Content. We hear this word used often and in a variety of different respects. First, there are the titles and job positions: content creators, content experts, content writers, content strategists, heads of content, content officers and so on. Then there’s content types–but no one ever really specifies *what* exactly those are, do they? Instead, content is usually spoken of as a great, all-encompassing entity of sorts. “Content” is video, blogs, social media posts, white papers, e-books, email blasts and more. There’s even a dedicated Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which was developed to advance the practice of content marketing at a time before the word “content” circulated across online communities and LinkedIn titles in 2011.
Content is something that people talk about so often, it’s assumed that everyone has a content marketing strategy of sorts, but the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) finds this to be untrue, stating that only 40% of B2B marketers and 39% of B2C marketers said they have one. While content marketing is clearly important, the specific of what it is and why it’s necessary to have is often a gray area. In this blog, we’ll clear up any doubts as to what content marketing is, what the benefits of it are and tips to create or refresh your content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Content is often used as a catch-all phrase, because it can include many different forms of media, depending on what’s most relevant to your brand and audience. In order for content to be effective, it must provide value to the receiver. How you distribute this valuable content is where the marketing comes in. A well-executed distribution plan is what gives great content legs to reach the right audience. For example, creating a video tutorial on how to use your product and then distributing it on YouTube or emailing it to those who recently made a purchase or abandoned their cart. Taking the time to create content for your audience and distribute it in a way that feels natural, rather than disruptive, is important. “It’s about purposefully tailoring your pages, videos, ebooks, and posts to your target audience so that they find you the inbound way rather than the outbound way,” HubSpot explains.A well-executed distribution plan is what gives great content legs to reach the right audience. - @OrangeLabel_ Click To Tweet
What are the Benefits of Content Marketing?
Keeping in mind that the goal of content marketing is to create trust, build authority or spark engagement, Sprout Social suggests viewing content marketing as a marathon. So while the metrics produced may not lead to immediate conversions, they will guide them along the customer or patient journey, and present data on topics your audience is interested in. This method of relationship building is good for your company’s bottom line because it helps with brand recognition and it nurtures your customers. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) states three key benefits of content marketing as increased sales or conversions, cost savings and customer loyalty. Here are some examples of these benefits in action, illustrated by brands that excel at content marketing.
Increased Sales or Conversions
When searching for examples of brands that have built their sales off of content marketing (TED, GoPro and HubSpot being some of them), I came across Blogilates. This brand is near to my heart as I have been following its founder, Cassey Ho since some of her earlier YouTube videos. Cassey built her pilates-focused fitness brand off of the free content that she would share on her website–such as workout calendars, recipes, fitness challenges and workout tutorials–all for free. Building this type of trust with her audience and demonstrating her expertise allowed her to expand the brand into merchandising and she now has yoga mats, fitness gear and fitness apparel sold in Target and on her website that regularly sell out!
One of the largest cost-saving drivers in content marketing is the longevity of content marketing. According to a survey conducted by ReferralRock, 94% of surveyed marketers repurpose their content. So just know that when you finally have the time to record that video, it’s not just one single piece of content. It can be reimagined into a podcast, multiple social media posts (with the video, audio or even a quote card), a blog of the same topic, quotes for a similar blog topic, a transcript on your website, infographics and so on, with minimal effort. Content repurposing was a powerful tool for Blogilates as videos were used across social media and consistently referred back to in new monthly workout challenges. This goes to show the importance of content planning–choosing topics that have a long shelf life. Lastly, in looking at how your content marketing is performing (which we talk about more in depth below), you can see the type of content that your audience is gravitating toward and produce similar content in the future.
What makes a customer loyal to a brand? Before they purchase the product or subscribe to the service itself, they’re doing some digging. Whether it’s searching for a solution online or hearing a recommendation from a friend, when they Google your brand, you want some helpful and concise information to pop up so that they can learn more. Focusing on their mission of “helping people lead creative lives,” electronic cutting machine Cricut has united a community of crafters or “Cricut members” with their inspiring blogs and tutorials on their website and re-sharing of others’ content on their social media pages under the hashtag #CricutMade. Anticipating users’ needs, they also have a detailed troubleshooting and help page on their website with trending topics/FAQs and content tailored to different types of machines so that the answers people need are easy to locate and solve for.
Tips to Create Your Content Marketing Strategy
You know the quote, “a goal without a plan is just a wish,” well a content marketing strategy that’s not written down is just unorganized and untrackable. Now that we’ve covered what content marketing is and why brands can benefit from it, here are the three steps on how to develop a written content strategy.
The First Step: Measuring Content Marketing Success
Developing your content marketing strategy begins with deciding your end-goals and defining what success will look like for your organization. Having clear objectives around the value that you’re trying to deliver to your audience will allow you to set up content that meets that goal. A guiding question shared on the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) website is, “What is our ideal outcome with this process? What will it do for our business if we succeed?” Whether, in the case of Cricut, it looks like bringing together a community of crafters who will remain loyal to your brand of craft tools and supplies or building a loyal following of people who trust your at-home workouts enough to purchase your products like with Blogilates, the type of content your create is dependent upon the results you want to see.All Things Content Marketing, Explained in Under 2,000 Words Click To Tweet
The Second Step: Knowing Who You Want to Reach
It’s likely that your target audience for your content will be the same as the target audience for your brand itself, however zeroing in on that audience only makes your content stronger and if it appeals to a larger audience, that’s a bonus! Knowing who you’re looking to reach will help you select relevant topics that the audience cares about. Illustrating their customer relationship management (CRM) system in action, Zendesk partnered with Pop-Up Magazine (an in-person storytelling experience organization) to create an experiential event called “The Digital Tipping Point” in which writers, producers and artists shared technology-related stories. This piece of content was a touch point to connect with current users and reach potential new ones, while allowing Pop-Up Magazine to repurpose some of their stories and re-feature their talent on a new-to-them medium. Knowing their audiences and what they have in common allowed these two organizations to partner together to double their reach efforts and put on a free show.
The Third Step: Plan Out How to Share Your Content
Once you know why you’re creating content and who it’s for, you’re ready to select the topics and mediums to distribute content. To guide your efforts, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recommends developing a content mission statement which is a “statement that details your brand’s unique vision of content’s value, the audience it will serve and the priorities and principles it will uphold.” You can also include elements on the creative side when developing your strategy, such as ideas of topics to focus on, what your audience is talking about on social media, timeliness and how it contributes to your overall brand experience. To cover all bases, Orange Label offers content marketing services to provide brands with strategy on what platforms to focus on for which results, KPI setup, analytics reporting and content optimization. Learn more about our services here: orangelabelmarketing.com/content-marketing
In our next episode of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition podcast, we sit down with the Content Marketing Institute’s Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose to discuss marketing trends for 2022 and beyond, how to elevate your brand content and how first-party data can inform a brand’s content strategy. Subscribe below so you don’t miss it!