What exactly is content marketing?
Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
The Purpose of Content Marketing
Content marketing is about nurturing the relationship with your audience, and arming them with the information that they need and seek. The content you create becomes a part of their self-guided buying journey. If you succeed, you can capture their business and loyalty.
At TopRank Marketing, we believe the key to content marketing is creating high-quality content that allows you to be the best answer for your audience, whenever and wherever they’re searching for information. And this can be done through an integrated approach that uses a mix of tactics to achieve your content marketing objectives.
For example, creating high-quality blog content is an excellent way to provide resources for your audience and make them more intelligent. But just publishing the post on your website won’t get you the ROI you’re looking for. That content can featured in a monthly newsletter, promoted on social media pages, or perhaps be repurposed into an infographic to be more visual and encourage more social shares.
7 Types of Content Marketing Channels
To make content marketing work for your organization, you need to have a strategy that will take your content to your audience. To ensure that the content you create gets eyeballs, here are seven types of content marketing channels that need to be part of your strategy:
The website serves as the home base for your content marketing initiatives. Any piece of content you create can be hosted on your website or blog. For example, articles, infographics, and gated content will be posted to your blog. And although you might use third-party services for videos, podcasts, and webinars, they’ll be embedded in your blog posts or other parts of the website to provide a cohesive content experience.
This is where you have full liberty to try out different content types and formats. Apart from articles, video, and audio, you can experiment with lists, checklists, curation, repurposed, infographics, and interviews among others.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The role of SEO in content marketing is vast. Right from ensuring that proper technical and on-page SEO practices are implemented on the website, to having a comprehensive off-page SEO strategy (link building, guest blogging, etc.), it determines the success of your content marketing strategy.
The combination of all these aspects boosts your rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs). A successful SEO strategy takes into account a diverse content mix to leave no stone unturned.
3. Email Marketing
According to Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) Marketer Email Tracker 2019 report, the ROI of email marketing is 420%, i.e., for every dollar spent on email marketing, you’ll generate a revenue of $42. And these results are possible due to the powerful audience segmentation, targeting, and automation features of email marketing.
Email marketing can help you distribute your content among your target audience. You can segregate your audience depending on the stage of the buyer’s journey and its relevant type of content or offers.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms allow you to amplify your content distribution efforts. If you’re posting on social media platforms organically, you need to double down on enagaging formats to increase your reach. For example, since video is favored by social media platforms and gets more reach compared to text posts, do more of that.
You can also use paid ads to take your content to your most relevant audience through the platform’s targeting capabilities. Besides this, social media is a powerful channel to initiate a dialogue with your audience (through chat) and build a community (though groups).
5. Digital Advertising
Digital advertising consists of many ad channels and formats to connect with your audience. One of the most common digital ad formats is search engine marketing (SEM), wherein your ads appear at the top and bottom of SERPs for specific keywords. But since SEM is not the most potent format for content marketing, let’s look at other ways as well.
You can also take your content to your audience through display and native ads. Ensuring that your content matches with the context of the webpage your ad appears on, you significantly improve the chances of visitors coming to your website. The developments in programmatic advertising have allowed both – advertisers and publishers to automate a huge chunk of activities.
6. Mobile Marketing
With over 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s a no brainer that marketers have to ensure that their content marketing strategy adapts to mobile devices as well. The basics of mobile marketing from the content marketing perspective include designing a mobile-friendly or responsive website (that adapts to any device size) and emails to be readable across devices, and ensuring that the mobile experience isn’t compromised.
If your business has a mobile app, you can use it to distribute content through push notifications and the onboarding procedure. You can also tweak your app from time to time, to ensure better user experience based on customer feedback.
7. Content Repurposing
You can convert your content pieces into different formats to diversify your content mix. You can turn a blog post into an infographic and video. If you recently hosted a webinar, you can upload it to YouTube and distribute the slide deck on SlideShare. To boost the reach of your podcast, you can embed it on a webpage and include podcast/show notes to get SEO benefits.
Five Content Marketing Examples
There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content–far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.
These are generally long, vertical graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketing curated by Michael Schmitz, head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective in that if one is good it can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic will usually cost you at least $1,000 to have designed, but can cost several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. There is also the matter of promoting that infographic to bloggers and the media. Or you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business. That is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time.
What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times each month. As Hyatt elaborates on his blog post 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” Hyatt gives valuable information and advice in his podcast–all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, signups for his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online video, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He got his start creating videos to promote his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he eventually grew it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. But with the falling cost of professional grade equipment creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market Hong Kong visa consulting services. What video could you throw together for your company that might change your fortunes overnight? It might be easier than you think.
Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
Those are just a few examples of content marketing,could also have mentioned white papers, ebooks, apps, public speaking, presentations, and blogs. Entire books have been written on using each of these in content marketing efforts.