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Meredith Dunn
By Alex Herbert

Alex is a content marketing enthusiast with a passion for international travel, the Spanish language, and Starbucks coffee.

Widely regarded as the “marketing of the future,” content marketing is one of the most effective and cost-efficient types of marketing that exist today. In fact, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing efforts, such as print, TV and mail.

Content marketing is different from traditional marketing in that it doesn’t attempt to sell your products or services directly to users. Instead, it focuses on how businesses can provide useful and educational online information to build relationships with users and potential customers. Its goal is to create an audience that sees you as a thought leader in your industry so that they come to trust your brand, services and expertise. In short, the main goal of content marketing involves educating users to create loyal advocates and smarter customers.

The ways in which content marketing helps your business are similar to the ways that blogging helps your business – it increases your opportunities to be seen, found, shared and trusted online. The more you create and share original, valuable content, the more brand awareness, engagement and sales you generate, too. 90% of consumers find branded content useful, and clicks from shared content are five times more likely to result in a purchase. Furthermore, consistent content creation helps with your SEO efforts, as search engines prefer sites that contain fresh content over sites that are published and never updated.

What Constitutes “Content”

Content doesn’t mean just text in blog posts; it can include all kinds of content, like social media posts, newsletters, web and landing page content, webinars, presentations, and podcasts, as well as videos and images.

People digest information in various ways, so it’s wise to create content in a variety of multimedia formats. Online users respond to visual content, such as images, infographics and videos, far better than text only. In fact, four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.

How Effective is Content Marketing?

The phrase “content is king” has become popular in the marketing world, and for good reason. Companies who produce high quality content experience nearly eight times more traffic to their website than those who don’t, and are nearly six times more effective at driving conversions than companies who only focus on traditional marketing. Content encourages people to spend more time on your website engaging with your brand, and helps them recognize and remember you later on.

How to Get Started with Content Marketing

When it comes to creating content, the best way to get started is to write, create and practice. Don’t be intimidated! Focus on getting your feet wet, and allow yourself a grace period to experiment with ideas and different content forms.

If you don’t have an in-house content creator or your team is small, work with the resources you have and find a way to engage the whole team so the responsibility is shared. If you have someone who’s good with design, she can create interesting videos and infographics with free online resources (Canva is a good one). Need image content for social channels, such as Instagram? Find an eager employee who enjoys taking photos, and have him snap and share shots of company work, culture or activities.

To keep employees engaged and create relevant content, ask for staff suggestions on topics, customer preferences and current trends. Check out more tips and ideas on company blogging here.

Remember to avoid taking a sales approach in your content. It’s best to avoid promoting your services. The goal of content should always be to educate the consumer and never to push a product.

How often should you publish? Start small, with a few (1-3) blog posts per month. Aim for quality and useful content. Short, quality content published frequently is better than nothing; it’ll help you grow your content library, keep your site fresh, and therefore, keep your business relevant with search engines.

And don’t forget to create various types of content! As you’ve read, users prefer visual content and digest content differently. You can leverage this by converting a blog post into multimedia formats – presentation, video or podcast – to use across different channels, such as SlideShare, YouTube, and iTunes. This way your content is found across various online channels and can be consumed as users prefer.

Use Social Media to Share and Promote Content

Establishing a strong presence on social media and sharing content consistently is also a crucial step to content marketing success. Social media is one of the least expensive marketing platforms available, with one of the highest reaches – about 70% of Americans use social media! It’s also a great way to generate brand awareness and connect with your target audience: as people start liking, commenting on, and sharing your posts, your content reaches new audiences who may, in turn, do the same.

You don’t have to be on every social platform to share your content and reach your target audience; research the platforms your audience spends the most time using, and plant your roots there. Most social platforms give you handy tools, such as Twitter Analytics or Facebook Insights, to analyze users, demographics and engagement patterns before and after you begin sharing content. Twitter Analytics provides you with a monthly performance review, trend insights, the top 10 interests of your followers, and more. Facebook Insights allows you to understand how users interact with content, what type of content is most popular, and provides you with your audience’s demographic information.

You can also use social media to share curated content from other blogs that is relevant to your business services in some way. Original content is best, but sharing useful industry content is an easy go-to when you’re strapped for time and resources.

Key Takeaway

Ultimately, content marketing is about encouraging your audience to move through the various stages of the buyer’s journey, from brand awareness, to investing in your products or services, to becoming a loyal advocate. By providing valuable, educational content, you are proving to users that you care about them, their decisions and investments, and their overall satisfaction.

These are only beginner steps to developing and marketing your own content, but they’ll go a long way to help you get seen online.

Have a question about content marketing, or just want someone to do it for you? We’ve got your back.

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