How To
8 min read

What Is Content Marketing & How Can It Win Clients For Your Business?

Soniya Khubchandani

June 30, 2022

“Content marketing is the only marketing left.”

This decade-old quote from Seth Godin, one of the most influential marketing minds, seems to have aged quite well.

Today, content marketing makes up for one-fourth of total B2B marketing budgets on average.

More importantly, the allocation of resources to content marketing is continuously increasing in organizations as they realize its growth potential.

With the competition for people’s attention heating up online, content marketing has provided marketers a powerful channel to connect with their target audience at scale without breaking the bank.

This guide is designed to help demystify content marketing and equip you with the knowledge you need to maximize your marketing effectiveness. 

You will learn:

  • A working definition of content marketing
  • How content marketing benefits businesses
  • Types of content marketing
  • Understanding content marketing through real-world examples
  • Key steps involved in successful business content marketing
  • Valuable tips to take your content marketing even further

What is content marketing? A working definition

Content marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on consistently creating, publishing, and distributing content for a well-defined target audience with the purpose of educating, entertaining, or inspiring them.

A TL;DR definition of content marketing

Content marketing is not an ad. Ads focus on the product; content marketing focuses on the product’s user.

How will content marketing benefit my business? Understanding its influence on the buyer’s journey

For businesses, content marketing serves many purposes, influencing every stage of the buying process. Let’s use an example scenario to dive into the details of its role in each step of the journey. 

Note: The example may feel a bit simplified for your use case. However, it will give you a firm grasp of how content marketing works at its core.

The scenario

Let’s assume that your business sells a YouTube keyword research SaaS tool and your target audience is a YouTube content creator. One such creator is struggling to get views on her videos even months after publishing.

Now, let us see how this potential customer may act through different stages of a buyer’s journey.

The 5 stages of your buyer’s journey

Awareness stage

Theory:

The buyer becomes aware of a problem she faces when doing a job and decides to do something about it.

Example:

The creator in our scenario lands on a blog article you published on your website with the title “Importance of keyword research for YouTube success.” After reading it, she becomes convinced that she needs to focus on video SEO to get more views on her videos.

Consideration stage

Theory:

The buyer evaluates possible solutions to her problem and constructs a list of products/ services that offer her preferred solution.

Example:

The creator again comes across a how-to guide on your website covering keyword research for YouTube. The guide also contains examples of using your company’s tool for the research. The creator decides to sign up for a free trial of your software from a CTA included in your guide.

She also decides to sign up for three similar tools at this stage. At the end of this stage, she has a list of preferred products to try out and compare.

Decision/ Conversion stage

Theory:

The buyer compares different solution providers and decides to go with one of them.

Example:

The creator starts to check out the pricing pages for the different tools. A social media post from your brand on LinkedIn makes her aware of a case study where a creator increased his traffic by 5x with the help of your tool.

You also seem to have a competitive price. Considering both these factors, she decides to start a monthly subscription of your product.

Related read: Learn how content marketing drives sales.

Retention stage

Theory:

The buyer is happy with the product/ service and continues to pay for it to solve her problem.

Example:

The creator uses the tool to do proper keyword research and optimization for her next video this time before publishing. After 3 weeks, she notices comparably higher views on her new video. She decides to commit to an annual plan for your product and continues to use the tool aggressively.

Whenever she has some technical challenges with the tool, she goes to your “Help & Support” section and finds a speedy resolution for her query. This increases satisfaction in her choice even more.

Advocacy stage

Theory:

The buyer feels confident in recommending the solution provider to others.

Example:

The creator is part of a YouTube creators group on Facebook where someone shares a similar challenge to what she was facing earlier—“Not able to get enough views.” She shares a link to your tool page to help this person out.

Understanding content marketing through successful, real-world examples

Examples are a great way to learn an important concept. Below we share popular content marketing types and two well-known examples of real-world content marketing done right.

Popular content marketing types

Here is a list of commonly used content marketing techniques based on different content mediums:

  • Blog content marketing
  • Video content marketing
  • eBook content marketing
  • Whitepaper content marketing
  • Social media content marketing
  • Webinar content marketing
  • Podcast content marketing
  • Newsletter content marketing
  • Infographic content marketing
  • Case study content marketing
  • Free tool content marketing
  • Free course content marketing

Example 1 - The Furrow Magazine by John Deere

A page from an old edition of The Furrow magazine by John Deere

While content marketing initiatives are much more prevalent today, you can find examples of businesses employing this form of marketing as far back as the 1800s. One of the oldest noteworthy examples of this was the publishing of The Furrow magazine by John Deere in 1895.

John Deere is a farm machinery manufacturer whose primary audience is farmers. They decided to publish and distribute a magazine with the tagline “A journal for the American farmer.” 

Its goal was to become a go-to resource, or content destination, for farmers to learn about agricultural innovation and solutions to common problems.

The magazine quickly became a regular read for most farmers in the U.S. and has been in publishing ever since. A digital circulation is also available today to adapt to modern-day online marketing.

Example 2 - Red Bull’s YouTube Channel

Red Bull YouTube channel

Red Bull can be considered the poster child of modern-day content marketing. 

They have been creating or sponsoring sports action videos for years now. Thanks to this video content strategy, their YouTube channel alone has amassed more than 10 million engaged subscribers and billions of views.

Today, many people see Red Bull as a media house and not just an energy drink company. They have been able to leverage content marketing to drive brand awareness like no other.

Key steps to successful business content marketing

By now, you should have a feel for what content marketing involves. Let’s take it a step further by diving into the details of the various aspects of content marketing.

Content strategy

A robust content strategy informs every successful content marketing program. This phase is also one of the most exciting as it allows you to ideate and brainstorm.

Your content strategy should be well-documented and revised regularly to reflect your growing knowledge and experience.

Here is what a good content strategy document should answer:

  • Who are we creating content for?
  • What type of content should we create?
  • What is our timeline for content creation?
  • Where will the content be published?
  • Who will create the content?
  • What is our budget?
  • Where will we promote and distribute our content?
  • How will we measure the effectiveness of our strategy?
  • How often should we update our strategy document?
  • How will we create the content?

Overall, content strategy is the blueprint that keeps the entire system in order.

Content creation and publishing

During this phase, you put your content strategy in motion. Your team, typically managed by a content marketing manager, is responsible for taking a content idea and turning it into a published piece.

Here are some key activities that are part of the content creation and publishing process:

  • Content writing
  • Content editing
  • Creative design
  • Video editing
  • Web development
  • Defining content workflows
  • Content publishing

Pro Tip: Use our free article topic generator to create article topics at scale

Content promotion and distribution

Once your content piece is published, your goal should be to get as much reach and engagement as possible. You can achieve this through promotion and distribution tactics. A social media manager and others are usually involved in the process.

During this phase, the following tasks are often carried out:

  • Backlink building and digital PR
  • Multiple posts on different social media platforms that link to the hub piece
  • Sharing content via email marketing
  • Using paid channels like search and social ads
  • Guest posting
  • Content syndication

Content monetization/ conversions

This phase is entirely focused on meeting the purpose of your marketing strategy. For many stakeholders in a content marketing program, this phase really matters to them—driving profitable actions from your content.

Every piece of content should have at least one goal to achieve. Here are some goals to aim for:

  • Create brand awareness
  • Generate leads/ demand
  • Build thought leadership
  • Build trust and credibility
  • Increase brand loyalty and retention
  • Generate sales/ revenue

Content performance measurement

Now is the time to do a content analysis—assessing what worked and what didn’t. 30% of businesses find it challenging to measure and prove content marketing ROI.

Here are some tips to stay on top of your content’s performance:

  • Carefully define your critical content marketing metrics/ KPIs
  • Implement systems and processes to monitor these metrics
  • Review your performance reports regularly to draw insights and determine optimization actions

Content and strategy optimization

Continuous improvement is key to your content marketing success. You can achieve this by making optimization an integral part of your overall program.

Here are some key activities involved in this phase:

  • Updating content based on performance review
  • Updating content promotion plan to improve reach and engagement
  • Conversion rate optimization of key content pieces
  • Revision of the core content strategy to inform future content development

Additional tips to make content marketing work for your business

A good content marketing program involves intricate planning to get the desired results. Here are some tips to improve your chances of success:

Get key stakeholder buy-in

It takes a considerable investment to run a sustainable content marketing program, and management often controls the decision to allocate a company’s resources.

If you are a marketing manager planning to double down on content initiatives, you should first focus on communicating the value of such initiatives to key decision-makers. This way, you will have both the buy-in and money to run things smoothly.

Align with your marketing goals

Content marketing teams can’t work in a vacuum. 

Like other marketing functions—paid advertising, outbound marketing, influencer marketing, and more, content marketing team goals should support the overall marketing objectives of an organization.

Define content marketing goals and KPIs that strongly align with your company’s marketing function as a whole.

For example, if marketing’s primary goal for the quarter is to increase brand awareness, focus on creating content that can help with that.

Build a dedicated team

Once your management gives a green flag to the program, it is time to build an interdisciplinary content team to run the show.

Having a dedicated content marketing manager to coordinate this division of your marketing will be very useful.

Depending on your allocated budget and goals, you can start with a lean in-house team and outsource certain activities to a content marketing agency or freelancer.

Over time, you should focus on adding new talent and upskilling existing talent to maximize your team’s efficiency and effectiveness

Leverage technology and set up processes

Content operations is an area of content marketing that deals with how work gets done every day. You should focus on streamlining key content workflows to ensure seamless operation.

Technology has a significant role in improving output across every stage of a content marketing program.

For example, having a robust content management system can substantially simplify content publishing and revision work.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

There is no universal content marketing playbook. The most successful content marketing-driven companies have spent months figuring out what would work for them.

You will also have to be patient and run controlled experiments to write your own business’ playbook. Don’t shy away from trying out new ideas and using trial and error.

For example, with vertical videos becoming popular as a content format, you may want to use them to distribute some of your content and monitor the results.

Summary

We hope this guide offers you much more than a standard definition of content marketing.

Content marketing is an opportunity to transform your entire marketing program and your business along with it. It is a unique, ever-evolving way to think about reaching customers and meeting your goals.

The best way to understand content marketing will always be to practice it.

So go ahead and try it, learn, grow, and reap the rewards.

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