What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, significant content to attract and engage your brand’s target audience. Often, it indicates expertise in a particular field and helps build brand awareness. Buyers want to feel connected to a brand that matches their identity. By putting effort into creating content that serves a purpose to existing and potential customers, providing valuable advice can foster and nurture relationships. Content marketing can take the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, info graphics, emails, newsletters, magazines, courses, webinars, social media posts, templates, quizzes, and more.
Some notable examples of useful content include:
Canvas’s Design School, a collection of short courses to help users fully use Canvas
Zen desk’s blog offers guides and advice on customer service, sales, and culture.
Dell Technologies’ Trailblazers, a podcast that tells unexpected stories of digital disruption, is hosted by Walter Isaacson, professor of history at Tulane University and consulting partner at a financial services firm.
John Deere’s The Furrow magazine began in 1895 and is still in print today. As one of the oldest examples of content marketing, its purpose remains the same: to tell delightful stories and provide operational knowledge. At its peak in 1912, the magazine reached more than four million subscribers. Furrow demonstrates that content marketing that is both interesting and useful can be effective for long-term engagement with consumers and brand reputation.
The importance of content marketing
There are many benefits to content marketing, which is one of the original forms of traditional marketing. John Deere and Michelin’s content marketing initiatives have been in place for over a century. Content marketing is important because it:
Creates genuine engagement: consumers who read a brand-sponsored blog or newsletter and resonate with its content are more likely to develop positive associations and continue to support the brand.
Delivers value: Content management software builds podcast brand reputation on productivity by the industry, so its value to the customer translates into loyalty and sales.
Offering versatility: With digital tools, there are now many ways to target potential customers. From free knitting temples to blogs on UX design, there are plenty of ways for brands to consider content marketing. The same brand can use different channels to reach new audiences. One such example is TED expanding from its YouTube video hub into podcasts such as TED Talk Daily, Work Life with Adam Grant, and NPR’s TED Radio Hour.
How content marketing works
To become familiar with a brand, product, or service, consumers go through the stages of awareness, consideration, and commitment. Each stage requires various types of content that can attract and retain buyers.
Awareness: During this time, customers may not know about your brand and your offerings. Providing content that illuminates and potentially alleviates their challenges, or demonstrates a desire by creating an identifiable connection, can draw attention to your brand because it’s useful and relevant.
Consideration: At this stage of brand awareness, the consumer has heard about the brand and is in the process of choosing between different brands. This is an important time for brands to change their opinion in one way or another, so there must be a marketing element involved. Not only is the content useful, but it also makes you choose their brand over others.
Commitment: The customer has committed to buying your product or service, so it’s time to seal the deal. They may already subscribe to your newsletter or emails, or follow you on social media, so now is the time to convince them that you are the best choice among all the competitors. After purchase, users can share this type of content (like tagging a friend in an Instagram post) if they feel it fits their identity.
Key elements of a content marketing strategy
When creating a content marketing strategy for your brand, consider your target audience and the touch points to engage with them. These are the four basic elements of a content marketing strategy: brand positioning, value proposition, measuring ROI, and developing a plan.
1 Position your brand
First define your brand, values, and positioning. If you’re selling chocolate, are you an artisanal chocolate bar that sources its beans from South America, or are you marketing Ferraro Richer candies? Although a chocolate lover can buy both, the two types of brands appeal to different consumers.
2 Identify your value
Once you’ve defined your brand and positioning, you can begin to identify what value to provide with specific types of content. Through channels like emails or a social media presence, you can maintain relationships with customers as they follow your brand for recipe tips, aspirational lifestyle photos, links to life hack blogs, and more. Your content offering should not only make sense for your brand but also convert into sales.