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Updated: September 08, 2022

A Simple Guide to Content Marketing

Obvious Question First: What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: “A strategic digital marketing approach used by brands to create and distribute consistent, relevant, and valuable content via various online channels to attract and retain a targeted audience, and drive profits.”

Instead of blatantly pitching products and services like traditional advertising, SEO copywriting and content marketing offers relevant and useful information to prospects to help them solve issues. Sounds like an extension of advertising, right? Well, not quite.

Think of advertising as getting your message in front of the most people as possible, like a massive billboard. Content marketing is about getting it in front of a select group of people, who are most likely to be interested in your product or services.

SEO guru, Neil Patel, says that 92% of businesses use content marketing, and the vast majority have favored it over traditional marketing because conversion rates are almost six times higher. If you’re curious about developing a content marketing strategy, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get down to basics.

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Should you spend money on content marketing?

When it comes to digital marketing, businesses with solid strategies and higher budgets experience increased audience engagement and web traffic. If you need exposure, then investing in content marketing is vital for driving traffic to your website. However, the money spent still needs to be put to strategic use. More money doesn’t always guarantee success if squandered on the incorrect target audience or ineffective campaigns.

Content marketing is crucial because it links and supports every element of your digital marketing strategy. Consider it the hub, and the supporting elements as the spokes.

You can use the content from your blog post, your email marketing, your social media, and your PPC ads. A solid content marketing strategy will allow each channel to use the best marketing tactics to reach your sales goals and revenue targets.

Engaging, high-quality content is created by your business and then integrated into each of your digital marketing campaigns. Consider the case where you want to run a PPC campaign to attract more traffic to your website. You need to keep visitors on your website, so they return again and again.

How satisfied they are with the site visit will decide whether or not they sign up for an offer or provide you their email address. Similarly, you need content according to the relationship you have with your email base and where they are in the buying cycle.

Benefits of using content marketing in your digital marketing campaign

With content marketing, you: generate leads, increase sales, save costs, acquire better customers with greater loyalty, and leverage content as a profit center. Content marketing should be a prerequisite to all marketing. After all, high-quality content, whether it’s a paid ad, blog post, or website copy, is what sells a brand, and ultimately, its products or services.

1. Better User Experience

The content you create can be used to answer the basic questions many potential clients have. A page called “What is a Loan” may be offered by a local bank to help first-timers understand the process.

This helps the customer to understand their future better and saves time for professionals who don’t want to answer the same questions for every client. As any business owner will tell you, time is money. When you create content that informs your target audience, you’re not just giving them interesting facts. You’re actively helping them make the right purchasing decision.

It’s a win for both parties. Making a page for your potential customers means they are one step closer to becoming paying customers.

High-quality content doesn’t have an expiration date. It will continue to inform potential clients day after day, year after year, once it is posted on your site.

For example, you are a home service company. For your home service digital marketing plan an article about roofing safety, for example, will always be valuable and interesting content people are happy to read

This alone should be enough to convince most companies to use content marketing. However, there are many other benefits that companies can reap.

2. Content marketing provides great ROI

How does content marketing produce good results in terms of ROI?

Content marketing is not only superior to traditional marketing strategies by a wide margin, but it also attracts significantly more visitors and leads. Consistently producing content increases website traffic. As traffic increases, so do conversions. High-quality leads will be generated by a well-designed conversion strategy.

These conversions are important because they form a foundation for your sales funnel. Website visitors who convert are choosing to engage with your content and accept an offer that you post on your website. You can offer an infographic or white paper, a whitepaper, or a free consultation. Content marketing provides valuable information throughout the buying process. Website visitors will be able to convert into leads and then to new clients. This constant flow of content nurtures prospects at each stage.

3. Content builds links with other sites

As we discussed, your content is what brings people to your website. It’s also where you can get links from other sites. Links are an important search engine rankings (SERP). Every link you receive acts as a vote in Google’s favor. The more links you have, the better your site will rank overall. This means that you can build pages of content by acquiring enough links from other websites.

Targeting longer keywords would make your business more competitive and help you get to the top of search results. It may take just a few links to get your website on the first page for certain keywords, depending on your industry.

It may take longer for keywords that are not in the top ten. To succeed, you don’t need to be the largest website online. However, you will need some links to help you get ahead of your competition. You might only get a few links from the content that you publish. Although those few links won’t allow you to fight against Forbes or someone their size but they might be enough to lift you above local competitors. That’s the essence of a digital marketing strategy. However, content can be used in more places than search engines.

4. Content builds social media engagement

Social media accounts are essential for any business, no matter how big or small. Social media posts may be the most powerful form of content marketing available today. And we doubt it’ll change in the near future.

Facebook and Twitter are the two social media big boys, but there are far more avenues you can use: Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat. These social networks will help you promote your content.

You can also use your social channels to reach out to followers and subscribers, measure engagement in real-time, promote products, and engage in influencer marketing. This is a highly versatile and vibrant platform to profit from.

How do you create a content marketing strategy?

In the digital marketing industry, there are five pillars of content marketing that every business should follow if they want to increase online revenue, regardless of the type of content they create.

  1. Understand your audience: Who are they? What do they want? What is the best way to engage with them?
  2. Map your content to the sales cycle: You need to create content that meets the needs of potential customers and clients at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
  3. Create the content: You will need to produce different types of content that users seek to engage with.
  4. Promote the Content: All digital marketing content needs to be promoted to reach the right audience. Content marketing is competitive, and there’s no use in creating wonderful content if it doesn’t reach the right users.
  5. Measure and analyze: If you don’t measure how your content performs, you won’t know when and how to optimize it for better lead generation.

Here are the steps to creating your content marketing strategy.

Content Marketing strategy

If you’re going to put effort into content marketing, then you really do want to get it right. Whether you have a website with a steady flow of traffic, or you’re a complete newbie, below is some actionable advice that can improve your digital marketing strategy.

Targeting

This is the secret to gaining and retaining a loyal audience and consistent traffic. The internet is a massive place, with 24 million eCommerce sites across the world and 4.66 billion users. It is virtually impossible to appeal to everyone, and besides, no business should strive to. Not every internet user will be your client and customer, and this is the exact reason why target content marketing can make or break a business.

Targeted content is created for a niche audience to drive a specific response from that group. It reflects an understanding of where people are in their customer journey and prompts them to the next stage until they make a purchase or request your services. It entails showing people content that appeals specifically to them. Besides, no one really engages with content on the internet that isn’t relevant to them.

Targeted content entails segmenting your customers into different groups, whether it’s age, geographic location, hobby, or activity-related. Most businesses have a specific target audience that can be segmented into more specific groups. For example, a fashion brand stocking both men’s and women’s clothing would create different content for both those audience segments.

Content Optimization

Without search engine optimization (SEO), your content probably won’t get seen by the right people. Even though search-based queries aren’t the only way people find content, they are one of the most powerful ways for potential customers to find your content without hard selling. Optimized content allows users to find your website and content, i.e., through their accord.

SEO content ranks higher on search engine results (SERPs), drives social engagement, increases lead generation (especially top of the funnel leads), and helps to earn valuable backlinks. If you had any doubts, in 2021, Google accounted for over 70% of all desktop search traffic, followed by Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo.

Content optimization is fundamental to your digital marketing content strategy because it is designed to appeal to search engine algorithms. The easier your content is to index and categorize, the easier it is for search engines to rank it. In addition, search engines rank optimized content higher.

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Analytics

“Analytics” isn’t just a buzzword. To grow your business online, you need data to unpack what’s working and what needs to be improved upon. Analytics allows you to track and understand your customers’ behavior, their experience, your online content, device functionality, and more.

With the vast amount of data available, there is almost no reason not to be successful online. Never have companies had such a clear idea of their audiences’ online behavior and buying habits. This data empowers them to make informed decisions.

Naturally, any business wants to acquire as many leads and loyal customers as possible. When you’re online, you need to ensure your campaigns are effective. With analytics, you can measure the impact of your content marketing in granular detail.

Analytics is also useful because they limit wasteful spending. Receiving real-time data means you can tweak content marketing the minute it doesn’t have the desired outcome. Furthermore, they allow companies to experiment with A/B testing (at a low cost) to determine what types of content their audience best responds to.

Surefire content marketing tips

Your marketing team can always make the content they produce better in some regards, so here are a few things you should pay attention to while you create content.

1. Offer value to your users

Can you tell me what most of today’s consumers want? They love words like “free” or “value.” Almost every friend of yours loves bragging about getting a great deal. Your customers are no different. The majority of marketers and brands want money in return, but you can offer tools and information that will help you build your brand for free.

Consider offering your own valuable content (like an in-depth, downloadable guide) or seminars or even some services! For example, at Comrade we offer an extensive free digital marketing audit for your firm’s website free of charge.

2. Understand your client

Every marketing campaign, regardless of whether it is content marketing, search engine marketing, or social marketing, must be targeted at a specific audience. While you might wish everyone in the world would be your ideal customer, it’s not often the case. Before you try to sell anything, make sure you fully understand the audience you are creating content for.

It is a grave mistake to fail to identify your ideal buyer (also known as buyer’s persona), which can lead you to a lot of wasted time, energy, and money.

3. Grab the Client’s attention

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

This quote by David Ogilvy rings true even today. All you need to see for confirmation is to just look to social media.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is, if no one clicks through the headlines of your post, it will not matter.

The click-through rate (CTR), is a ranking factor. Google will notice if people don’t click through and you’ll see a decrease in your rankings. Remember that optimization for user intent should be your first priority before searching engines. It is a good idea to include your main keyword within the title. However, you shouldn’t optimize too much.

4. Don’t let your content turn stale

No matter how hard you work on a piece of content some of it will eventually age badly and will have to be updated. Seize this opportunity! Instead of having to write a new post, it’s better to update the original. This will ensure that you don’t lose SEO juice from the original URL.

It involves updating older, more performant content:

  • Do some research on the topic to find out what has changed.
  • These updates require that parts of the article be rewritten
  • Citing authoritative, new sources
  • Make sure all links work (and are up-to-date – you don’t want a link to a source older than a year).
  • Any images that are no longer relevant should be replaced
  • Revitalize the introduction and conclusion

How can you determine which blog posts should be updated? To gain insight into your blog’s digital strategy and to conduct an annual content audit, it is a good idea to do a comprehensive content audit every year.

What are some common content marketing mistakes?

If you want to leverage the power of content marketing, then be sure to avoid these rookie mistakes.

Mindless Content

Every piece of content you create should add value and inspire. While it’s true that consistency is key when it comes to your content marketing strategy, this doesn’t mean you need to publish videos once a week for the next five years. Consistency also refers to brand voice, tone, and identity, etc.

There’s nothing worse than content that is shameless self-promotion or is so “thin” that engaging with it is a complete waste of time. If search engines like Google think your content is poor or thin, your website will be penalized and rank lower.

There are many types of high-quality content you can create, like; blog posts, email newsletters, videos, podcasts, white papers, e-books, and case studies. And even these are still very broad. Your blog may take different forms like an article, guest post, listicle, review, or a Q&A, for example.

You have to remember that content marketing is a long-term investment that yields long-term ROI. The more time an audience spends interacting with your content, the more educated and engaged they become. Drawing up a flexible content calendar is a good strategy to ensure you produce high-quality content over a sustained period of time.

content marketing mistakes

Just Leaving Your Blog There

So, you have a blog? Are you leveraging its content marketing capabilities to the fullest? Did you know, according to BlueLeadz, blogs with images receive 94% more views? Humans are visual creatures. The better your blog looks, the more engagement it will receive. But, if your blog isn’t performing as well as you’d like it to, there are additional hacks you can apply that go beyond just upgrading images.

Advertising maverick David Ogilvy once said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents of your dollar.” Be sure to include SEO keywords in your blog titles and experiment to see what works best. Every so often, a simple headline change can cause an immense increase in traffic.

Other tips include having easy share buttons on social media channels and truly creating content that informs. A HubSpot study reported the most types of blog content shared were; how-to-articles, lists, “why” posts, and “what” posts. Perhaps the content is already there, and it just needs strategic editing.

Commercialization

The goal of content marketing is to sell, but the process isn’t the same as announcing your products/services’ prices over a loudspeaker in a supermarket. It is subtle and takes time. Meaning, it isn’t a quick-fix. The bottom line is, people consume content to learn, not to be sold something. Content marketing is about building visibility, credibility, and brand awareness.

It is through community engagement that trust is gained and products are bought, or services are rendered. Trust is a massive issue for buyers, even more so in the eCommerce environment, where they purchase products without having physically seen them. Conveniently, content marketing doesn’t feel like traditional advertising selling, so it lends itself to being perceived as genuine and credible.

If you truly want to gain more customers, generate positive reviews and online experiences from and with your intended audience. As it is, 93% of customers read reviews before buying a product. Of course, there are subtle ways to sell your product via content marketing, but if you truly want to engage in the hard sell, you can invest in paid ads.

What are the key metrics in considering if your content marketing strategy is a success?

There’s a combination of metrics you can use to determine if your strategy is on the right track. The first step is to set out clear objectives. Presuming you’ve done that, you should probably review engagement metrics first.

A triumphant content marketing strategy doesn’t just get users to your site; it keeps them there. If people are spending time on your site and coming back, then you know your content is generating leads (The average time for a new lead is roughly 45 seconds.)

You’ll also want to measure your SEO rankings and check target keywords, domain authority, and inbound links. If these are on track, then your content is bound to reach more people, and you will receive more leads and sales as a result. If you rank higher on Google, then it’s clear that more organic traffic is going to your website, and the higher you rank, the more people will click through.

Another key metric is the attraction of quality and qualified leads. There’s no use in attracting 100 new leads a day if they’re a bad fit. An easy way to assess if you’re gaining quality leads is to determine if they’re traveling deeper down the sales funnels. This includes actions like signing up for newsletters and viewing a pricing page, for instance. If visitors go from browsing to downloading a content offering or buying a product, you know they are qualified.

Get ahead of the game. Optimize your content for maximum revenue growth
Get ahead of the game. Optimize your content for maximum revenue growth

Talk to experts

Get ahead of the game. Optimize your content for maximum revenue growth

Conclusion

When Bill Gates penned his famous essay called “Content is King” over 25 years ago, little did we know how pertinent his remarks would be for the future of content marketing. As audiences have grown wiser, content marketing strategies have become more sophisticated. At Comrade, we’re expert eCommerce marketers dedicated to growing businesses and can help you produce high-quality content that drives sales. Call us at (312) 265-0580 or click here to find out more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you operate?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in Miami or Denver. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Cincinnati! If you want to know more about our Austin digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Ivan Vislavskiy
Ivan Vislavskiy is Comrade Digital Marketing’s co-founder and fearless leader, spearheading the agency’s production department.
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