If there is anything to learn now, as a business owner in this digital age, then it is content marketing. It’s what powers the digital era and a foundation for any marketing effort.
But what’s content marketing?
I know we all hear this term more often in the blogosphere, social media forums, or webinars. But what’s an in-depth definition of content marketing?
Here is a simple and clear definition from 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.”Content Marketing Institute
Let’s analyze the definition above.
Strategic: you don’t merely begin creating content. You need a strategy. Otherwise, you will make mistakes along the way and tarmac. I have written a guide on how to come up with an excellent content strategy for your business.
Valuable: content marketing needs to be useful to your customers. You can agree with me that we are way past traditional marketing, which aimed to interrupt instead of adding value first. If your content is not valuable to the target audience, how can you be marketing your message?
Relevant: I will ask you the same question; will you consume online content that’s not relevant to you? Of course not. It must be something you are interested in. Similarly, your customers need content relevant to them.
Defined audience: content marketing needs to be poised to a specific audience. Don’t focus too thin because you will find it hard to scale. The money is in the niche.
Profitable customer action: What’s the whole purpose of creating content if not to promote your brand? Think of a blog; for example, it’s a marketing tool for attracting organic customers. Once they land on your site, they will see the value in it, join your list, and purchase your offers.
Content marketing aims to add value to the customer, establish relationships, and build trust. Once a customer trusts you, he can do business with you. That’s the whole definition of content marketing.
Here is a little history about content marketing
I can assure you that it’s an old marketing practice. It dates back to 1885 when John Deere launched The Furrow magazine. The magazine aimed to not only market John Deere products, but also build profitable relationships with their customers.
The customers could read stories and ended up liking and trusting the brand.
The Furrow was not the only company that spearheaded content marketing practice.
Michelin, a French tire company, developed the Michelin Guide in 1900. Their main idea was to educate the drivers on travel tips, auto maintenance, and hotels. Two brothers, Edouard Michelin and Andre, confident in the future of automobiles, distributed 35,000 copies of the 400-page guide for free.
These two companies paved the way for brands such as Sears, which began ‘The World’s Largest Store’ radio show in 1924, Marvel and Hasbro, who started ‘The Real American Hero,’ a comic book that later became a TV show, and several other brands.
What you need to learn from the brands that stood out from the rest is the fact that they followed the definition of content marketing; valuable, relevant, and consistent content.
In fact, The Furrow hit 4 million readers in 1912, devoid of internet connectivity.
Benefits to businesses
Is content marketing beneficial to businesses? Yes. Here are some benefits that come with it:
1. Establishes trust
Trust is an essential element in online marketing. Think about it. This customer does not know you (Just kidding. At least he knows your name or the name of your site).
He has never seen you. What do you think drives that person to purchase your affiliate product, services, or recommend your brand to others?
No one will perform any transaction online if he or she does not trust the company. So, how does content marketing build trust? I will explain to you using an illustration.
Milka is a restaurant owner. She overheard her friend June explaining to someone on the phone about the benefits of content marketing to modern businesses.
After the phone call, June had to leave urgently.
Milka, not knowing what content marketing was, decided to consult Google. He reached out for his phone and typed ‘what’s content marketing?’
Ultimately, since I have optimized this blog content for those search terms, Milka will find it on the first page of Google and click on it.
He read the definition of content marketing, the evolution, benefits to his business, and how she can begin applying it to grow her business.
She will feel that I have answered all of her questions. The next thing is that she will trust my brand and hop into my mail list.
2. Lead generation
Content marketing helps to generate qualified leads for your business. But only if your customers find your content valuable. Ideally, any piece of content needs to follow the definition of content marketing above.
Different types of content generate different amounts of leads. For example, you don’t expect a blog to begin generating leads right away because SEO takes several months to be deemed successful.
Once your blog starts to rank, you are 62% more likely to get more leads than companies that don’t have a blog on their site.
Similarly, a targeted social media profile generates leads faster if you publish useful SMM posts consistently.
Your friend list should be targeted and defined to get leads faster. You will be solving some challenges people already have.
Therefore, the key to succeeding in content marketing lead generation is to create useful and engaging content consistently.
3. Brand authority
I know you want to achieve business authority fast, right? Most people want it, as well. However, a few know the techniques.
It’s not a walk in the park.
You have to do what other business owners in your niche are not doing to get what they are not getting.
That has a lot to do with offering more value. The best way to provide value is to create content that others can reference.
Think about the Content Marketing Institute, where I drew the definition of content marketing. If you talk about content, you can’t fail to think about the site.
They began in 2010. Twenty years later, they are dominating. Right now, they rank for most ‘what’s content marketing’ related keywords.
That is mainly because they took the time to focus on one niche and offer immense value.
Over the years, I have noted that it’s easy to dominate in some niches. For example, Milka is more likely to dominate in the restaurant niche if she creates valuable content around that niche.
Similarly, it will take someone in the digital marketing niche for several months – even years – to rank on the first page of Google.
4. Build a conversation with your customer
A conversation with your customer enhances trust, which ultimately leads to sales and business growth. However, it has to be a two-sided conversation. Otherwise, the customer will only mark it as spam and quickly forget it.
Imagine someone telling you about vegan products while you are not vegan. Boring conversation, right?
That’s the same thing with your target audience; it has to be a two-way conversation. That means you have to listen to your customers first.
What challenges are they facing?
How can you tackle them?
Begin a conversation after listening to your target audience. You may be asking, ‘how do I know all these?’ Well, go to where your audience hangs out online and ask them the challenges they are facing.
Track their browsing behavior.
Why did customer Y abandon the cart before checkout?
Why did he fail to go for the upsell?
Why do customers like to spend as much time on a specific page?
By having all this data, you will have a qualified conversation with your audience. You can also use tools like Buzzsumo to search trending topics, and Topsy to understand online social behavior before engaging in a conversation with your audience.
Therefore, the key to a fruitful content marketing conversation is to understand the needs of your prospects and then engage them on topics they already have interest in.
5. Builds an enhanced social media following
Social media is an excellent place to source for business leads. It’s where most of your audience is. According to We Are Social, about 60% of the world’s population is on social media in 2020. 2.45 billion of all those are on Facebook. Instagram comes second, followed by Snapchat and LinkedIn.
Is your business on social media? If not, then you are leaving much money on the table because 71% of consumers said they like to purchase from brands they follow on social media. Imagine the considerable growth potential businesses have on social media.
You may think fishing for customers on social media is an easy peasy task. No. You need to have an ultimate plan. If you are pretty new to social media, connect with people like Yogesh Saini, who are making a living on Facebook.
They can teach you lots of tricks to winning in the game.
Most of what they will teach you lies around valuable SMM content development. Begin by having a strategy that highlights the types of content to create, when to post, goals, and KPIs. Have a documented plan because it helps a great deal.
Don’t go into social media with a mindset of wanting more followers, sales, or brand recognition.
Go with a mindset of helping solve problems. What value are you bringing in that most people don’t have?
That’s what will make your social media audience regard you as an authority.
6. Enhances your SEO effort
Can you think of SEO without thinking of content marketing? No. SEO is a form of content promotion.
It’s a technique of attracting organic visitors from search engines to engage with your content and ultimately leads to profitable customer action.
You need to integrate SEO with content marketing to make it big from your digital marketing efforts. Otherwise, one without another might not work. SEO helps to rank your content.
You can’t rank a website, for example, without any web content, can you?
Coming up with an SEO content marketing strategy is an excellent idea for a business.
Therefore, they need to have low to medium competition and high search volume. The ideal keywords are long-tail keywords.
Once you have a spreadsheet with this data, set off to create unique and engaging content around those keywords.
Within no time, depending on the niche, your content will begin to rank for the chosen keywords and other related search terms.
How to begin profitable content marketing
With all the benefits of undertaking content marketing, you will only realize its full potential when you learn the skills of planning, launching, and managing a profitable content marketing model.
Here is how to do this:
Niche down to a defined audience
You can waste a ton of your marketing resources by focusing on a broad niche. Content marketing is only profitable if it delivers a positive ROI.
By niching down to a defined audience and offering value, you can reduce your marketing spend and maximize your earning per customer.
But how do you niche down?
Of course, you can’t sell to people you don’t understand, right? So, the first thing is that you need to undertake intensive research. Data-driven content marketing always wins because it’s defined, relevant, and valuable.
You may be offering services online. Depending on the customers you serve, niche down to a specific audience and aim to help their business improve leveraging your expertise.
Have a persona, an illustration of your ideal audience. Here is an example from Blogging Wizard.
Give the persona a name to humanize it. List with it their challenges, strength, source of income, title in their organization, and several other factors.
The key to profitable content marketing is having a defined audience.
Define your metrics
With useful metrics, it’s easy to get a lot done in a short time because it keeps you and the content marketing team on track.
Metrics help to evaluate performance, re-adjust goals, and keep the team focused.
There are several metrics to measure when it comes to content marketing. Traffic is the most yearned for by most marketers. However, it’s not the most essential.
There are also SEPR and page views, among other metrics.
Why is traffic less critical?
Think about it. You are getting 100k visitors to your site monthly, but only about 1% convert into sales. Is that profitable? I guess it isn’t.
That usually happens when you spread too thin and target people who don’t need your services.
The best metric is always the number of leads you are getting. It’s the leads that convert into sales.
High-engagement rates and low bounce rates can also be a good indication of valuable content.
Create a content plan
Plan any activity if you want to make it successful. Without a plan, then you are planning to fail.
Some marketers still find it a stressful task to come up with an effective content marketing strategy. However, once you have it, it will save you time and hasten business growth.
A content plan will answer the following questions:
Which type of content should I create?
Who will handle each marketing piece?
When should I create each piece of content?
Once you have all these questions documented, you are set to begin creating content. You will also have a guideline for your content mix.
Have a content marketing budget
You will need someone to create content for you. If you are new to this field, you can outsource all your content marketing needs.
This person will conduct a content marketing audit on your site, help you to align your content marketing goals with the needs of your audience, and create a content creation plan.
Some content marketing freelancers charge per hour while others charge per task. Their rates will also vary based on their expertise and ad-on services.
As a content marketing specialist, I often charge per task and consider the value content marketing will bring to your business before settling on the price.
With about a $1,000 content marketing budget per month, you should get moving and getting leads.
Publish and keep promoting your content
The key is not to keep on creating content; you need to promote it, as well. What’s the essence of having content, which you are not pushing to the right audience?
I know you are busy publishing one blog post after another, creating a podcast, and going live on YouTube. You barely have time to promote your existing content.
Boost your posts on Facebook. Go live and direct your customers to your site. Build a targeted and well-segmented email list. Promote your posts in Facebook groups and other social media sites.
You can also try Pinterest, Quora, and LinkedIn; a friend told me he is getting 10k visitors from Quora monthly.
Any business owner in the current digital world needs to understand the ultimate definition of content marketing and its essence in business growth. Content marketing helps to boost your brand recognition, achieve authority status in your niche, and create valuable conversations with your prospects and boost leads.