What is Content Marketing?

Like it or not, the dawn of the digital era has completely redefined the way companies engage with customers. The web is now awash with dime-a-dozen promotions, and it takes a lot more than an eye-catching graphic or great deal to convert ordinary web users into loyal customers.

That’s why more and more businesses have started to focus their promotional efforts on new content marketing strategies.

What is Content Marketing?

Simply put, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that sees businesses create and distribute valuable content in order to attract a clearly defined audience.

Rather than shamelessly pitching goods and services with ordinary sales copy, content marketing enables you to deliver information that enhances consumer knowledge.

By establishing your business as a consistent source or relevant and valuable industry information, content marketing strategies are designed to help you create an intelligent consumer base that will ultimately reward your hard work with their loyalty and business.

Who Uses Content Marketing?

Although increased reliance on the web has substantially increased the uptake of businesses adopting content marketing strategies, the concept itself has been around for quite some time.

Notable examples include John Deere, which launched its own magazine in 1895 designed to provide farmers with useful information on how to make their businesses more profitable.

More than a century on, that magazine is still going strong, with a circulation of more than 1.5 million readers in 40 countries. Michelin’s coveted restaurant guide and Jell-O’s iconic cookbooks were launched around the same time with identical motivations in mind.

More recently, energy drink leviathan Red Bull has emerged as one of the guiding forces of content marketing. Its steady YouTube presence, feature film productions and magazine all provide extreme sports consumers with a consistent and unique flow of information and content that have helped the company to establish phenomenal brand recognition.

Why Content Marketing is Important

Content marketing is more than just a buzzword—it’s a fundamental approach to marketing that emphasizes the importance of creating and distributing meaningful content. Here’s why businesses today deem it crucial:

Building Trust with Audience: By providing valuable content that addresses the needs and interests of your audience, businesses can establish themselves as industry leaders and experts. This trust is instrumental in converting leads to customers.
Improved SEO and Online Visibility: Regularly publishing high-quality content helps improve search engine rankings. This means more visibility for your brand and more organic traffic to your site.
Higher Engagement Rates: Instead of intrusive ads, content marketing offers something of value to the reader. This results in longer time spent on your site, more shares on social media, and higher engagement rates overall.
Cost-effective Marketing Strategy: When compared to traditional advertising methods, content marketing often provides a better ROI. Over time, quality content can continue to generate traffic and leads without ongoing costs.
Supports Other Marketing Tactics: Whether it’s social media, email marketing, or PR, content marketing supports and enhances other marketing tactics. It gives businesses a solid base to amplify their message across various channels.

How Can I Use Content Marketing for My Business?

No matter what sort of business you’re running or what type of industry you’re operating in, content marketing can be an extremely effective and versatile promotional strategy.

If you’d like to develop a content marketing strategy to help bolster your business, you must first define your target audience and their needs. Think of who your business is targeting, what sort of information they’re typically after and how you could provide useful content to fill those needs.

Next, you’ll need to determine how and where to produce and distribute that content. By undergoing some market research, you should be able to develop a firm idea of where your would-be customers are spending the bulk of their time online.

You might be able to maximize your digital exposure by producing videos on YouTube, writing blog posts on LinkedIn or contributing guest articles to relevant industry magazines.

After you’ve got a firm idea of what types of content to produce and where to do it, it’s worth developing a content calendar that will push you to remain consistent in your outreach efforts.

If you’re attempting to establish your own company website as a source of information, you could also benefit from deploying a simple content management system that will make it fast and simple to produce and distribute content.

Steps in Developing a Content Marketing StrategyDescription

1. Define Your Target AudienceUnderstand who you’re targeting and determine their needs. Identify the information they seek and how you can provide valuable content.

2. Market ResearchDetermine where your potential customers spend most of their time online. This will give insights into how and where to distribute your content.

3. Content Creation OptionsExplore various platforms like YouTube for videos, LinkedIn for blog posts, or industry magazines for guest articles.

4. Develop a Content CalendarCreate a schedule for your content creation and distribution. This ensures consistency and can help maintain an active online presence.

5. Use a Content Management SystemIf establishing a company website, utilize a CMS to streamline the production and distribution of content, making it easier to keep the site updated with fresh, relevant content.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, virtually all businesses have the ability to benefit substantially from deploying a content marketing strategy. That being said, it takes a lot of thought and a lot of hard work before those efforts will start to generate returns.

Just remember: no two businesses are alike, and so your content marketing strategy should differ from others, too. It’s simply a matter of doing your homework and staying committed.

Content Marketing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What is Content Marketing?” was first published on Small Business Trends