By Daniel Graham, Managing Director of OnBrand – Marketing Agency
Content marketing has become an increasingly important part of brand identity but it is a skill that many businesses struggle to get to grips with. Content marketing is an important part of your marketing toolbox and I hope this article helps you to kickstart your own strategy to generate those all important leads and create new prospects.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant content i.e. articles, videos, blogs, infographics, testimonials, case studies for example. Content marketing establishes expertise, promotes brand awareness, and keeps your business top of mind when a potential customer is looking to buy.
How does it work?
The point of content marketing is to entice your audience to engage with your brand. The four main pillars of content creation are to:
- Entertain – engaging content that creates awareness and interest – the first stage in the consumer buying process. E.g. social media memes, TikTok, live videos etc
- Educate – providing thought leadership content helps to position your business as a trusted and reliable source, raising or reinforcing consumer opinion of your product/service. Educational content should provide customers with new information either about your own products and services, or a relatable topic, and should be well-researched to provide significant value. E.g. industry facts, case studies, industry updates, collaborations.
- Inspire – content that elicits an emotive response. This is often best used later in the buying process. The goal is to make the potential customer ‘feel’ something from relatable content, that ultimately drives purchase e.g. success stories, testimonials, inspiring quotes, business growth stories.
- Engage/Purchase – the last stage of the buyer’s journey, should focus on content that already understands your target audience needs and wants. The aim is to satisfy these needs with accessible and influential content that contains a call to action. E.g. product information and an active link or a call to contact for more information on purchase.
How do you choose which type of content marketing to use?
There are many types of content that might work for your target audiences. Developing a content marketing plan using the four pillars of creation will provide you with a framework to allow you to map out all of your content to meet consumer needs at different stages in the purchase process. Therefore you can plan your content marketing strategy to be relevant to each of your target audiences.
By mapping out your content under each of the four headings – Educate, Inspire, Inform and Engage – you can choose the best content to use for your specific target audience under each pillar and track which one works best.
For example, a content marketing plan for a technology software company may focus on content which informs and educates using webinars and demos if they know that their target audience has been viewing software specifications and downloading white papers.
Creating a content marketing strategy
Content creation is very much about planning and targeting the right type of content to your target audience. Using a step by step approach will help you to achieve success.
Think about the following:
- Who are you creating content for? Identify and profile your target audience personas
- Determine what types and range of content (e.g. videos, podcasts, guides) are going to resonate best with your target audiences i.e.
- What subject areas are of value and interest to your target audience?
- What are their pain points and needs?
- Check out what the monthly search volumes for the subject area you are creating content for and this will give you an indication of interest level
- Define the tone and messaging that will engage with your target audiences
What content types are most important and relevant to your business? There are some content types that go across the board like landing pages, social media posts, reviews and testimonials although the importance and significance of each content type will vary from industry to industry.
For example, a company selling weight loss products it may use reviews, case studies and testimonials as the core part of its content strategy. Product descriptions of the weight loss products sold could also be determined as a critical content type to this type of business. A company selling creative services however, may rely more heavily on videos and landing pages as critical components to its matrix.
Establishing your objectives first will help to formulate your content. For example, is the content serving to provide entertainment, inspiration, education or impetus to take action or purchase?
Develop a content marketing matrix that identifies the purpose of each bit of content. The purpose will be determined by who your target audience is.
Choose your content type. There are lots to choose from – here are a few examples:
- Infographics and stats
- Reports / White Papers
- Ebooks / Guides
- Case studies
- Personal stories
- Social media stories
- Personal business success stories
- Case studies
- Inspirational quotes
- Landing Pages
- Social media posts with a call to action
Ensure you have a range of content that can be used to take people through the sales funnel and enough variety of content formats to reach people in different ways. If something doesn’t work, look at other options that might fulfil a similar role i.e. to entertain, inspire or educate.
Establish which KPI’s you wish to track so that you can measure the effects of your content marketing strategy. Typical KPI’s include: unique page visits, downloads, time spent on page, links, shares, comments, interactions. For paid campaign activity, metrics would include cost per click, cost per lead, lead generation, conversion rates, influencers, followers, subscribers and channel growth.
It is only through tracking, monitoring and measuring your content marketing efforts that you start to develop a full understanding of what is successful and works and what doesn’t. Testing out ideas and tracking response is key to good content creation so give it a go and see what happens!