Do you ever hear your colleagues or friends or someone in your family talking about content marketing and try to understand what all the hype is about? If so, you’ve landed on the right page.
Content marketing is now both at the top of priorities of marketing and experts, and virtually everyone in the business world.
There were times when marketing was all about direct sales, telemarketing, email marketing, and so forth. But we’ve evolved, and so has marketing. Sure, we receive marketing emails, and we aren’t ashamed of calling them spam, because that’s how many view it.
But why spam? They are trying to sell their goods and services, which could be helpful for us. They could be selling us the one vacuum cleaner we’d always wanted. They could be about giving us a credit card that fulfills all our needs. But it is the very nature of these telecalls and marketing emails that makes us wanna ignore them.
Just when presumably these marketing strategies were about to collapse, and experts could think of nothing else, they remembered how video-based advertisements helped in marketing and sales.
What do some advertisements make us not want to skip them? We have post-five-second-skipper ads running before most Youtube videos, and we skip all but a few. Those advertisements have some ‘value’ to offer. In the world of content and content marketing, this ‘value’ word is of utmost importance.
The value we are discussing – whether emotional, sentimental, informational or, for that matter, whatever else – gives us, the viewers, an incentive to watch the full advertisement. The whole video-advertising scenario opened the door to content marketing.
Defining Content Marketing
You know that if you want to market something, you need to generate leads. So, when you want to sell your goods and services by creating or producing content that holds some value, congratulations: you have landed in the world of content marketing.
You can develop all kinds of content – video, audio, written, infographic, webpages, and even books – you just have to strategize and plan how you’re going to do it.
Content strategy plays a significant role here. Strategists plan the content, the content type, and the goals of the content.
This content is consumed by prospects and creates awareness, after which, if they find your product or service useful enough, you can make them convert. When your firm’s goals are met by your content campaigns, your content is said to be performing well.
Content Marketing In-Depth
Assume that I am a producer of high-quality, ultra-smooth fountain pens that are liked by one and all. Imagine that you are a writer, and you have your personal collection of the best pens in the world. I live in the East, and you in the West. How on earth are you ever going to find the world-class pens that I’m producing?
Now, imagine that I start calling as well as sending you multiple emails to spread awareness about my pens. Is this going to entice you to buy? Or you’ll instead recommend to others not buy anything from me at all. Not good.
Now, suppose that I didn’t do what I wrote in the last paragraph, but I start blogging or vlogging or podcasting about pens, generate an audience at the same time. You start looking up good quality pens on Google and come across my content. You will be more inclined to learn more about pens, and more likely to visit the page where I sell my pens too. I think you’ll probably end up buying a pen.
This is the ‘it’ about content marketing.
Content marketers may or may not produce content around the products and services they’re selling. It all depends on who they are selling to, and why they’re campaigning or producing content.
Types Of Content
Like I’ve already told you, content can be of any type. Let’s discuss some types with examples:
Not all blogs and webpages are built to sell products or services. People blog and create websites for their own interests and passions. For example, The Beginner’s Guide To SEO by Moz is a blog that’s written to generate awareness about their SEO tools and services. Anybody looking up SEO-related stuff can land on this page to learn about SEO. This will in turn lead them to learn about their service, which they may or may not be interested in. But, in case the blog didn’t exist, finding their services on the ocean that is the internet would be close to impossible.
Simply Stacie is a lifestyle blogger who writes about everything that she wants to, like books she reads, household stuff, family & personal life, and recipes. Her motivation may or may not be to sell things, but her website is just a blog that people visit to read. And you won’t find a page where she asks you to buy her products or services.
Do you have access to YouTube? Do you like to check out what’s trending and randomly watch a video that’s recommended to you?
Now, take for example The Best Ever Food Review Show, they have close to 3M subscribers and get millions of views every day. The man created the channel because of his passion for traveling and eating foods from multiple cultures and cuisines. They aren’t promoting anything. Though they are making money, the channel isn’t producing content to sell.
On the other hand, Gary Vaynerchuk started his YouTube channel to promote his family’s wine shop. Through his videos and other online marketing tactics, he grew a $45M empire.
Videos and podcasts are historically a less preferred form of content marketing because they are thought to be hard and expensive to produce. Now that the cost of professional-grade equipment is falling, creating high-quality video/audio content isn’t as difficult anymore.
You can create video content to sell your products in a similar manner too. You don’t have to worry about spending thousands of dollars on online and offline promotions either.
Typically long, vertical graphics that have statistics, charts and/or other information are a great source of content marketing. If you want to go through some infographics on content marketing, you can click here. These 197 infographics have been curated by Michael Schmitz, the head of Content Lab at Publicis in Munich.
Infographics are effective, mostly attractive, and are small files that can be shared on social media and posted on websites for long periods.
You can also get professionally designed infographic by firms like Visua.ly. A decent infographic usually costs at least $1,000 for designing, but if you hire a contractor or agency to strategize and plan, the cost may increase by thousands.
The other thing is that you’ll also have to promote the infographic to bloggers and the media. You can also set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics related to your business. That is also a sort of content marketing that costs nothing but time – and it worked for Michael.
Videos and blogs are still considered doable by most of the people, but the concept of podcasts is relatively new.
Michael Hyatt, author of the best-seller Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, can be a good example for you. His podcast This is Your Life is downloaded around 250,000 times every month. He gives valuable information and advice in his podcast for absolutely no cost, but his podcast’s popularity leads to increased sales of his books, invites for him as a speaker and signups for his multiple courses.
This could be considered an expensive affair. But savvy marketers sell books as marketing tools.
Michael Port wrote the sales manual Book Yourself Solid for entrepreneurs, marketers and salespeople, but his book is actually a marketing tool for leading readers to his speaking and coaching services.
You can self-publish your marketing-book, and if you don’t find customers, you will still be called the author of your book!
Other examples of content marketing may include ebooks, white papers, presentations, newsletters, and public speaking too. You can find entire books written on each of these to get deep into the world of content marketing.
The Entire Purpose of Content Marketing
When you want to sell your products or services, what do you need to generate first?
The first thing is need. A customer has to have a need that a marketer can cater to. Once they need something, they require a solution to fulfill that need.
The second requirement is awareness. The customer needs to be aware that there is a solution to fulfill their needs.
The next thing is research. The customer will research where they can find the solution. Your content plays the main part here. If they land upon your content and learn that you have the solution too, they’ll compare you with other sellers.
The customer will finally buy the product or service from either you or someone they find better according to your content because the content is what pulled or drove them.
Build awareness: through content, you can raise awareness of the solutions that exist in the market. Consumers usually get to know different products by interesting, engaging content, rather than learning about them from friends or on social media.
The main thing to focus on is the ‘value,’ whether your content is giving the consumer or audience the value that they are looking for or not. Someone who’s looking to buy lipstick could be looking for a smooth matte, but if your content doesn’t seem to mention matte even if you’re selling it, the consumer may move on. Your content may also add other value points like how that lipstick would help someone with low self-esteem. Such ‘value’ has a positive influence on consumers, which can directly generate sales.
Traditional sales tactics are often highly pressurized and ineffective. Through content, you’ve already built up the trust that you would build when you tell the customer voluntarily. Your well-performing content has already raised awareness and most probably converted regular visitors into your customers.
It is important to strategize and plan carefully and tactically to have exponential returns on investment (ROI).
Content marketing provides additional benefits as it supports other digital marketing platforms. Content marketing is directly related to better social media marketing and contributes to search engine optimization (SEO) by giving natural inbound links and buildup of quality content on your website that can get phenomenal search ranks.
It is also true that many companies put most of their SEO efforts on their content.
The easiest way to get started in the world of content marketing is blogging. What could be easier or simpler?
To know how to start and get tips for writing your blogs, you can go to Copyblogger.
But your content marketing journey doesn’t end there. When you want to actually get to the point of marketing your product, you have to be extremely good at the content you produce.
Recall every time you couldn’t watch a video or read a piece of content any further because it was just terrible? That is what most would call lousy marketing.
When you’re producing content that your company’s income depends on, you have to be extra good at it. So much so, that people should be willing to pay to read or watch your superb content on its own merits. It is a double bounty as you’ll also be generating leads through your content apart from earning traffic from your content.
Consider The Lego Movie. You may not have noticed, but it is one of the best and greatest examples of content marketing ever! Should I tell you now that the 100-minute movie was just an extended toy commercial? It couldn’t be a mere coincidence that Lego overtook Mattel to become the largest toy-selling company in the whole world!
You don’t need to have such a big budget to get through your content marketing strategy, but you can come with amazing ideas to sell your products by giving your prospects valuable, and in many cases, fun information.
The Recipe to Success
The only recipe to success in this vast content marketing world, as I’ve already said repeatedly, is value. Add value to your content. Nothing else will make up for it if your content lacks in value.
The attractive graphics and videos add nothing to your content if there’s just no value for the consumer.
Also, remember that this ‘value’ is highly subjective and relative. You can find value in content pieces that I may call garbage, because our interests are different.
I might like to read or watch about fashion or why the earth is round, whereas you may be interested in only cars. A video that talks about various car-parts may be valuable to you, a blog that tells me where I can buy the most trending clothes is valuable to me.
Whether your content generates sales or it under-performs depends largely on the strategy. You need to exactly understand who your customers are, what they are interested in, and how varied their interests can be. Someone searching for bags may be interested in traveling, so you can create content around travelling too. Someone looking up for frying pan could be interested in cooking, and you can sell your frying pans by posting recipes.
Finally, your strategy has to be based on your goals.
What are your goals? Why are you creating content? What are the mission and vision of your company?
Are you generating content just to raise awareness about risks associated with pollution, or do you have a solution for it too? Do you want to know what your consumers’ needs are, do you want them to land on your landing page and give you the information you need, or do you want them to buy your products and services?
There are designated content strategists for this purpose who strategize all the content that has to go online. If everything is confusing to you, you can rely on them for help.
But remember that your performance will depend on your content, and your content ultimately depends on your goals.