What is Content Marketing? (And Why You Need It)

Cartoon of octopus using multiple types of content marketing. Variety is the spice of life
What is content marketing
What is content marketing?

You’ve got a wonderful business, a product you know people will love, and now you’re trying to get customers to buy it. By this point you’ve probably already scoured the internet looking for resources on how best to market your business… and you might be finding a lot of conflicting information. 

All this talk of integrated marketing, business plans, social media, content marketing; where do you even start?!

Well I’m an SEO copywriter and content writer, and with a title like ‘What Is Content Marketing?’ I think you might be able to guess what I’m going to say next.

Yep, I’m a content marketing fanatic. Not just because it’s my job, but because it works. I’ve seen first-hand what it can do for a business and I’d love for you to see what it can do for you too.

But first thing’s first, what is content marketing?

At the end of the day, it’s not enough to simply know what content marketing is, you’ve also got to understand how to use it.

What is Content Marketing?

You’ve probably been reading brand content for years. In fact, you’re doing it right now! Most of the information that you find online – including this article right here – is part of a content marketing strategy. 

But don’t feel betrayed. 

While it’s true that online content is designed to boost sales, it doesn’t make the information any less reliable. In fact, most content is written by (or in conjunction with) an expert in the field who genuinely wants to offer beneficial information and advice to their readers. 

Sharing misinformation or low quality content is a bad look for a brand, so you can usually trust that professionally written content will be legitimate.

Now let’s get this clear. Content marketing is not advertising. It’s an indirect form of marketing designed to educate, entertain and engage your target audience. This allows you to develop brand awareness and build a relationship of trust.

While traditional advertising is usually very clear in its goal to make sales, content marketing is more subtle in its approach.

Content marketing comes in many forms, from blog articles and ebooks, to webinars and infographics. Pretty much everything that’s connected to a brand (that isn’t overtly selling anything) is content marketing. 

How Does Content Marketing Work?

In a world that’s constantly connected to the internet, where any question can be answered in a heartbeat, it pays to be the person with all the answers. 

Let’s say there’s a potential customer who has a problem that he’s looking to solve. Who do you suppose that person is more likely to go to: the brand that tried to cram advertisements down his throat? Or the brand that gave good, usable, relevant information in his time of need?

That’s what makes content marketing so powerful. 

By knowing what questions your target market has, and what problems they need solved, you can turn yourself into a valuable source of information without coming off as too ‘salesy‘. 

But be warned.

Content marketing is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. You’re unlikely to see instant results, but if you’re consistent and patient, you’ll start to see massive leaps in visibility over time. The benefits of content marketing tend to be compounding, until eventually your success is generating more success. 

Cartoon: Content Marketing is not a get rich quick scheme
Content marketing is not a get rich quick scheme.

Traditional marketing still has its place in your marketing strategy, but it’s far less effective than it used to be. It’s content marketing that paves the way of the future.

These days customers want to be informed and to feel like they can engage with the brands they buy from. By offering quality content, and encouraging engagement on social media platforms, you can build trust with your audience and ensure that your customers come to you when they want to learn about your industry. 

The more helpful you are, the more that people will trust you, and the more they trust you, the more inclined they’ll be to buy from you.

Content is used to keep a brand top-of-mind for their target audience. This is why you need a consistent content marketing strategy that’s constantly generating more content for your ideal customers to engage with.

Top Tips For Content Marketing

Here are some of the best ways to help you achieve more success with content marketing. 

. Use Evergreen Content

Evergreen content has a long shelf-life. It deals with information and questions that will be relevant to your target market whether they’re reading it today, or five years from now. Think of the questions people will always need answered and try to base your content around these questions.

While you may need to update the content with new links, statistics and relevant information on occasion, overall the majority of the content will remain relevant. 

Long form content works great as evergreen content as you can supply a lot of useful information and include a lot of keywords without appearing to be keyword stuffing. Some great examples of evergreen content include:

. Listicles
. How To’s
. Top Tips
. Interviews
. Case Studies

When it comes to your content, a good rule of thumb is to produce 80% evergreen content and 20% timely content. Timely content has a shorter shelf-life, but is highly relevant in the short term. 

. Develop an Integrated Marketing Plan

Statistics have shown that it takes roughly 5-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand. And that doesn’t even guarantee that the memory will be a positive one! So if you want to make a lasting and positive impression on your target market, you need to start with a strong integrated marketing strategy that’s backed by equally strong content. 

Integrated marketing involves using multiple platforms to target and engage your audience. Knowing what platforms to use is tricky, and will involve a lot of market research. Obviously you don’t want to waste time on platforms that your target market doesn’t use, so get to know your audience, find out about their habits, their interests and what social media platforms they’re using. 

The most successful content marketers use integrated marketing to spread their message to more people, and retarget ideal clients across multiple platforms. 

Retargeting:

Imagine that a person visits your website looking for information on how to get pet stains out of the carpet. As it happens, you’ve got an article based on exactly this topic, and it’s filled with fantastic tips and tricks for removing stains. 

Sure, you might have a couple of internal links to products within the article, but you can’t rely on those to convert your readers into customers. Eventually the visitor finishes reading and moves on. 

But that doesn’t need to be the end of your story, because you’ve installed a Facebook ‘pixel’ on your site. The next time they log into their Facebook, they find your ad for a carpet shampooer specifically designed for hard to remove pet stains. 

They click on the ad, ‘wow, a carpet shampooer would make life SO much easier’ they think, and boom! Congratulations, you’ve made a sale.

Retargeting is a great way of getting your content working for you, and with the use of an integrated marketing strategy, it can be a very compelling method of advertising.  

Variety:

They say variety is the spice of life, and that shouldn’t change for your content marketing strategy. While your target market may have similar interests, every person is different in how they like to digest information. Some people like infographics, others like to read, while still others like videos or podcasts. 

By offering content in a variety of formats, you can recycle your content to attract more members of your target market.

Cartoon of octopus using multiple types of content marketing. Variety is the spice of life
Make sure you’re offering different types of content.

Repurpose your content:

It can be difficult coming up with new content ideas. You can reduce your workload by repurposing or updating old content

But take care. Your recycled content needs to remain relevant and useful to your target market or it’s a waste of your time. 

SEO:

You didn’t think you could get this far without our old friend ‘search engine optimisation’, did you? I’m sorry if you got your hopes up, but you and I both know how important SEO is for a website. 

Before you start creating your content, you need to do keyword research. While many people don’t bother with SEO, it doesn’t take a huge amount of extra work to find out what words people are searching online. 

With every piece of SEO content you write, you’re improving your chances of people finding your business online. Don’t neglect SEO when it comes to to content marketing. It’s all well and good to have fantastic content, but if people can’t find it, there’s no real point in having it. 

Does You Business Need a Content Marketing Strategy?

Let’s get right down to it. Every business can benefit from content marketing, as long as it’s done right. 

A study by Hubspot found that businesses who uploaded 16 or more posts per month received an average of 3.5x more traffic than businesses that posted fewer than 4 times per month. It was also found that companies who prioritised blogging were 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI

Should I Outsource My Content Marketing?

This is entirely up to you. 

If you don’t have the knowledge, the skills, or the time to be managing a successful content marketing strategy, then perhaps you should think about outsourcing. By hiring a professional, you’re ensuring that your marketing strategy is in the best hands possible, and that you’ll receive the best advice.

Don’t think of outsourcing your content marketing as a cost. Instead, think of it as an investment. Hire the right person and your results will more than pay for the fee of hiring a professional.

A digital marketing agency can help you develop the content marketing strategies you need to grow your business, while a content writer can help you write the content that brings your marketing strategy together. 

If you want to build brand awareness through social media, you might wish to consider hiring a social media manager who can plan your social media strategy, as well as post and engage with your target market.

Can You Do Your Own Content Marketing?

Of course you can! But be aware that content marketing can be time consuming, difficult, and exhausting, and you may never see quite the success that a professional would be able to achieve. There’s many things to consider when managing your own content marketing strategy:

  • Platform: Which platforms do you want to share your content on? What platforms do your target market spend most of their time on?

  • Audience: Who is your target audience and what information would they want to know?

  • Frequency: How often will you blog/post?

  • SEO: What keywords do you want to target? Make sure to learn best SEO practices if you want the best ROI.

  • Content Ideas: How will you come up with content ideas? How will you track them? How will you organise what content you’ll write and when?

  • Time: Be realistic. Do you have the time to do your own content marketing?

  • Skill: Be honest. Are you a decent writer/designer/video-maker-person? Do you have a staff member who might be able to manage your blog and content creation better than you could? Or do you need a professional?

  • Analytics and KPIs: How will you track and measure your success? What KPIs will you use to determine whether your content marketing strategy is a success or a failure? 

It’s your choice whether you want to set aside the time every day to manage your own content marketing, or if you’d rather budget for someone to do it for you. 

Take an honest and realistic look at your own skills, interests and time constrictions before you decide.

Every Business Can Benefit From Content Marketing

Cartoon of cheetah beating tortoise and snail in a race.
You competition will be eating your dust once you develop a strong content marketing strategy.

Every year the world becomes just a little more digital. In this new world, businesses that know how to adapt to a rapidly changing world will thrive, while those who can’t develop their digital presence will be left behind. 

Take a look at some of the biggest brands and you’ll see a rapid shift away from traditional marketing in favour of content marketing. Brands like Coca Cola, Dominos, Red Bull and more, look more like media outlets than retailers these days as they pour more and more money and resources into content. 

Many professional journalists are moving away from traditional media entirely, realising that the opportunities are better and the future brighter in content marketing. 

On an endless march towards a digital world, the sooner you can develop a content strategy of your own, the better it will be for your business. The further ahead you can get today, the harder it will be for your competition to catch up later. 

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Need help writing content for your business? Contact me today to organise your free briefing session where we can discuss what I can do for you.

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