From pay-per-click advertising to SEO, some marketing methods are easy to justify and even easier to quantify. They bring in leads and sales, often immediately, giving your business the fuel it needs to keep growing and developing.
Other marketing methods are more subtle. While every marketer can recognise the value of a powerful brand, for example, investing in branding often doesn’t produce any measurable return on investment for a significant amount of time.
Content marketing, more often than not, falls into the second category. While it can take quite a lot of time for your company to generate sales from content marketing, the results – when they occur – are rarely insignificant.
Have you used content marketing to promote your website and develop a powerful, memorable brand? In this guide, we’ll look at why content marketing is such a great way to strengthen your website’s brand and drive revenue.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is, simply put, marketing through content. Despite this relatively simple definition, there’s a lot more to content marketing than just creating content without any specific purpose.
Effective content marketing involves understanding the purpose each article, blog post, video or infographic serves, both to the user and to your business. Does it give readers a new understanding of a topic, or does it show them how to do something?
Content marketing could involve a series of blog posts identifying a challenge that people face and presenting a solution. It could be an interesting editorial about one of the most interesting aspects of your industry.
While content marketing is built on content, it isn’t only content. As Joe Chernov put it in a 2014 blog post for HubSpot, all of the content involved in a content marketing campaign needs to be directly linked to your company’s sales engine.
The many types of content marketing
Many marketers associate the term “content marketing” with blogging. Blogging is a key component of effective content marketing and one of the most popular forms of written content, but it’s definitely not everything.
Content comes in many forms, not all of which are obvious to marketers. Content could be an interesting video, a detailed case study, a downloadable eBook or an infographic that’s shared across social media.
Neil Patel’s list of 15 types of content for content marketers outlines the incredibly diverse range of forms that content can take. Don’t feel you’re limited to blog posts or articles alone – content marketing can take many extremely different forms.
Why content marketing is important
Many companies ignore content marketing in favour of easily measurable marketing methods like pay-per-click advertising. This is often because content marketing isn’t an easy form of marketing to quantify and measure like PPC or display advertising. In content marketing, there is no “amount spent” or average CPC. There’s no average cost per acquisition to compare your spending to. There’s often no progress at all in the early stages of a campaign, since content marketing results are rarely instant. Instead, content marketing produces results over time. Rarely will someone read a blog post or view a video and immediately sign up for your service; it’s more likely that they won’t sign up, but will remember your brand for the future. Then, after reading three or four of your blog posts or viewing a few of your videos over an extended period, they’ll start to trust you. Over time, your companies goes from being a complete stranger to a reputable source of helpful information. Rand Fishkin explains this well, noting that the biggest mistake many businesses make in content marketing is anticipating immediate results. That just isn’t how it happens – results happen over time, not as soon as people see your content.
When those results start to appear, they’re significant. Because your company has provided so much value to its audience through its blog posts, its videos and all of the other content it’s produced, it’s the natural choice for its target audience.
How to run an effective content marketing campaign
There are three key elements to every effective content marketing campaign. The first is an understanding of your target audience. The second is an understanding of each piece of content’s purpose. The third is patience.
One of the biggest content marketing mistakes many companies make is believing that publishing any content will put them ahead. Content, even useful content, that doesn’t help your target audience will rarely have any significant impact.
Start your content marketing efforts by identifying the topics that your audience is interested in. These could be challenges your audience faces, interesting topics that your audience cares about or misconceptions your audience currently has.
The second step is understanding that each piece of content, from articles to video, has to fit into a greater strategy. What does each piece of content you publish to do better position your business as a brand that your target audience should trust?
Does a blog post educate readers on a subject and leave them better than they were before they read it? Does a video position your company as an authority on a certain topic that people should pay attention to?
Finally, it’s important to be patient. Content marketing is a marathon, not a hundred metre race. Building trust with your audience takes time, and rushing it does more damage than being patient and waiting for your audience to respond to you.
How to get the most from your content
Creating content is just one side of content marketing; the other side is making sure your content has the greatest possible reach. Use these five tips to get the most from your content marketing efforts and create real results for your business:
- Create content that’s shareable and designed to reach a large audience instead of a small group of people
- A/B test your headlines, images and other elements to get the biggest possible response to your content
- Make the most of your existing content by repurposing guides, videos and other resources to appeal to different audiences
- Before you write, film or design anything, write down the content’s purpose and target audience to make sure it’s focused and effective
- Measure the results of your content marketing by paying attention to brand mentions and traffic sources
Does your company use content marketing?
One of the best qualities of content marketing is that it’s suitable for just about every business. From small businesses to large companies, any business can communicate with its target audience through content.
Does your company use content marketing? If you’ve passed over content marketing in favour of other forms of online marketing, give it another thought. When effective, it produces results beyond almost every other marketing method out there.