What is Content Marketing?
What is Content Marketing, exactly?
Content marketing is the creation and dissemination of branded digital content (online material). It differs from public relations and sales in that it does not overtly promote the brand or its products. Yet, content plays an increasingly expanded role in courting the digital consumer. Content marketing aims to identify, speak to, and stimulate the interests of target audiences. Rather than focus on products, it focuses content around consumer desires and identity. Branded content is created around clear guidelines that communicate a company’s character. Companies with clear and consistent brand mission, values, and identity are better trusted by consumers. Content-rich websites increase traffic. They provide material customized to online searches and targeted audiences. Content marketing best practices include evaluating keywords, trending searches, and user behavior. This increases the customer base and generates marketing leads. Ultimately, this contributes to brand recognition and trust. That, in turn, leads to increased sales and a bevy of other benefits.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing has grown incredibly over the past few years, and this growth has been largely driven by customers themselves. An estimated 81 percent of shoppers will research things online before making a purchase. Another 94 percent of B2B customers will conduct research before buying. Other statistics reveal that 67 percent of the buyer journey now takes place digitally.
Customers today are changing. They do not depend on brands anymore to reach out to them and interest them in a product. Instead, they discover they have a problem and go out to see what solutions might exist.
As modern consumers rely increasingly on the Internet to shop and learn about products and services available, brands that do not make the jump to content marketing will be lost in the shuffle.
Who is my target audience?
To successfully run a content marketing campaign, you must first be able to clearly articulate with whom exactly you are speaking. It does not do any good to write what you find interesting, it only matters what your customer wants to read. To know what interests your customers, you must know who they are.
Develop target personas for your audience. This should be basic classifications of your buyers. Use information from past buyers as well as market research to identify three to five types of buyers that are most likely to make a purchase from your brand. Focus on answering questions such as:
- their role in their organization
- their budget
- their reason for needing this item
- the size of their company
This will give you insight into their pain points and what drove them to convert and use your company.
If you do not know the answer to these types of questions, interview your past customers and gain the information you need.
Once you know who you are speaking with, you then need to use this information for keyword research and to find topics most likely to resonate with each persona at each stage of the buyer journey.
How do I create a distribution network?
Now that your content has been developed, you need to focus on getting it in front of the intended audience. Use the information from your buyer personas and determine the platforms they are most likely to employ.
You want to use your content as a means of engaging with your audience. Since the culture and audience generally differs slightly between platforms, it is important to know where the intended audience for a particular piece likes to socialize, and use that platform as your main distribution point and the others as supplements. This will increase your odds of engaging with the right audience.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
Content marketing is distinct from advertising campaigns in that it plays a long game. Its goal is not a specific revenue boost for a product. Your SEO tools provides invaluable insight into what users want. From those keywords and searches, providing quality content will capture the ongoing attention of increased traffic. Content marketing:
- Increases brand visibility and positions brand as a dependable authority.
- Generates more inbound traffic by catering to target audience interests and improves lead generation.
- Content rich websites make visitors more likely to purchase products by keeping them within site. Strategically create links that continue or augment the visitor’s journey.
- Audience-oriented content increases engagement, sharing, and return visits and opens communication with audience and proxy audiences
- Improves brand recognition and deepens familiarity with brand identity (values, mission, and purpose) for a lasting consumer base consumer trust and identification
- Ensures brand and content consistency across platforms, products, departments, and campaigns
- Soft touch points avoid expensive and off-putting hard pitches
- Grows exponentially, providing the framework for organic growth