What is content marketing?
Today, successful marketing strategies require more than pithy catchphrases and sales gimmicks. Consumers want brands that offer interesting content that provides added value. By sharing knowledge about your product or service and your overall sector, you’ll build confidence, attracting new customers and keeping current customers coming back. Also, you can use narratives to build your brand story, enticing customers as well as creating a relationship between you and your target audience. You can achieve this through well-designed content marketing.
Basically, content marketing is, well, marketing your brand, products, or services using content. This can be anything from traditional press releases and print articles to social media posts and podcasts. This requires planning and publishing as well as strategies for distribution and sharing. Content marketing creates another channel for you to target ideal customers, increase brand awareness, engage new and current customers, and promote brand loyalty.
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How does content marketing work?
Effective content marketing provides entertaining and/or informative materials that offers added. Visitors are attracted by the added value or insights within the content, encouraging them to continue interacting with your brand. Hopefully, this leads to new sales and return customers.
For content marketing to work, you need to present the right type of content for specific stages of the sales cycle. What do we mean? Here is an overview of the basic stages:
You want to draw in consumers once they feel like they need a product or service. How can you do this? By offering content that not only shows your expertise and excellence but also your empathy with the choices a consumer has. This can be done through articles, posts, or newsletters that highlight pain points or challenges and how to addresses them. You may want to present your brand at that time, or not.
For example, a travel agency may want to explain what to look for in an all-inclusive resort for families. Or an electronics store may want to suggest the best gadgets for students starting their first year at university.
Comparison and consideration
Now that they know they need a product or service that you offer, you can shift your content to highlight your brand more, while still providing useful or engaging information. These can be checklists or how-to articles or videos or case studies. With this content, you can also pivot the material towards your brand by highlight your offerings as the best choice.
For example, a beach resort may create a how-to on various water activities, highlighting the experiences at their property. Or an interior design firm could provide a list of design mistakes and show their designs in the “do this” examples.
Closing and continuing
Consumers who are interested but who may not quite be there yet or even current customers who may be in the market for other offerings or upgrades from you may be convinced with more “hard sell” content. This involves emphasizing your brand, showing off your expertise as well as the benefits of your products or services. This can extend to after-sales service or other value-adds that may tip the balance in your favor.
For example, a restaurant may want to highlight testimonials from satisfied diners. Or a public relations firm could author a white paper featuring case studies of successful campaigns.
Why is content marketing important?
While the discussion above seems to focus on the sales cycle, there is more to content marketing than just closing sales. There are many benefits, the main ones being:
- Keeping attention: The more interesting content you offer, the more chances to attract and maintain attention, whether it’s on your website or social media accounts. The more time people spend with your content, the better the relationship. As you develop trust and confidence, the more likely you can convert sales and foster brand loyalty.
- More traffic: In addition to the longer visits to your website, sharing your content on social media will encourage sharing (as long as the content is interesting!), which in turn will increase opportunities for more traffic to your website as well as increase followers on social media. These increases will also increase your overall exposure, strengthening your brand awareness.
- Improve search rankings: If you haven’t heard yet, SEO is fundamental for most businesses. Targeted keywords improve your chances of appearing among the first in search results. High-quality content that is relevant and well-written improves your SEO campaigns more than peppering pages with out-of-context keywords or phrases. And you get the added bonus of being considered an expert in your field.
Types of content marketing
Either through your website or social media presence, you can distribute a range of different content to targeted audiences to suit your goals. These could be:
- Blogs or articles are an excellent way to organically improve your SEO rankings. The keywords you want to target are typically those you would include naturally into various articles or blog posts about your product or service. So, you can share information with or entertain visitors while boosting your rankings in search results at the same time.
- Infographics give you the opportunity to present valuable information through attractive graphics that grab attention. They can double as images for your social media posts as the provide easily understood tidbits of knowledge that people will remember and hopefully share, thereby expanding your exposure.
- Videos are fast becoming a preferred way for audiences to consume content. With an both pictures and words at your disposal, you can let your creative juices flow showing off the best of your brand. This could be with how-tos or tutorials as well as more commercial-like content.
- eBooks and whitepapers are longer formats for you to share your insights or information. High-quality reports also add a gravitas to your brand, emphasizing your position as a thought leader. Just make sure that the content is just as well thought out as well!
There are many other types of content marketing that you can utilize including checklists, testimonials, and more. You just need to carefully plan your strategy. The messaging and information you want to convey will help you decide what type of content to use.
How to get started with content marketing
As with any marketing campaign, content marketing requires planning to be successful. And it saves time and money. As we just mentioned, you want to start with setting goals. Do you want to build your reputation as a thought leader? Then you may want to set a schedule of informative articles about your industry. Do you want to improve aftersales service? Perhaps consider a series of tutorials or explainer videos and posts to show how to make the most of your product or service.
With all the choices and channels available to you, the thought of developing a content marketing strategy and plan could be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. IBEX Media Group offers comprehensive marketing services including a wide range of content marketing solutions. If you are interested in setting your brand apart from competitors through clever, insightful content, contact us today!