How content marketing works

Welcome to Demystifying the Dark Arts, the podcast meets blog “blog-cast” where we talk all about marketing in a digital world!

In episode three, we introduce you to one of our favourite subjects, content marketing. So, listen in or read on to find out more about what content marketing is, why it’s king, how to create content and how to use it to reach more customers.

What is content and why is it king?

Content marketing is an inbound marketing tactic that focuses on drawing an audience, or potential customers in to your brand, using written or visual content, rather than outwardly pushing your brand, through advertising.

The idea is that if you give your customers interesting, entertaining, useful or valuable content, they will have a stronger relationship with you and your brand over time, which will ultimately work in your favour long term.

It all started around fifteen years ago, when blog content revolutionised marketing from outbound – advertising and PR that sits on third party platforms; to inbound – useful content that sits on your website and drives people back to you.

So rather than pushing your brand in people’s faces, content allows you to subtly sell your brand by being helpful to your customers.

Blog content is referred to as the “king” of content because blogs drive 57 percent of organic search traffic to websites, and typically organic search traffic converts better than any other website traffic.

What this means is, if your blog answers someone’s question when they type it into Google, they’re more likely to complete a conversion goal on your website – whether that be a sign up to your newsletter, a phone call or a direct sale.

In fact, if someone comes to your blog, they only need to come to your website 2.3 times for them to turn into a customer.

Blog content isn’t just a B2C tactic either. Blogs are also a great way to show your knowledge as a brand, and to promote yourself as a thought leader, which is a softer sell but an incredibly useful B2B tactic.

How has content strategy changed over the past five years?

Fifteen years ago, content was simply just blogging.

Everyone from Neil Patel to the Topless Baker built brand empires on blogging because there were less people doing it, which made it easier to rank at the top of a Google search for answering a specific question.

There are now more than one billion blogs on the internet, which means that there are thousands of blogs answering the same questions, making it much harder to use blog content as your sole organic traffic strategy.

As a result, content is no longer just about SEO. It has to be seen as an overarching awareness and reputational strategy.

While blog content does increase your website organic traffic over time, it’s not as easy to rank using written content alone, so you need to have a broader and more long-term approach.

When thinking about creating and distributing content, figure out what works best for your brand and your audience, establish what you’re trying to achieve, then put together a plan to reach that goal.

For example, if your goal is to increase organic search to your website for direct to consumer sales, think about creating a blog, updating it regularly (two to three times a week is optimal), and including YouTube videos.

If your goal is to build awareness of craft beer among young people so they’ll buy it next time they’re at the pub or a festival, try producing a bunch of fun and engaging Instagram Stories and organic posts.

What are the types of content you can create, and which types work best?

With the invention of smartphones and the improvement of technology the term “content” no longer just refers to blogs.

It has evolved into a number of different content types, including blogs, podcasts, videos, and infographics; and while the intention should always be to get people back to your website, content can now also be housed on (or distributed via) a number of different platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

YouTube, for example, has become a very powerful SEO tool and one not to be underestimated in your content marketing strategy. Google owns YouTube, and Google’s robots can read YouTube videos for search queries, questions and answers.

Google can even skip forward to a particular section of a video on YouTube to answer a specific search query. Magic!

Instagram Stories are one of the most popular new social tools for raising awareness of your brand to the 20-35 year old audience – so if you’re creating content for this demographic, make sure you include short videos (no longer than 15 seconds) for Instagram Stories as part of your content strategy.

When planning your content, keep in mind that it isn’t advertising – it shouldn’t be all about you and what you’re trying to sell. It should be about being helpful and useful, answering questions, being entertaining and giving rather than asking.

The best motto for planning your content is to: give, give, give…then ask.

How do you go about creating content for a brand? Where do you start?

When thinking about the types of content to create for your brand, the best place to start is with your brand story.

Ask yourself:

  • How did my story start and where am I now?
  • What makes my brand unique?
  • What do I offer?
  • What do I stand for?

Write your story down, get creative with it, think about your goal (lofty business goal), and objectives (specific targets you’d like to achieve), and then have a long hard look at your audience.

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of audience do I want to reach?
  • What sort of person, or group of people, will my brand story resonate with?
  • What are the things my target audience like to do?
  • What questions would they like answered?
  • What will get them excited about engaging with me and/or my brand?

Then get creative!

How do you come up with creative content ideas for your brand?

Once you’ve figured out what you’re selling, what your story is, who your audience is, and what they want from you, try to create content around the “sweet spot” in between the two – the point at which what you want to say and what your customers want to hear collide.

The best way to figure out the sweet spot is to find a group of creative people within your business or support network, then get together and workshop what that “sweet spot” is and how best to create content around it.

For example, if you sell wine, and your audience likes cooking, write a blog and create videos and social content about cooking with wine, or wine and food pairing, or the world’s best restaurants!

Think about the types of content you want to create: video, blogs, memes, organic social assets, photos, infographics, podcasts, and the platforms you can share them on…then start creating.

What are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to create content for your brand?

If you manage a small brand and don’t have a lot of money, blogging is certainly the easiest and cheapest way to get started with content marketing.

While not everyone can write well, most people are comfortable telling stories and writing about their area of interest or expertise, and if your area of interest is something people are searching for on Google, blogging is the best place to start.

This means that you’ll need to have a website with a blog. Most good websites should allow you to create a blog page.

Other ways to ease into content marketing is through social media platforms. Think about the platform your audience is on, and create content specific to them and that format.

If you’re creating content for your Instagram feed, invest in really good photography or a great content template; if you’re making Instagram stories, video is more beneficial; while Facebook is more about being entertaining and informative, with videos and blogs.

Also, remember your audiences may use a number of different platforms, and will expect different content for each.

A great example of this is John-Paul Drake’s Retail Wrap Up for Drakes Supermarkets, which is perfectly produced specifically for their LinkedIn audience.

Why are you better off publishing content on your own website?

Any content on your website will improve your organic search traffic over time, so housing content on your website and driving traffic back to it is the best long-term strategy for SEO.

By driving audiences back to your website you also have more control over their brand experience, and their data.

Whether you’re looking to drive direct to consumer sales, an email sign up, or a phone call, once a person has hit your website you have the ability to control their experience and point them in the direction you’d like them to go.

While you can sell products through Instagram, studies have shown that 75.6 per cent of people who added something to their cart left before purchasing. If they do this on Instagram, you instantly lose them and cannot market to them again.

However, if people come to your website, you can use the pixels to keep talking to them using remarketing, you can capture their data to send them emails, and you can find out more about them and what they want using Google Analytics.

By driving people back to your website you’re in control of the messaging, the platform and the user experience, which is ultimately better for them and better for you and your brand.

If content is king, who is the queen?

The queen of content is marketing, you really can’t have one without the other!

The marketing aspect of “content marketing” is really the promotion of your content, which is just as important as the content itself.

Unless you’re the New York Times it’s unlikely you’ll turn up in a Google search immediately after posting a blog, so you have to use other platforms like Facebook, or Instagram to get traction.

When people interact with your content on your site, Google is more likely to pay attention and potentially rank your content organically.

You can use Facebook Business Manager to promote your blog content via Facebook and Instagram and can target specific audiences to reach a large group of people who will be most interested in your content.

You can also use applications like Linktree on Instagram to make it easier for people to link back to the content on your website. Check out Donna Hay’s Instagram account for a good example of how well this works.