What is content marketing?
In today's digital era, marketers are continuously looking for more cost-effective ways of targeting specific consumers, generating new leads and converting them into customers. This has given rise to new digital platforms that have enabled an easier and cheaper way of communicating with the end consumer. Social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn provide a unique opportunity for businesses to distribute content with their network and beyond, and engage potential consumers. Essentially, this is content marketing - "the process that involves the creation and sharing of online material that does not explicitly promote a brand".
Why is content marketing is important?
Many a firm within B2B and B2C industries are now focusing their efforts on content marketing as a cheap way to get targeted visitors to their website. Instead of paying for expensive TV commercials that may not reach a single individual, companies can create interesting content that piques interest in their brand, at a fraction of the cost of other, 'traditional', mediums.
Moreover, research suggests that over 30% of internet users worldwide use adblockers, which can prove extremely problematic for businesses attempting to target specific individuals that way. As content marketing is not classified as an 'advertisement', it is able to break through this barrier and reach the intended consumer. Additionally, as consumers generally find online advertisements to be annoying and intrusive, whereas good content is something people want to interact with, companies that partake in blogging are 13 times more likely to see a better return on investment
Another reason content marketing is becoming increasingly popular is due to its effectiveness at increasing brand awareness and recall. The content a company produces represents the values and qualities that the brand stands for as it acts as the face of a company whilst the consumer engages with the content. Therefore, companies that consistently produce high quality content are more likely to see increased brand recognition as the consumer starts to associate the brand with quality values. While most people tend to skip through TV adverts or completely ignore online adverts, studies claim that the average user spends 37 seconds reading a blog.
This emphasises that producing high quality sharable content has a much more effective long-lasting impact on consumers than most other advertising mediums.
How to develop a content marketing strategy?
It's all well and good knowing what content marketing is and how it can be beneficial to a company, but learning how to apply it in business and optimising content can be quite tricky. In this post I will provide a useful guide to help you begin your content marketing journey and provide tips to help optimise your content strategy.
Firstly, it's good practice to begin with setting a list of goals you wish to accomplish from your content marketing, such as brand awareness, increased traffic or customer retention. You should be asking yourself questions such as 'why does my content exist?' and 'what do I want my audience to do once they've engaged with the content?' as this will help focus your strategy and set you up well for the most important element of content strategy: research.
Typically, a content marketing strategy will include what platforms to use, what type of content to create, the intended audience and what consumer problems you are looking to resolve. However, decisions like this would not be made correctly without thorough research. There are three areas that you will be worth taking the time to explore:
1. Competitor research:
Once you have defined your goals, you should take the time to research what your competitors are doing. Start by looking at the type of content they create, which platforms they are using and how often they are posting. This will give a good indication of how you should be planning your own content strategy.
2. Keyword research:
Taking the time to research keywords will help to ensure that the content you create will be found by your target audience.
To make this process easier, I recommend downloading specific keyword tools such as Google search console (Free) or SEMrush (Paid). By entering words relevant to your industry or products, the programme will then provide you with a long list of alternative keywords to target. The keywords the programme provides will also show the CPC (cost per click) and the volume of searches for each individual keyword. It is good practice to begin with targeting keywords with a high search volume as this usually indicates that the term is relevant and popular. You should also be looking to target keywords with a high CPC as studies show that they can have a higher conversion are better and generate a higher income.
3. What matters to your audience?:
The final stage before you start creating your content is to find out exactly what questions your audience are asking, what problems they have and how you can deliver value. This will allow you to provide a more personalised approach in your content marketing strategy and engage with your audience.
Google Suggest (Free), BuzzSumo (Paid) or AnswerThePublic (Paid), are all programmes that will generate a long list of queries relating to a specific keyword (see above). This process will help make sure you are identifying the questions and concerns relevant to your target audience and enable you to make more informed decisions when you decide on topics and begin to write content.
Once you have identified the relevant keywords and queries, you're finally ready to start writing! But before you do, it's good practice to look at content marketing trends for 2020 to help optimise your content strategy.