Content marketing consists of producing relevant, useful, and valuable content for a specific target group, with the aim of attracting and retaining customers to the company.
There are several stages that constitute this strategic activity, starting with the production stage, i.e. creating textual and visual content, to the dissemination stage which, as we shall see, may include the use of social media, blogs, and other marketing channels.
In this article, we will see:
- What content marketing is;
- What is meant by content strategy and how to do it;
- How to develop a content strategy plan;
- Some examples of content marketing.
You will realize that content is fundamental in all the digital strategies used, from the creation of landing pages to the description of products/services offered or even corporate brand storytelling.
The creation of relevant content, from the creation of landing pages to the description of products/services, is a must for a sound marketing strategy and the achievement of marketing goals.
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What is Content marketing?
The meaning of content marketing (abbreviated content mktg), in its literal translation, is “content marketing”. Extending the transcription, we could say that it means turning written texts, images, and videos into tools for attracting customers, which contributes to the achievement of business goals, and supporting corporate strategies.
The Content Marketing Institute, one of the most authoritative international voices in this field, gives this definition:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating and sharing good, consistent, and relevant content. Its purpose is to attract and maintain a relationship with a well-defined audience and ultimately drive user actions in a profitable way.
In the American market, companies have long since grasped the great advantages of this marketing strategy. Just think of the very famous phrase “Content is king” by Bill Gates, the number one at Microsoft, which affirms the importance of online and offline content, and has now become a cult among digital marketers.
Also, entrepreneurs are realizing what competitive advantages they can gain by incorporating a content marketing plan into their strategic design.
Digital content marketing is a part of the inbound marketing strategy.
We can summarize the two concepts as:
- Inbound marketing is actions aimed at attracting customers to your business. Examples are DEM (direct e-mail marketing) campaigns, options, push notifications, lead generation, etc.;
- content marketing is a way of attracting one’s target audience, based on the production and dissemination of content: articles, social media posts, reviews, resources, etc.
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How to do content marketing
Let’s see how you can use content to promote your company, increase your customers and boost sales. Going step by step, you should:
- Analyzing the target audience;
- Producing content;
- Distribute content according to the chosen communication plan.
Analysis of buyer personas
To do content marketing, you have to start by studying the typical customers you want to target and to whom you intend to sell your products or services.
To find out what the identikit of your ideal customers is, find answers to the following questions:
- Who they are;
- Where they are;
- What is their age;
- What kind are they;
- What problems do they have;
- What are their wishes;
- What needs do they have;
- What difficulties do they encounter in everyday life?
All this information will enable you to refine the profile of buyer personas in order to offer them increasingly targeted topics.
Now you have your content marketing plan!
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The second step is to use this information to identify which web content is useful to your audience.
What strategic features should the content you are going to create have?
- Respect the stage of the customer journey funnel your target audience is in. For example, posts on social platforms are more likely to create “awareness” among prospects who have not yet heard of your product. Conversely, a newsletter will be more appropriate for someone who has already reached the “purchase” stage in the buying process or perhaps a potential customer who is intent on buying.
- Getting interactions from your audience: that is, actions that your users perform spontaneously, such as comments and shares.
- Emotional connection: a message about a product must engage immediately, and the person must benefit from it without cognitive effort.
- Practical value: a searchable or downloadable resource on the web, in addition to being easy to understand, must also be useful and contribute to solving user problems and/or requests.
- Tell a story that has never been told before through storytelling you have to create a unique experience that can be associated with only one brand, yours. In this way, you can appeal to the memory and emotionality of the user, who will be much more likely to become your customer.
Can you create content that reflects all these characteristics? If the answer is yes, then you are ready to develop and implement your digital content marketing strategy!
So, what are the web resources you could create?
Written texts: blogs, e-books, mini-guides
The corporate blog is one of the most widely used content marketing tools. It is not only about writing articles but also resources such as mini-guides and e-books.
Let us analyze the different types of textual content:
- Blog articles: writing articles for publication on your own blog or third-party sites is fundamental to any effective content strategy. It can be useful to spread the brand and get valuable backlinks to your website.
- Powerpoint presentations: you can turn your presentations into infographics, add them to your blog posts or upload them to Slideshare in LinkedIn, for example. In this way, you will also strengthen your social content marketing strategy.
- Tutorials and mini-guides: these are a great way to increase one’s authority in areas of expertise, provide additional information and help readers.
- Ebooks, books, products, and/or programs: useful for building authority and generating trust; you can, for example, create an ebook and sell it on Amazon, or put it on your website in PDF format and perhaps use it as a lead magnet to generate contacts and strengthen your inbound marketing strategy.
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Visual elements: photos, infographics, images
In addition to textual resources, one can consider visual content, i.e. the use of everything that can be expressed in visual form.
- Infographics: a combination of concise, explanatory, and easy-to-understand images and text used to communicate information in a visual manner, facilitating its transmission. They are often used for statistical data and reports.
- White papers: used for creating and promoting articles that provide in-depth information on a particular topic, e.g. solutions to a problem, advantages of a product and/or service, case studies. It is the ideal type of content to expand your database, create prestige and enhance your brand reputation.
Videos, webinars, live streams
Another type of asset you can create is videos. To do video content marketing, you could create short, very long, and elaborate advertising videos to post on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram.
- Video: can be used to promote a brand, product, or service. The platforms most used to date to disseminate video elements are YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Instagram, especially Instagram TV.
- Webinar: a type of conference, workshop, or seminar broadcast over the Internet, through which information and training experiences are offered to users. For example, they are used to increase sales of online courses. Today, webinars are an essential component of web content marketing, thanks to the simplicity and flexibility of the new tools.
- Live streaming: the main feature is the interactivity between the participants and the lecturer. As in any public event, participants can see what the lecturer is doing, comment, listen, and ask questions live.
- Podcasts: videos without pictures, or even articles in audio format. Very useful for those who do not have time to read a whole article. The advantage of such a resource is that you can listen to it whenever and wherever you want.
It would be nice if the job was done here, wouldn’t it? I’m sorry, but your job as a digital content marketer is to make this content successful, so you cannot do without its distribution.
To proceed with content dissemination, you will need to choose the most suitable platforms to make your work visible and promote it. In addition, you will need to establish a timing for content planning, i.e. an editorial plan that includes your blog articles, social media posts, newsletters, and any other resources you create, specifying their date and time of publication.
Here are some examples of channels for content distribution:
- SEO-compliant blogs and websites: You could start distributing content within a corporate blog that is online and has its own presence, strength, and even its own target audience. You will only get the desired results if the published content has been generated following SEO techniques, thanks to which your website or blog will be among the first search engine results. Remember how I quoted the phrase “content is king” at the beginning? If you provide search engines with optimized texts, you will be rewarded in terms of ranking. Moreover, if the content has managed to hit the right target and generate trust, the user will share it with his professional or personal circle. In this respect, always remember to activate social sharing buttons in your content.
- Online advertising: To increase the number of people who are reached by your messages, you can resort to online advertising. In this phase, you can use advertising tools, and set a budget to make your content visible to audiences that have not known you so far. You need to establish a content marketing timing, in which you prioritize your work according to the results you want to achieve. You could, for example, create search engine campaigns (SEM), Ads on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram or enter into partnerships with other authoritative blogs in your field.
- Mailing lists: If over time you have managed to build up your database with contacts who are genuinely interested in receiving your free newsletters and resources, you can use e-mail marketing to send these leads the items you have produced, through periodic newsletters. This activity called lead nurturing, is part of inbound marketing.
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The strategic importance of content marketing
So, is it possible to do business on the web with content marketing? The answer is yes.
Every company, B2B or B2C, can engage in digital content projects. Here are, for example, goals you could achieve using online content:
- Improving Brand Awareness;
- Bringing traffic to your site;
- Generating valuable leads;
- Doing Inbound Marketing;
- Acquiring new customers;
- Increase customer retention and loyalty.
Valuable and relevant content must inform, educate, entertain, and engage your target audience. In fact, content marketing is not a means of direct sales, rather it attracts your target audience to you and helps you find new customers, or establish a lasting relationship with those you have already acquired.
The objective of web content marketing is to make the consumer approach the brand (Pull) and not the brand chase it, as, for example, is the case in SEM, Display, and Social Advertising (Push) campaigns.
Create content that works to build trust, credibility, and authority in the user, eliminating possible resistance along the buying process. It may prove very effective to use a direct response copywriting strategy to influence customer behavior and have positive effects on companies’ sales and ROI.
What you should do is communicate news about your product or service on the web and social networks, but keep in mind that the content must provide your possible customers with useful, informative, practical, and exciting information.
Examples of content marketing strategy
I now propose three examples of successful content marketing that you can use to improve your production and dissemination of online resources right away.
1. Coca-Cola: viral content
With the “Share a Coke” campaign, Coca-Cola used a strategy based on sharing: it made it possible to customize the bottle labels so that each customer could buy the one best suited to his or her needs.
This allowed Coca-Cola to advertise directly to consumers, thanks to the videos and photos that ordinary people took to show themselves with their customized bottles.
What can I say? An excellent example of creative content marketing is where the consumer becomes the true brand ambassador.
2. Cere’s: Social Content Marketing
The well-known company Ceres has been harnessing the power of social media for years to produce quality content that goes viral in no time.
What is Social Media Content? Very simple: it is the activity through which current content is produced and disseminated by leveraging social networks.
Cere’s for example uses Facebook a lot to make its content viral, always fresh and entertaining. The ingredients of its strategy? Excellent content planning, and attention to real-time marketing without falling into bad taste, all seasoned with a good dose of irony.
3. Tannico SPA
Let us close with an example, that of the famous online wine shop Tannino. This company has developed a content strategy operating on two fronts: mini-guides and newsletters.
While the wine guides in the catalog represent a fairly traditional way of doing content, thanks to the newsletter Tannico is able to make its message personal and emotional: in fact, customers receive personalized e-mails that urge them to travel with their minds in space and time.
This particular approach makes it possible to create solid links with consumers, making them feel at the center of the relationship: each customer receives a personalized newsletter and valuable content that entices them to delve deeper into the world of quality wine.
Summarising what has been said so far, you will have realized that it is not enough just to list the benefits of a product and create clearly sales-oriented content to increase business success. The information provided must represent value for the user who receives it.
We have seen that there are different ways to use content in marketing such as posts on social media, videos on video marketing platforms, articles on blogs and web pages, free downloadable e-books, webinars, and powerpoints.
Although the way each piece of content is produced may be different, the benefits of a proper content strategy are many and reflect each stage of the customer journey. From increasing brand awareness to increasing prospects (potential buyers) to growing those customers who feel loyal to your brand.
What else are you waiting for? Become a content strategist now and start exploiting all the benefits that content has to offer.
Customers are there in front of you, don’t let them get away. Start planning your content marketing strategy now!