Content marketing is central to the success of many digital marketing activities.
At its most basic level, content is all about communicating well with customers.
Normally, communication means words and images, but we can also create audio and video content too. Google ‘sees’ content within images and graphics if they are properly optimized, thereby providing SEO benefits – and the same rule applies to audio and video content too. Whatever media you choose, it is best not to make your messaging too salesy or to send them too frequently, or you run the risk of annoying and alienating your customers.
That explains in a nutshell why content marketing has such a key role to play in your digital marketing strategy – because it provides a digital footprint that will last a long time. Not only that, but it also creates fresh content for your website that you can share through your social media feeds. It can also be distributed via digital advertising and email marketing.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focussed on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
That definition does not offer any surprises – like any form of marketing, content needs to drive sales. The primary purpose of a content marketing strategy is to create meaningful relationships with prospects and customers, in order to provide long term sales opportunities for your organization.
There are many different types of content to consider. Blogs are an obvious and easy option to go for, and videos are becoming increasingly popular too. Newsletters and emails can be a great way to communicate with your target audience on a regular basis. Added value clickbait, such as white papers, offer a perfect opportunity to ask someone to share some details in return for access to content, so you can build a database of potential customers.
Are they a cold suspect, a warm lead, or a hot prospect?
A first-time purchaser, a repeat customer, or a long-term buyer? Are they interested in all your products and services or just one or two of them?
It’s useful to map out a content delivery plan that bears these things in mind. It’s not just about wasting effort. It’s also about getting more personal and developing a trusting relationship with your database.
Of course, content that needs to be signed up for is not visible to search engines, so you need to consider your approach carefully in this regard – if SEO is more important than data, you ought to make the content freely available. That being said, content that comes with a price tends to be more highly valued. You just need to find the right balance for your organization – the great news is that it is easy to test different tactics and quick to change them if they are not working.
Like any marketing strategy, the first step in the process is to understand why you are doing it – this will enable you to establish the business need behind the marketing activity. Questions need to be answered. What problems are you trying to solve? What do you want to achieve? How much are you prepared to invest in? Good quality content takes time and effort to produce. You need to have the resources in place to make sure you can deliver the goods on a regular basis.
The next step in the process is to establish who your target audience is, what types of messages you wish to communicate, which media are the right ones to use to create it in and to promote it through, and how frequently you wish to create content – finding the sweet spot in this regard will always become clearer in the fullness of time.
Defining your target market will require an understanding of their demographics and psychographics, which in turn will enable you to create customer segments and customer personas. Messaging will be determined by whether your audience profile is a prospect or a customer – and where they sit within these two camps.
Content marketing is 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.
Content marketing provides you with the perfect opportunity to tell your brand story too. Do you have a strategic brand proposition in place? These days, more than ever before, people buy into a genuine brand story. With the growth of social media, corporate reputation can be quickly and easily affected by bad customer service, poor product quality, and questionable business practice.
The strategic brand proposition needs to be lived and breathed throughout an organization at every customer touchpoint, and content marketing is one means by which key messages about your organization can be shared with customers in an authentic way so that communications are always engaging, relevant, and useful.
And what is the call to action (CTA)?
The long term goal of a content marketing strategy is to increase sales. That is why a successful content marketing strategy needs to be integrated into nature. It’s a numbers game, of course, so you need to make sure you are getting plenty of leads if you are going to generate plenty of conversions.
A good content marketing strategy is an integrated one, which means all your communications need to be consistent, cohesive, and congruent. Whatever media format you use – be it a blog, social media, newsletter, video, podcast, webinar, or white paper – make sure that it supports the overall strategy.