What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating relevant and valuable content in order to attract, acquire and engage audiences. This content takes many forms including news, videos, e-books, infographics, guides, articles, photos, but only qualifies as such if it is intended to profitably drive customer action.
If done well, this type of content can highlight the brand, drive sales, increase the trust of our site and gain traffic on search engines. Marketers need to approach content through a broad vision of the sector and study of competitors, outlining an effective content strategy to be developed over time.
For a content marketing strategy to be successful you need to be able to choose the most effective types of content for your communication needs. As with any kind of marketing action, before taking action it is important to identify the objectives you want to achieve. The reader persona is the ideal recipient of the content produced: who is the communication addressed to? Which people do you want to interest most? Who do you want to involve and interest to the maximum degree with the published content? These are the basic questions you need to ask yourself before devising a content marketing strategy and starting to create content.
Almost all companies usually communicate with 3 types of people, namely, potential customers, customers who are familiar with the brand and those have already made a purchase. To each of these types of ideal users of communication, corresponds a specific type of content. As mentioned there are a number of ways to present your content, and a ‘mix and match’ approach is often the most effective at engaging your audience, let’s have a deeper look at the different type of content you can create for your reader persona:
1. Blogging is generally considered to be the most important of all content-marketing vehicles. Although time-consuming, industry-related articles must be researched, written and distributed on a regular basis to help boost your company’s search rankings and build customer confidence in your expertise. You’ll want to plan a full content calendar that shows how often will you blog each month and potential topics of interest. Always consider including content about what your company does best, discuss industry trends, provide commentary and opinion on latest news and announcements, and showcase the story and culture of your company.
2. Videos engage an audience quickly and effectively. 54 per cent of audiences want to see videos from brands and businesses they follow – a lot higher than other types of content. And videos can be cost-effective - you don’t need a professional film crew to create an engaging video. Any decent smartphone will do! Videos are a hugely versatile medium enabling you to portray and visualize your brand messaging effectively.
3. Podcasts, like videos, are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and difficult to produce. Developing creative audio ideas that inform and inspire your target audience can range from branded content and documentaries to personal conversations with subject matter experts or industry influencers. Simple podcast production can involve basic scripting, audio formatting, talent management, recording, editing, hosting and dissemination.
4. Case studies are hugely effective for leads who want to find out more about your business and understand the success and satisfaction you bring to your customers. These short, synopsis-type reports help prospective buyers see how you bring value to your customers and are proven to heavily influence purchasing decisions.
5. Photos are a critical component of content marketing. High quality, relevant photos that tell a story or inform your target audience should be curated to optimize ROI. Where possible, be creative and entertaining when posting on social media to create rapport and engagement.
6. User-Generated Content is a great content method that actively seeks the involvement and engagement of your audience. They can post their own content, or comment and share yours, which promotes awareness amongst their network, expanding your reach.
7. White-papers are dense, research-based pieces packed with information and data. They can be time-consuming to prepare and don’t exactly make for light reading but can be used to sway prospective buyers who are in the research phase of their buying journey.
8. How-to Guides/eBooks are like a long-form blog post that pull together information, tips, and visual media into an easily-digestible, downloadable piece of content. These are great opportunity for you to provide something of real value for your customers – something so valuable in fact, that they might be prepared to give you something you want in exchange.
9. Gated content. Consider ‘gating’ valuable content like eBooks or guides behind a pop-up or contact form where you can prompt visitors to enter their contact information in exchange for access to that content. It’s a great way to build up your contact database so long as the transaction is balanced and fair.
10. Infographics are an informative, visual way to present and share key pieces of information and statistics with your followers. They are versatile and can be used on social posts, blog images and websites. These are generally scrolling, vertical graphics that give a quick visual overview of a topic. While they should always be attention-grabbing, they must help the audience to understand and retain the content.
Content creation takes a lot of time and effort. So, in the beginning, you should focus your efforts on one type of content. Our suggestion would be to start with either blogging, video marketing or podcasts. Free tools and online courses have a much higher barrier to entry. But of these three options, which one should you choose?
First, you need to think about what kind of content your audience likes. For example, many people in the SEO niche are used to reading blog articles. That's why we started blogging. If you are a fitness professional who wants to teach people how to do exercises at home, then you should start creating videos. Second, you should think about what your skills are. For example, some people find it easier to talk than to write. If this is the case, podcasts are a great place to start.
After deciding, keep this format until you find a good process to create that type of content consistently. Only then should you switch to a new format.