Written by: Alisha Shibli
Like many other organizations, your business is most likely wrestling with a convergence of changes that are challenging the tactics you always used to communicate with prospects and customers.
Growing demographic diversity, the influx of interactive technologies, and evolving media consumption habits have altered how users consume information and how they perceive branded communication.
As you grapple with how to effectively speak with today’s consumer, you’ve likely heard about ‘content marketing’. Maybe you’ve read about it in passing or one of your employees or consultants suggested it to you. Now it seems like an opportunity worth exploring. But before you get started, you need to learn more. What is content marketing anyway? Is it a fad? Does it actually mean anything, or is it just another brick in the wall? Does it have the potential to achieve your objectives? And if so, how?
This article solves the mystery that content marketing is in three-folds.
- First, we understand what content marketing is
- Second, we understand why it should be a part of your marketing strategy
- Third, we understand how to get started with it
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as…
…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Firstly, one of the most important bits of this definition is that content marketing is a strategic marketing approach. It’s not about haphazardly sharing content, but having a clear sense of what you need to accomplish and how your content is supposed to help you move up in achieving your objectives of digital marketing strategy.
Secondly, the content you share must provide value to a clearly defined audience. The key is to focus on the audience’s psychographics more than their demographics. What are the interests, concerns, pain points, questions of your prospects? How does your product/service help them solve their problems? Do you have an expertise that is of use to them? What kind of content can you distribute that can not only provide value to your reader but also entertain or engage them in a meaningful way?
Thirdly, your content must be consistent, relevant and valuable to your audience.
Consistent – high-quality content delivered regularly over a period makes you recognizable. Your look, feel, voice, tone, and most importantly, the substance should speak with the consumers in the same voice that helps them know and grow familiar with your organization.
Relevant – your content must answer your reader’s questions. Be that expert whose advice and knowledge they trust. Through your writing, show them that you understand what’s important and that you’ve been there, done that.
Valuable – the people who consume your content must get something worthwhile out of it. They should go away feeling like they’ve learned something or that they were entertained or moved in a way that resonates with them.
Finally, a well-planned content marketing strategy drives profitable customer action. Folks want to do business with organizations that understand “people like me”. They trust word-of-mouth, so when a friend or someone influential shares content of a brand through social media, the message holds certain credibility. Content marketing allows you to earn that credibility by sharing messages that show how your product/service can make a difference to in the lives of your prospects.
This is where it gets fun–it’s not just about sharing your content. To stand out, you can take it a notch up by branding your shared links. For example, if you’re a website owner talking about the Air Jordan sneakers, then the blog link you share on your social feeds can be sneaker.store/airjordan. A short link such as this brands not only your website, it communicates what your link will talk about if someone clicks on it. Small tactics such as this help not only your content marketing but also your business overall.
Why is content marketing important?
Let’s understand this from three different perspectives.
Why is content marketing important to consumers?
Today’s consumers have a grand appetite for valuable content, but they are also resistant to the so-called ‘hard-sell’. Majority of buyers research the product/service online before buying it. They study the specifications, look at the competition, compare prices and features; before swiping the card.
People are looking for good content that makes it easier for them to make decisions. However, they are resistant to traditional advertising and old-school tactics. Today’s consumer is a lot more receptive to know about the brand and its offering through an informative article.
Let’s take Exabytes for an example. When we launch the new WordPress hosting, we have a different customer base to inform: in which they all range from different understanding about the new WordPress. Hence, we choose to nurture with information for beginner and experts, so they can understand the differences and the service better. It works perfectly well for content in the website, blog, newsletter and other mediums.
Why content marketing matters to search engines?
The first-place customers turn to when looking for answers is the search engine. Therefore, sometimes one of your best chances to get discovered is to be there when they Google about your offering. In fact, if you’re reading about content marketing, chances are you already have an SEO (search engine optimization) plan in place. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms that they use to crawl the web looking for relevant content to share.
With every update, Google rewards good quality and punishes low quality. And what is quality for Google? High-quality content is one of the aspects. So, sharing fresh, relevant and valuable articles consistently along with updating your existing content can help you maintain a positive image in front of the search engine.
Why content marketing matters to businesses?
Effective content can help you build strong customer relationships while avoiding the less-effective ‘hard sell’ techniques. It showcases your expertise on the subject matter and gains the trust of your consumers by highlighting topics that affect them. Well-crafted content that is engaging can drive organic traffic to your website and social media accounts, boost your search performance and gives the audience an opportunity to share it with their network.
Getting started with content marketing
While marketers recognize the importance of content, most of them are shooting in the dark without a strong strategy. Businesses tend to confuse content marketing with just publishing blog posts. What they fail to understand is that it needs to be fully integrated into their marketing communication strategy.
So, how do you build a content marketing strategy that helps your business? These five steps can get you started in the right direction.
- Planning– Outline the objectives your organization is trying to achieve. Then determine what role will content play in meeting them. How will content marketing help complement other marketing activities such as sales, promotions, advertising, etc?
- Audience – Do you have a single audience group, or do you have multiple segments that need to be addressed differently? Are there any matching interests or concerns that you can resolve?
- Content development– The key to great content is to know what you want to communicate before you start writing. Maintain a consistent tone that represents your values and expertise. Create your content keeping your audience, search engine and your business objectives in mind.
- Implement – How do you plan to distribute your content? Will you start a blog? If yes, what topics will be covered and how often will it be updated? Having a content calendar with a regular schedule helps establish familiarity with your audience.
- Monitor results– Pay attention to the impact your content is creating on the readers and your search engine rankings. Is your content engaging enough? Do your social posts have likes, shares, comments? What are the comments like—positive or negative?
By tracking results, you will be able to get insights into how your audience is consuming and responding to your content. It will give you the data to improve and alter your content marketing strategy, which gives you the opportunity to improve your results over time.