These days, when people have questions, they most often turn to Google. Because Google is constantly refining its search algorithm, the search results will display the content deemed most relevant to a search inquiry. This content may be in the form of a business web page, a blog post, e-book, video, etc. Put simply, content marketing is a strategy used to produce content relevant to popular Google searches.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing is a critical component of business marketing today. It helps increase brand awareness, brand loyalty, and website traffic, which can ultimately increase conversions, sales, and revenue. Today’s buyers are research-oriented. They want to learn all they can about your brand, your products or services, your philosophy, and more – often before they even reach out to a sales rep.
Key benefits of content marketing
1. It supports other digital marketing channels
Digital marketing channels like organic and paid SEO and social media are all beneficiaries of content marketing. High-quality content provides users with valuable information and encourages them to engage with your brand, and can also appeal to Google’s algorithm and improve your search ranking across channels.
2. It’s an inexpensive marketing approach
Paid advertising can quickly drive up your monthly costs and limit your ability to scale your marketing strategy. But content marketing can sometimes help decrease marketing costs because content can often be created by subject matter experts on your team and distributed at no cost. The more content you create and distribute, the more people can find and engage with your brand.
3. It can help attract your target audience
Successful content marketing is designed to appeal to a specific audience. The subject matter, tone of voice, and target keywords can all be strategically crafted to attract your ideal customer and encourage them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis.
4. It can support your offering and drive more revenue
Content marketing can be created to support a specific offering and aid a prospective buyer in researching and understanding your product or service. For example, if you are trying to attract prospective buyers to your new software offering, you might consider writing a blog post about current software trends. Then within the post, you can include internal links and calls-to-action that will take users to your new software web page.
5. It can promote customer loyalty
Content marketing is the perfect way to keep customers engaged and promote customer loyalty. Send your existing customers new product announcements, helpful how-to guides on existing products, and share insights on the latest news in the market. Consistent exposure to your brand, when achieved through high-quality, valuable content, can sometimes make the difference between someone buying from your brand vs a competitor.
The role of a content marketer
Content Strategy & planning
Conduct relevant competitor and keyword research (search volume, keyword difficulty, and search intent) to inform and validate your content strategy. Propose a series of content topics (and mediums) for internal review and approval.
Prepare a content brief with a list of core keywords to target, as well as links to content that is already ranking for those keywords. Include a rough outline of the piece to gather feedback from your team.
Research & interviews
Once a content brief has been approved, prepare and interview an internal or external expert, then gather the initial direction and ideas necessary to capture your perspective on the chosen topic. Additional external research is conducted after the interview to help inform the content creation.
Write a first draft of the content piece, taking into consideration subject matter, brand voice, keyword strategy, and overall value to your audience. The initial draft is then sent to your chosen subject matter expert for review and revisions.
Blog pieces are greatly enhanced with a featured image or graphic (e.g. illustration), as well as supporting graphics throughout the piece. Design teams can create custom illustrations.
Common content marketing tools
Content marketing tools can be broken down into different categories according to their usage and the different needs of content marketers. Common categories for content marketing tools include content management, content team collaboration, digital analytics, email marketing, content project management, content optimization, and more.
Here are a few of today’s leading content marketing tools.
WordPress is considered to be the world’s most popular website builder, with 40% of the web is built in WordPress. More bloggers, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies use WordPress than all other options combined.
Hubspot is a CRM (customer relationship management) platform that helps companies create content that attracts and converts customers.
Paymo is a work management software for teams to keep your team aligned and engaged. This platform allows you to manage tasks, create team schedules, track work time, and bill clients all within one platform.
Slack is a workplace communication and collaboration tool that brings your team together in channels, helping everyone stay on the same page and communicate with ease.
SEMrush is a content marketing tool that allows you to create and execute a powerful data-informed content strategy. Engage in content ideation, creation, optimization, and measurement with features such as topic research, marketing calendars, SEO content templates, SEO writing assistant, brand monitoring, post tracking, content audits, and more.
Google Analytics is a digital analytic service that gives you valuable insights into your online marketing strategy. Using Google Analytics you can measure your advertising ROI as well as track the performance of all online applications.
MailChimp is an all-in-one integrated marketing solution that helps you automate your marketing and reach the right people with the right content.
Basecamp is a leading project management and internal communications tool that includes features like message boards, to-do lists, schedules, docs, file storage, real-time group chat, and more.
Salesforce is a CRM platform that brings companies and customers together. It gives your marketing, sales, commerce, and service departments a single, shared view of every customer.
Yoast is a tool that helps you to improve SEO on your website and in your content marketing by evaluating how SEO-friendly your content is, and providing suggestions for how to improve.
What are the challenges of content marketing?
You’ve got a lot of content in your head, but can’t get it out on paper
Many CEOs (and others) have collected a wealth of valuable experience and insights that customers would love. But it’s challenging to write it out, package it, and deliver it as content.
You lack the time and resources to execute
Depending on the type of content you create, a high-quality content marketing plan may require SEO strategy, copywriting, graphic design, photography, videography, and more. Without a designated content team that list can be pretty overwhelming.
You’re not sure what content to produce
Content marketing strategy is a specialized skill that requires an understanding of market patterns, content trends, and target audiences. Creating content for the sake of content isn’t enough. You’ve got to know what, when, and where to market for maximum impact.