What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the 21st Century marketing technique of choice––simply put, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that drives profitable customer action by creating and publishing valuable and relevant content, thus attracting a focused and clearly defined audience.
At its most basic level, content marketing sells a business’s products or services by building relationships with a specific target audience. Here’s a bird’s eye view of how content marketing works:
Drive traffic to your website by strategically publishing relevant, high-quality content that entertains, educates, and/or inspires your target market.
By publishing useful and relevant content, you keep bringing people back to your website, using a lead magnet to turn those people into leads (i.e. prospective customers).
Now that you have their contact information, you use it in tandem with automated email campaigns and other channels to provide more meaningful content, with the goal of converting them into a paying customer.
Once they have become customers, you then use content to add value for your customer in order to turn them into not only a satisfied customer, but also eventually a repeat customer and brand evangelist.
As you can see, content marketing focuses not only on generating leads and converting customers, but also on leveraging current and past customers to amplify results. If it sounds like developing and implementing a content marketing strategy is a lot of work, it’s because it is. While a content marketing approach is one of the most labor intensive marketing strategies, it’s also one of the marketing techniques with the highest ROI (return on investment).
Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). (Aberdeen)
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (DemandMetric)
Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (Aberdeen)
60% of the most effective B2C marketers have a documented content strategy. (CMI)
73% of organizations have someone in place to oversee their content strategy. (CMI)
...And Here’s Why
A successful content marketing strategy is scalable both in terms of content creation and automated systems, meaning that your marketing can scale without significant cost increase.
Content marketing isn’t just about sales, it’s about relationships. By educating and/or entertaining your target market, you build valuable relationships with leads, increasing the likelihood of converting them into customers, repeat customers, and then brand/product evangelists.
By providing valuable content, you increase the value of your core offer. The value of your content becomes a part of the product or service’s value.
Key Components of Content Marketing
There are three distinct components of content marketing, each with vastly different considerations and approaches. These components are the customer journey, content, and traffic.
The Customer Journey
Content marketing requires a well-thought out, strategic approach, so you must first define your ideal customer journey. The customer journey is the lifecycle of a customer––all the way from the first time they hear about your business through becoming a brand/product evangelist. When establishing a customer journey, you’ll want to think about the following:
Awareness and Engagement: How do you drive brand awareness, and how do you get members of your target market to engage with (like, share, etc.) your content?
Subscribe and Convert: How do you turn members of your target audience into leads, and how do you convert those leads into customers?
Excite and Ascend: How do you use content to get new customers excited about purchasing from you, and how do you continue to add more value for them, creating a lasting customer experience not only with your product or service but also with your brand?
Advocate and Promote: How do you use content to maintain great relationships with current and past clients, and how do you turn them into brand evangelists who spread the word and bring more leads and customers to you?
Once you’ve established your customer journey, you can focus on the next major component of content marketing: the content itself. The first rule of content publication is that it has to be relevant, original, and high quality. Outsourcing your content creation to a content mill or an equivalent will almost certainly have negative impacts on the quality and originality of your content. When it comes to generating and publishing content, there are no shortcuts.
The other important consideration for content is that content does not exclusively mean blog articles. Your blog will certainly be a big part of the content that you publish, but it’s far from the only medium. When brainstorming how you’ll present your content, get creative and explore some of the following formats:
In an ideal world, you’d be able to publish excellent content and sit back, waiting for it all to pour in: engagement, email subscribes, and sales. Unfortunately, that’s not the case––publishing great content isn’t enough by itself. You also have to drive traffic (i.e. people) to your content.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of ways to drive traffic to your content, and here are just a few:
Facebook & Other Digital Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Channels // Social Updates
When working in tandem with one another, these three components form one of the most effective marketing approaches of the modern age, taking full advantage of all of the best marketing practices and discarding antiquated techniques that have a much lower ROI. Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy is no easy task, but it’s one that will grow your bottom line and increase customer retention for years to come.