According to 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.”
In other words, it’s an innovative way of planning and creating the right services and/or products and delivering them to your target audience. The marketing landscape is changing. It’s not just about aggressive, in-your-face advertising anymore. It’s about generating interest and providing consumers with information about products, services, and brands they need or want in a more organic-feeling way. Content marketing can be used across a variety of channels including websites, blogs, apps, social media channels, print publications, and more.
Why Use Content Marketing?
Before tackling why you should use content marketing, let’s first break down what exactly content is. “Content” is a relatively recent term that has come into the spotlight with the rise of digital and social media marketing. It encompasses any written, visual, or audio media that can be posted online, downloaded, and shared with others. Hubspot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report noted that 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.
And why wouldn’t they be? You can use content marketing to share information, educate your followers, and build relationships within your community. It also helps with brand recognition and loyalty, can save costs, and lead to increased sales. Content marketing provides the opportunity to share your company’s products and services with your audience—and drive home how what you’re offering can help them or be useful.
Planning Content Strategy
In 2019, SEMrush found that 77% of companies report having a content marketing strategy. If you’re not already incorporating content marketing into your overall marketing strategy, it’s time to get started!
Types of Content
First things first: when it comes to content strategy, what kind of content should you use? This will often depend on what you’re trying to accomplish, what platform(s) you’re using, and your target audience. What kind of content can you add to your strategy? Which type might help you best reach your goals?
As one of the most used (and most popular!) types of content, articles and blog posts provide a creative platform to reach your audience. Longform pieces of content offer the time and space to go into detail, prove your expertise, inform your followers about your product or brand, and drive traffic to your website and other social media platforms. Additionally, blogging is a chance to boost your SEO by including targeted keywords and tailoring content to your readers’ interests.
Social Media Posts
In 2020, 42% of people used social media channels to research products and businesses before making a purchase. Younger demographics are using social media platforms to conduct more product research than on traditional search engines so creating content for social media is a smart way for any business to stay current, create a sense of community online, and connect with consumers. Social media provides businesses a chance to engage publicly with their followers and show they are responsive, thus building brand recognition and loyalty.
Another way to share your knowledge of your field and/or showcase your products or services is by hosting a webinar. An engaging and interesting webinar can drive sales, improve customer satisfaction, and introduce new people to your business, product, or brand. It’s also a great place to collaborate. Hosting a webinar with an industry expert, spotlighting special guests, or working with an influencer can all help boost your brand. Having webinars with other people diversifies your brand and offers viewers fresh content. Finding individuals or companies that align with your business can be a great way to connect with people who might not be your target audience.
White Papers, eBooks, & Reports
While white papers, eBooks, and reports may not be the first type of content that comes to mind when deciding on marketing strategy, this type of content that normally runs around 3,000 to 5,000 words can demonstrate industry knowledge and a level of expertise many consumers are looking for in a company or brand. Most reports, white papers, and eBooks are downloadable as PDFs, providing opportunities for followers to share them easily.
Admit it: you’ve typed “how to …” into the Google search bar at least once. How-to guides are another form of content that can help establish your expertise in the industry as well as guide users toward your website or social media channels for additional knowledge and understanding. Take stock of your industry and think about what your followers might want to learn.
Remember that your community members’ interests should always take a higher priority than your agenda. You want to create content they want to read, and that will keep them engaged. Think about turning questions into how-to guides. If you’re in the fashion industry and you receive a question such as “how do I tie a bowtie?”, you can repurpose the question into a “how-to” guide to benefit your membership such as “how to tie a bow tie and other tips and tricks for a night on the town.” You can create these handy guides as infographics, videos, blog posts, or even a carousel slideshow. Whichever type of content you select, just be sure it’s easy to understand.
Often, people think of content as written or visual. But don’t forget about podcasts! Podcasts are on the rise—there are currently more than one million active podcasts and more than 30 million podcast episodes. Podcasts are a place to introduce yourself to listeners and engage them in a whole new way. They provide an opportunity for current and potential customers to get to know you and give you the chance to connect with those who may not use social media but like to listen. Best of all, people can tune in to podcasts while commuting, working out, or driving—times when they may not be able to engage with other types of content. This provides new chances to reach users. It seems like everyone has a podcast these days. Why not you?
Email Newsletters/Nurture Campaign
Another type of content to add to your strategy is an email newsletter. Newsletters are a chance to connect with people who already have an interest in your product and/or services since they signed up to be on your email list. Capitalize on that! The goal of a nurture campaign is to foster the relationship between you and your customers or followers. These personalized emails are largely based on behavior and user engagement. You want to make people feel comfortable and want to do business with you.
How many infographics have you seen today? This type of content has become ubiquitous in recent years. A digestible, approachable way to convey information, infographics are currently one of the most popular forms of content. Plus, they are easily shareable. And the numbers don’t lie: consumers are 30 times more likely to fully take in your content if it includes an infographic.
With a whopping 75 million people in the United States watching a video online every day, incorporating video content into your strategy is a must. With the continued rise of mobile devices, video content is constantly available. According to Wyzowl, 69% of consumers say they prefer to learn about a brand through video. Video content is a way to hold the interest of your followers, improve ROI, and lead to more conversions.
Video content is not limited to pre-recorded video. More businesses are finding that hosting Live Video sessions (for example on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube) offers ways for business owners to introduce themselves, share products and/or expertise, and get feedback directly. Interacting through a Q&A session, responding to a customer’s problem, promptly answering a follower’s question, or simply engaging on a human level is as crucial to growing and maintaining a brand.
Paid ad content marketing means paying for sponsored content, promotions, and ads that target a specific niche audience. In 2021, social media advertising spending is expected to top $47 billion. Types of paid marketing can include sponsorship, branded content, influencer-generated content, pay-per-click, and display ads.
Create a Content Calendar
Now that you have a better idea about the types of content you can create to help build brand awareness and boost sales, you can decide on the type of content to create for your target audience, and on what channels to share it. To save time and to ensure you’re maintaining your brand voice and aesthetic, create a calendar for posting content.
Use analytics to determine which days of the week and times of the day people are visiting your website or social media platforms and opening past emails and schedule your content to drop then. Making a content marketing calendar and planning to share content when you know your subscribers will be most likely to engage with it will help with brand awareness and boost conversions. Additionally, utilizing scheduling tools can help you stay on top of your content marketing strategy without feeling like you need to come up with new content on the fly.
Content Creation Best Practices
Keep these expert tips in mind when determining your content marketing strategy.
Set SMART Goals
It’s a good idea to set SMART goals for your content marketing strategy. These Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals will help you reach your company’s personal and professional milestones.
Determine Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) are “quantifiable measures of performance over time for a specific objective.” Determining what your KPIs are can help you measure your content marketing success. While these will be different depending on the industry, many goals and KPIs can be used across the board. For example, if your goal is to boost brand awareness, some of the KPI’s you'd want to measure might be how many mentions on social media you receive, how many followers you gain, how much traffic your website seems, and how many people sign up for your email list.
If your goal is making money, one KPI would be daily sales. Say you’re most interested in engagement from followers and customers. You can measure this by looking at follows, shares, mentions, and likes.
Set a Budget
Before setting a budget for your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to take stock of where to allocate funds. Will you be able to create content on your own or will you need to hire designers, writers, or marketers to help with your efforts? If you’re planning to do it yourself, will you need to invest in graphic design software to help create content like a Canva subscription, Adobe Creative Cloud software? Do you have access to a reliable and good-quality computer, camera, and/or mobile device? Are you going to use paid ads or try your hand at organic content marketing to start? Are you already paying for analytics tools or is that something you’ll need to factor in?
Analyzing all the potential costs, small and large, will help you get an idea of how much money you’ll need to have on hand to start and any ongoing charges.
Analyze and Measure Results
Another important element of content marketing strategy is analyzing and measuring results. If you’ve set SMART goals and figured out your KPIs, that’s a great place to start. Did you meet those goals? Were some way off? Did your goals change along the way? Do you need to determine another KPI? Understanding if your strategy is working provides chances to make changes. Knowing what’s working and what needs work will help your business overall. Luckily, you don’t have to analyze and measure results on your own. There are tools specifically designed to help with content marketing strategy.
Career Paths For Content Marketers
Any company, business, or brand with an online presence can use content marketing to enhance its virtual reach. There are plenty of careers across the country for those with a background in content marketing.
As more companies’ dollars continue to funnel toward this up-and-coming industry, professionals with a background in content marketing are in rising demand. Content marketing skills can lead to jobs in marketing, strategy, data analytics, social media management, and consulting. Additionally, understanding contact marketing and how to make it work for you can benefit entrepreneurs and small business owners.
According to Indeed, Content Marketers in the U.S. earn an average yearly salary of around $60K—though that number may change depending on location. No matter where you’re located, if you’re interested in a career in the digital marketing or social media marketing world, it’s a good idea to add content marketing skills to your toolbox.
Those with more experience can find work as Content Marketing Managers.
Learn Content Marketing
Social media marketing courses teach how to use content marketing across platforms. Those ready to dive into the field can check out Noble Desktop’s social media marketing classes. You can attend in-person classes at Noble Desktop’s New York City location or attend live online social media marketing courses from anywhere in the world. You can also find other social media marketing courses, bootcamps, and certificate programs in your area using Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool.
Noble’s Social Media Content Marketing: Blogs & Twitter class teaches fundamentals of content marketing including the benefits of content-based social media, how to set goals and metrics, choose the right platform, and establish a brand through written content.
Those ready to spend even more time learning about content marketing and other digital marketing strategies can take a look at Noble’s Digital Marketing Strategies Bootcamp, which is also offered as part of the 78-hour Digital Marketing Certificate. The bootcamp is a 12-hour course that dives deep into the role content marketing plays in digital marketing strategy. Students will complete hands-on projects and learn ways to succeed at content marketing, including planning your content marketing strategy, best practices, mapping content to buying strategies, and where to promote your content. Participants in the bootcamp will also learn how to measure the success of their content marketing (including KPIs) and identify opportunities to maximize results.
You can also check out Noble’s Intro to Social Media Marketing seminar on YouTube, which touches on content marketing while going in-depth about various social media platforms.