You know you need to use content for marketing but are just not quite sure where to start or how to reach your ideal clients with it.
Rather than just hitting them over the head with an advert and the hard sell, a strong content marketing strategy offers something valuable to your audience. This could be a blog, email, social media post or video. If it entertains them, educates them, informs them or solves a problem, they will consume your content along with the important brand messages you want to deliver too.
This article explains what content marketing is, which content you should create, how to make it and distribute it and how to turn your content into effective leads. If you want to unleash the power of content to bring in business, read this ultimate guide.
Content Marketing: What is it?
Content for marketing is any type of online content that is used to engage potential clients for your business. It’s not like those other types of marketing where you spend endless hours sending cold call/emails to secure your next sale. Instead, content marketing involves the client coming to you, it’s what makes you become a magnet and attract your ideal clients. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Basically, you create quality content that potential clients find using search engines, by signing up to your mailing list, being shared on social media and through other inbound channels. But, here’s the thing, the content must be valuable in some way to them so that they engage with it. Then you use this engagement to tell them about your product or service. Almost sneaky isn’t it?
Let me give you an example. Think about a tool company posting videos about how to carry out certain DIY tasks. They might make a video about how to put up a shelf. Someone who doesn’t know how to do this will search for information, come across the video and watch it in the hope of learning how to put up a shelf. Make sense.
The video helps them out with that, but also carries branding from the tool company with a sale message at the end, promoting their tools. It could even show them a link to buy those tools. This works as content for marketing because the company gains views from people who are interested in learning to carry out DIY work and who will need tools to complete the job. The video solves their problem and the tool company provides a way to carry out the solution by selling its products. It’s a win-win!
Why is Content Marketing Essential?
Content marketing is an important part of any successful online business strategy. It helps businesses build trust and credibility with potential clients, and it also provides valuable information that people will want to read.
Content for marketing success has to meet these requirements:
- You must make it engaging
- It should offer some kind of value to the audience. Ask yourself why they should care about what you created
- You must use the opportunity to move people who engage with your content down the sales funnel using calls to action
Here are some more tips to help you create a clear understanding of the foundations needed to see your content marketing strategy work.
Be consistent with your messaging
If you’re looking to write content for marketing purposes, then consistency is key. You need to make sure that every piece of content you produce has the same message. This means that you should use the same tone throughout your blog posts, social media updates, and other pieces of content.
Create content that is relevant to your audience
You need to write content that’s both informative and entertaining. If you do this well, you’ll find that people will share your content with others. This means more exposure for your brand, and more opportunities to generate leads and sales.
Focus on quality over quantity
It’s easy to think that writing lots of content is the key to success. However, there’s no evidence that shows that producing large amounts of content is any better than creating smaller quantities of high-quality content. In fact, some studies show that having too much content actually decreases engagement.
Content Marketing Challenges
Content marketing is effective, but it is not easy. There are challenges along the way, as you might expect. Here are some of the main challenges of using content for marketing that you might be able to relate to:
- Lack of budget
- Not knowing how to use SEO
- Limited content creation abilities
- Measuring the ROI of your marketing
- Consistently creating quality content.
Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can overcome these content marketing challenges. Read this blog about content marketing challenges and their solutions and you’ll find some great advice.
What Does a Content Marketing Strategy Look Like
What is Strategic Content?
Strategic content is the content you develop that helps you reach those marketing goals you set.
It is the content you develop to attract clients to your website or other channels. And then you go about engaging with them and taking them a step closer to spending with you.
When developing content for marketing, always think about your strategic goals. Consider whether this is suitable for your target audience, how it will engage them and how it will then send them to the next stage in their journey. As long as you have those rules in place, you are on the right track.
Strategic Planning Checklist
You need to take a few steps to develop your marketing strategy. Here is an example of how you to plan it out:
- Understand the target audience for your product or service
- Decide on the goals for your marketing
- Audit your current marketing and find out what works and what does not
- Carry out market research
- Analyse that research and make sure you are clear about action points
- Set your budget if you have one
- Factor in how much time you can commit to your content marketing, and be realistic or delegate it.
- Develop your marketing strategies, channels and types of content based on your budgets & commitments
- Develop an implementation schedule to make sure the right content goes out at the right time
- Evaluate your efforts and use that to feedback into refining your strategy.
Creating a Content Calendar
A content calendar is the Holy Grail when it comes to execution. It pulls together all the different types of content and helps you stay organised and aware of what is happening and when in line with your other business marketing efforts. In the calendar, you might add significant dates, holidays and fun national days that are relevant to your niche. You could add the times when you will run promotions too. Then you can plan your marketing content around it.
For instance, you might choose to write one topical or timely blog each month about a national day that is coming up. On your calendar, you need to add when you will write the blog when you will get a colleague to review it when you will create graphics for it when you will publish it, when you will promote it on social media and when you will add it into your email marketing too. This helps you visualise how much time you have available and make sure you release all the different content marketing that you need to create. Trust me, there is a lot to consider and mapping it on a calendar is the way forward.
Creating Content (Tools)
Content Creation Tools Overview
There are lots of content tools and you need to be all over them. You’ll find apps and programs to help you build and distribute emails, videos, blogs and social media content in a professional manner. For example, you could use:
- Canva for designing social media graphics and other images. The hundreds of templates allow you to create stunning visuals without any training whatsoever.
- Mailchimp for email marketing. It also offers templates to help you get started managing your messages to your mailing list.
- Instagram Reels or TikTok for creating short social videos with a range of filters and features that will entertain and engage your audience without you needing to buy specialist video editing software.
- StayFocused for keeping you on-task whilst writing blogs by blocking access to websites not necessary for the article.
- The Supportal Business Suite offers many different templates to give you a head start creating your marketing content.
Find out about the content creation tools that you absolutely can’t do without for marketing on the blog.
Creating marketing content from scratch takes a lot of hard work. But thankfully there are alternatives. Yes, other companies put in the graft for you and there are many templates you can find on the internet!
- For images, Canva is a mighty resource. Choose the image you want to create, type in some relevant terms and you can find a template that is suitable for what you want to achieve with your social media graphics.
- Hubspot templates for blogs help you create a blog structure that will most appeal to search engines and be set out in such a way that it makes easy reading for your website users.
- Mailchimp’s email templates help you create professional mailouts in minutes without any professional training whatsoever.
Combining many of these elements, the Supportal Business Suite is the answer to taking the stress out of content creation. We have created beautiful Canva templates that you can use with the minimum of effort, as well as motivating Instagram quotes you can brand a post, and an e-book template to use as a lead magnet for new customers.
Social Media Tools
Social media requires a whole range of tools for marketing if you want to get it right.
- Design tools are essential to make your posts pop visually. These include Adobe Photoshop Mix, a free, pared-down mobile version of the well known editing software, and Pexels with its library of copyright-free images.
- Scheduling tools like Buffer and Later allow you to create a batch of content and then send it out over a period of time. This allows you to sort out your social media marketing for the week in one go whilst you have momentum, rather than having to scramble around for ideas each day, wasting time.
- Video tools such as Headliner help you illustrate your posts and repurpose content from other sources, such as podcasts. The iMovie app is a powerful free option for Apple users.
- Content generation tools help you come up with ideas without the stress. Days of the Year allows you to latch onto trends, whilst Google Trends tells you what people are searching for.
There are also many more social media tools to explore.
Social Media Posting Schedule
You need a social media schedule if you want to boss the social world. It keeps you posting regularly and ensures a good mix of posts for engaging your audience.
Some productivity apps such as Asana provide handy social media calendar templates that you can base your schedule on. You can start by populating it with any ideas that you have for future posts. Brainstorm them and note everything down. Even vague ideas could evolve into something coherent eventually.
Think about using a mixture of different content types (videos, images, memes, polls, infographics and so on) as well as a combination of your content, other people’s content that you have shared and more personal or behind-the-scenes posts to show the business’s human side. Draft the posts and then schedule them for release at times when your target audience is likely to be scrolling on their phones.
Learn more about creating a winning social media posting schedule.
Basic SEO for Content Marketing
Search engine optimisation is how you get your content noticed. It is the art of showing Google and the other search engines exactly what your post is all about and why it should rank you highly in its results when people search for particular terms.
Once you find a keyword that you want to smash on Google, make sure you use it in the first paragraph of a blog, a couple of times in the body of the text, in the title and in another heading too. Add the keyword into the alt tag of images that you add to your post (your website platform should allow you to do this when writing your article).
Make sure you have links running between pages of your site too. It keeps people on the website and search engines love to see that as it tells them you have top-notch content.
We have more basic SEO tips for you on our dedicated blog post.
Blogging for Business
Blogging can drive a good amount of traffic to your website, which is perfect for content marketing. But it is not just a case of typing up your random thoughts. You need a strategy.
Look at your competitors to see what they are writing about, what they are ranking for on social media and what customers are commenting on. How can you create a post that’s better than that? Do you need a post that is better optimised for search and provides readers with even more useful information? If you can achieve this, you will outrank them for searches relating to your niche and steal their customers
You can also use tools like Ubersuggest to find out how popular various keywords are and how difficult it is to rank for those keywords. What you want most is to find a term with a high level of search traffic, but which is not very competitive. When you find that, plan your next blog to use that keyword and try and rank as close to the top of the search results for it as you can. Winner.
Using Yoast SEO or another similar plug-in on your blog platform can help you understand how well optimised your writing is. It will also give you advice on getting the most out of the keyword.
Learn more about blogging for business.
Why Build a Mailing List?
A mailing list helps you talk directly to your audience. They have signed up to allow you to drop messages into their inbox. That’s pretty powerful. You get more of their valuable time on email than you do on social media so use it wisely.
Email outperforms other channels, so you need to build your list as soon as possible. By connecting in their inbox on a regular basis, you get to know your customer and can predict what they want and how to sell it to them.
You are not borrowing space from Facebook, you are talking to them in their space and that can lead to closer bonds and more sales.
How to build your mailing list
Here are some ways to build up your mailing list quickly:
- Add calls to action on each blog to sign up for the list and tell them why they should sign up
- Create pop-ups on your site to capture addresses
- Post about it on social media and provide a sign-up link
- Offer discounts or deals for sign-ups
- Provide additional content for mailing list members.
Examples of Content Marketing
- Buffer creates informative blogs on social media-based topics that bring in viewers who are interested in that field. It is a thought leader in that sector.
- SEO guru Neil Patel sends out a daily email providing solid and actionable tips for marketers. This drives traffic back to his website where his target audience are more likely to spend with him.
- Supermarket Aldi utilises online video to connect with customers using humour to ensure engagement.
Find out more about content marketing & how we can help.
If you want to make the most of content for marketing, we can help. We have a host of resources available to help you make the most of the content you have and create new content marketing opportunities with minimum effort. Download our Content Repurposing Planner, which will help you create 25 uses for one single piece of content. Imagine how much time that will save you!