What Is Content Marketing And Why Every Business Should Focus On It

Introduction

Marketing is a crucial component for the survival of any organization, irrespective of its size and niche. However, the entire landscape of marketing has witnessed a drastic change over the years. It is no longer enough for businesses to reach out to their target audience using television commercials, radio ads, print ads, etc. Additionally, this form of outbound advertising is often perceived as intrusive and less credible.

This has made it essential for brands to attract their potential customers using the right tools. Instead of blowing your own trumpet, let your audience discover your brand and learn more about your products or services. This is also known as inbound marketing, which is a form of advertising that helps you win the trust of your audience and gives you an edge over your competitors.

Moreover, you can’t achieve all your marketing goals just by focusing on offline channels. The proliferation of the Internet and social media has also made it crucial for brands to have a powerful online presence. How do you make your brand relevant when every other business is fighting for the limelight? The most effective answer is content marketing.

Content marketing is a weapon that can empower your business to connect with a massive audience and win them over. When executed correctly, your content marketing strategy also helps you build an army of loyal brand advocates. This can go a long way to build your brand and establish it as an industry authority.

Unless you are a marketing novice, you are likely already familiar with the basics of content marketing. However, as more marketers and business owners realize the importance of content marketing, it is becoming crucial to adopt new-age tactics. It is the only way to cut through the noise of mediocre content and grab the attention of your target audience.

In this guide, we will discuss the process of creating and distributing high-quality content. But before we delve deeper, let’s first understand what content marketing is all about.

Decoding Content Marketing

To understand content marketing, it is important that we define what the term content implies. In simple terms, content is any form of communication that you use to connect with your target audience. It can be a simple infographic, a witty meme, a compelling video, or a comprehensive blog post. We will take a deeper dive at the different types of content later in this blog.

Content marketing refers to the use of any form of content to promote your business and achieve your marketing goals. It is not just about creating and publishing lengthy blog posts or attractive videos. Effective content marketing requires a concrete strategy. In the absence of a cohesive strategy, you will likely be shooting in the dark.

Content marketing can be broadly divided into two processes – content creation and distribution. High-quality content is the foundation stone of every content marketing strategy. You should have a deep understanding of your marketing goals and target audience. This will help you develop content that strikes the right chord with your potential customers.

Once you have published new content, it is time for you to promote it using the right distribution channels actively. You can use various social media platforms, audio streaming platforms, video streaming platforms, etc. The choice of distribution channel depends on where your target audience will likely be active.

Another critical step, which is often ignored, is to analyze the performance of your content and measure its success. This helps you calculate the ROI of your content marketing strategy and determine whether your marketing objective was fulfilled.

Image via Content Harmony

Most digital marketers and business owners have likely tried their hands at content marketing. It has grown to become an indispensable part of a successful marketing strategy. This has also resulted in cut-throat competition in every niche. Therefore, if you want to make the most out of content marketing, you must develop an actionable plan and meticulously execute it.

It is imperative to understand that the results of content marketing aren’t often instantaneous. It can take a while before your efforts start paying off. But once it gains the required momentum, your content marketing strategy becomes self-sustaining and offers a plethora of long-term benefits.

Are you still wondering whether content marketing is the right fit for your business? Let us take a look at a few statistics.

Potential of Content Marketing

There is no doubt that content creation and distribution is one of the most sought-after marketing techniques. It becomes even more crucial when you realize that there are 4.33 billion active internet users in the world at present. This means more than half of the global population regularly uses the internet and social media. Your potential customers likely belong to this section.

Image via Statista

Moreover, 28% of American adults claim that they remain online almost always. The best way to capture the attention of today’s internet-savvy population is to publish relevant, useful, and attractive content. It is not surprising that 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers already use content marketing. Additionally, 60% of B2C marketers claim that their organization is committed to content marketing.

It is also worth mentioning that 96% of the most successful B2B marketers agree that content marketing boosts brand trust and credibility. Additionally, they claim to have achieved various other goals, such as increased brand awareness, lead generation, and improved sales.

Do note that not all businesses have a well-documented content marketing strategy.

As more brands integrate content marketing with their existing advertising strategies, marketers realize the importance of developing a strategy. 64% of marketers claim that one of their greatest educational needs is to learn to build a scalable content strategy.

Moreover, brands often find it challenging to measure the ROI and overall success of their content marketing strategy. In 2018, only 43% of B2C marketers and 35% of B2B marketers claimed to have measured their content marketing ROI. Many of them agree that they need to find an easier way to calculate ROI.

Content marketing, when properly leveraged, can offer numerous benefits to your business. From building brand awareness to increasing customer retention – great content helps you achieve your objective. The above-mentioned statistics clearly establish this.

However, instead of treading aimlessly, you should outline a clear strategy and execute it. It is equally important to analyze the performance of your strategy and measure its outcome.

Are you still in two minds about creating your content marketing strategy? A look at some of its lucrative benefits might help convince you.

The Importance of Content Marketing

Content marketing is no longer a novelty that is being used by a few brands. It has become the norm. Every business, however big or small, is investing time, capital, and efforts to develop and promote insightful content.

Why is there such a hullabaloo about content marketing? Is it even worth the hype? Let us find out by taking a closer look at its advantages.

1. Increased Reach and Awareness

Content marketing helps you reach your target audience where will likely be available – on the internet and social media. Using the right distribution channels can take your content far and wide, beyond the scope of traditional marketing. It is, however, crucial to publish your content at a time when your audience will likely be active.

You also get to educate your audience about your brand without using overly self-promotional gimmicks. If a reader enjoys your blog post and finds it useful, they might be tempted to check out your products. This is what sets content marketing apart from conventional outbound advertising.

Moreover, when someone likes your content, they will likely share it in their own networks. This widens your reach even further and in turn, boosts brand awareness. If your content becomes viral, your brand gets immense organic visibility without ever resorting to any promotional tactics. This, in turn, increases brand exposure and helps you connect with a large number of potential customers.

2. Easy Shareability

Let’s say you spend money and create a glamorous television commercial. Even if it manages to attract some of your audience members, there is no way for them to share the content further. On the other hand, digital content facilitated shareability. If your audience finds a useful infographic, they can email it to their colleagues or share it on social media.

This ease of shareability makes content marketing more relevant and essential in today’s day and age. Social media, email, video streaming platforms, etc. have made it extremely easy for internet users to share content. As long as you create meticulous content, it will likely be shared and even become viral. This, in turn, boosts brand awareness further.

3. Brand Authority and Reputation

When you regularly publish unique, insightful, and thought-provoking content, your audience starts perceiving you as an industry expert. This is extremely helpful in establishing your brand as an authority in your niche. Consequently, it reinforces brand reputation and encourages potential customers to purchase from you.

Apart from strengthening your reputation, this also gives you an edge over your competitors. When your brand becomes an authority figure, your audience will likely purchase from you, even if your competitor offers a lower price. It is because they consider you to be a valuable and trusted source of information.

4. Increased Audience Engagement

It is not enough to just reach out to your target audience. You have to ensure that they remain hooked to your brand. One of the most straight-forward ways of accomplishing this is to interact with them using high-quality content. In addition to improving audience engagement, it helps you gain a better understanding of your potential customers.

Let’s say you create a narrative-based video and share it on your social media profiles. This type of content will engage your audience better than a branded marketing video. They will likely share it and even leave their comments. Taking a look at the comments section will help you understand how they are reacting to your content and what they expect from you.

5. Improved Trust and Loyalty

If your brand earns the reputation of an authority figure, you can win the trust of your target audience. They perceive you as a brand that isn’t only concerned about meeting revenue targets. Instead, they consider you to be a brand that values its customers and wants to create the best experience for them.

Consequently, your existing and potential customers keep coming back to you for more valuable content. This, in turn, boosts customer loyalty and helps you develop an army of brand advocates. It can go a long way to enhance brand awareness further and strengthen brand reputation.

6. Increased Customer Retention

Do you often wonder why some customers never return to you after making their first purchase? It could be due to various reasons – unsatisfactory buying experience, poor customer service, lack of follow-up, etc. However, one way to keep them coming back is to publish unique content. While promotional offers and coupons may not tempt them, fresh content that strikes the right chord will bring them back.

This is the strategy that was used by Tiger Fitness to achieve a 60% returning customer rate. The online health supplement retailer leveraged the power of video content to connect with its target audience and win over its competitors.

7. Organic Website Traffic

Website owners have been levering content marketing for years to get high-quality organic website traffic. This is because publishing original and insightful content boosts your website’s search engine ranking. Search engines strive to deliver the best search experience to their users. When you consistently publish quality content, they take this as a sign of authority and trustworthiness.

Consequently, they reward your website with a higher search engine ranking. This gives increased visibility to key web pages on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs). This drives more organic traffic to your website and increases brand awareness even further. That is why content marketing is an integral part of every Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.

8. Lead Generation

Attracting a large number of blog readers won’t yield any results unless you can convert them into qualified leads. High-quality content in the form of a lead magnet helps you lure your audience to submit their contact details. Once you have access to some leads, you can tempt them further with personalized content and offers. We will discuss more about lead magnets and their usage later in this blog.

9. Increased Conversions and Revenue

The goal of every business is to drive conversions, increase sales, and earn more revenue. A well-thought-out content marketing strategy helps convert your audience members into paying customers. This is because content marketing strengthens brand reputation and wins the trust of your audience. Consequently, they are more likely to shell out their hard-earned money to buy your products.

10. High ROI

Dissenters of content marketing often argue that it is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort. Moreover, it may take awhile before you start seeing any noticeable results. Why is content marketing still preferred by so many digital marketers and brands? It is because, when executed correctly, content marketing has the potential to offer an extremely high ROI.

The resources required for content creation are often less compared to those required for television commercials or radio ads. Moreover, digital content has a longer shelf life than traditional advertising. For instance, once you publish an infographic on Facebook, it is going to remain there forever. If your audience likes it, they will share it further, making it viral.

It is also worth knowing beforehand that the distribution channels used for content marketing are more cost-effective. Organic reach on social media and search engines doesn’t cost you any money. Even if you leverage paid advertising channels like Facebook Ads or Google Ads, the overall cost is less than that of traditional media. This goes on to improve the ROI of content marketing even further.

While it may take time to yield results, content marketing proves to be highly cost-effective in the long run. Additionally, once you have published a piece of content, you can repurpose it in other forms on various channels.

Content marketing has revolutionized the way brands perceive advertising. The initial cost and time involved are acceptable, considering its long-term benefits. It is becoming increasingly crucial for brands to develop a content marketing strategy if they don’t have one already.

In the following sections, we will go through the steps to develop a solid content marketing strategy.

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing can be broadly broken down into the following steps – creation, distribution, and measurement. Before you get started, you should have a clear understanding of your goals and audience. Additionally, you should outline a content calendar that will help you consistently publish quality content.

Here are the steps to create a content marketing strategy:

1. Define Your Marketing Objectives

Every marketing strategy is built on the foundation of a clear set of goals. Content marketing isn’t an exception. If you wish to build your brand and make it successful with content marketing, you must outline your goals at the onset.

Do you want to increase your reach on social media? Do you want to attract more organic website traffic? Perhaps you are looking to generate leads and drive conversions? Your end goal will determine the type of content you create and the marketing channels you use.

Here are a few goals that you can choose from:

  • Boost brand awareness on social media
  • Improve search engine ranking
  • Increase organic website traffic
  • Improve audience engagement on social media
  • Generate qualified leads
  • Increase sales and revenue

2. Set Clear KPIs

Once you have outlined your goals, it is time for you to assign KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to each one of them. KPIs are metrics or milestones that help you determine whether a particular goal has been achieved. This, in turn, helps measure the ROI and determine the success of your content marketing strategy.

Depending on your marketing objective, you can assign KPIs such as:

  • Get a particular number of social media followers
  • Achieve a higher search engine ranking for important web pages
  • Hit a certain percentage of increase in website traffic
  • Get a certain amount of likes, comments, and shares on social media
  • Receive a specific number of new email signups every month
  • Hit a monthly, quarterly or yearly revenue target

3. Allocate Your Budget

Depending on the content you want to create, you will have to spend some amount of money. You need capital to produce high-quality videos. Likewise, you need a resource person to write blogs or design infographics. You may even have to use paid versions of a few content marketing tools.

Therefore, it is recommended that you set aside a specific budget to execute your content marketing strategy. Be realistic and allocate a budget that will let you achieve your objectives.

4. Audit Your Existing Content

Before you embark on the strenuous journey of creating new content, take a closer look at the content you have already created. Analyze the performance of your content across all channels, such as website, social media, email, etc. Find those pieces of content that received maximum reach and engagement.

Take a look at the content that performed well. Will it be relevant to your audience one year down the line? If yes, then you can repurpose it in some other form. Likewise, you should analyze whether the existing content can help you meet your marketing objectives.

In a content audit, you determine what worked in your favor and what didn’t. Identify content gaps (if any) and figure out how you can overcome them. This, in turn, will help you understand whether you should continue on the same path or go for a complete overhaul.

At this stage, you should also update your existing content. Check for any case studies, examples, and statistics that are no longer relevant. Replace them with the latest data to ensure that they remain valuable for your audience.

5. Know Your Audience

The fate of your content marketing strategy depends on your ability to create consumable content. The only way to ensure that your content is well-received by your audience is to develop a clear understanding of your audience. Otherwise, your brand will get drowned in the ocean of generic content.

Don’t limit yourself to the basic knowledge of their age, gender, profession, location, etc. Dig deeper to find out their aspirations and pain points. Gather as much data as you can about their needs, preferences, likes, and dislikes. This can help you come up with content ideas that will truly resonate with your audience.

Additionally, you should have a lucid understanding of their online behavior. When do they usually access the internet? What platforms do they use to find and consume new content? Are they more likely to use devices with virtual assistants? All this information will help you promote your content across the right channels at the right time.

A simple way of getting insightful information about your audience is to take a look at your social media analytics. Most social media platforms offer detailed analytics, including online activity, devices used, etc. It will help you understand your audience and find out how they are reacting to your content. Likewise, you can use the “Audience” section of Google Analytics to gain insights about your website visitors.

Image via Google

6. Segment Your Audience

You can’t create content that will impress and attract everyone. Even if you try hard, you will fail miserably. Instead, you should double down on publishing content that appeals to your target audience. However, it is important to understand that not every audience member has the same set of expectations from you.

This is because different people might be on different stages of the buyers’ journey. If someone is in the awareness stage, they are looking for informational content that can help them learn more about your brand. These are the people who will likely get attracted to infographics, podcasts, etc.

On the other hand, someone in the consideration stage wants to know more about your brand. You can use tutorials and unboxing videos to educate them about your products or services. You can even write compelling product descriptions to entice them. Likewise, the expectations of someone in the decision stage will be completely different.

It is important to divide your audience into different segments depending on where they are in the buyers’ journey. This lets you tailor your content and appeal to each segment separately. It also helps you determine the right distribution channel to reach every segment. While social media enables you to connect with people in the awareness stage, email is more suitable for interacting with those in the decision stage.

7. Perform Thorough Keyword Research

Keywords are the holy grail of SEO. Simply put, they are the terms and phrases your potential customers will likely use in their search queries. When you use relevant and popular keywords in your content, it helps search engines understand what your content is all about. This helps your website achieve a higher search engine ranking for relevant search queries.

On the contrary, if you publish high-quality blog posts that aren’t keyword-rich, they may never be discovered by your target audience. Therefore, it is essential to identify and select the right keywords before you start creating new content. You can use tools such as Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush for this purpose. However, stuffing your blog posts with keywords is one of the biggest SEO mistakes that you can make.

Once you have identified the focus keywords, it is important to analyze and validate them. Take a look at the search volume and level of competition associated with them. If any big brands are targeting the same keyword, your best content may not be able to outrank theirs. You should also take into account voice search queries and long-tail keywords.

It is important to understand that keyword research is crucial irrespective of whether you want to publish written content. It helps you use relevant hashtags while publishing social media posts. Additionally, you should also include keywords in the titles of your podcasts, videos, etc. It’s also crucial to add them to your URLs and meta descriptions. Even if website traffic isn’t one of your content marketing goals, you shouldn’t include keyword research.

8. Curate Content Ideas

Creating and publishing high-quality content regularly can be a daunting task. According to research, 60% of marketers find it difficult to publish fresh content consistently. An effective way to ease this problem is to curate and develop a plethora of content ideas.

During the keyword research stage, you will come across many fresh, relevant, and unique content ideas. Apart from this, you can take a look at your existing content to identify topics that performed well. If a blog post on a particular subject was well-received, you could host a podcast on the same or a related topic.

Additionally, you should keep tabs on the comments section of your blog and social media posts. It will tell you how your audience feels about your content and what you can do to keep them engaged. You can expand on this by conducting online surveys, social media polls, and AMA (ask me anything) sessions. Get feedback from your audience on what type of content they would like to read/watch/hear from you.

The key is to develop content ideas that your audience will find valuable and useful. It should either answer their questions or address their pain points. Additionally, it should highlight how your product can help resolve their problems.

9. Build a Content Conversion Funnel

As discussed earlier, a single piece of content won’t appeal to each one of your potential customers. Their needs and expectations will change based on how far along they are in the buyers’ journey. You have to identify topics and create content that resonates with audience members at each stage.

Once you have divided your audience into separate segments, it is time to create a content conversion funnel. A conversion funnel is simply the journey your audience goes through before converting into a paying customer. A content conversion funnel determines the flow of content at each stage. In its absence, you may not be able to meet your marketing goals, despite creating high-quality content.

Image via Lucidchart

You must outline the type of content you will offer to your potential customers at each stage of the funnel. People in the awareness stage are just getting acquainted with your brand. Your goal should be to present them with valuable information without being overly promotional. Blog posts, infographics, memes, podcasts, etc. are useful in this stage.

People in the evaluation or consideration stage are likely weighing their options. You have piqued their curiosity, but now you need to lure them further. In other words, you have to convert website visitors, blog readers, and social media followers into leads.

The most robust way to do this is to use a lead magnet. It is a piece of downloadable content (like ebook or whitepaper) that one can access by providing their contact details. You can also host webinars at this stage to interact with your potential customers.

Similarly, people in the decision or conversion stage need one final push from your end to make the purchase. You can encourage them by sharing customer stories and feedback. The key is to streamline your content and meet the expectations of potential customers at each stage.

10. Outline a Content Calendar

Consistency is one of the biggest factors that can make or break your content marketing strategy. Publishing a comprehensive and insightful blog post once a month may not be of much use. Instead, you should focus on creating good content regularly. This will help keep your brand alive in the memory of your potential customers.

Moreover, when you consistently publish valuable content, it builds a sense of anticipation among your audience. Let’s say you start a weekly podcast series. Your audience will keep coming back to you on the same day of the week for the next episode. Therefore, it is recommended that you produce a timeline of when and what content you will publish.

It helps ensure that you forget to miss a blog post, an AMA, or a podcast episode. Moreover, setting everything down in a calendar enables you to prepare in advance for the next piece of content. You will also have a clear idea of any gaps that need to be filled with repurposed content. Consequently, it improves the quality of your content across all channels.

11. Create Compelling Content

This is, unarguably, the most important step in content marketing. By following the previous steps correctly, publishing good content won’t be difficult for you. Make sure that your content remains relevant to the topic. Otherwise, you will fail to engage your target audience.

Additionally, you should ensure that your content is fresh, thought-provoking, and of the highest quality. For instance, if you are hosting an audio podcast, make sure there is no background noise or disturbance. Proofread your blog posts and get rid of all spelling and grammatical errors. If you are producing videos, make sure the set, props, costumes, etc. are correctly sourced.

Depending on your audience, you can choose from different types of content, such as blog posts, videos, e-books, case studies, etc. In one of the following sections, we have elaborated on the various types of content you can create.

12. Publish Evergreen Content

Evergreen content refers to content that will remain relevant to your audience, irrespective of how much time has passed since it was first published. In other words, it refers to content that will never go out of fashion. For instance, let’s say you own a food blog. Topics such as “vegetarian pasta recipes” and “homemade vegan recipes” are evergreen.

This type of timeless content can be easily repurposed across different channels from time to time. This, in turn, helps you maintain consistency without going through the trouble of creating new content. You should, however, check evergreen content for any outdated statistics and replace them with the most recent ones.

13. Develop a Distribution Strategy

Even the best piece of content won’t yield any results unless it gets discovered by your target audience. While content creation is extremely important, it is equally crucial to outline a plan for promoting this content. The first step is to select the distribution channels where your target audience will likely be active.

This can include social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, etc. and video streaming platforms such as YouTube. Other channels such as paid search ads, email marketing, etc. can also be used. We will discuss more about content promotion and distribution later in this blog.

14. Track and Measure

What do you do after you have set your content free? Should you just sit back and watch it work its magic? If your content is impeccable, you may not need to worry. However, it is still recommended that you keep a close eye on how each piece of content is performing.

Have a look at your social media analytics or Google Analytics page to analyze how your content is being received. Additionally, you should determine whether your KPIs have been met. This helps you understand whether your content marketing strategy has been successful. (More on this later)

Before you start building your content marketing strategy, take a look at the different types of content.

Different Types of Content

Gone are the days where content marketing was solely restricted to blogging. Today’s marketers have the liberty to publish content in various forms. The type of content you choose depends on your target audience and marketing objectives.

If you wish to get more email subscribers, creating an e-book is more useful. Likewise, if you want to convert these subscribers into customers, hosting a webinar will help. On the other hand, if you wish to attract millennials, infographics and videos might be your best bet.

These are some of the most commonly used forms of content:

1. Blog Posts

When you think of content marketing, you are likely thinking of blog posts. This mostly includes written content in the form of comprehensive articles. Blog posts are one of the most effective ways of improving search engine ranking and boosting organic website traffic.

Additionally, if your blog posts are detailed and insightful, others may use it as a reference and add a backlink to your blog. This strengthens your website’s inbound link profile and further helps with SEO. It also establishes your brand as a knowledgeable expert and builds brand trust and loyalty.

Take a look at the blog started by digital marketing expert, Neil Patel:

Image via Neil Patel

It is worth pointing out that when you search for “SEO tips” on Google, the first organic result points to one of Neil Patel’s blog posts. This demonstrated how consistent blogging increases brand visibility and boosts website traffic.

Image via Google

Interspersing a blog post with relevant calls-to-action (CTAs) also helps convert readers into leads and, subsequently, customers. You can encourage them to sign-up for your newsletter or check out the free demo of your latest product.

2. Infographics

The term “infographics” refers to the use of graphics for conveying vital information such as statistics, data, etc. An infographic usually contains charts, graphs, and other visual elements, and minimal text. You can also use infographics to outline detailed processes and techniques. Think of it as a summary of a comprehensive blog post or case study.

The best part about an infographic is that it communicates information in a clear, concise, and visually engaging format. You can share it on your social media profiles or include it in your blog posts. If it appeals to your audience, they will share it further, making your infographic viral.

Check out the following infographic by Brafton:

Image via Brafton

3. Videos

Videos are highly engaging and help convey critical information in an interesting format. In the age of dwindling attention spans, a powerful video keeps your audience hooked to your content. It is particularly useful when you are targeting millennials or Gen Z members. As with infographics, videos have the potential to become viral and widen your reach further.

Depending on your marketing objective, you can create various types of videos. If you want to strengthen brand authority and reputation, you can start a weekly video podcast where you interview industry experts. If your goal is to enlighten your audience about your products or services, you can create how-to guides and unboxing videos.

It is important to remember that every video you publish need shouldn’t be overly promotional. You can make a video that tells a powerful story and merely features your products. The key is to present your audience with something that is worth remembering and sharing.

For instance, GoPro publishes high-quality videos of various adventure activities on its YouTube channel. Although these videos are shot using GoPro cameras, the product is seldom directly promoted in these videos. Take a look at the example below:

Image via YouTube

The use of videos shouldn’t be limited to your YouTube channel. You can publish small snippets and teasers on your Facebook and Instagram profiles, as well.

4. Audio Podcasts

This type of content usually comprises a series of episodes that are available on an audio streaming platform. It can also be downloaded by the listener and stored on their chosen device. No wonder so many people listen to their favorite podcasts while commuting to and from work. In fact, 40% of Americans have listened to podcasts at some point.

This makes audio podcasts a great way of connecting with your potential customers and building your brand. Moreover, you can deliver interesting content anywhere on any device of their choice. Consistency is a key factor in podcasting. You must ensure that the latest episode is uploaded on the promised day and time.

It is also essential to use your creativity and identify new ideas and topics for your podcasts. Simply sharing useful tips and hacks may not be enough. You can make your podcasts more engaging by inviting relevant industry experts or your existing customers.

Take a look at the example below:

5. E-Books

An e-book is a piece of long-form, high-value content available in a downloadable format. It consists of multiple chapters and is usually a combination of blog posts, infographics, videos, rich media, etc. Since many people use the internet to conduct research on various topics, e-books are extremely valuable sources of information.

The biggest advantage of an e-book is that it acts as a lead magnet. You can encourage your blog readers to download it in exchange for their email addresses. Additionally, e-books increase your brand’s recall value and strengthen its reputation.

Here is an example of an e-book by Unbounce:

Image via Unbounce

6. Case Studies and Whitepapers

Just like e-books, case studies and whitepapers are also available in a downloadable format. However, they are usually based on thorough research and consist of various data and statistics. Apart from helping with lead generation, they reinforce your brand’s authority in its niche. This, in turn, improves brand trust and customer loyalty.

Take a look at a case study published by the Content Marketing Institute:

7. Webinars

Webinars help you directly communicate with your audience and address their pain points. You can share valuable tips and tricks of the trade. You can also use the right opportunity to pitch your product. Hosting a webinar is an effective way to establish brand authority, generate leads, and drive conversions.

You can host webinars on a variety of topics that are relevant to your niche. Make sure you thoroughly research the topic and prepare yourself for any questions from the audience. You can make your webinar more engaging by inviting a popular influencer or celebrity guest.

For instance, the Content Marketing Institute regularly hosts webinars on various interesting and trending topics:

So far, we have discussed the steps to develop an effective content marketing strategy. We also explored the different types of content that you can create. The type of content you choose largely depends on your marketing objectives and target audience.

But what do you do with all this content once you have published it? If you think your audience will just chance upon your content and eventually share it, you couldn’t be more wrong. It is not enough to create high-quality content. You must develop a strategy to promote it across various distribution channels.

Let’s go over a few tips for successful content promotion.

How You Can Effectively Promote Your Content

Before we elaborate further, let us first understand why a promotion strategy is so important, after all. The answer is very simple. Every other brand, including your competitors, is trying their hands at content marketing. This has resulted in the existence of a plethora of mediocre content.

Unless your content is exceptionally ground-breaking, it will not grab eyeballs without proactive marketing. Therefore, if you want your content to cut through this noise and hit the right ears, you must promote it.If your audience doesn’t know about your content, they can’t engage with it.

It is also important to know that you should start fleshing out your promotion strategy from the onset. It will help you to start promoting your content right from the time it is published. This, in turn, will ensure that your content reaches the right audience at the right time.

Here are the steps to develop an effective content promotion strategy:

1. Select Your Distribution Channel

When it comes to content promotion, there are various channels you can choose from. These include social media platforms, email, search engines, content delivery networks, etc. However, it is advisable that you don’t randomly select any of these channels. Instead, you should carefully identify the platforms where your target audience will likely be active.

For instance, if you wish to connect with dynamic and creative millennials, Instagram or Pinterest might be the right platforms. Alternatively, if your target audience includes senior-level decision-makers, you can reach out to them using LinkedIn or email marketing. It is, therefore, extremely crucial to choose the right distribution channel.

The selection of distribution channels also depends on your marketing objectives. If your target is to boost brand awareness, you can focus on social media marketing. However, if you want to drive conversions and increase sales, email marketing is the way to go about it.

The distribution channels you select will have a significant impact on the overall success of your content marketing strategy. Moreover, it will influence the type of content you create. While infographics, videos, and memes are suitable for social media, e-books, and case studies work better with email marketing. Therefore, even before you start developing your content, you should have a clear idea of where you want to promote it.

2. Timing is Everything

Timing is another crucial aspect that decides the fate of your content marketing strategy. Even if you publish the right content on the right channel, bad timing can make things go horribly wrong. Publishing your content at the right time gives it immediate traction and ensures that your audience engages with it.

The key is to identify that time of the day/week when your target audience is most likely to be active on a particular channel. You can learn more about your audience’s behavior by taking a look at your social media analytics. You can also use Google Analytics to find out when your audience mostly engages with your content.

Now that you have selected the channels and decided on the timing, it is time to discuss the techniques to promote your content.

3. Leverage Social Media Marketing

There are 2.82 billion social media users in the world at present. This number is expected to rise to 3.09 billion by 2021. Most of your potential customers likely belong to this social media-savvy population. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you share your content on some or all your social media profiles.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, social media is the most widely used content distribution channel among B2C marketers.

The immense reach of social media makes it the ideal channel for boosting brand awareness and audience engagement. It helps spur a conversation about your brand, drives increased traffic to your website, and strengthens your online presence. Moreover, if your content gains immediate traction on social media, it has the potential to become viral.

Social media is most suitable for potential customers who are in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. Certain content formats, such as infographics and videos, perform better on social media platforms. However, this doesn’t imply you can’t share other types of content, such as blog posts, podcasts, etc. The key is to ensure that your content is useful and addresses the problems of your audience.

It is important to target the social media platforms that are mostly frequented by your potential customers. It is equally crucial to make your content visually engaging by using bright colors, attractive graphics, and high-quality images. Likewise, you should write compelling captions for all your social media posts. Make sure you include a call-to-action (CTA) or a link to your website in every post.

For instance, the travel blogger duo of Bruised Passports regularly uses Instagram to promote their latest blog posts. Take a look at the screenshot below:

Image via Instagram

Additionally, you should combine your social media posts with relevant and popular hashtags. They are immensely useful in increasing the reach and visibility of your content. This, in turn, takes your content to an audience that would have remained inaccessible otherwise.

However, you should avoid flooding your posts with too many irrelevant hashtags. It can take the attention away from your content and act as a huge turn-off for your audience. The keywords that you identified during the content development phase can help you select meaningful hashtags. Additionally, you can craft a short and crisp branded hashtag to boost audience engagement.

It is worth pointing out that so far, we have only explored the ways to improve organic reach on social media. The biggest advantage of this approach is that it reinforces brand reputation and credibility. Moreover, it doesn’t require you to spend any extra money on promotion. Thus, if you don’t have a huge budget for content marketing, social media can be extremely useful.

There are, however, instances when paid advertising on social media is also used for content marketing. In one of the following sections, we will discuss this in greater detail.

4. Harness the Power of Influencers

Social media influencers have emerged as a powerful digital marketing tool for brands. They usually have a strong online presence and a fiercely loyal community of followers. Moreover, they are often perceived as trusted sources of information and regarded as role models by their fans. This gives influencers the power to shape the preferences and decisions of their followers.

Collaborating with a popular and relevant influencer in your niche can help your content marketing strategy in multiple ways. Firstly, it gives increased visibility to your content, owing to the massive reach of influencers. Secondly, when an influencer promotes or recommends your content, it adds to your credibility and improves brand reputation. It is particularly useful when you want to target a new demographic or break into a new market.

Lastly, working with influencers also breathes new life to your content strategy. They are the ones who regularly create engaging content for their audience. They can share plenty of useful insights and tips on how to make your content more interesting. This, in turn, makes your content more appealing and helps boost audience engagement.

While selecting an influencer, you should look beyond their reach and number of followers. Focus on how their audience is responding to their content. This will give you an idea of the influencer’s social authority. Additionally, you should analyze whether your content will be relevant to the influencer’s audience.

There are various ways to find the best influencers in your niche. You can simply run a Google search or use a tool such as Followerwonk. It is also important to build a relationship with these influencers before you approach them for a collaboration.

The choice of influencer also depends on your marketing budget. Popular influencers with millions of followers may charge a hefty amount. If you aren’t in a position to shell out that kind of money, you can consider working with micro-influencers. Even though they have a relatively smaller fan community, their audience is extremely engaged and loyal.

It is also important to decide the type of content you want to publish with the influencer. You can invite them to write a guest post on your blog. Or you can work with them to create a powerful narrative-based video. You can even interview them on one of your podcasts.

Irrespective of the type of content you create, you should encourage the influencer to share it on their social media profiles. It is equally crucial to ensure that your content is genuine and insightful. You should exercise caution to prevent it from becoming overly promotional.

For instance, YouTube creator Branden Harvey interviewed Chicago-based photographer and writer, Anjali Pinto on one of his podcasts. The same was later shared by Anjali Pinto on her Instagram profile.

Image via Instagram

5. Use Comment Marketing

This technique is exactly what its name implies – you promote your content by posting comments on various platforms. It is a great way to establish your authority and build an audience for your content. It can help you generate a buzz even before you start publishing content regularly.

There are various ways to approach comment marketing. The first step is to find relevant and popular blogs in your niche. You can do this by running a Google search with the following query – “[keyword] blog”. Here, the “keyword” can be any term related to your product, brand, or niche.

For instance, when you enter “affiliate marketing blog” on Google, you get the following results:

Image via Google

The next step is to know the domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) scores of the top results. You can easily access this information by installing the Moz toolbar on your web browser. This step helps you determine which blogs are popular and worth your time.

Once you have identified the blogs you want to engage with, take a look at their content. Start a conversation by posting meaningful and valuable comments on relevant blog posts. At this point, your goal is to establish your authority on the subject and attract new readers. If the readers of a particular blog are intrigued by your comment, they might be tempted to check out your content.

You can also explore including links to relevant content from your blog/social media profiles. Apart from increasing website traffic, it can help you grab the attention of more established bloggers and content creators. If they like your content, they may promote it on their social media profiles.

However, you should do this only when your blog post deals with a related topic. Otherwise, it can come across as self-promotional and spammy. Your focus should be on starting meaningful conversations and building long-term relationships with your readers.

Additionally, you can look for popular and relevant threads on discussion forums such as Reddit and Quora. Post a comment whenever you can with a link to a related blog post, video, e-book, infographic, etc. It reinforces authority and drives traffic to your website/social media profiles. This is particularly useful when your brand is new to content marketing.

Likewise, you can join relevant Facebook groups and participate in various discussion threads. You can also comment on Instagram posts and Twitter threads that are related to your niche. The secret of effective comment marketing is to prioritize quality over quantity. Be extremely selective of the discussion threads you join and ensure that readers can derive some value from your comments.

6. Don’t Ignore Guest Blogging

Guest blogging used to be one of the most sought-after content promotion techniques for new content creators. However, over the years, it has lost its charm. This is primarily because many amateur blogs post below-average content in the name of guest blogging. However, when done correctly, it can help you establish brand authority and grab the attention of your target audience.

Guest blogging is the practice of attracting publishing your content on a more popular and established blog. Most blogs will allow you to add a byline with your bio and a link to your website. You may even be able to include links to your social media profiles. This is extremely useful in building your audience when you are new to content marketing.

As with comment marketing, the first step of guest blogging is to find authoritative blogs in your niche. Take a look at their DA and PA scores to determine whether the blogs deserve your time and attention. After that, you can engage in a meaningful conversation with the author by posting comments on their blog. Make sure you build a good rapport with the author before pitching your idea for a guest blog.

Neil Patel is an established authority and expert in the field of digital marketing. He regularly publishes valuable content on his blog. However, he also writes guest posts on other popular blogs. Take a look at Neil Patel’s guest posts on the HubSpot blog.

Image via HubSpot

7. Use Email Marketing

An email is an effective tool for maintaining direct communication with your existing clientele and potential customers. You can combine your latest content and send out weekly/monthly newsletters to your subscribers. Additionally, you can set up an autoresponder that sends out a welcome email every time someone signs up for your newsletter. It keeps your audience engaged and lures them to come back to you for more valuable content.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, email marketing is the most preferred content distribution channel for 93% of B2B marketers.

Email marketing is particularly effective for targeting people who are in the consideration and decision stages of the buyers’ journey. You can start by segmenting them based on their preferences and actions. Then, you can send them personalized content recommendations. You can even invite them to sign-up for a webinar or free trial of your products.

It is crucial to note that email marketing only works when you have a database of engaged subscribers. You can build your mailing list using various innovative lead magnets. For instance, you can offer your social media followers early access to a product in exchange for their email addresses. Likewise, you can tempt blog readers with content upgrades and cliffhangers.

8. Leverage Earned Media

Another powerful content promotion technique is to reach out to popular bloggers and journalists and encourage them to write about you. The first step is to find influential people who are vocal and passionate about topics related to your brand. Next, you have to reach out to them and make a strong pitch. It is essential to personalize your pitch for each person.

Additionally, you may have to offer some kind of incentive to journalists/bloggers who write about you. You can give them exclusive access to a new product or send them freebies. If you are working with a blogger, you can even provide them with a special discount code for their readers.

9. Cross-Promote Your Content

As a content marketer, you must realize that no piece of content can survive in complete isolation. An infographic published on Facebook could have been derived from an e-book, which in turn, may have been developed from multiple blog posts. Therefore, it is essential to cross-promote different types of content on various platforms.

For instance, you can include a link to your latest podcast in a new blog post. Likewise, you can use popup boxes to tempt blog readers to download a related case study. It is also important to use relevant internal links in every blog post. It often compels your audience to spend more time on your website and, consequently, reinforces their loyalty to your brand.

10. Repurpose Existing Content

Repurposing is one of the most effective ways of breathing new life into old content and facilitating cross-promotion. However, content repurposing isn’t just about updating existing content with the latest data and case studies. Instead, it is the art of transforming content created in one format into a new format. This new format of content can then be promoted on different channels.

The reason repurposing works is because your audience keeps growing and changing over time. Therefore, your latest social media followers may be completely unaware of a comprehensive blog post that was published a year ago. You can bring their attention to this content by summarizing it in the form of a vibrant infographic. You can even create a video or an audio podcast on the same topic.

11. Invest in Paid Promotion

So far, we have discussed various techniques and tips to increase the organic reach of your content. However, if your marketing budget permits, you should also leverage a few paid channels of content distribution. It is particularly useful when you are competing with a big brand that has a high DA score and a strong online presence. It also helps to take your content beyond your existing audience quickly.

The first approach is to use paid advertising on social media. For instance, when you publish a post on Facebook or Instagram, you get the option to promote it. You can set a daily budget and define your target audience based on their age, gender, location, interests, online behavior, etc. This type of precise targeting makes Facebook one of the most preferred choices for paid social media advertising.

Likewise, you can use paid search ads such as Google Ads to gain increased visibility on search engines. Remember the keywords you have selected during the research stage. You can use them here too. All you have to do is place a bid on the keywords you wish to target. When a user enters a search query containing the target keyword, your ad may be placed on top of the search results.

It is essential to write compelling copy for your search ads. It should include your keywords and clearly convey where the ad will lead a user to. Moreover, you should ensure that the ad is linked with a relevant and engaging landing page that delivers exactly what the visitor came for. The landing page should also have a clear CTA to help the visitor understand what they are supposed to do.

It is important to note that search ads aren’t particularly useful for increasing blog traffic. However, they can be used to promote other forms of content such as webinars, podcasts, e-books, etc. For instance, you can create a search ad to promote your upcoming webinar. Anyone who clicks the ad is taken to a landing page that gives them some information about the webinar and encourages them to sign-up.

It is also worth mentioning that both search engines and social media platforms charge you to deliver your ads. In most cases, you pay these platforms when some clicks on your ad, hence, the name pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Therefore, you should use these channels to promote your content only when you have a sufficient marketing budget. Additionally, you should ensure that the amount spent on these ads is recovered by converting the audience into paid customers.

12. Leverage Content Delivery Networks

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are used by content creators and bloggers across the web. They typically place snippets of your content in the “you may also like” section of other relevant and popular blogs. It is another form of paid content promotion that can be done using platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola. The biggest advantage of CDNs is that they increase the reach and visibility of your content.

So far, we have discussed the techniques for effective content creation and promotion. One aspect of content marketing that acts as a deterrent for many is the frequent absence of tangible results. It is very difficult to determine whether goals, such as increasing brand awareness or improving brand awareness have been met.

Let us now discuss a few ways to measure the success of a content marketing strategy.

How to Measure Content Marketing Success

Before we discuss more on this, let us first understand why it is important to evaluate your content marketing strategy. Firstly, it helps you understand how your content has performed. Secondly, you can identify the tactics that worked in your favor and the ones that didn’t. Lastly, it lets you determine whether your marketing objectives were fulfilled.

This, in turn, helps you decide whether you want to continue with the same strategy or modify it. Moreover, you can identify and improve the gaps in your content strategy. According to research, the most successful B2B marketers claim to have measured their content marketing ROI.

The KPIs that you had assigned during the initial stages of your content strategy will come in handy during this period. Moreover, you should ensure that Google Analytics is configured for your website. Later in this guide, we will walk you through the steps to calculate content marketing ROI. Before doing that, here are a few metrics that can help you measure content marketing success.

1. On-site Engagement

Google Analytics offers a plethora of useful data and insights about how your website visitors are interacting with your content. If you want to get some insights of the traffic, take a look at the number of “unique pageviews” of a particular web page. Likewise, you should watch out for metrics such as “bounce rate” and “time on page” to evaluate audience engagement.

2. Off-site Engagement

It refers to how well your audience is engaging with your content on social media, emails, and other channels. Most social media platforms have an analytics dashboard that lets you determine how far your content managed to reach. You can also get insights about how many users engaged with your content. Moreover, you can take a look at the number of likes/upvotes, comments, and shares a particular post has received.

If your goal is to boost brand awareness, you should find out how many followers/page likes/subscribers you have gained. You can use a tool like BuzzSumo for this purpose. Most email marketing software like MailChimp also provides you with detailed reports of how many people clicked on a particular piece of content.

3. SEO Success

The most effective way of determining this is to run a quick Google search with one of your target keywords. If your blog post/web page ranks higher than before in the search results, your content marketing strategy is working. It is, however, important to remember that the results of content marketing can take time to show on search engines. Additionally, you can use Google Analytics to find out if your organic website traffic has increased.

4. Brand Authority

When other blogs and websites start using references from your content, it is a sign of strengthened brand reputation and authority. You can use a tool like Backlink Checker by Ahrefs to take a look at your website’s inbound link profile. If a particular blog post has received many backlinks, it will likely establish your brand as a trusted and valuable source of information.

5. Lead Quality

Content marketing is often used as a tool for lead generation. The quality of these leads helps you determine if your content marketing strategy was successful. You can analyze your leads by segmenting them.

There are some leads who will immediately contact your sales team and make a purchase. However, most of them will likely remain dormant for a long time before converting into customers. If they continue to interact with your content during this period, they are still high-quality leads. The better the quality of your leads, the more successful your content marketing strategy.

6. Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI of a marketing campaign is defined as the revenue you earn compared with the amount you spend to execute it. It is calculated by subtracting the expenses/investment from your total earnings and dividing this amount by your investment. In the case of content marketing, the investment refers to the amount you spend on content creation and distribution.

Image via OptinMonster

However, it is often difficult to attribute a conversion to content marketing. It can take years from the first time someone sees your social media posts to the moment they finally become a paying customer.

Additionally, most conversions will happen on your website. But the first point of contact between your audience and content often happens off-site (through social media, emails, etc.). It is, therefore, important to track the source of all your website traffic. An easy way of doing this is to take a look at the “Acquisition” section of Google Analytics.

Image via OptinMonster

The successful execution of a content marketing strategy requires meticulous research, planning, and tracking. Fortunately, you can use a variety of content marketing tools to take the load off your shoulders. In the next section, we will take a look at a few useful content marketing tools.

Top Content Marketing Tools You Need

From creating attractive content to tracking content performance – you can find a tool for every task. They are particularly useful when you don’t have a big team to take care of multiple responsibilities. Let us first take a look at some tools that can help you with content creation.

1. Meme Generator by Imgflip

Image via Imgflip

Nothing says viral like a witty and humorous meme on a trending topic. The absence of a professional graphic designer shouldn’t hold you back from creating attractive branded memes. Use Meme Generator by Imgflip to create amazing memes in a jiffy. Select from a variety of pre-existing templates, add your text, and you’re good to go.

2. Quik by GoPro

Image via Google

Videos are one of the most engaging content formats. However, shooting and editing eye-catching videos is both time-consuming and expensive. Quik, an editing software by GoPro, lets you create attractive videos on the go. The best part is that the app is also available on your phone.

Choose one of the pre-designed templates, select the images and video clips you want to include, and arrange them in the desired fashion. You can even add titles and change the duration of individual clips. Once you are done editing, you can share directly on your social media profiles.

3. Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule

Image via CoSchedule

Any experienced content creator can’t emphasize enough on the significance of headlines. If you want to make your blog posts more attractive, you must intersperse your content with compelling and meaningful headlines. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer helps make your headings and subheadings more effective.

4. Google Keyword Planner

Image via Google

Want to find out the top keywords related to your brand and product? Google Keyword Planner gives you a plethora of keyword suggestions. This tool is completely free and provides you with meaningful data to analyze and validate your keywords.

5. Followerwonk

Image via Followerwonk

In today’s day and age, every other person claims to be a social media influencer. If you are looking to connect with influencers on Twitter, use Followerwonk to find the right fit for your brand.

6. Hootsuite

Image via Hootsuite

Social media is one of the best channels to promote your content. However, it can be quite a hassle to handle multiple social media profiles, especially when you don’t have a big team. Hootsuite solves this problem by providing you with a single platform to manage all your profiles. You can schedule posts on different platforms, track the response, and measure the overall performance.

7. MailChimp

Image via MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing software. It lets you import your contacts and design attractive newsletters. You can also schedule your mailers and monitor the performance of each campaign.

Next, let us take a look at a few tools that will help you track the performance of your content.

8. Google Analytics

Image via Google

If you are trying your hands at content marketing for the first time, you should start by configuring Google Analytics for your website. It gives you access to a treasure trove of information about your website visitors. You can find out the sources from where your website is getting maximum traffic and how well your content is being received. Additionally, you can use it to obtain useful data about your audience’s online activity.

9. MozBar

Image via Moz

Moz toolbar is a multi-purpose toolbar by Moz that most content marketers swear by. It lets you check the domain authority and page authority scores of any website. Use it to research your competitors, track your progress, and identify guest blogging opportunities. You can simply install it as an extension of your web browser.

10. BuzzSumo

Image via BuzzSumo

If you want an all-in-one tool that takes care of all your content marketing needs, don’t look beyond BuzzSumo. From finding high-performing content ideas to connecting with the top influencers in your niche – BuzzSumo helps you with everything. It also provides advanced monitoring features that help you track the performance of your content across multiple channels.

Final Thoughts

Content marketing is an important method of marketing your brand and even if you don’t know about it, you may already be applying it to grow your brand. Everything from publishing blog posts to creating infographics, videos, and images, is a part of content marketing. It can help in improving your reach, brand awareness, and authority. You can also increase your engagement rates and brand trust through it.

It also plays a crucial role in customer retention, traffic generation, and increasing conversions. However, you must know how to develop your content marketing strategy right. Identify your goals and set clear KPIs. Audit your content and figure out your target audience. It’s also necessary to conduct keyword research and come up with solid content ideas. Create a content conversion funnel and content calendar to plan out your content. It’s also necessary to have a distribution strategy in place to get your content to your audience. Lastly, you must track and measure your success so that you can optimize your strategy.

You can promote your content through influencer marketing, guest posting, email marketing, comment marketing, and social media. It also helps to cross-promote or repurpose your content. To increase your impact, you can go for paid promotions as well.

Some of the metrics you can use to measure your campaign are your brand authority, lead quality, and ROI. Additionally, you must track your on-site and off-site engagement along with your SEO success.

While all of the above may seem too much to handle, it can be made a lot easier by using some of the best content marketing tools. They can help in automating your tasks to a great extent.

Have we missed out on anything related to content marketing? If so, let us know in the comments.

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