Is your content marketing a little behind the times?
Perhaps you’re trying to catch up with your competitors.
Maybe your content isn’t performing as well as it could be.
No matter the case, there are probably some gaps in your knowledge of content marketing and how to make the most of your content program.
Here’s everything you need to know to get yourself fully up-to-speed.
What Is Content Marketing?
The definition of content marketing used by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is that its the strategic approach to marketing that involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a defined audience. The overall objective of content marketing is to get people to take action and earn a profit from it.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Content marketing captures the attention of people in your target audience by providing them with the information they find valuable and usable. The aim of content marketing is for those people to grow to trust and rely on the information you offer, recognize the unique value your company can provide to them through the content, and get them to do business with you over the long term.
What Are the Core Components of Content Marketing?
There are three attributes every successful content marketing program must have:
Valuable: Content marketing is successful only when it serves a genuine need. It must deliver information your buyers are searching for online or open to connecting within social media. Your content must make their lives easier or better, whether at home or work. It must take them on a journey from where they are now to where they want to be.
Relevant: Your content must focus on the interests and information needs of the people you’re targeting. It shouldn’t just present the perspectives your company wants to provide and further its business interests. Self-interest turns people off.
Consistent: Achieving viral success with a single incredible piece of content is a great short-term win. However, the only way you’ll get your prospective customers to stay connected with you, and in their consideration set, is to offer something of value to them consistently. You must create, publish, and deliver actionable, relevant content on a dependable schedule.
What Is the Value of Content Marketing?
Different businesses leverage content marketing to achieve a range of goals, including:
Brand awareness. Content helps people in your target audience “find” you, understand what your business does, and keeps it front and center in their minds.
Build a subscriber base. Take your relationship with casual readers to another level and get them to pay for content you deliver regularly. In other words, earn money from your content while marketing to prospective customers.
Generate leads. Leverage content to get readers and viewers to identify themselves when they’re ready to do business with you.
Encourage loyalty. Stay front and center with your clients and customers, so they keep doing business with you.
Promote referrals. Encourage casual readers and devoted customers alike to share your content to make more people aware of your business.
Increase sales and profitability. Leverage content to get more people to do additional business with you while making your marketing more efficient.
Your content marketing program doesn’t have to be limited to a single goal. The best ones can accomplish many things at once.
How Should Content Marketing Fit into a Broader Marketing Plan?
Content marketing isn’t a replacement for other promotional programs. Instead, content works best when it’s used to complement or enhance other marketing efforts that support your business goals.
Content marketing works hand-in-hand with:
Account-based marketing: Tailor your content to speak to the needs of different types of prospects or clients.
Branded materials: It’s essential that your content ties to your other marketing assets. They should feel like they’re part of the same family.
Demand generation: Content can help people identify a need for what you offer that they don’t know they have.
Influencer marketing: People prefer to buy things recommended by experts they respect or the people they idolize. (Kardashians, anyone?) Content marketing can be a great way to become associated with influencers and make your relationships with them more visible.
Digital advertising. People familiar with your content will be more likely to respond to your ads because they already know and trust you.
Product and service marketing. Content marketing is often used to create demand for — or link into — products and services offered by businesses.
Social media. Linking to good content will take your social media program to the next level.
SEO. Authoritative content is at the core of search engine optimization. Without great blog posts and other content, you can’t expect to rank.
Public relations. Original thought leadership content or research is a sure way to get noticed — and picked up — by top media outlets.
How Do I Get Leadership Buy-in and Support?
Your content marketing efforts cannot succeed if you don’t have everyone at your company on board.
The good news: Now that you have a clearer understanding of content marketing, you can better communicate its benefits to others, including leaders, managers, and key stakeholders.
This will help them understand and appreciate the value of what you and the people on your content marketing team do and how it benefits your business. This will help you get funding and access to the talent you need to do content marketing right.
On the contrary, if your executive management doesn’t believe in the value of content marketing, you’ll struggle to get the budget, resources, and approvals to keep your content engine running at all, much less at peak performance.
The value of content marketing is different for every organization. Answer these questions so you can customize your content marketing value proposition so it works for your business, and your leaders and stakeholders will provide support.
Why do we need content marketing?
How does content help achieve your company’s marketing goals?
What budget do you need, and how will you spend it?
What infrastructure do you require, including people, equipment, agency support, and more?
What does success look like?
What are your projected results?
What kinds of content will you develop and share, and what impact will it have on business results?
Who are you developing content for, and why?
Don’t limit your thinking to these questions. Include anything it will take to get organizational buy-in for content marketing.
What Else Do I Need to Know to Be Successful at Content Marketing?
Once you’ve earned organizational buy-in, it’s time to develop a plan for how you’ll develop, distribute, and monitor content.
While there’s no single “right way” to build a content marketing plan, the most successful ones include these elements:
Purpose and goals. At the very least, you need to clearly understand why you’re doing content marketing and how it will pay off for your company.
Audience. You must identify and clearly define your target audience before you can create content that will resonate with them.
Branding. If any elements of your brand (messaging, tone, style, imagery) are unclear or ill-defined, it’s time to fix them. You can’t effectively represent your brand through content marketing if you aren’t sure what it is.
Processes and procedures. Good content doesn’t just happen. You need to know how and when it will be developed, reviewed, approved, and monitored.
Metrics. You must have projected results. It allows you to track progress against those results to ensure your content marketing is working as intended. It also helps you figure out how to improve things if they’re not performing as expected.
What’s next? Spend some time going deep into each of the components of content marketing covered in this article. It will help you take your content program to the next level.