for various platforms.
- Know your audience: From designation to age to geography and interests, knowing your core target audience will help you find the right channels and partnerships, create targeted content and even target your ads properly.
- Know thy platform: Do you know what demographic Facebook caters vs Snapchat? There is a world of difference and as a marketer, you must know where those differences lie.
- Fix a budget that suits your goals
Depending on the type of content you are creating and the platforms you want to launch them on, you can now fix a suitable budget. Your budget will depend on the entire procedure of achieving your goals, starting from conceptualizing and creating content to launching and promoting it. So, check if you need to buy any tools, hire a pool of writers, editors and designers or go for online ads while you create and market your brand content. By considering all such expenses, you can ensure a smooth operation for your content marketing plan. One important aspect to keep in mind is that no budget is static. You need to constantly monitor and reassess your budget basis your ROI. As per a survey conducted by Content Marketing Institute in 2020, nearly half of B2B marketers expect their content marketing budget to increase in 2021.
- Produce and promote your brand content
With a budget in place, you now have to distribute content among your customers. There are three basic channels that marketers can use to promote their content: Owned, Earned, and Paid.
- Owned: Channels owned by you like blog, newsletter, social media.
- Earned: Third-party sites like press coverage, guest articles, product reviews etc.
- Paid: Advertising on various online and offline platforms based on CPC (Cost-Per-Click) model.
An effective distribution strategy is a mix of all these three channels. Many brands use a spray-and-pray approach to content. This is not a strategy!
- Examine and quantify your results
Executing a content marketing strategy is only half of the job. To make it successful, you must analyze and measure your results. This step will help you understand what works for your brand and what does not. Eventually, you can make all the necessary changes in your future strategies. Use your KPIs to understand the results of your content marketing strategies accurately.
How to plan your content production
A robust content production plan is pivotal to any content marketing strategy, regardless of its scale and scope. To reach your customers organically, you need to put out consistent and high-value content, both of which require some degree of meticulous planning. A solid content production plan will ensure that your team has clarity regarding their goals, processes and timelines, and can work seamlessly. The following steps can help you plan your content production in the most efficient way possible:
- Clearly define the goal of your content
Without any unnecessary jargon, define your goals so that everyone, from the writer, the designer, the editor to the website developer can understand the ultimate goal of content creation.
- List down the tasks
Without this, your team is most likely to go haywire with deliverables. By assigning tasks, you set aside time for each step involved. This improves your content quality and results in efficient time management for your team.
- Define all the roles in the content production process
This is an ideal way of avoiding the blame game. Understand how your content will travel from ideation to execution. This will also allow you to understand the sequence of events in the process and enable you to monitor the content creation progress efficiently.
- Add timelines and due dates
There should be a clear content calendar. The calendar will deal with the overall project timeline. Calendars are a great way of boosting productivity. When setting up timelines, always leave room for changes and revisions. If a task takes an hour and 15 minutes, round it up to 1.5 hours to give some breathing space between deadlines. Stay in constant touch with your team. Since they will perform the actual tasks, keep them in the loop and allow them to review the calendar and suggest changes to it.
Content can be the face of your brand. It is the story you tell. By putting in time and effort into your content marketing, you can establish an impactful brand identity and earn your audience’s confidence. So, what are you waiting for?