Modern entrepreneurship is heavily tied to online platforms and channels. At a time when most businesses are going online, content is becoming one of the greatest assets to build upon — though not to sell to people outright but to use it as a primer for those who don’t know your brand or product yet.
We’re actually past the point when merely producing content is enough to bring potential customers to what you’re selling. Now, you also have to bring people to your content and let them get immersed in it for a certain period before putting your product front and center.
It gets tedious because building content doesn’t exactly happen overnight. Some people would hack their way into it but that method doesn’t really generate as solid results as building up content slowly. Also, convincing people to give it their attention is not as easy as it sounds. That’s why you need to guide them subtly but smoothly along your sales process through content.
That’s what content marketing is all about. In this post, I’ll discuss every facet of what content marketing entails. After this, expect you’ll be ready to try and implement this for your business.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process that encompasses three steps:
- Creating content
- Marketing the content
- Leading existing audiences through the sales process.
There’s more that goes in between each step, of course, which we’ll get to shortly.
The content tackle the topics related to your business. This creates a curiosity in people who are probably already interested in your business but don’t know they have a problem, a lack, or a need, or don’t know a solution exists.
When one piece of content piles on another, and it basically ends with the same conclusion that your product or services will make people’s lives easier and more convenient, they’re more likely to trust you from whom the information and solution came.
Content marketing is as much a part of the sales process as the ordering and payment process itself. Stripped to its core, though, content marketing simply leads back to having a wide array of content.
What's the Goal of Content Marketing?
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to bring people to the content related to your business and then slowly build them up to make an absolute purchase. In between those two one-off steps, there’s an unconscious process happening in your audience that creates a connection with your brand.
In content marketing, pieces of content don’t aim to sell. Rather, they’re intended to inform and be educational. It should have the ability to make people invested in your brand by giving valuable information to them. Some companies take advantage of interactivity and advanced tech to enhance their content marketing efforts and involve the audience on a deeper, more personal experience.
Content needs to be customer-centric instead of product- or service-based. You’re not going to put out videos, articles, images, and other forms of media to tell about what you’re selling. People couldn’t care less about that, but they will eventually if you present them with enough valuable information that triggers their desire.
One feature of content marketing that takes it a step ahead just producing content is the ability to track and measure your success and the effectivity of your marketing efforts. How well your content marketing performs also indicates how well you can sell your products or services.
Why Put Effort Into Content Marketing?
There’s no better way to explain this than take an introspective look at what Buffer did. Buffer is now a trusted partner for businesses who want to build their presence and influence online, especially through social media.
Before it became what it is today, Buffer had a good start with guest posting. They would write a couple of articles for other sites where they could get good visibility and built out pages that would point to their own website and content.
For their own blog, they put out highly shareable content that would strike the interest of their target customers. The consistent and simultaneous grind of the two tasks was the growth hacking method that got them their first hundred thousand viewers.
Now they have a wide array of content and content marketing strategies. As you can imagine, they now have an expansive content library consisting mostly of articles. However, they’ve also added podcasts and a regular email marketing strategy to further widen their distribution.
The best part about content marketing is the higher guarantee that it results in actual purchases and sales than merely marketing your products or services to a cold market, or to people who don’t know anything about your brand or that they need your offers yet.
You’ll see plenty of companies looking for ways to get more leads but ignore the power of content marketing for that very purpose. The fact is, the existing audiences you have that regularly consume your content can be categorized as leads.
There’s further work to be done after bringing them to your content, but it almost always ensures success — as in people buy from you and pay you money according to your pricing.
Types of Content
As we’ve established content marketing is a good investment of your time and effort in your business, it’s only the right time that you know what exactly to put time and effort on. So what types of content can you produce? Here are the most common forms of content we’d recommend for beginners and veterans alike.
Email is yet another type of content platform that is starting to gain more traction nowadays, even leveling to that of blogs and online publications. Newsletters, in particular, are gaining popularity.
They used to be powerful content distribution platforms for e-commerce businesses until other modern types of businesses like startups picked them up to increase brand recall and relevance.
Today, there are brands who use newsletters as their main channel of distribution. It’s preferred for the extremely personal touch of emails, as direct mails were before the Internet.
Beyond newsletters, regular emails, whether for content promotion or other email campaigns, prove to be growing and showing promising results for conversion.
It’s fair to expect that videos are the future of content marketing. We’re past blogs’ prime, and videos, specifically vertically-oriented ones, are booming in the current market. Even videos without audio are becoming the norm because of the auto-play feature in Facebook and Youtube’s mobile app — the two leading platforms for video content.
Text-based content is the most common. When you say text, you probably automatically think of blogs, articles, and the like. You’re not wrong, but also, that’s not the only things text-based content are.
Even long Facebook and Instagram captions are types of text content that matters. There’s a new term for these kinds of content which is microblogging. It’s essentially shorter pieces of content than a blog or an article, but still long enough to be able to insert some valuable information in it.
Right when we thought radio is starting to fade in the background as other types of content take mainstream attention, podcasts suddenly rise to popularity. Some podcasts are presented like TV shows, with chronological episodes and a high entertainment factor. Some are like talk shows with guests interviewed about a specific topic.
This became the new way people consumed content. When busy becomes the normal for many people and productivity tips become a buzzing topic, podcasts offer a way to be more productive in otherwise empty times like while in transit or while doing mundane chores.
How Content is Integrated Into All Types of Marketing
Content marketing is only one part of marketing. There are so many other facets to it that marketers can go into, but content is probably the one thing they won’t be able to escape. It’s integrated into almost every type of marketing there is.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has different goals than content marketing. It’s mostly about building consistent presence in audiences and customers’ social feeds, maintaining engagement, and deepening connection.
However, this may also be the easiest type of marketing to draw connections to content marketing with. Everything you put out on social media is basically content, and it fulfills the same objectives that content marketing sets out to do.
That’s it. Social media is simply a channel or platform where you can implement content marketing strategies. But it also gives you more statistics to work with for your general marketing strategies.
Inbound marketing is another development to marketing born out of the need to adapt to changes in business trends, specifically how companies convert people into buyers without resorting to a hard sell.
This type of marketing runs on the same principle as content marketing, in which you let customers seek your brand out instead of pushing it outwardly to potential customers. That’s why it’s called inbound marketing.
It can involve several tactics that are not necessarily publishing content. Inbound marketing may include creating a website that’s optimized for conversion and similar tasks. However, some of the most successful strategies in inbound marketing involve producing content, blogging, video production, and basically what content marketing does.
Do a quick search on Google of the exact words “content marketing vs seo” and you’ll have at least 5 pages worth of articles discussing the differences of the two. Five pages full of mostly comparisons, with the rare interference of an article or two that considers how they might go together.
Some people these days would stick by the belief that content marketing eliminates the need for SEO completely. Neil Patel begs to differ. He spent an entire article explaining why SEO is essentially about content marketing and vice versa. To him, SEO and content marketing overlap more than we realize and may even need to go together for each to be fully successful.
In his defense of the unpopular opinion, SEO and content marketing fulfills what the other lacks. SEO is more technical whereas content marketing is more flexible and expansive. To make content marketing work, you have to infuse some SEO into it. Likewise, implementing SEO wouldn’t do much if you don’t market the content itself.
Affiliate marketing has become another term for content marketing. With the rise of several platforms and what some people would call influencers and content creators, affiliate marketing has evolved into somewhat of a legitimate business in and of itself.
There’s a continued rise of affiliate websites and companies that enable them — Amazon being the first to offer affiliate programs on an extremely wide scale and now the leading provider for it.
Blogging and making videos are some of the most popular ways of implementing affiliate marketing. Links live inside content, and without articles, videos, social media posts, and other forms of content, there wouldn’t be anything to attach affiliate links to. That’s why affiliate marketing is heavily tied to content.
Influencer marketing is a means to level up and boost your content marketing. Influencers already have the audience that you’re looking for when marketing your content. Instead of trying to pick up audiences throughout different online platforms, you can maximize the established platforms of influencers.
In addition to the content that you already have, they also create content for you and at the same time market it directly to their followers who already trust their opinions and would likely take their advice and recommendations.
The key here is to choose the right influencers that align with your brand’s messaging. Failing to identify the right influencers with followers that match your customer avatar can be deemed inauthentic and can reverse all the work you do in this regard.
Native advertising in the online realm is similar to how traditional advertising employs magazines and other print publications to promote mostly products disguised in a piece of content. When you make it online, we’re now talking about online magazines, newspaper websites, and other media sites and social platforms.
They typically already have a set of readers, and in this context, they’re somewhat similar to what people do with influencer marketing. Only this time, there’s a more direct intent to sell.
This could also work for content marketing, though it cuts closer to traditional marketing with the use of third party platforms to outright promote products or services. Regardless, content marketing in native advertising is still and widespread practice these days.
Facets of Content Marketing
There are several facets that make up the process of content marketing. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to know the basics. Here are the major ones worth mentioning.
Content creation is having a moment in the online landscape. The Internet runs on endless content and the need for it is seemingly only increasing. Creating content is far more complicated than writing articles and conceptualizing video ideas and then editing them.
First and foremost, there’s a lot that goes on with planning. Some people have had to start with cleaning up an unorganized website full of confused filler content. If you’re just starting out with a new one, you’re in luck because you have the chance to organize it right from the beginning to avoid tedious tasks later on.
Being clear with the objectives of your content and what the underlying message is makes your content library more cohesive and easier to navigate. Creating content usually encompasses two major tasks:
- Building up a content library
Note that what we said here is content library instead of just content. As we mentioned, having an expansive selection of content provides your readers plenty of options to get sucked into your content. It helps if one topic flows smoothly with another.
- Repurposing and Content Upgrades
The other part of content creation is repurposing and upgrading old content. You should be constantly evaluating your old content because information keeps changing with ongoing research, especially when it comes to the topic of technology.
It probably affects some parts of old articles that you’re not aware of and checking regularly will make sure your content is up to date. The value of an article is lost to wrong or outdated information, and it could affect your content marketing negatively.
Content strategy is an aspect of content marketing that involves identifying your target audience, laying out your editorial or content calendar, making sure your planned content is aligned to your business plans, goals, and objectives.
We could go on… It also includes having a clear vision of how you populate your content, which also falls under content distribution, tracking performance through statistics, and also every single piece of content that you put out.
Content strategy is where your content marketing gets a little more complicated. Every part of the process from content planning to creation to tracking is accounted for through your strategy. For every part of your funnel, there should be a corresponding appropriate type of content. This part ensures that you have a clear path to how you’ll achieve your business goals through content marketing.
Planning and creating content is totally different from distributing it. Content distribution is largely what makes up the marketing side of content marketing. This is the part where you strategize and optimize the platforms and channels that you have to spread pieces of content that you have, whether old or new.
This overlaps with content creation because the two happen simultaneously, and in your content distribution plan, you can repopulate updated and repurposed content. This is also how you can amplify your messages without seeming too sell-y or like a traditional advertising ploy.
This is also where social media marketing can interact with your content marketing. Social media is the most popular platform businesses and entrepreneurs use for content distribution because people are already there. It’s easier to introduce your brand with seemingly decent content that wouldn’t sell you anything or ask you to commit to even an email list — though, of course, that is included further along in your overall content marketing strategy.
Content mapping comes after your content strategy and content distribution plans are in place and running. It involves tracking every single person that comes to interact with your posts. Once they engage with it in some way, that’s the start of their customer journey and you can start tracking their position into your sales process.
This whole process works in a circle. The date from your content strategy and distribution can be used to map out certain customers’ journey, while data from mapping your content and audience can be used to curate even more relevant content in the future.
Mapping the customer journey helps you identify the average level of customer awareness your business generally attracts. Figuring this out early on allows you to edit your content and angle it towards what your customers need to hear to push them further in the sales process.
Starting out with content marketing doesn’t really have to be as complicated as some people make it seem. With the information about the types of content here, and all the facets of the process of content marketing given, you have all the tools you really need to begin.