In this content marketing explained article, we explore everything you need to know to help your business or organisation use content marketing better as simply as possible.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing that involves creating valuable, informative, and engaging content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. This type of marketing is centred around the creation and distribution of content that provides value to potential customers, rather than simply promoting a product or service.
The goal of content marketing is to establish a relationship with customers and potential customers by providing them with helpful and informative content that they can use to solve problems or address their needs. By building trust and credibility through content, businesses can increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, and ultimately, generate leads and sales.
Content marketing can include various forms such as blog posts, videos, social media posts, infographics, whitepapers, case studies, and podcasts. The goal is to produce content that is useful, relevant, and appealing to the intended audience.
Here are some content marketing statistics according to Semrush relating to content marketers and content marketing teams:
- 47% of content marketers research their audience.
- 45% are now publishing more content, more frequently than ever.
- 41% confirmed that analysing their competitors influenced the success of their content marketing efforts
With the rise of digital media and the increasing importance of online presence, content marketing has become a crucial part of any marketing strategy.
By providing value to customers through content, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors, build relationships with their audience, and ultimately drive growth and success.
When Did Content Marketing Become So Popular?
Content marketing has been around for decades, but it has become increasingly popular in recent years due to several factors outlined above. It’s not a new thing or phenomenon brought on by technology either.
Here’s a brief timeline of the evolution and history of content marketing:
- 1895: John Deere, a manufacturer of farming equipment, launched The Furrow magazine, which provided farmers with information on agriculture and farm management. This is considered one of the earliest examples of content marketing.
- 1900s-2000s: Content marketing continued to evolve in the 20th century, with businesses using print, radio, and television to distribute informative content to their target audience.
- 1996: Bill Gates famously wrote an essay titled “Content is King” that predicted the importance of content in the future of the internet.
- 2000s: With the rise of digital media, content marketing began to take on new forms, such as blogs, social media, and video marketing.
- 2010s: Content marketing exploded in popularity in the 2010s, with businesses of all sizes embracing the strategy as a way to attract and retain customers in an increasingly crowded digital marketplace. It even began the evolution to user-generated content on social media and content channels such as YouTube began to take off. It opened the door to influencers, excellent blogs and expert content creators.
As new technologies and platforms emerge so will the importance of increasing your online presence especially as the changing behaviour of consumers takes hold across a myriad of devices and platforms.
Check out some really cool content marketing examples here.
How Can You Use Content Marketing in Your Business?
Here are some common ways to use content marketing:
- Increase brand awareness: Creating content that showcases your brand’s personality and values can help you attract new audiences and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry and assist in the awareness stage (a key part of content to market funnel stages on the buying journey).
- Generate leads: Creating gated content such as e-books, blog articles, white papers, and webinars can help you capture leads and grow your email list.
- Drive website traffic: By creating and sharing high-quality content, you can attract more visitors to your website and increase your search engine rankings. You can also use content mapping across your marketing mediums for maximum impact.
- Build customer loyalty: Providing valuable content that helps your customers solve problems or learn new skills can help you build trust and loyalty with your audience.
- Boost social media engagement: Creating shareable content that resonates with your target audience across your social media platforms, can help you increase your social media marketing engagement and build a community around your brand.
- Increase conversions: By creating content that addresses the pain points and objections of your target audience, you can help them overcome their doubts and make a purchase decision.
As you can see, content marketing is a versatile strategy that can be used to achieve a wide range of business objectives.
The key is to create content that is relevant, useful, and valuable to your target audience, and to distribute it through the right channels to maximize its impact. This should be the central goal of any content marketing project.
Why Use Content Marketing at All?
Let’s take a slightly deeper look into why you should use content marketing at all. Whilst some of these reasons are similar to the above, they show the key role it plays in your overall marketing strategy:
Boost Search Engine Rankings
Creating high-quality, optimized content can help improve your search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic to your website. By targeting relevant keywords and topics, you can increase your visibility on search engines and attract more potential customers.
Increase Engagement on Social Media
Sharing engaging and compelling content on social media can help you increase engagement with your followers and build a community around your brand. By creating content that resonates with your audience, you can encourage them to like, comment, and share your posts, which can help increase your visibility and reach on social media.
Building Your Brand Awareness
Content marketing allows you to create and share content that showcases your brand’s personality, values, and expertise. By consistently providing value to your target audience, you can increase brand awareness and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
Automating the Generation of Leads and Sales
Creating gated content such as e-books, whitepapers, and webinars can help you capture leads and grow your email list. By providing valuable content that addresses the pain points and needs of your target audience, you can attract potential customers and move them further down the sales funnel.
Content marketing is a powerful strategy that can help you achieve a wide range of business objectives.
By providing value to your target audience through high-quality, relevant content, you can establish a strong brand identity, build trust and loyalty, and ultimately drive growth and success for your business.
How Content Marketing Works
Content marketing works by creating and distributing valuable, informative, and engaging content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
Here’s how the process typically works:
- Define your target audience: The first step in content marketing is to identify your target audience and understand their needs, interests, and pain points. This will help you create content that is relevant and useful to them. You can start by also reviewing your current keyword rankings on Google to gauge how people are interacting with your content online.
- Create high-quality content: Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can start creating content that provides value to them. This can take many forms, such as blog posts, videos, social media posts, infographics, whitepapers, case studies, podcasts, and more. The key is to create content that is relevant, useful, and engaging to your audience.
- Distribute your content: Once you have created your content, you need to distribute it through the right channels to reach your target audience. This can include your website, social media channels, email marketing, and other online platforms.
- Measure your results: To gauge the success of your content marketing efforts, you need to measure your results. This can include metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, email open rates, and conversion rates. By analyzing your data, you can identify what is working and what needs improvement and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
- Repeat and refine: Content marketing is an ongoing process, and you need to continuously create and distribute high-quality content to keep your audience engaged. By analyzing your results and using campaign tracking tools and refining your approach, you can continuously improve your content marketing efforts and achieve your business goals.
Content marketing works by creating valuable content that attracts and retains your target audience, building relationships with them, and ultimately driving growth and success for your business.
An effective blog post for example can raise your brand awareness, educate your client and pull people to your website through Google – all from a carefully written content piece which keeps bringing people back to you.
Why is Content Marketing Effective?
Content marketing is effective for several reasons. One of the primary reasons content marketing is effective is because it provides value to the audience. By creating content that is informative, helpful, and engaging, businesses can attract and retain their target audience and build trust and credibility with them.
It’s difficult with so much noise online to increase awareness of your business, but content marketing can help increase brand awareness by putting a brand in front of potential customers through informative content. By creating content that resonates with their target audience, businesses can attract new customers and build a positive reputation.
By creating relevant and topical content in a content marketing campaign, you can then begin to build a relationship with your audience increasing trust and confidence in your brand and business over time. This can lead to increased customer retention and referrals. This can greatly reduce your customer acquisition costs.
Not only this, but in writing optimised content relevant to your industry, you can actually boost your search engine rankings at the same time. High-quality, optimized content can improve a business’s search engine rankings which will drive more traffic to your website and increase visibility to more potential customers, which again you can build trust with over time.
By building a relationship with your customers, you can find out what their problems and pain points are, answer their questions directly or use their feedback to improve your products and services.
This helps drive conversions, meaning you can have potential customers further down the sales funnel, increasing the likelihood of a conversion and buying from you. This is incredibly important when it comes to digital marketing today.
Another reason why many use content marketing is that it’s cost-effective. If you compare how much it costs to place an advert in a magazine (which ones it’s been seen may never be seen again), content marketing can keep on providing value as pieces of content can be used across multiple channels and aligned with your goals in a number of ways. Not only this but it can also be tracked so you can see how efficient it is and adapt your content marketing strategies accordingly.
How Can Content Marketing Generate Leads?
There are so many ways you can build an effective strategy for generating leads by providing valuable and informative content that drives potential customers into your marketing funnel and digital marketing campaigns.
Here are just some examples:
- Gated content: Creating high-quality, informative, and valuable content such as e-books (one of the most efficient content formats), whitepapers, audio content, webinars, visual content and case studies then offering them as gated content can help generate leads. By requiring potential customers to provide their contact information in exchange for access to the content, businesses can capture leads and grow their email list.
- Calls to action (CTAs): Including clear and compelling CTAs in content such as blog posts, videos, and social media posts can encourage potential customers to take the next step and engage with the business. CTAs can be used to promote a product or service, offer a free trial, or provide more information.
- Landing pages: Creating landing pages specifically designed to convert visitors into leads can be an effective way to generate leads through content marketing. Landing pages should be optimized for conversion, with a clear value proposition and a compelling CTA.
- SEO optimization: Optimizing content for search engines can increase visibility and drive more organic traffic to a website. By targeting relevant keywords and topics, businesses can attract potential customers who are searching for information related to their product or service. Google now requires websites to provide helpful content if they wish to rank highly on its search engine and if you optimise your content, you can see the impact it has on your current traffic rates against previous years. It’s a great way of getting relatively quick feedback on any campaign especially if you are ranking for long-tail keywords.
- Social media: Sharing informative and engaging content on social media can help businesses attract potential customers and generate leads. By creating content that resonates with their target audience and including CTAs, businesses can encourage social media users to engage with their brand and provide their contact information and encourage social media shares. You can also have fun with your social media profiles too for added impact throughout the year and at particular times.
- Email newsletters: You can use this medium to keep your audience informed of what is happening at your business so that you remain top of mind. Whilst a customer might not need your services today, they might in the future. It all helps throughout the buying cycle. Email marketing is still a powerful digital marketing channel today and should not be overlooked.
How Long Does Content Marketing Take?
The amount of time it takes for content marketing to produce tangible results varies depending on several factors, such as the type of content, the quality of content, the target audience, the industry, and the competition.
Here are some factors which can impact the time content marketing can take to provide a ROI:
The Nature of the Campaign Goals
It also depends on what your goals are too. For example, the time it takes to achieve content marketing goals will depend on what your goals specified are too. If, for example, you want to rank organically for number 1 in Google for a particular keyword in a competitive market, this is going to take a lot longer to achieve than releasing a short Twitter tweet seeking x in online engagement.
The Quality of the Content Produced
High-quality content that is relevant, valuable, and engaging will generally produce results more quickly than low-quality content that does not resonate with the target audience. This means you need to take the time to research your market and write and produce content which resonates with your audience.
This means the medium in which you release your content needs to be carefully considered too. An optimised long-form blog piece optimised to a keyword can take upwards of 4 hours if it’s researched fully and optimised with all factors considered.
Compare that to a high-level emotive advert and you could be looking upwards of a month to three months to get the advert scripted, filmed and edited. It all comes down to the mediums at your disposal within your budget too.
Frequency and Consistency of Content Creation
Creating and publishing high-quality consistent content is key to achieving results with content marketing. The more frequently businesses publish content, the faster they can expect to see results.
You can’t just produce one piece of content and think that’s it, that you’ll see a result. No, you need to send signals to show that your website and social feeds deserve to be at the top of the trends and search engines by keeping them relevant and up to date.
It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s why you need a content marketing plan, editorial calendar and key performance metrics to stay on track.
The level of competition in the industry can impact how long it takes to see results from content marketing. If the competition is high, it may take longer to establish a presence and attract a significant audience. That’s because you’re all after the same share of the pie.
The good news though, is that this is how you can use content marketing to differentiate yourself from the rest! A basic keyword lookup will help you understand how competitive your industry is and then you get to show how unique you are with your own content ideas enabling you to be as creative as possible. All you need is the freedom to think and the world is your oyster!
Audience Participation and Engagement
The level of engagement from the target audience can impact the timeline for results. If the audience is engaged and shares the content, it may lead to faster growth and results.
If you are starting from the beginning, then seeing an engagement increase is proving that your content marketing is working especially if you are seeing higher conversion in sales or points of contact across your channels.
You can quickly track things such as email marketing bounce rates, click-through rates and analyse Google Analytics to get the key metrics you need to measure the success of any content marketing campaign. You can also use these metrics to assess and modify your SEO strategy too.
How Can Content Marketing Improve Sales?
Content marketing can improve sales in several ways by providing valuable and informative content that addresses the needs and interests of potential customers.
Building Trust and Credibility
By creating high-quality, informative, and valuable content, businesses can build trust and credibility with potential customers. By providing value without asking for anything in return, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry and make potential customers more likely to consider purchasing their product or service.
Providing an Education
Content marketing can be used to educate potential customers about a product or service, helping them understand how it works, what benefits it offers, and how it can solve their problems. By providing this information, businesses can move potential customers further down the sales funnel and make them more likely to make a purchase.
Addresses Key Objections
Content marketing can be used to address common objections that potential customers may have about a product or service. By creating content that addresses these objections and provides solutions, businesses can overcome potential barriers to a sale.
Content marketing can be used to promote products or services in a subtle and informative way. By including CTAs and links to product pages within content, businesses can make it easy for potential customers to learn more and make a purchase.
By tracking website visitors and social media users who have engaged with content, businesses can retarget them with ads that are more likely to convert. This can help move potential customers further down the sales funnel and increase the likelihood of a sale.
Content Marketing Trends
Here are some of the latest trends you can use in your digital marketing strategies to increase your customer base too:
Short Form Video
In 2023, video remains the most valuable content type for brands to gain traction across channels, with live video being particularly effective on social media.
As a result, all social platforms prioritize video content in their algorithms, including traditionally text-based platforms like LinkedIn.
The trend for mobile-first, vertical, short-form video content continues in 2023, and brands are encouraged to experiment with this format in both organic and paid advertising.
To create successful short-form content for mobile, keep it punchy, add a surprise twist, use interesting captions, experiment with creating your own sounds, and browse trending topics and hashtags on platforms.
An Increasing Creator Economy
The creator economy is set to grow and change in 2023, creating intense competition between brands to attract and retain the best creators across platforms.
Brands want to fill their content gaps and tie into the latest trends, but they may not have the knowledge or capacity to act quickly or effectively enough.
Content reviews from creators are trusted, and engagement is often higher on creator profiles than for brand profiles. Brands can utilize creators as part of their marketing strategy by offering products for review, inviting them to events, or collaborating on content.
Social media networks are making it easier for brands to find quality and relevant creators, such as Instagram’s creator portfolio and YouTube’s 45% revenue split on YouTube shorts.
This trend is expected to continue to evolve in the future.
Artificial Intelligence Will Grow
In 2023, AI will play a bigger role in content creation as the demand from consumers for personalization intensifies. AI solutions such as UberSuggest, Copy.ai, and Chat GPT are coming onto the market to assist with blog posts, social media posts, and conversations.
AI can help content marketers break through writer’s block and generate ideas to kickstart the creative process.
However, it is still integral for humans to be involved in the content creation process, as AI is not yet advanced enough to write an entire blog post from start to finish.
With more investment in software and machine learning, there will likely be breakthroughs in natural language processing, and AI will produce high-quality content that only needs to be quality assured or edited.
AI is expected to play an increasingly significant role in content marketing in the future, assisting with the content creation process and providing more personalized and engaging content for consumers.
Long Form Content
While many marketers focus on short-term content, long-form content such as blogs, ebooks, and webinars should not be ignored. A more focused form of content marketing still has its place, especially for consumable online content and for use with content repurposing. They are an excellent content format for lead generation and building email lists too.
Long-form content is not only great for SEO, but it also builds more backlinks than shorter content. Long-form videos can also be effective in engaging and driving people to a website or brand, especially for young people who use TikTok and Instagram to search for places to go out for lunch.
LinkedIn Live is becoming an increasingly accessible tool for hosting professional webinars and conversations on LinkedIn, while podcasts have seen a rise in popularity with the growth of voice search and ownership of smart devices. Brands should tap into the trend of audio content and voice search to see if their content resonates on those channels.
Long-form content remains a crucial element of content marketing in 2023.
Is Content Marketing the Future of Digital Marketing?
Content marketing has become an essential part of the marketing landscape and for digital marketers and is expected to continue to play a significant role in the future.
The growth of digital media has created new opportunities for content marketing. With the increasing importance of online presence, businesses need to create and distribute high-quality content to stand out in a crowded market.
Now that Consumers are becoming more selective and sceptical of traditional advertising, they want brands to provide value and build relationships with them, all of which can be achieved through content marketing.
Any business knows that the competition for consumer attention is becoming more intense, making it more challenging for businesses to stand out. By creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content, businesses can now attract and retain their target audience and build a competitive advantage and show how unique they are.
Content marketing allows businesses to target their audience with precision and tailor their messaging to the specific needs and interests of their target audience. This can help increase engagement and conversion rates.
As with any marketing, knowing how it performs is key. This has been difficult in the past with traditional marketing approaches, but now with data-driven insights businesses can measure the impact of their content marketing efforts and adjust their strategy accordingly. This can help improve the effectiveness of content marketing and drive better results over time.
Content marketing is only set to increase long into the future.
In summary, from reading this article content marketing explained, you have learnt that effective content marketing is a marketing strategy that involves creating and distributing valuable, informative, and engaging content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
Given the different types of content marketing, you can see that it is a versatile strategy that can be used to achieve a wide range of business objectives, from building brand awareness to generating leads and sales.
It works by creating high-quality content that provides value to the audience, building relationships, and ultimately driving business objectives through the creation and distribution of that content in support of the customer journey and buying process.
The effectiveness of the content depends on several factors, including the:
- quality of content,
- frequency, consistency,
- and audience engagement.
Overall, successful content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires patience and consistency to produce results, and it is expected to remain an essential part of the marketing landscape in the future. Aligning key performance indicators to pieces of content can really pay dividends too.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at your current content marketing efforts compared to your competitors and see how they use their content for their target market and look to see if they have a consistent publishing schedule.