Content Marketing 101: Part I

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Patrick Cumming

Is your business performing as well as you’d like online? If not, it could be time to switch up your marketing strategy. Content marketing is one method that has made waves in recent years for its modern approach to marketing which has helped scores of businesses skyrocket their online performance by building meaningful relationships with their target audience.

Like most business terminology, content marketing is a term that’s often misunderstood. So, to help avoid any confusion, let’s first define what content marketing is and what it isn’t.

Here’s a definition of content marketing from The Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The goal of content marketing is similar to that of regular marketing campaigns: to gain exposure for a brand. However, while normal marketing campaigns often fall into the category of ‘direct-response marketing’ and focus on driving sales, content marketing is all about driving awareness by finding and nurturing an audience to stimulate interest in the brand.

Content marketing is a soft-sell approach—so soft, in fact, the target audience may not even realise they’re being marketed to at the outset. Audiences are offered informative, entertaining & valuable content for free: think videos, blog posts or lifestyle tips via email (more on this soon). The goal is to first build a relationship with the consumer. Then further down the line with more ‘traditional’ marketing techniques, the brand can use that relationship in a way that’s beneficial to both the marketer and the consumer.

Though content marketing sometimes involves advertising, it more often focuses on spreading valuable content in a natural, organic way. The goal isn’t to reach a wide audience; instead, the goal is to message specifically the people that would find your product or service useful—your potential brand evangelists.

Why content marketing?

The rise of the internet has shifted the way consumers behave. They’re now savvy to the hard-sell marketing tactics of the past. They want to have a relationship with the brands they buy from, before they decide to buy from them. It’s a brand’s job to build that relationship, and content marketing is one way to do it.

Pros

  • Granular targeting: Marketing tools allow you to tailor your content to segments of consumers most likely to be interested in your products.
  • Improved SEO: having lots of information-rich content on your website lets the Google bots know it’ll be useful, and they reward quality content with high rankings.
  • Reusable: You can get a lot of mileage out of a single piece of content – one useful blog post could also be used to form a podcast, a video, a series of emails and social media posts.

Cons

  • Time-consuming: Although you’ll get a lot of mileage out of it, creating content can take a long time, especially because it’s imperative that content be high quality.
  • Challenging: brands that think content marketing doesn’t work usually have poor-quality content, and that’s because creating high-quality content is difficult.
  • Results take time: content marketing is a long-term strategy that benefits patient brands that commit to consistent content creation, and it’s all about filling the consideration funnel, not driving direct sales.

The good news is that if this sounds like more than you want to handle, Elastic can help! Whether you need help to create content or to amplify it across the web, our team of expert content marketers builds campaigns that work.

The experience is everything. Find out more about our content management expertise.

Types of content

Okay, so now you’re convinced that content marketing is right for your business. You’re ready to get more traffic, a wider audience and more engaged users. Awesome. The first thing to decide is what type of content makes sense for your brand.

Blogs and Articles

Blogs and articles often form the backbone of content marketing, and while blogs live directly on your own site, articles can be posted anywhere online, from free sites like Medium to ‘advertorial’ slots on well-read sites like Buzzfeed.

Videos and Animation

Blogs and articles are a great way to pack a lot of information into one page, but videos combine sight, sound & motion in an engaging way that drives interest. The best part? Video can live everywhere from your own site to social media or external sites, and it’s easy to turn it into pre-roll footage that can be used as an ad on sites like Youtube. Plus, they’re shareable across social media in a way that can generate loads of organic reach if your content is good.

Infographics, Whitepapers and eBooks

If you’re like most people in the world, you probably enjoy free stuff. And so do your customers. Infographics, whitepapers and eBooks are particularly useful to B2B marketers. You can offer them in exchange for email addresses and contact info, which allows you to nurture your relationship with a new potential client.

Email

Email marketing looks different than it did in the early 2000s, that’s for sure. And with the advent of GDPR, marketers need to be even more careful that they’re providing content their audience is actually interested in. Here’s my favourite email marketing statistic: it provides an insane 3800% return on investment. That alone should be enough to convince you.

Okay, so that’s some of the different types of content dealt with—other types that may fit niche audiences include online quizzes, branded print magazines (Bumble, an online-only brand, recently made headlines for going this route), shareable GIFs (Converse & Glossier excel at this) and more. But you still need to make sure your content resonates with your audience.

So, let’s take a look at how to do that next— be sure to check out Part II, where we’ll cover all the ways you can make sure your content shines!

In the meantime, if you’re ready to get started with content marketing now, give us a call today to find out how we can help!

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