With the rise of technology and social media, content marketing is now at the forefront of successful marketing strategies. Traditional forms of marketing, while useful, simply cannot compete; they seem outdated and ineffective in comparison. Today, a strong content marketing strategy could mean the difference between a profitable business and one that fails to build a loyal customer base.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on potential customers and not the bottom line. In other words, it means giving people content that is useful, engaging, and valuable. It does not mean pushing your product. In fact, in some instances, you may only mention your product once or twice. Content marketing is designed to help customers solve problems. It attracts them to your business and later increases the chances of profitable action.
Why Content Marketing?
When it comes to content marketing, the proof is in the numbers. This form of marketing has been proven successful time and time again by big-name companies. What’s so incredible about content marketing is that it’s good for both your business and the customer. It leads to increased sales, saves money, and helps create a loyal customer base.
Examples of Content Marketing
As an example of content marketing, consider these two scenarios. Let’s say that you sell musical instruments. Your brand has a website.
Scenario 1: You publish a list of your guitar tuners and their specs, along with prices.
Scenario 2: You publish a guitar tuning tutorial with a link to your shop’s collection of guitar tuners.
In the first scenario, you’re simply promoting your brand’s products. You’re not really giving the user any useful information, other than information on the guitar tuners that you sell.
In the second scenario, however, you’re providing useful, relevant information. It draws a wider range of people to your website. The information is valuable.
Again, let’s imagine another scenario. You’re out shopping for small kitchen appliances. In the store, there are two companies promoting their brand. The first company hands you a pamphlet detailing information about their products and prices. The second company, however, hands you a booklet filled with delicious recipes featuring high-resolution images. At the end of the book, there is a short snippet about their kitchen appliances.
Which company would stand out in your mind? Chances are, it’s the second company.
This is another example of good content marketing. The first kitchen appliance company essentially handed you informational “garbage.” It’s rarely useful to the consumer. There is a huge difference between content marketing and material that provides information about your brand. Content marketing gives the customer something that they can use, hence the recipe booklet.
Personalization is Important
Personalization is one content marketing strategy that really works. Consider Coca-Cola –a huge name brand, recognized throughout the world. Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign was an incredible success. How did they do it? Well, they simply added names to their bottles. That’s literally it. Personalization made the customer feel special–so special, in fact, that people were literally rummaging through coolers to find their name. As a result, memes were created and everyone was talking about the soda giant. This is a prime example of how catering to the customer is an effective part of content marketing–even if it simply means using their name.
In short, marketing is impossible without content that your prospects want or something that makes your customer feel good.
Effective Content Marketing Strategies
Before diving in, it’s important to build a marketing strategy. If you’re a marketing expert, you’re likely able to draw out this plan yourself. If you have little knowledge of marketing, however, you may need a little help. Fortunately, the internet is ripe with relevant information to help you on your journey. Before you start searching, we’ll cover some of the most popular content marketing methods.
- Visual Aids– Humans are visual creatures. We love having something to watch or look at. This is clearly evident with popular social media websites such as YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Understanding this can help you create visual aids that are useful to your prospective customers. Some examples of visual aids include videos, pictures, and infographics. Videos are the most popular form of visual content marketing. YouTube is still the number one place for this, but recently, Facebook Video has also become an effective way to market content.
- Articles and Blog Posts – Having a specific web page or blog dedicated to useful content is one way to increase your inbound traffic. Providing these resources for FREE is the trick. Giving away tools, resources, and information that is relevant to your targeted audience will capture their attention and keep them coming back, as long as you provide such information consistently. Don’t just add information. Add USEFUL information.
- eBooks What’s great about eBooks is that even if it’s not successful, you can use the fact that you’ve published a book to market yourself. If the book is successful, however, that’s simply an added bonus. Books shouldn’t be sold just to make money. They should be sold because you legitimately want to provide something to your customers. Writing books about how to do something or by giving away tricks and tips for free is a fun, savvy way to grab the attention of prospects.
These are only a few examples of content marketing. Others include podcasts, seminars, presentations, and more. It’s up to you on what you want to do, based on your product, service, and audience.
How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy: The Number One Secret
The number one secret to a successful content marketing strategy is value. Yes. It really is that simple.
As addressed throughout this post, you must give customers something that they want, something they need, or something that they can use. It makes a world of a difference in how they view your company. You want people to enjoy your marketing material. It’s one thing to create a blog post about your products, but it’s another thing to create a video tutorial showing how they can be used. Always keep your prospects in mind first.
As you can see, content marketing has the potential to increase inbound traffic, increase sales, and create a loyal customer base. Now that you have a basic understanding of content marketing and how it works, you can begin to get your creative juices flowing and start putting your plan into action.