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Demystifying Content Marketing

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Solve the mystery of content marketing and find out how to put it into practice

It may not be comforting to read, but content marketing is still a mystery to many business owners and marketing professionals. It’s a strange enigma. Just when you think you understand it and every way it could possibly be used, a new and more impactful method comes around that sets you back to square one.

The traditional definition of content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.”

But what does that mean, and how are businesses supposed to translate that into meaningful conversions and sales? Let’s break it down and answer some key questions, so content marketing becomes less of a mystery and more of a cornerstone of your marketing plan.

But what is content marketing, really?

Now that we have the boring dictionary definition out of the way let’s dive into what content marketing is and what it’s not. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Using content marketing as a strategy means you’re playing the long game. It’s a slow burn or whatever phrase you want to use that conveys it is a strategy designed for long term sustainability.

The key part of the definition above is “valuable, relevant, and consistent content.” Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy. You attract people to your business by providing them with what they need.

You provide valuable information that answers questions, relevant information that speaks to your audience at just the right time in the buying process, and consistent information that keeps you top of mind. You listen to them, get to know them, and provide the solutions. It’s all about knowing your audience.

This varies from outbound marketing strategies like infomercials or newspaper ads that tell people what they need regardless of what they’re asking for. These methods are focused on the business making money rather than understanding the customer’s story.

The goal of content marketing is to obtain loyal customers. You want people who know your brand, believe in it, and are willing to be ambassadors on its behalf.

Why is everyone on the content marketing bandwagon?

We’re all inundated with marketing, exposed to hundreds of thousands of ads every day, most of which we gloss over or delete. There is nothing in these messages that address us as individuals, or catches our attention, or tells us they’re anything other than what they are ... spam.

Content marketing works because it is the complete opposite. If done correctly, it is designed to speak to us in some way, answer a question, or solve a problem. It builds a relationship between the business and customer based on trust, which is what we all really want from relationships, right?

From a business perspective, content marketing is much more economical than traditional methods, costing about 62% less and bringing in three times as many leads. Websites that utilize content marketing are shown to have conversion rates six times higher than those that don’t. That is huge for any business, but especially small businesses that are tight on budget and resources.

The investment comes in the form of time and energy. To put out valuable content that is meaningful to customers establishes your business as an expert in your field. It may take a while to see results, but it is worth it to attract customers that will be around for the long term.

How do you get on the content marketing bandwagon?

It sounds great in theory, but how do you make it real? As a business, there are some basic questions to answer that will set you on the right path. If you can answer these, you have the foundation of a great content marketing strategy:

  • Who are your target customers? Make this as detailed as possible. It might help to consider your current customer base. Are you happy with it? Are you trying to expand and go after a different type of clientele? If so, identify that new audience before doing anything else.
  • What problem(s) do you solve or potentially could solve for your customers? You went into business for a reason. Identify what that reason is and what services or solutions you can provide to customers that no one else can.
  • Why should your customers choose YOU over all the other businesses in town? Think about what makes you unique or an expert in your field.
  • What impact will choosing YOUR business have on your customers? Consider how your customer’s decisions and lives will be improved by what you can provide them.

But you can’t just create blanket content and expect it to appeal to everyone who stumbles across your business. It’s important to create content that applies to customers at different phases of the buying process.

  • Phase One: Awareness
    The first step is to get people to notice you exist. Creating content that is eye-catching and answers some of the basic questions you get from new customers is a smart way to accomplish this.

  • Phase Two: Consideration
    This is the phase between discovery and action where people know who you are, but they’re still getting to know you. It’s a relationship-building time. Content here should be focused on building your brand voice, answering questions, and addressing pain points.

    Things like newsletters, case studies, and white papers are all pieces of education that move the needle closer to purchase for many people. Including a call to action (CTA) in this stage is critical. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to provide the customer with an easy way to take the next step.

  • Phase Three: Decision
    The customer finally converts. But that’s not the end of the content marketing journey. Remember, the goal is to attract loyal, long-term customers. Think about what you can do for them to keep them returning, share your information, and recommend you. Consistency is hugely important so customers can learn to rely on you and come to you for the content they need.

    Content marketing can only succeed with focus and strategy. Narrow in on your target audience and put yourself in their shoes. Once you start to think of questions and problems from their point of view, the content ideas will start writing themselves.

Now what?

The format you put your content into is just as important as creating content in the first place. Think about where your customers are likely to find you and where you would like to appear.

Blogs are a great way to consistently speak to customers. They help establish expertise and street cred while also improving your search engine rankings and adding to your SEO efforts.

Visual examples can often push someone over the last hurdle to making a decision. White papers, case studies, and videos showing your product or service in action can elicit an, “oh, I get it now!” reaction, leading to a purchase.

Social media is one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to take advantage of content marketing. This is a place to share things you created, interact with customers, and establish your brand.

We know it can be overwhelming, but just putting energy into thinking about a content marketing strategy is a step in the right direction. And remember, you’re not alone in the vast marketing ocean.

ContentBacon can help you demystify content marketing and create content that gets you noticed, educates your customers, and makes them feel loved long after they convert. Learn how we can put the content mystery to bed for you once and for all.

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