There is a lot of hype around content marketing. If you speak to any SEO expert or optimization guru, one of the first pieces of advice you will receive is to optimize your online content and market it well.
But what exactly is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as such: “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.”
Simply put, content marketing is necessary for you and your business:
It leads to:
● Increased sales
● Cost savings
● Better brand positioning
● Customer retention and loyalty
● And numerous SEO benefits
But you don’t need to have an in-house content or marketing team to reap these benefits. You can always find a content marketing strategist or a content marketing agency that specializes in these tasks to help you.
What do content marketing services involve?
It is typically a five-stage process that includes:
1. Content Marketing Audit
2. Content Marketing Strategy
3. Content Marketing Planning
4. Content Marketing Creation and Execution
5. Content Marketing monitoring and optimization
Many users confuse inbound marketing with content marketing. However, there is a subtle difference. Content marketing is, in fact, a subset of inbound marketing.
To be specific, content marketing refers to all acts of sharing knowledge, advice or entertainment that users find easy to consume.
Types of content marketing may include:
● Blog articles
● Guest posting services
● Email campaigns
While content marketing targets a broader target audience, inbound marketing focuses on specific buyer personas. But perhaps the best thing about content marketing is that you can start doing it with a very low budget or even $0.
Often content marketing is misunderstood to be blogging. However, as you can see ‘blogging’ is merely a type of content marketing and you can do much more with content.
Blogging is, in fact, the foundation of Content Marketing.
It is blog articles that sort of pioneered content marketing as we know it today.
Blogs have become the most common tool or technique to pass on information that users/readers find useful.
Especially if you are talking about B2B content marketing, business blogs can establish thought leadership and industry expertise that increase user engagement and bring repeat visitors to your website. It can also turn these readers into potential buyers.
By sharing content for free, you establish brand equity and trust among your readers. After all, you are offering them industry advice and tips – absolutely for free.
Building a content marketing funnel
Doing content marketing right has many advantages; every piece of content you generate is a chance to bring a new lead closer to the sale or motivating a customer to take some action.
This is why a content marketing strategy is important. It enables you to offer relevant and interesting material, new ways to repurpose your existing material and create effective content for different parts of the marketing funnel.
The content marketing funnel is a system that collects as many leads as possible via a systematic and organized content flow. It converts them into actual customers that pay for your products and services.
Broadly speaking the content marketing funnel has three main stages:
1. Awareness – Is when a lead first discovers your business
2. Evaluation – When a qualified lead(also known as a prospect) wants to find out whether your product/service is right for them.
3. Purchase – This is when the prospect collects the last bits of information they require and becomes a customer.
A content marketing manager knows how to organize content at each step of this funnel to optimize conversions and sales. Knowing what content should be used at which stage of the marketing funnel, is equally important.
For example, at the closing stage of the funnel, you need to simply persuade the consumer and therefore use content like reviews and ratings, self-assessments, questionnaires etc.
Content Marketing in 2019
Like all digital marketing, trends and rules of content marketing keep evolving with time. If you are looking for advice and tips on content marketing trends for 2019, here’s what you need to know:
1. You need a content plan
Start with a content marketing plan that aligns your content to business goals.
2. Build original and relevant content – no copy, no clickbait
You may have an attractive headline but if your content is not personally relevant to the user, it will not work. Provide great information that is useful to them for free.
3. Use influencer marketing
Find out local and national influencers in your sector or industry. In fact, look within your close circles and you might find a brand advocate or evangelist.
4. Always try out something new
Be it video, audio, podcasts or a short story. Try new formats and mediums to reach out to people. Not only does it break the monotony of your website, but you also find a potential new audience.
5. Make decisions based on data
Data should drive your content marketing strategy, plan and tactics. Focus on being the best at serving your target group by finding out what is working and what is not.
Finally, if you haven’t created your content marketing plan, now is the right time to build it. If you feel the need for expert help on this, consider hiring a content marketing specialist to guide you.