Marketing is easy to understand. It’s the things you do to gain customers and make sales – like buying adverts (either online or in print), sharing your products on social media, or printing big banners to go outside your shop. It’s the things you do to get people to look at you, to notice you.
The hope with those traditional methods of advertising is that people see your product (or service), like the look of it, and realise that it fills that gap in their lives. And that’s fine. But content marketing looks at things a little differently.
So What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves the creation of useful content (we’ll go into more detail about what exactly that might be later) for your customers that they can use and enjoy for free – without any obligation for them to buy anything from you.
This might seem a bit counterintuitive.
You spend a massive amount of time and effort creating content that doesn’t actually sell your product or service. Why would you bother, when you could spend that time advertising your actual products?
Well, the whole idea behind content marketing is that you are not just finding customers who will buy from you once, but customers who become completely loyal to your brand. They’ll buy again and again, and tell their friends and family about you too. That is what is so valuable about content marketing.
Content marketing will help to build trust in your brand. Take a company that is new to the market and provides a high quality but high-cost service. Potential clients need a reason to take that leap and spend their hard-earned money on that service, and content marketing gives them the reason to make that leap.
Filling Up The Funnels…
In traditional marketing terms, content marketing is a glorious way of attracting large numbers of people to your marketing funnel. You can easily use it to build awareness for your brand, and pique interest in your products. And the more people you have at these top stages of your funnel, the more will filter down to that all-important ‘buy’ stage.
However, you shouldn’t just see content marketing as a way of selling your brand. Your focus needs to be providing genuine value to a wide range of people, without pushing your products on them.
Sounds tricky? Let’s see how some of the best in the biz do it…
The Wildly Useful Blog
If you have ever looked into scheduling social media posts, you’ve probably heard of Hootsuite. We won’t go into whether they’re the best at what they do – that’s for another time – but their blog is seriously handy.
This blog provides so much useful information for anyone who is using social media; for example, methods for increasing engagement, ideas for Instagram reels, and guides for setting up Google Analytics. It also provides free templates within their in-depth guides, giving proper value to anyone who might want to sort out their business’ social media.
If you utilised all of that useful information and later the time came that you wanted a platform to schedule your posts, who would you use?
Everyone knows that social media is important for content marketing, but a successful social media strategy is going to look different for each business. Take TK Maxx – they sell products, but their business model, where stock is limited and moves quickly, wouldn’t work with an Instagram shop.
Because of this, they have created a highly popular hashtag – #TreasureSeeker – and they use their account to share beautiful, customer-created content. Why is this successful content marketing? Well, it has created a community of TK Maxx shoppers, and customers benefit from having their photos shared to an account with over 300,000 followers.
Over on Facebook, National Geographic has it sorted. Each day, they share a variety of interesting and thoughtful stories and videos from the National Geographic website. There is something for everyone, and the content is extremely shareable and engaging.
Over on Twitter? Well, Yorkshire Tea is killing it with their content. The thing is, you’re not going to follow a tea brand on Twitter if all they talk about is how good their tea is and why you should buy it. But you might follow them if they tweet content that you can retweet, like this:
Bringing The Video
Video is seriously engaging and, when designed and developed well, can seriously boost your content marketing strategy.
A great one to look at is Quorn on Instagram. They use superb, engaging, and funny recipe videos to drive up awareness of the sorts of recipes that Quorn can be used in. Some are longer episodes – up to around ten minutes long – and they provide a service by sharing useful recipes in a humorous way.
Recipes are also handy because they are the sort of thing that people will come back to time and time again, increasing the amount of time people interact with the business.
Content Marketing Can Be Moulded To Fit Your Business…
As well as the above examples, there is a plethora of other content that can be created to benefit your business. Here are just a few of them.
It’s easy to imagine that content marketing is all online, but there are ways to engage your offline audience too. Although more viable in the pre- or post-Covid19 world, events such as speaking engagements, classes, and seminars work really well. These can be free or paid for (but generally, free works best for your content marketing).
There are too many companies to name who use offline content marketing successfully. Think bookshops hosting author events, flower shops with Christmas wreath courses, and business leaders speaking at business seminars. This is all providing valuable content to others.
And of course, it’s important to mention print here – features in newspapers and magazines (I’m talking about stories, not paid for adverts) provide entertainment and interest.
Ebooks And Resources
When asked what content marketing is, this may be what comes to mind first. Ebooks are a great way of providing a higher quantity of information, showing your credibility, trustworthiness and your knowledge. Ebooks, again, can be free or come with a cost.
The great thing about free ebooks is that you can hand them out on the condition that the recipient signs up to your mailing list. This is a great way of building leads.
Resources can be used for almost any business type. Think about downloadable recipe cards, tick lists, and guides. They could also be templates or presentations – anything that is designed to make people’s lives easier.
Everybody likes a little treat turning up in their mailbox, but how often do you just press delete? The best email content provides – here’s that word again – value. Whether it’s sneak previews, stories about the company’s employees, or exclusive content, the emails need to give something different.
Newsletters are all well and good, but think about whether your news is interesting enough to stop your recipients from sending it straight to trash.
That’s What Content Marketing Is, Now Why Should You Care?
You need to care because content marketing is what will take your business to the next level. It will help you pick up those clients who will come back again and again. It will raise huge amounts of awareness of your brand, it will increase your reach. But most importantly, it will increase your revenue.
Campaign Monitor recently found that 38x more revenue is earned from email marketing than is spent on it. B2B decision-makers are up to 79% more likely to give away their email address if they get content in return – such as an ebook.
Not only this, but 91% of B2Bs and 86% of B2Cs are using content marketing according to one study – so if you’re not doing it, you are missing out and risk falling well behind your competition.
What Do You Need To Do Now?
If you’ve read all of this in a panic, feeling a little overwhelmed, that’s OK. The great thing is that content marketing can be cherry-picked for your business. You can try different things, and find out which bits work and which bits don’t. You certainly don’t need to do it all.
Start by brainstorming what you want to achieve. If it’s more visitors to your website, then setting up a blogging schedule will help, making sure that you’re covering the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
If you want to encourage more people to follow you on social media (particularly if you have a shop linked up), then planning content that is going to be useful to your followers will be the way to go.
And if you want to build your email list so that you can keep people up to date with your business, then think about giving away some of that yummy free content like an ebook or resource in exchange for a sign-up to your email list.
Once you have decided what content is going to work best for your business, it’s time to start creating it.
Content creation can work in two ways. You can either hire someone to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. To make this choice, consider where your skills lie. Remember that your content needs to be high quality (if it isn’t, you won’t get the return you are after and it will be a waste of time and money).
With content like ebooks, they need to be well-written otherwise they will do the opposite of what you want them to – rather than showing your expertise, they could have a negative effect on your company.
Remember that any content that you create is a reflection of your business. You will want it to be good.
Some Bonus Tips…
When you want to create excellent content (no matter what format), here are some tips to make sure that your strategy is top of its game:
- Keep an eye on the stats. There is no point in pumping content out if you don’t know what benefit it is having, if any.
- Be consistent. This is key with content such as blogs and social media. If you don’t publish content regularly, people won’t stick around on social media. Likewise, with blogs, websites that rank highest in Google are ones that are updated regularly. One blog post is very unlikely to get you the traffic you want.
- Reuse your content. The best content takes time and skill to make, and it is perfectly fine to reuse that content over several platforms. In fact, it can actually increase your brand awareness.
- Try to provide something different. Listen, the internet is a saturated place. It can be hard to find something new all of the time – and that’s fine. But you are unique, and your business is unique. Don’t just follow the bandwagon.
- Know your audience. This marries into the point about keeping an eye on your stats. You want to create content that your audience enjoys and engages with. You need to know what they like and dislike.
- Learn from others. You can’t always be the best at everything, but you can see what others do well and absorb tips from them.
Content marketing is one of those things that takes time, but really pays off. In the digital world, it’s necessary to make sure that your business stands out against the competition. Content marketing is THE way to do that.
If you need some help to get your content marketing off the ground, drop us a line. We can talk strategy, execution, scrutiny – whatever you fancy. Book yourself in for a free consultation below…
Our Creative Content Specialist, Harriet Young, is a prolific blogger, Instagrammer and (almost) published author. A self-confessed book addict, Harriet loves to read, write and photograph books in her spare time - a hobby which transfers beautifully into her role of writing creative content for our wonderful clients.