Content marketing, a subset of digital marketing, is one of the most popular methods of marketing today that has become quite effective. Most consumers today hate it when they are made to listen to an advertisement or a sales pitch. They skip ads and turn down deals that only want them to sign up for their data.
People nowadays tend to do their own research and once they are satisfied with a product or service, they go purchase it. This is where content marketing comes in. With content marketing, companies can provide research data to their audience and subtly advertise their own offerings.
Content marketing has some obvious advantages over traditional marketing. Firstly, it is much easier to implement, and it has less investment required, not to mention it has significant long-term returns as well.
In this article, we will learn all about content marketing, what is it, its various types, and finally, how to do it yourself.
Let’s get started.
What is Content Marketing?
In simple terms, content marketing is a type of digital marketing that utilizes content of various shapes and forms to generate interest in a brand without blatantly promoting it (like you would in a sales pitch).
The types of content can include written content, audio, and even images. People mostly use images and written content for their marketing, but audio and video are also quite popular.
What medium you use depends on your type of business and your audience. There is no “one size fits all” solution and what medium to use, and what strategy to apply is different for each case.
Now, let’s take a look at some types of content marketing.
Types of Content Marketing
These are just some (not all) types of content used in content marketing. We will discuss how they work and what type of content they use.
Blogs are a type of content marketing that uses written content. Businesses use blogs to create and host articles and blog posts that inform their readers about many things. Sometimes the topics are pretty simple i.e., how to use certain tools or services, sometimes they are more sophisticated such as educational blogs.
For example, a company that provides marketing services may have blogs that educate their readers about marketing, much like this article in fact.
2. Paid Ads
Advertisements are actually closer to a sales pitch, but with some ingenuity, they can be portrayed in a different manner.
Ads also utilize content in written form, but they are also very visual mediums. How they are designed has a huge impact on how they are received. With the combination of design and written content, they can leave a positive impact on their audience.
Podcasts are an aural medium in which two or more people simply sit down and exchange information and opinions about various topics. Naturally, an exchange of opinions is a discussion and this can be used to subtly promote your brand.
For podcasts, it is not even necessary to have your own platform. You can actually reach out to famous podcasters and ask them to join their broadcast as a guest. If they are willing, they will bring you in for an episode and you can use that opportunity to advertise your brand, subtly of course.
4. Online Content Marketing
This may seem like a weird heading, as content marketing is literally online all the time. But this heading specifically refers to all the content that you have on your websites.
And we do mean all of it, even the headings and page titles are included. The text on the buttons that help you navigate, everything is included.
All of your published content on your own sites is vital for SEO and it can make or break your content marketing strategy. That’s why it is very important.
Key Steps to Dip Your Feet into Content Marketing
We have mentioned previously, that there is no “one size fits all” solution in content marketing. But nevertheless, there are some common steps that anyone can take to improve their strategy, or at least prevent it from failing.
1. Identify Your Brand and Your Audience
Before you can get started with any kind of marketing, you need to establish some ground rules. The most important things you need to do are to establish your brand identity, and figure out who your main audience is going to be.
Figuring out these things is necessary because they affect your marketing strategy. If your products/services are suitable for a B2B (business-to-business) relationship, then your marketing will be different.
Similarly, B2C (business-to-consumer) relationship demands a different strategy. And even among these two categories, there are many other sub-categories, all of which require unique approaches.
Let’s look at an example to understand this; suppose you have a shoe brand, and your main theme is trendy casual footwear. Then your main audience will be teenagers and young adults. Your content marketing strategy would involve using lots of casual words, maybe even some slang, and colorful designs/images. This was a B2C brand, whose target was a young audience.
If the same brand started making content that tried to sell these trendy shoes designed for young people to an olderdemographic, they would get terrible results. Similarly, products for women have no business being marketed to men, and vice versa. Likewise, adults will have no interest in the toys of children.
So, finding out who is your intended audience and what kind of demographic will respond well to your products/services is a major necessity for creating a successful marketing strategy.
2. Cater to Your Audience’s needs
Your audience is your lifeline. They are the people who are most likely to become your customers and net you the profits to keep your business afloat. The best way to keep them coming back to you is to cater to their needs.
Compulsive shoppers aside, most people only bother to shop for things they need or things they enjoy. Nowadays, it is very common for people to do some prior research online before they buy something. That is where your content marketing strategy comes in.
You need to create content in various forms that directly address the worries and needs of your audience and subtly imply that your brand has the solution. Let’s you are an electronics brand, and your audience is looking for the perfect microwave oven to cook food. To help them, you could create and publish a blog post that lists the features and prices of some microwave ovens available in the market.
Just by doing that, you have provided some research material for your audience that is backed by an expert (your brand). Using some clever writing, and CTAs (calls to action), you can incite the reader to buy a microwave oven from your brand.
3. Identify Which Channels Your Audience Frequent.
Depending on what kinds of channels your audience uses to consume content, your content marketing and advertising strategy will have to change. You need to conduct some research and find out, what channels your main target audience use.
Do they read a lot of blogs? Watch videos? Or do they listen to podcasts? You will have to prioritize the channels that have the most traffic so that you can expose your brand to the largest number of people.
Obviously, that means you will have to hire people who are better at creating content for that particular medium, i.e., writers for blogging, good speakers for podcasts, and a charismatic designer for videos.
4. Create Unique Content
No matter which kind of content marketing strategy you are following, there is one thing you must always take care not to plagiarize anything.
Plagiarized content is a quick and easy shortcut for ensuring that your strategy fails. That can happen for a number of reasons such as:
- Search engine penalties
- Loss of trust from your audience
- Poor reputation which fails to garner positive attention
Search engines can detect and penalize plagiarized content, and so can your readers/audience. This results in poor ranking and poor reception. Both of these combined create a bad reputation which ensures that your marketing will not be met positively.
Videos and podcasts aside, the main victim of plagiarism is written content such as blogs. That’s because it is easy to accidentally copy someone’s writing without knowing about it.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to deal with it which is online plagiarism checking tools. Once the written draft is complete, you should simply run it through a plagiarism checker free of cost.
With a plagiarism checker, free yourself from the grip of copied content and ensure the uniqueness of all your write-ups. This is necessary for preventing your content marketing strategy from failing.
5. Maintain Readability/Ease of Understanding
No matter what type of content you create and what kind of channel/medium you use, there is a requirement for keeping your content simple to understand.
Your content marketing strategy will not be as effective if your audience has trouble understanding what you are trying to say. They will not be able to engage with it, and as a result, it won’t have its intended effects.
Dealing with this requires some finesse. Writers need to intentionally lower their writing level to a point that even 12-year-old children can understand them reliably. But simultaneously they need to keep the content attractive enough for more intellectually gifted individuals.
That is a difficult line to walk, and for that, you need experience content writers.
These are some basic tips you need to apply to your content marketing strategies. No matter your strategy, you need these tips to ensure its success. These can be considered the basics of all content marketing strategies.