What is Content Marketing?
Did you know that 71 percent of businesses believe content marketing is critical for growth? From multi-million-dollar organizations to small businesses and startups, everyone seems to be investing in creating and marketing high-quality content.
This makes you wonder why content marketing is so essential for modern businesses. What’s missing from traditional marketing channels that’s forcing companies to change their ways and invest in more interactive content marketing strategies?
If you’re still watching from the sidelines and unsure if content marketing is right for you, this article will answer these questions and more. We’ll define content marketing and its types, explore the content marketing funnel, and look at real-world examples of successful brands using content marketing to grow.
Content Marketing Definition
Content marketing is the act of creating online content that contains valuable information and attracts and educates your audience, while at the same time, increasing organic traffic to your website and building brand awareness for your business and its products. Generally, the content doesn’t directly promote the brand. Instead, it is designed to solve problems and provide helpful information for your target audience. This could be through solving a problem, teaching something valuable, answering questions, addressing pain points, or simply providing entertainment.
The main goal of content marketing is to build your brand authority by sharing valuable, credible, actionable, and great content that fulfills your potential customers’ needs. It assumes that once consumers trust you as an expert because of your content, they’ll gravitate toward your products or services when making a purchase decision.
Content marketing has two primary components: content creation and marketing (promotion). Some of the most popular kinds of content are blog posts, email newsletters, videos, infographics, and case studies.
Once you create the right pieces of content, you’ll need to promote it using channels and strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), social media platforms, and email marketing. As a type of digital marketing, content marketing uses these content types and marketing platforms together in a coordinated way to achieve well-defined business goals.
Unlike traditional advertising and other direct marketing strategies, content marketing takes longer to produce results. That’s because it focuses on driving sales and leads by strengthening your brand image, positioning you as an authority, and building a loyal community and subscriber base for your brand.
Although it’s slower to pay off, content marketing’s returns are sustainable. Every piece of content you publish becomes a permanent brand asset and keeps driving results with minimal additional effort.
Why content marketing is important
Worldwide, consumers are losing confidence in traditional marketing and advertising. A survey of more than 36,000 consumers in 28 countries found that 62 percent of consumers partially or completely distrust ads.
So what do consumers trust?
According to research, 60 percent of consumers feel positive about a brand after consuming its content, while 70 percent learn about brands through online content rather than ads.
This is why 77 percent of marketers believe they’ve significantly increased their brand’s influence and credibility using content marketing in the last 12 months.
These stats don’t mean advertising and traditional marketing channels are ineffective, but complementing them with a content marketing strategy increases engagement with your brand, makes your messaging more credible, and increases the overall effectiveness of all your marketing channels.
The components of content marketing
Content marketing consists of various content types and marketing strategies to communicate your message to the right audience at the right place and at the right time. Let’s briefly discuss the essential components and some examples of content marketing before diving deeper into how it works.
Blogs, articles, and other written content
The written word is still among the most popular online content formats and the primary way search engines process information. This is why blogs, articles, case studies, white papers, and various other types of written content are at the foundation of any good content strategy. It’s important to note, that blogging is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry to attract and educate new customers.
Video is the fastest-growing content format on the internet. According to research, consumers spend more than one billion hours every day watching YouTube videos alone. So, naturally, it is a critical component of any modern content marketing strategy.
Podcasts allow consumers to explore deeper topics and listen to their favorite experts on the go. Their popularity is at an all-time high across the globe. According to research, the number of podcast listeners in the US alone is expected to cross 100 million by 2024.
The primary role of landing pages in a content marketing strategy is to convert traffic from various sources into email subscribers, free users, and leads. Landing pages can also be used to capture leads by including easy-to-fill-out forms that your audience can complete in exchange for viewing or leveraging your content.
Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimization (SEO) is among the primary traffic channels for a content marketing strategy. To ensure your target audience reads and consumes your content, you must optimize it using the right keywords and SEO best practices.
One of the primary goals of your content is to drive traffic to your landing pages where your visitors sign up for your email list. This gives you unlimited access to your audience and allows you to send targeted email content to increase brand engagement, answer questions, counter objections, and ultimately convert leads into paying customers. Today’s email marketing and marketing automation solutions let you easily segment your prospects and customers and send them personalised, automated emails that contain relevant content and help them along their buyer’s journey.
Social media is another critical channel for promoting your content. The most popular social networks are TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. A successful social media strategy, by definition, doesn’t have to target all of these. To find success, you must identify the social networks your audience uses and create the kind of content that when tailored to their needs and interests will help increase their engagement with your brand.
How content marketing works
When done well, content marketing generates demand, engages your audience, and converts it into customers and brand loyalists. But to make this happen, you must understand how the content marketing funnel works.
A content marketing funnel is a multi-stage process that uses different types of content to attract, educate, engage, and convert your audience into customers. Each stage of the funnel addresses a different need and prepares your audience for the next one.
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
This stage of the content marketing funnel is about creating brand awareness and generating traffic. Its goal is to attract relevant traffic to your website and landing pages and position your brand as a source of valuable content. It does so by identifying the most common questions your audience has and answering them through detailed, credible, actionable, and high-quality content.
Here are a few examples of TOFU content topics for an email marketing tool:
- What is email marketing?
- How to create an email marketing strategy?
- How to write an email
- What is email automation?
- How to grow your email list
- Email marketing best practices
As you can see, none of those topics directly sells any services or products Instead, they focus on sharing value and free information. Blog posts, social media content, and videos are the most commonly used TOFU content types.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
This stage of the funnel emphasizes the relationship between your audience’s goals and your product. It provides your audience with a glimpse of what your product can do without being overly promotional.
Here are a few content examples for this funnel stage for an email marketing tool:
- How to create a landing page
- How to create an email automation sequence
- How to send the perfect welcome email sequence
- Step-by-step email marketing strategy guide
Here, your content will educate your audience using your product as its primary tool. You can use webinars, blog posts, video tutorials, landing pages, demos, emails, and PDF ebooks in this funnel stage.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
Bottom-of-the-funnel content is about positioning your products or services as the best option and driving sales. To do this, content marketers must clearly show their product’s benefits and how it solves their audience’s problems more efficiently and cost-effectively.
In this funnel stage, you’ll rely on product comparison, reviews, testimonials, case studies, and sales landing pages for conversions.
What are the Benefits of Content Marketing?
Content marketing benefits your business in numerous ways, from building brand authority to reducing your reliance on paid advertising.
Content marketing benefit #1: build brand authority
Businesses can use content marketing to build authority in their industry. By producing content using the expertise, data, and knowledge a business possesses, it can position itself as an expert in its sector.
Accounting firm PwC does this at a high level. For example, it recently released the “Global Crisis Survey 2021”. In this report, the firm interviewed a range of global business leaders and produced a variety of content, including blog posts, videos, quizzes, and a PDF. This type of content enhances PwC’s brand authority in the eyes of the public and across a range of business sectors.
Content marketing benefit #2: grow organic search traffic
People often use content marketing for its SEO benefits. By creating blog posts or web pages that answer common search queries related to your product, you’ll show up in search engines when people are looking for solutions you offer.
Look at what happens when you search for “How to meditate” on Google. One of the top links is a meditation guide written by Headspace, a meditation app.
When people click on the link, they do not only get a handy guide to meditation, but they also become aware of Headspace. In the future, if they decide to continue their meditation journey, they may remember Headspace and download the app.
Content marketing benefit #3: generate qualified leads
Content marketing is among the most effective ways to generate qualified leads for your business. The most common lead-generation strategy is to offer a lead magnet in exchange for a user’s email address. A lead magnet is a compelling free resource that provides immediate value to your website visitors and converts them into leads and subscribers.
To use content to build leads, the material should be valuable enough for customers to want to give you their contact details. Usually, this means it’s more in-depth than regular blog posts or articles. Other lead magnet examples include software trials, video tutorials, checklists, cheat sheets, templates, and free consultations.
Content marketing benefit #4: build a community
Publishing high-quality content that solves problems for readers helps you build a strong relationship with your audience and stand out in your industry. As a result, your audience becomes your brand advocate, actively shares your content, drives more traffic to your site, and brings referral sales through word-of-mouth marketing.
Content marketing benefit #5: grow your email subscriber base
Email subscribers are among your company’s most valuable assets. An email list gives you unlimited access to your followers’ inboxes and allows you to strengthen your relationship with them and drive repeat sales.
But building an engaged email subscriber base is only possible with coordinated content marketing efforts. Consumers rarely share their contact information without good reason. So, when you provide them with a free resource that offers immense value and solves their problems, it’s much easier to get them on board.
Content marketing benefit #6: reduce reliance on paid marketing
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising helps you drive sales immediately. But it only works as long as you invest money in running ad campaigns. The moment you stop your ad campaigns, the results dry up.
Content marketing is the complete opposite. It takes time to create content, rank for your target keywords, build brand awareness, and grow your email list. But once you do it, the results keep coming even if you don’t create new content as frequently.
In other words, your content becomes a permanent asset that keeps driving traffic and converting visitors into subscribers, leads, and customers. It perfectly complements your direct marketing and sales channels and reduces your reliance on paid advertising.
Content marketing examples
Thousands of startups, small businesses, and multinational brands use content marketing to attract new visitors, create brand awareness, and drive sales. Let’s look at some excellent content marketing examples of successful brands.
Buffer, a social media marketing tool, is an excellent example of how content marketing can help businesses with limited resources grow, scale, and compete with much larger companies.
Buffer is a startup dominating some of the highest volume search keywords in social media marketing. Its success is based on its outstanding and in-depth blog content that shares practical advice with its users and helps them grow their businesses.
Buffer’s content has built its authority and helped it attract thousands of users and email subscribers.
Ahrefs is a leading SEO and market research tool that ranks for some of the most competitive SEO and online marketing keywords thanks to its high-quality content.
Besides its excellent and in-depth blog content, Ahrefs has published numerous guides and has a buzzing YouTube channel with detailed product tutorials and informational content.
ClickUp is a leading project management tool that has successfully used its blog and YouTube content to build a massive following. Its content not only shares practical information and product tips but also regularly covers entertaining topics with a project management angle.
Now is the time to invest in content marketing
Content marketing is the most sustainable way to build an authentic brand image. So, if you haven’t invested in content marketing yet, now is the time to do it. With every passing day, the competition is getting tighter.
Learn more about Content Marketing:
Big results. Small investment.
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