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Content marketing has gained major popularity in recent years. It’s a marketing strategy that is proven to generate and convert leads more successfully than conventional marketing techniques. The latter has been increasingly disfavoured by audiences due to its obtrusive methods of promotion.

People are bombarded with marketing every day and don’t want to be told to buy something. They want to know why. They wish to be supported and engaged in a conversation. This is the domain where content marketing excels. If you haven’t incorporated it into your sales process yet, find out in this article how to do it and why.

What is Content Marketing?

Although content marketing has been around for decades, the term was first used in 1996 by John F. Oppedahl at a conference of the American Society for Newspaper Editors. It defines a marketing approach for creating and distributing interactive content for your target audience. 

The engaging content is what differentiates this type of marketing as a highly effective digital tool. Such engaging content provides useful, relevant, and entertaining media for specific audiences. Instead of relying on direct advertising, such as display ads or telemarketing, you develop a narrative around your brand intended to give customers a chance to make the best choice for themselves. The narrative is often informative and tailored to the buyer’s journey from learning about your brand to making a purchase.

With people’s attention span having dropped by 25% in the last few years as reported by Microsoft, marketers need to focus on delivering content of substance to attract and establish lasting relationships with their customers. In its essence, content marketing done right adds value to your audience’s lives and your business.  

Why Do You Need Content Marketing?

There are several important reasons why you should consider content marketing.

  • Brand awareness and preference. When you consistently deliver high-quality content relevant to customers’ interests, you gain authority as a thought leader and trust as a credible source of information. Your brand becomes recognizable, which means that people will remember and return to your website.
  • Low-cost. Producing your own content and distributing it on your own social networks is tied to fewer costs than ad campaigns. Through engaging with your content, your audience is likely to share it on social media, resulting in higher reach.
  • Organic traffic. Organic traffic refers to unpaid traffic to your website from a search engine. BrightEdge has reported that 53% of website traffic derives from organic search. When a customer types in a keyword on a search engine (e.g. Google) and your page appears on top of the search results organically, visitors will want to look at your page. High-value content ranks higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Increased sales. As there is more traffic to your pages, there is a higher chance of lead conversion – the process of generating contact with prospects and converting them from visitors to customers.

People tend to research what they are looking for and prefer to form an opinion about their purchase decisions based on the available information online rather than contact a sales representative. Creating and publishing your content attracts visitors to your website and provides you with a competitive advantage.

How Does it Work?

Content marketing works because it’s mapped out as a long-term strategy aimed at maintaining contact and delivering interactive content which people find useful and interesting. The key here is to produce content systematically to ensure top search results and prove yourself to be a reliable, constant resource of value and expertise.  

There are 3 principal stages of a buyer’s journey that content marketing should correspond to.

Awareness stage

During the awareness stage, a customer is aware that they want to fulfil a need or experience a problem they intend to solve. They begin broad research as they try to narrow down and find exactly what they require. At this stage, your content should address customers’ challenges and pain points with educational material in the form of articles, videos, and newsletters to help them solve their issue.

Consideration stage

Once customers have become aware of an issue or an opportunity and have searched for relevant information, they identify and define it at the consideration stage. They want to learn more about the specific issue at hand and thus, continue to look for and evaluate valuable sources. This is where you should include promotion of what you offer in addition to providing insightful media.

Decision stage

Moving through the sales funnel, customers reach the closing stage in which they decide to make a purchase. Focus on answering why you’re the best choice. You can use case studies, product videos or reports to authentically demonstrate the advantages and unique value of your business.

How To Get Started?

If you want to provide customers with the best user experience possible, you should develop a content strategy. Planning your content will help you reach your marketing goals. To get started, you should: 

  • Define your goal: ask yourself what do you want to achieve with your strategy? What content should you create? How are you going to attract the attention of your audience, and what will they gain from your content?
  • Identify your audience: you should know who you want to reach with your content and find out what they’re interested in. Producing niche-specific content means generating more value for your audience.
  • Distribute: if you know your audience, you can next determine the best ways to distribute your content. What social media platforms are your customers most active on?
  • Choose the right format: which formats best suit the goal you set out? It’s best to vary your content in line with your audience’s demographics and the types of content they’re most responsive to.
  • Allocate the roles within the content marketing team: keep your work organized by ensuring every step of the process is taken care of by the right person.
  • Create a schedule: a content calendar is a great way to drive your plan forward. Write down when and where you will post your content, indicate industry events, product launches and important deadlines.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the process that optimises your content to rank higher in Google organic results. It’s a set of practices that work in conjunction with content marketing to improve the visibility and relevance of your website. 

Types of Content

Blog posts 

A blog features information or discussion entries in the form of articles. Blog posts attract and build an audience because of their useful content. 60% of people purchase a product after reading a blog post about it, as reported by demandmetric. Think of strategies to increase engagement with your blog, such as SEO or guest blogging – writing blog posts for another company’s website to attract traffic back to yours. 

Videos

Videos prove to be a highly effective marketing tool. They’re easy to share on different platforms, engaging and memorable. Studies have shown that using videos as part of your content marketing leads to a return on investments (ROI). 

Podcasts

Podcasts are audio or video files that can be streamed online or downloaded. It can be in the form of a monologue or a conversation between two or more people. The consumption of podcasts is growing because they are versatile and informal. 

Infographics

An infographic is a visual representation of information and data. It uses images, graphs or pie charts to give an easy-to-grasp overview of a topic. Infographics are a growing trend, getting more shares than ever before.

Social media posts

Sharing your content on social media builds community with your target group, and it’s an excellent way to communicate your brand identity. Bear in mind that you should tailor your content to each social media platform, as each has its own audience and tone of voice.

Ebooks

As an electronic version of a book, the ebook allows you to go more in-depth on a given topic than a blog post to demonstrate your expertise in the field.

Whitepapers

Whitepapers are detailed problem-solving guides created to educate customers. They are provided in the form of a file that customers are able to download once they enter their email. 

Slide decks 

Slide decks, also known as pitch decks, are made by using Microsoft PowerPoint. They are used to express an idea or tell a story. To design a captivating slide deck, present an overview, make use of data visualisation and overall visual simplicity.  

Newsletters

Newsletters are reports a company sends weekly to customers who have signed up to receive them. They are usually sent via email, but can also be received along with an order. They contain updates, news, tips and interesting information about your industry.

Email marketing

As the name suggests, this is a form of advertising performed via email. Unlike newsletters that focus on engaging users in relevant topics, email marketing is more concerned with promotional, call-to-action content. This can be emails including discounts or an email series that informs the recipient about the benefits of your brand. 

Conclusion

Content marketing is a two-way communication marketing approach that offers many rewards for your brand as well as for your audience. Content marketing takes time and effort, so don’t expect results overnight. It requires patience, but with consistency and dedication, you will build an engaging audience that enjoys viewing exactly your content. It’s a strategic marketing tool that establishes a solid and credible digital presence.

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