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What is Content Marketing?

Have you ever watched a company’s Instagram story? Read a blog they shared? Or listened to one of their podcasts?

Well, that was all ‘content’, designed, scheduled and released for your consumption, with the hope that tomorrow you’ll be keen for more.

They may have nothing to do with the service the company provides, it might just make for good reading or an entertaining watch. Sometimes it's informative, giving readers a way to learn more about the relevant industry. Often it’s interactive, like opinions polls on twitter that give followers a chance to make their views known.

Whatever form it takes, good content marketing is tailored to an audience and aims to show that audience what good value for money the company can be. What content marketing isn’t is an outright sales pitch…

"To get your website up search rankings, hire us to do your SEO"

Instead, consider content marketing as an investment into acquiring future customers.

Why Is Content Marketing Important?

If you’re a business owner, then chances are you’ve heard of the expression ‘content is king’.

There’s a good reason for that.

Gone are the days when a simple piece of sales copy would suffice to shift your product. The old formula of a) address customer, b) hit pain point and c) introduce relevant solution… just won’t cut it anymore.

These days your client can go from novice to expert on just about anything with a point and a click. They know they have options, they know who your opposition is and they know when they don’t feel valued as customers.

Your content might be educational, entertaining, engaging, but whatever it is, it’s always promoting your brand by building your business’s identity.

The content that you put out sends a message to consumers, ‘This is who we are… This is what we do’. That message should be consistent, connecting with a certain kind of consumer until a community forms, some members of which will then convert to sales.

Do I Need A Content Marketing Strategy?

Yes. It should be clear by now what content marketing is and why it’s important, you’ve got the knowledge and you’re ready to go… Almost.

There are multitudes of content marketing types - some people just use whatever whenever and see what sticks! Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Some companies have whole departments dedicated to the production, distribution and organisation of their content. Others have to settle for creating their own ‘content calendars’. But all successful companies have a content marketing strategy in place.

You need to know what’s right for your business: Should you use infographics or video content? Do customers of Y buy from X? Are they Tweeters or Messengers? What’s the best time of day to share a blog post? How much will all of this cost me?

Luckily, there’s a tonne of content marketing courses out there that can help you set your strategy and put your plan into action. But in short, here are a few things you might want to consider.

  • How many days a week should I share content?
  • What will I share each day?
  • What are the best times to share each one?
  • Will I share the same content type on the same days every week?
  • How will I keep track of my audience engagement?

Don't worry if all that seems a little overwhelming.

With the help of content marketing statistics, many sources of which are available online, you can begin to research best practices that are relevant to your industry, and company size.

In addition to guides and online courses, some sites offer content calendar templates that you can apply to your business and make your own.

Content Is King. That much is certain, but no matter the quality or quantity of your content, if nobody sees it your conversion rate will still be zero.

How Content Marketing Drives SEO & Sales

Now it’s time to understand the one crucial concept that your sales will live or die by - Search Engine Optimization.

SEO is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the process of making sure your content is optimized for search engines, like Google, so that when your customers type in ‘amazing quality goods’, your products are there at the top of the list.

This is done by integrating ‘keywords’ into your content that match up to the words consumers are searching in the order they search them in.

It can be a tricky thing to master and often takes thorough market research combined with search engine analytics to create an effective SEO piece. There is a wealth of free content out there you can read to learn effective content marketing and SEO practices - but can you trust what you read.

Perhaps by following 'free' instructions will do more harm than good. Investing in an online course from an SEO expert might be a good idea. 

Appearing top of the results on search engines isn’t just about boasting. Take a look at any blog dedicated to SEO and the findings can be summed up with:

"The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results"

Yes, it’s sad but it’s true.

Having something shared over and over online can work miracles for your brand awareness. But miss the mark where your SEO’s concerned and all your hard work will come to nothing.

It’s commonly reported that first page results receive 95% of search traffic, and Google alone receives 5.6 BILLION searches per day.

Now let’s imagine your business produces top of the range content, and that for every potential customer in the market for your services, the first result on Google is shared by ‘Your Successful Brand Here’…

It should start to become clear how content marketing drives sales.

For more on SEO, check out our ‘Beginners Guide to SEO’. It might just save you a fortune…

Content To Make Your Consumers Content

We’ve discussed the whats, the whys and the whens, now let’s go back and think about how to do content marketing the right way.

There’s something we mentioned earlier that warrants repeating: good content adds value to your business.

For that to happen, your content must be valuable.

When you’ve worked out what format to choose, what platforms to share on and when, it’s time to make sure your content offers something to your customers. What’s your USP? Why should they care? How are you adding value to your brand with the content you put out?

There are a plethora of ways to do this, and you’ll no doubt have heard some of them before. Be original, be engaging, use accurate sources.

All good advice, but our personal favourite top tip is to make your content actionable.

Unlike a standard ‘call to action’ as used in conventional sales copy (ORDER NOW! BUY ME! $$$!), actionable content means giving your audience proactive steps they can take right away.

Perhaps you have advice to give on how consumers can save money? Perhaps you can share three simple changes to give them a healthier lifestyle straight away?

Whatever it is, make sure it’s worth reading and gives your audience something to do, not just to think about. Skilled content marketers can make actionable content convert into sales without losing the integrity or authenticity of what they’re sharing.

Sooner or later, a valued content consumer becomes a valued customer, and willingly so. That’s the power a strong brand has hidden away in its marketing strategy, the power to make sales that satisfies everyone.

Content Kings

There you have it, a crash course in the importance of content marketing, what it is, how it works and how it benefits your business.

You’re all set to reign over your own content kingdoms.

But before you go, remember to measure the quality of your content against your own high standards.

When was the last time you subscribed to a newsletter or clicked on a blog and felt moved to take action? Now think about the brands you just love to shop from… That’s your competition.

So get out there, create quality content, and rule.

Category: Marketing

About the author

David Reid

David Reid

David previously worked with Europe’s No.1 Marketing Agency & the World’s No.6 biggest Integrated Marketing Agency, seeing first-hand how £150 million+ campaigns are executed to create household brands. Now he is the CEO of YewBiz and is focused on helping small businesses.

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