Content marketing is a way of communicating with your customers and prospects without pitching your products or services.
Also known as inbound marketing, content marketing is non-interruptive. Instead of overtly trying to sell something to your audience, you consistently create and deliver valuable information that educates them. Ultimately they reward you by purchasing your products, recommending them to friends via social media channels and word-of-mouth, and acting as brand ambassadors.
It is the opposite of interruption marketing, also known as outbound marketing, a traditional method of product promotion which interrupts a person's flow of activity to grab their attention and tell them about what they should buy. This form of marketing may create recognition, but it's rejected by consumers about 90% of the time.
In today's marketplace, people often search for reviews and recommendations when they're evaluating products. A strategic, well-researched content marketing strategy will help you create content that resonates with your target market while increasing engagement, social shares, and the size of your audience. The more your content is shared and recommended, the more you build trust and thought leadership. The result? More leads and sales.
Intergage, a full-service digital marketing agency, created the infographic below to illustrate the steps you should take to create a focused content plan. It also presents some statistics about how brands are using content marketing and why:
- On average, marketers spend more than 25% of their budget on content marketing
- Marketers use content marketing for:
- Brand awareness (79%)
- Lead generation (71%)
- Customer acquisition (74%)
- B2B companies that blog regularly see a 67% increase in leads per month than those that don't
- 60% of consumers feel more positive about about a company after reading custom content on its website
- Interesting content is a top-3 reason that people follow brands on social media
7 Steps for an Optimized Content Marketing Strategy
1. Define your business goals: What do you want to accomplish?
There is a sense of urgency about content marketing, which is leading many brands to jump in without setting clear-cut goals - a recipe for failure. Don't fall into this trap.
- Do you want to land new business?
- Would you like to cross-sell by suggesting related products or services to a customer who is considering buying something from you?
- Have new products to launch?
- Do you want to be a thought leader in your industry?
What does your target audience want? What types of content would help you gain their trust to the extent that they recommend your products? It's important to research:
- Buyer personas and their relevant segmentation
- Keywords that they likely use to research products in your category
- Your competitors' search engine strategy (SEO) and results
- The use of social media marketing platforms by other companies in your industry
- Formats your target audience prefers
As I wrote in a recent post, it is vital to plan, manage, and optimize your content marketing initiatives. Managing the workflow is an important element of success. I created a content marketing planning template that you can use as a starting point to:
- Map out your plan
- Create a content marketing calendar
Your content should answer some unmet need or question for your customer. It must to be useful in some way to them, over and above what you offer as a product or service.
- Create content in the various formats that resonate with your audience
- Create content for each stage of your buying cycle
- Optimize your content via SEO and keyword optimization
Publish your content on platforms that suit the formats you have created:
- Your website
- Your blog
- PR Web
Once you've published content, it's important to promote it. This improves its viral nature and puts your brand on your audience's radar.
- Use social media marketing platforms to distribute your content
- Build internal links to create authority
- Manage comments and feedback
- Use social bookmarking sites such as Reddit and StumpleUpon
In a previous post, I emphasized the importance of distilling data in ways that are relevant to your marketing plan. This is a key part of figuring out how to resonate with your audience.
- Use social media analytics tools
- Use Google Analytics
- Monitor performance with marketing KPIs (key performance indicators)