What is content marketing? Does content marketing improve your business? How does one even create epic content marketing?
In the complex and ever-changing world of digital marketing, content marketing remains a useful and influential tool. However, many people within the business and marketing industries continuously question the impact of content marketing.
What is content marketing?
First and foremost, what is content marketing?
Content marketing relates to creating and distributing information (i.e., videos, blogs, white papers, infographics, etc.) aimed at the core interests of a specific audience. Or as the Content Marketing Institute notes:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
How does content marketing work?
Content marketing works by engaging potential customers through building brand awareness. For example, a proper content marketing strategy plays the long game and works through building a relationship with potential customers.
- Boost Sales. Companies that optimize their content assets enable the ability to convert prospects into customers. Content educates potential customers about a various product or service, but also the buying decision process. Ultimately, proper content marketing helps streamline the sales cycle.
- Attract Committed & Loyal Customers. Companies that create content aimed at solving customer problems attracts more loyal and committed customers. Consistent content builds a value-add reputation, which means potential customers view your company as a problem solver that generates loyalty over time.
- Develop & Deepen Reputation. Companies that produce valuable content not only attracts loyal customers, but also develops and deepens a brand’s reputation. As customers seek out well-written and useful content, potential customers seek your content, which builds and develops name recognition and your reputation.
- Decrease Marketing Costs. Companies that develop and execute a sound content marketing strategy ultimately lower marketing costs. Interestingly, content marketing is inexpensive, safe and beneficial because evergreen content continues working for you well after the asset is produced. In particular, for companies with the resources to produce in-house content, then the main cost is time. Ultimately, content increases traffic and builds relationships with your industry and your clients.
Does content marketing work for every size company?
In fact, content marketing remains one useful way that smaller companies compete with larger brands.
Content marketing drive “off-site” SEO. Off-site SEO convinces search engines that your site is a credible source of information. Essentially, off-site SEO includes all signals that elevate the credibility of a web site. Conversely, on-site SEO includes all technical aspects (such as header tags, alt tags and meta descriptions, etc.) that inform search engines about your site.
Content marketing falls into both categories because any piece of content hosted on your site should take advantage of proper technical SEO components. But, content marketing goes beyond your site and attracts eyeballs (or visitors) to come to your site. As a result, the best content marketing strategies rely on both art and science.
But, how can small business punch above their weight in the world of content marketing?
Simple, as noted, producing epic content marketing means adding value or engaging with your customers. As a small business, you work day in and day out with your customers. As a result, working in the trenches enables a fundamental understanding of your clients (and therefore, your potential clients).
“SEO teams must create and curate content that truly engages readers. Content drives small business SEO by aligning with the objectives of search algorithms and potential customers. Deliver good content that people actually read and helps search provides sell advertising and ultimately visitors will find you.”
Therefore, start your content marketing plan with some science and add the art of working with your customers. In the end, you will have a strategy that attracts potential customers, which starts the sales cycle!
How does content marketing drive SEO benefits?
Content marketing provides multiple benefits. In addition to starting the sales funnel, content marketing drives SEO benefits as well.
“In today’s Google, the most effective way to see consistent organic traffic growth across your site is by publishing SEO content: i.e. content that’s designed to rank well and produce traffic from organic search.”
Yes, you must develop a content strategy that drives SEO results.
Furthermore, the reason SEO content builds traffic to your site derives from a strategy. Effective content marketing teams target keyword-driven content topics with proven search demand. These topics remain relevant to your product or your services and align with your target audience’s interests.
“The most important part of any SEO content strategy is targeting the right content topics, and those topics should be fueled by relevant, intent-driven keywords with proven search demand.”
First and foremost, any worthwhile content marketing plan starts with keyword research! As the saying goes, if a tree falls in the wood and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a noise?
If you write a great blog post, but nobody visits your site, does your content matter? Unfortunately, the answer is no. In order to produce epic content marketing, you need to write about and target terms people actually search.
The first step remains learning how to identify the terms your potential customers actually search. Building topics around high search terms (ideally with low competition) is the only way people will find your site.
After identifying your target keywords and developing a series of topics, then you will need to learn how to turn those terms into useful pieces of content. Certain terms map to different types of content (such as infographics, explainers or how-to posts). Plus, prioritize your posts in order to start gaining SEO benefits for high value terms.
Finally, find a process that works for your team. In the end, once your plan is in place and your team executes, you’ll start to generate the SEO benefits of producing high quality content.
What are some epic content marketing examples?
Did you know that roughly 85% of brands leverage content marketing?
Did you know less than 50% of brands think they are good at content marketing?
As a result, companies need more confidence that their content marketing strategy drives results. Yet, the 50% that produce epic content marketing engage and embrace with their audience. At times, messaging creates some vulnerabilities, but that means authenticity.
The best content marketing strategies produce an authentic voice that stimulates the interest of potential customers. To help, we highlight ten brands effectively produce content that engages their audience.
Buffer and its open, transparent blog.
Buffer provides software that helps marketers or companies manage their social media accounts. Many people agree that Buffer offers a great product, but more importantly, the company provides a unique and successful approach to content marketing. Buffer took a different perspective and created an open and transparent organization that aims at deepening trust between the company and customers. Buffer focuses on education and helps their clients understand how social media works!
Hootsuite and its playful take on content.
Hootsuite provides social media management software. In comparison to Buffer, which is a direct competitor, Hootsuite engages customers through creativity and emotion. The company produced some innovative videos, such as the Game of Thrones parody to demonstrate how their product works. Hootsuite leverages emotion to educate and engage with their audience.
Glossier and its community.
Glossier, a skincare and beauty product brand, truly demonstrates how epic content marketing drives sales. The company started as a blog, Into the Gloss, and developed a community around the best beauty products. The company continues to engage with its community. As a result, the community helps drive the product line, which epitomizes how content marketing drives results.
Ellevest and its commitment to its audience.
Ellevest is an investment platform for women. The company provides tools, but more importantly, space and a place for women to invest for themselves. Through a variety of content types includes an expert-written blog, along with long-form guides, Ellevest remains 100% committed to its core audience.
Nike for its commitment to customer service.
Nike, the shoe and athletic company, demonstrates the evolution of content marketing through their Nike Support Twitter account. For consumer companies, social media prompts customer complaints. However, social media enables companies with the opportunity to engage and inform current and potential customers. Nike shows how responsive customer service helps define a brand, which is a core objective of content marketing.
TED and its ideas worth spreading.
TED connects people through ideas. Through a global series of conferences, the organization highlights unique idea from a variety of authors, influencers and industry experts. Also, TED leverages multiple platforms, most notably video and YouTube to share all of the ideas and theories depicted in their various conferences. People seek inspiration and TED appeals to this sense of wonderment to drive engagement.
Red Bull pushing the edge.
RedBull sells energy drinks. However, RedBull customers like to push the edge and the company adeptly crafted a content marketing strategy around pushing boundaries. Also, as the motto says, “RedBull gives you wings” the content focuses on giving wings to peoples and ideas. As a result, from their famous Flugtag to music festivals and customer stories, RedBull continues to connect with customers.
GoPro and its storytelling.
GoPro manufactures and sells action cameras. Although the camera’s focus on adventures sports, the company focuses on storytelling to grow its brand. For example, at an AdAge CMO Strategy Summit, a company spokesperson indicated GoPro doesn’t view itself as a camera company, but an “enjoyment platform”. As a result, the company engages with customers to provide user generated content and GoPro correctly focuses on these stories to grow its brand!
Birchbox and leveraging content as a growth funnel.
Birchbox remains a leader in the subscription service industry providing customers with a new box of beauty products every month. For example, as Birchbox grew its subscriber list from 600 to over 800,000, the company focused its content on images. After all, selling products focused on the aesthetic value of things makes focusing on beautiful images a priority. Birchbox aligns its product focus with its content strategy.
YEXT and its problem-solving focus.
YEXT provides software that helps companies their digital presence. Through The Monthly, an email campaign, YEXT provides an overview of webinars, white papers and developing trends in the world of digital marketing and managing their online reputation. For example, the inaugural issue showcases the rise of voice assistants in online search. YEXT maintains a consistent focus on managing a company’s reputation and online listings within its content marketing campaigns.
What are the lessons learned? How can any company transform their bland material into epic content marketing campaigns?
- Create shareable content. Produce interesting, humorous or newsworthy content that make people want more.
- Find a unique perspective. Create something new or unique, which provides a different perspective on standard topics.
- Personalize content. Make the topic personable to your audience and demonstrate how the material impacts them (or their family).
- Educate your audience. Many potential customers need to learn about your product, your industry or the buying process. Provide educational information that makes this experience worthwhile.
- Find a story. People remember stories, therefore, find a way to demonstrate your idea through storytelling.
- Remain flexible. Social media (and your audience) continues to evolve. Develop a content marketing strategy that allows for some flexibility to test and experiment with new platforms.
How to hire the right content marketing company?
Ultimately, you know your company and industry best. You and your sales team interact with your customers on a daily or routine basis. Plus, your team understands your priorities and objectives. However, not every company or marketing team has time to write. In particular, as part of any content marketing strategy, you want to attack specific search terms that may be tangentially related to the core of your business. As a result, content marketing consultants or companies make sense to complement your overall digital marketing program.
If you have the time, resources, and expertise to create and promote great content internally that’s a great way to drive relevant traffic that will help grow your business. However, most SMBs don’t have these resources. So how can you think about executing on content creation and promotion if you don’t have this capacity and expertise in-house?
Hire a content marketing consultant or company! But how? Learn a few high level strategies to work with talented teams and take the burden off your marketing team.
Develop a Talent Bank
“I’d add that long-term you should have an inbound/attraction program. I first heard about this on the Inbound Agency Journey podcast. Matt Sunshine was on and he talked about building a ‘Talent Bank’ so you have people lined up before you even need them. It’s a great listen; I highly recommend it.” Gretchen Roberts
Prepare for Market Rate Payments
“Prepare yourself: great copywriters and content writers know they’re great… and charge accordingly. But because your new outstanding freelance copywriter is about to put an end to all the suffering and frustration of working with subpar “writers” — the wasted time, the money you’ll never get back, the embarrassment of putting their work in front of your hard-won audience, the tragic results — paying those fees should be a no-brainer for a smart business.” Joanna Wiebe
Check Your Network
“One of the easiest ways to find quality writers for your blog is to ask your network. You will be shocked how many people in your network know someone who can help you with your content. They will pop up out of the woodwork like they always existed in your life. Again, always check with your network.” Andy Nathan
“I create a page on the blog for applicants and guest posters. It really helps writers get a good idea of what you’re looking for. It also helps you solidify your goals for the blog.” Siddharth Bharath
Get Involved & Give Directions
“The more you know what you want, the better directions you can give. The better directions you can give, the easier it is to find someone to complete the project.” Mike Fishbein
Consultants Cover Content Needs
“If you need general help with copywriting, editing, and proofreading, you might hire a consultant on a monthly retainer. This monthly retainer will cover your one-off copy and content needs.” Emma Siemasko
Provide Guidance & Training
“Be willing to work with someone and shape them into who you need them to be. Technical skills can be honed, but the right attitude of care and attention is hard to come by. If you find someone who is 75% of the way there, work with them more hands-on in the beginning. They’ll learn what you need from them, and they’ll turn into a powerhouse.” Joel Klettke
Remain Open to Flexible Workflows
“It’s tricky to hire the perfect content marketer for your business because they literally come in all shapes and sizes. Some content marketers are very analytical, meaning they are really interested in proving value, measuring their efforts, and optimizing content. Other content marketers are highly creative and can create relevant, insightful, and engaging content that inspires your readers. More so, others are better at building winning strategies, leading complex teams, or simply keeping to themselves and writing every day.” Jacob Warwick
Understand Your True Needs
“Determine what help you *really* need and make sure that you’re hiring the right person/people. If you’re hiring a “content marketer” then you need to find someone who really knows and understands all of the moving pieces involved in content marketing.” Tyler Hakes
Find a Fit with Your Marketing Strategy
“A skilled content marketing specialist will remain in research mode until she finds the necessary answers, always working on her larger content market strategy through useful, authoritative content.” Neil Patel