Content marketing is the star player in a long-game SEO strategy. Rather than rely on keyword-centric web content, content marketing positions a business or brand as an authority and a trusted resource through comprehensive and genuinely helpful information.
In short, content marketing positions the business as the industry expert and it gives customers the tools they need to make intelligent decisions.
But let’s back up a second. Haven’t really heard of content marketing? Or maybe you’ve just considered it to be another trendy marketing tactic. Let’s take a look at what content marketing really is.
Content Marketing, Defined.
By definition, according to Oxford, content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.
To simplify that definition (even though it couldn’t be more accurate), content marketing tells a story to consumers who are already interested in the topic. The combination of those tools can vary, and the story will be different every single time, but the end product will always be a network of content that teaches the user something and ultimately guides them down the path of making a purchase, booking a consultation, or whatever the next step in your sales process may be.
The Types of Content Marketing Tools
Many tools are employed in content marketing strategies: videos, blogs, social media, email newsletters, podcasts, ebooks, and whitepapers. A content marketing strategy doesn’t have to include all of the tools, but it’s helpful to use a diverse mix based on what you know about your consumer’s behavior. For example, if your target audience is tech-averse, podcasts may not be your medium. However, if your target audience is 25-44, a podcast may be the perfect way to deliver elements of your content strategy.
Video is an increasingly relevant marketing tool, even outside of a content marketing strategy.
When included as a content marketing strategy, video is even more powerful.
Rather than utilizing video as strictly an advertising tool—where you’re telling a consumer something and hoping they make the decision to choose your business—consider using a content marketing video to teach a consumer as they learn something new. The goal with a content marketing video is to equip them with as much information as they need to make a smart decision. Essentially, leading the proverbial horse to water. Content marketing videos can be:
- Product demonstrations or tutorials
- Interviews and testimonials
- How to’s
- Motion graphics explainers
- Even traditional commercials
The video itself doesn’t have to be complex, with a lot of high-quality production value. The key with video content marketing is the story. Your video should aim to answer a question or solve a problem for the user or prospective customer.
The second most important component of video content marketing? Placement.
At the very least, your video should be placed on YouTube which, as part of the Google umbrella, is a powerful search engine in and of itself. From there, the video should also live on your social media channels, as well as directly embedded into a piece of long-form blog content that expands on the very topic the video covers.
Blog content is what folks think of most when they consider content marketing. But rather than the traditional blog set up—where a handful of consistent readers head to a website every single day to read a person’s or business’s blog—a content marketing blog exists for search engines.
Here’s how blog content marketing works:
Step 1: A business writes a piece of unique, authoritative, long-form content about a subject that aligns with their services. For example, an interior design company would write a blog entitled, “Mid Century or Traditional: Which Interior Design Style is Right For You?”
Step 2: Someone who is considering preparing to decorate their new home searches online to see what their interior design style may be.
Step 3: In the SERP, they see the “Mid Century or Traditional” article and the meta description is detailed enough to encourage them to click.
Step 4: The blog is well-researched, thorough, and gives more than surface level information. Plus, it’s packed with links to other pages within the interior design company’s site, encouraging an even deeper-dive into interior design information.
Step 5: The user begins thinking of the interior design company as an authority and starts following them on social media, or even requests an ebook download that they have available.
See what happened there? One simple blog post created an entire experience for that customer and created pathways for further connections and conversions in the future. And that’s a completely realistic scenario that we’ve seen work over and over for our content marketing clients. It can work for you, too.
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. But, with 190 million US users on Facebook alone, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for businesses looking to broaden their audience or customer base.
When considering social media as part of a content marketing strategy, think of it as a broadcasting tool. For example, think of the interior design company above. They wrote valuable content that drove the user to their social media channels.
What would happen if they were completely inactive on their social media? The user would follow them and then the company would quickly become out of sight, out of mind.
But consider what would happen if the interior design company were highly active with their social media—frequently posting other authoritative, engaging content marketing pieces, sharing how-to videos, and encouraging deeper engagement with their audience. The user who followed them in the first place would frequently get their updates, routinely check back on their website, and continue thinking of them as an industry authority. So, when they are ready to decorate their home, they know exactly who to call.
Use social media in your content strategy as a way to continue broadcasting your well-written blog content, even putting an ad spend and extra levels of targeting behind it to ensure you’re capturing the right audience.
Similarly, email newsletters are a wonderful broadcasting tool for your content marketing strategy. In a similar way that social media can broadcast blog content, email newsletters can do the same.
But, with email newsletters, you have the opportunity to create a more targeted community of folks who have specifically opted in to learn more from you. In addition to sharing blog content, email newsletters can offer exclusive content that no one else outside of that email list can receive. From discount codes and coupons to exclusive workshops and webinars, email newsletters can aim to drive users through the sales pipeline in a very targeted way.
We love it when podcasts snippets live directly at the top of a piece of well-written blog content. When we’re engaged with the content, we only want to learn more, and podcasts are a wonderful, engaging way to do that. Plus, users can simply play the audio while they’re going about their day, creating an almost subliminal brand message.
While podcasts do take quite a bit of time, and some audio know-how, if you have the right message and a lot to say about your particular subject matter, they can be an excellent content marketing tool.
Ebooks and Whitepapers
Remember our interior design company scenario where the user downloaded an ebook? We’ve come full circle with our content marketing strategy and how it can work for your business.
Ebooks and whitepapers are tangible ways to further your story and share your expertise. Plus, there is exclusivity to it where users know that not everyone has read the information—something that every consumer, no matter the industry, wants.
And the best part? Ebooks and whitepapers are almost always gated. By simply exchanging a name and email address for an exclusive piece of content, a user has opted in to further outreach from you. That opt-in could lead them through to an email marketing workflow of newsletters, individual follow-ups, and, hopefully, a conversion.
Content Marketing is For Everybody
The tactics may look different and the combination of tools may vary, but content marketing is for absolutely every business, no matter the size or industry. To see what a content marketing strategy could look like for your business, or to have a plan mapped out for you, contact us today.