The popularity of content marketing has been on a rise for a while now. It is a strategy that caters to all businesses and industries while being less expensive, more efficient and compelling and highly customizable. Content marketing is perceived as the future of marketing.
Be it blogs, infographics or videos, creating useful, unique and engaging content is one sure way of staying connected with your audience and win them over. Content marketing is a gift when it comes to this.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience to drive profitable customer action.
Content marketing hence is a strategy for attracting, engaging and retaining your business’s audience through the creation and sharing of relevant articles, videos, podcasts and other such media. This is done through blogs, eBooks, newsletters, videos, social media pages and many such marketing channels.
Through content marketing, your potential customers are moved further along the sales funnel stages. This is done through the establishment of expertise, promotion of brand awareness and making sure that your business is at the top of your customer’s mind when it's time to make a purchase.
Through content marketing, the customer’s behavior for your company is changed and enhanced positively. Additionally, through content marketing, the company also shows to their current and potential customers that it values its customers the most.
It is only when your customers feel that your company is interested in their success and well-being, while also being a source of valuable advice and guidance, will they choose you at the time of the purchase. The top goals of the content marketing strategy hence are:
- Improving the Customer Experience
- Generating and Nurturing Business Leads
- Supporting the organization’s goals and criteria for success
Content marketing is more trusted by the millennial generation and now also the older generation. This is because while the traditional advertisements just state the unique value that they offer through the business’s products and services, content marketing starts conversations. It does so by sharing knowledge and actionable insights that help the consumers in understanding why they should take a certain action.
Content marketing hence is most effective when it answers questions, provides deep insights, and places the reader and not their products and services at the center of the attention. This remains applicable across all forms of content marketing.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
- It focuses on owning the media, rather than just borrowing it. It hence becomes a more reliable and consistent approach to engage with your potential customers.
- It enhances your social media strategy, even promoting social selling through links within the content.
- It helps your SEO and results in you ranking higher in the search engine results as they reward you for authentic, creative and quality content.
- It is a considerate as well as successful PR strategy as it also lets you address the readers’ issues rather than just promoting your business.
- It creates content that drives inbound traffic and conversion of leads into sales.
Who Uses Content Marketing?
With the advent of the internet, the increasing popularity of blogs and social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, every company uses content marketing whether they realize it or not. However, those companies who have formally strategized their content marketing gain the highest returns on investment.
Both B2B and B2C marketers use content marketing to reach and engage with their target audience. In fact, for a more successful content marketing campaign, the marketers use audience segmentation strategy, developing and distributing content that is relevant to them. This results in driving leads towards conversion.
To build a proper content marketing strategy, a scientific approach towards campaign insights and analysis is needed. Additionally, the marketer should have the willingness to keep on learning and pacing himself with the dynamic trends of marketing and the ever-changing business environment.
When using content marketing, these factors become the essentials of high returns on investment:
- A documented content marketing strategy
- Real-time measurement of content marketing returns on investment
- Using advanced content marketing technology which automates the process and integrates the data
- The technology chosen should give real-time analytics and insights into audience behavior and preferences
What Do Content Marketers Do?
To create a content marketing campaign that is successful with high returns on investment, content marketers are required to use several distinct skills and techniques. Only an amalgamation of such distinct skills will make the content marketing campaign cohesive.
The best content marketers choose to work with a team of people, who have their expertise in different areas, combining which a very effective campaign is created and distributed. The skills required by content marketers are:
Subject Matter Expertise
The first step towards creating a successful content marketing campaign is having an understanding of the industry trends, customer preferences and pain points and market conditions. This is found only by undertaking deep research into the industry. Once they have researched, they also choose what combination of digital and print media should be used, along with the form of content marketing.
The content created by the content marketers becomes the face of the company and its products and services. It is because of this that they should be well versed with the brand image and voice so that they can imbibe that in their content marketing campaigns leading to brand awareness in line with the established brand positioning statement.
Search Engine Optimization
The key to ranking at the top in the search engine results is by accurately using the correct keywords. This is ensured by using the tools that will give them the keywords and related keywords to be used, along with a measure of their density. Using these gives the content marketers the leverage in keywords which ensures they rank in search engine results.
Strategy and Analytics
Content marketers develop their content marketing strategies based on asset types, themes and promotions. Each campaign made and distributed is tracked in real-time. The insights gained from the analytics are used for improving their next campaigns. One of the programs that shows the assets working well, and the assets that need to be refined is Google Analytics.
The content marketers have to be artistic as well as creative. For each content marketing campaign created, a team of creative individuals like graphic designers, painters, videographers, illustrators and web designers work together. The final product should be such that it communicates to your potential clients on your behalf, encouraging them to make their purchase through the backing of the insightful content created by your content marketers.
Considering all these skills of the content marketers, a wide range of content can be effectively created by them. For your content marketing strategy to have high returns on investment, it should rely on multiple forms of media to generate brand awareness and promote brand recognition.
Many brands have gotten into the podcasting space over the last decade. It allows them to produce and share highly engaging audio-visual content with their audience.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Content marketing is marketing that is involved in each stage of the sales cycle starting from attracting leads to convincing your potential customers to make the purchase. The content created helps them to justify as well as realize that your business’s products and services are the best fit for it. In this section, we will be discussing how content marketing is used in each stage of the sales cycle to engage and sell.
This is the first stage of the sales cycle. In the awareness stage, your content should discuss the challenges, problems and pain points suffered by your customers. This will help you to engage with them, as well as make them feel considered.
The content written during this stage should be educational and in the lines of “how-to-advice.” Considering this, your content marketing should be in the form of newsletters or blogs or eBooks or videos.
For example, a gifting shop writes a blog on the top 10 customized gifts for your best friend's graduation.
This is the stage where the content should be a blend of information as well as marketing. The content should discuss what are the features and functions that potential customers should look for in your products and services.
It should also answer how these features and functions answer the needs of your customers. The content marketing here hence should be strategized in the manner that it focuses on what your business offers.
Hence, the form of content marketing here should be case studies, how-to articles, how-to videos, checklists/worksheets
For example, a caterer company can make a checklist on “how to make the next family function more sustainable?”
In this stage, the role of content marketing is extremely important as your potential customers are close to making a purchase. Content marketing should focus on showing why your business products and services are the best choices in addition to why it is simply great. If only you can convince your customers that you are the best choice, will they make their purchase.
Hence, during this stage, the core message of your content should be what you offer differently, your expertise and your knowledge. The best forms of content marketing for this stage hence are case studies, buyer’s guides, unboxing videos, product videos, research reports and user-generated reports.
For example, a design agency will make a small video that highlights its expertise in work across different industries.
Channels Used For Content Marketing
Identifying a channel that will most suit your target audience has to be based on research and the understanding hence gained. Once the channel or a combination of channels have been identified, you will be able to tailor your content marketing strategy accordingly. The most commonly used channels for content marketing are as follows:
A blog is one of the most powerful tools of content marketing. Using advanced SEO tools, the content marketers decide the keywords, topics, trends and perspectives. Based on this preliminary work, blogs are written that are lined with industry expertise that also answers customer’s pain points.
Potential customers follow these blogs regularly and end up tapping into internal links and calls to action. When the time comes, and after more perspective, they take the action, hence increasing sales and revenue.
To monitor how the blog published is doing, tools like Google Analytics are used. If at all the content marketer finds that lots of readers are leaving the site, then the blogs after that insight have a stronger call to action.
eBooks and White Papers
eBooks and white papers are mid-funnel content that provides the readers with in-depth content and compelling research. These are usually gated in structure, hence requiring the potential customer’s name and address to access it.
The benefit of eBooks and white papers is that it takes the customers further along their buying journey while also ensuring more effective leads generation and lead management. For these resources to rank better in the search engine results, they should be accompanied by supporting blogs.
Infographics and Visual Design
In a world where everything has become more digitized, visual content is found to be more effective than only text. The prime reason behind this is that the readers find it easier to visualize and process complex data that is important for the sales process to be fulfilled.
Such infographics and visual design created can be shared on social media, embedded with blogs, used on websites. Illustrations, graphic designs and custom photography makes the content more interesting and appealing.
Videos are those visual content that is a blend of sound and visuals, making it a very interesting medium to be a part of content marketing. Such a blend is bound to attract human attention, hence ensuring the higher engagement of the potential customers with the content.
Whether it is a realistic video or an animation based video, videos content with the customers in an emotional and personality-driven manner. Videos have higher returns on investment percentage, with them also ranking higher in search engine results.
This higher ranking leads to driving organic traffic, building brand awareness and strengthening your business’s brand positioning statement. It also leads to increased customer loyalty which leads to increased net sales of your business.
Similar to eBooks and white paper, this content marketing channel is for the mid-funnel stage. The purpose of case studies is to give further proof of the quality of the service, along with giving a preview of how working with your brand will be like.
Your website is one of the most important and most reflective content marketing channels. It reflects your business’s goals and objectives, while also setting the pavement for encouraging returning customers and improving retention of customers.
Your website would be carrying the details of all that you have to offer, along with what is niche. Based on the information provided by you, your customers would be able to make their purchasing decision.
The key to having higher conversions through your website is by landing your potential clients on specific pages relevant to their interests, rather than landing them on your homepage. The benefit of following this practice is that these specific pages will have targeted information for further action. Additionally, such pages are indexed better, hence allowing the users to find them easily.
Newsletters and Emails
Email marketing is one of the most used channels of content marketing as it facilitates direct communication between the customer and your brand. Email marketing is undertaken after a thorough understanding of the email marketing funnel, with the help of email marketing automation tools.
The email marketing campaign also has an email marketing template designed to attract customers and reflect your brand. Using more visual elements and personalization in email marketing has led to higher returns on investment and thereby increasing account receivables. An email marketing campaign is done in the best manner when it is a balanced combination of high-quality written and visual content.
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest have become the most widely used channel of content marketing. Social media marketing is in vogue, especially with its growing popularity towards all population demographics.
However, instead of being present on all the social media platforms and failing to do justice with them, it is important to understand where your potential audience is going for information. Based on this, content marketers should choose 2 to 3 platforms to build their business’s presence on.
To promote a higher engagement from your potential customers, the content should be user-generated on certain occasions and user-friendly at all times. Influencer marketing can also be resorted to if your potential customers do not respond positively to advertisements.
The insights offered directly or indirectly by these pages will also help in determining the best content marketing strategy for your business.
Advantages of Content Marketing
Content marketing is that form of marketing that has its own set of advantages that makes it preferable by so many marketers and businesses. These are:
Build Brand Awareness, Loyalty and Trust
Customers who use your content will start forming an image of your brand. The more informative, well-researched, considerate content that you give, your brand would be perceived as reliable and authoritative. The more your audience relies on your information and is aware of your brand, the higher are the chances of them buying from you.
Reaching an Audience Who May Be Avoiding Ads
Through content marketing, which takes an indirect approach towards advertising as opposed to the direct approach taken by traditional advertisements, helps in reaching those audiences who are staying away from advertisements. Such an audience may be using ad blocking software or not paying heed to the traditional advertisement, either way, causing a loss of potential customers to your business.
Keeping the Costs Down
Content marketing is a form of marketing, through which the costs can be kept down as most of the content can be created in-house. Additionally, it does not even carry media placement costs with itself. This will help in increasing your operating incomes in a higher ratio than operating expenses incurred.
Increase Traffic and Conversions
By consistently giving quality content to your customers, you would be able to attract more of your potential customers to your site. Once they have landed on your site, you can convince them to make a purchase or register (i.e., bring about a conversion), by highlighting the features offered by you, your niche and even your edge against your competitors.
Support Your Other Marketing Tactics
Content marketing also extends its support to other marketing tactics like search engine optimization, social media marketing and public relation through its quality content. This support plays a huge role in ensuring the success of all of your marketing tactics.
Disadvantages of Content Marketing
Like every marketing form out there, content marketing does not come without its own set of disadvantages which are:
Benefits are Not Immediate
Content marketing is more often than not a tediously long process, involved with lots of trials and errors before you figure out what is best for your company. Even after that, you have to keep on reassessing your content marketing strategy based on changing business environment and customer behaviour.
Skills and Resource
Content marketing is also a time-consuming process, as you will have to research, make content based on it and in the form preferred by your business’s target audience.
In fact, to create certain types of content like infographics, videos and illustrations you will either have to outsource your content creation or develop those skills in-house. Post publishing of your content across various marketing channels, you will also have to assess its impact and determine the next step for the content marketing strategy.
Finding Content Ideas
Especially in the beginning, it becomes tricky to come up with new ideas for your content. However, once you start publishing and analysing the impact of your content, finding new and effective ideas would become a lot easier. Only if you can keep up with providing good quality content will you be able to retain your customers and your customers’ loyalty.
Evaluating the impact of your content marketing is not always easy. For instance, the impact it has had on web traffic, audience engagement and conversion rates can be easily evaluated. However, the impact it has had on your brand awareness, loyalty and reputation cannot be evaluated which does blindside the content marketers in that area.
How Can Deskera Assist in Content Marketing?
Deskera is a cloud system that can solve all of your business needs from one place. Be it data integration with access from anywhere, or real-time data analytics and insights, or customizing the sales pipeline while observing the impact of undertaken marketing strategies.
Deskera CRM facilitates automation of your content marketing strategies on one platform, while also keeping a track of the performance of your email campaign. It even has a customized, real-time marketing dashboard with insights that will help you in identifying unprofitable campaigns early on. Similarly, it will also help in identifying profitable campaigns and how to benefit the most from them.
Deskera CRM also facilitates email marketing automation, with email marketing templates included in the system for your usage. The system will not only automate email marketing campaigns but will also help in keeping a track of its performance through its email marketing funnel.
Deskera books which maintain all your financial statements like balance sheet, profit and loss statement, income statement and cash flow statement will tell you the budget you have for content marketing. It will also keep a track of account receivables and accounts payables for the same.
Lastly, through contact and deal management of Deskera CRM and the insights into deals won and lost, you will be able to further strategize your campaigns and strengthen your prospects.
The performance of content marketing should be evaluated based on marketing KPIs. These would become the guiding oars in the fast-moving waters of content marketing. However, because of the same dynamism, it is also very important to stay at the front of the trends and grab any new channels that may come up.
The most commonly used channels for content marketing currently are:
- eBooks and White Papers
- Infographics and Visual Design
- Case Studies
- Website Copy
- Newsletters and Emails
- Social Media
The advantages of content marketing are:
- Build Brand Awareness, Loyalty and Trust
- Reaching an Audience Who May Be Avoiding Ads
- Keeping the Costs Down
- Increase Traffic and Conversions
- Support Your Other Marketing Tactics
The disadvantages of content marketing are:
- Benefits are Not Immediate
- Skills and Resource
- Finding Content Ideas
The stages of sales pipeline through which content marketing works are:
- Awareness Stage
- Consideration Stage
- Closing Stage
The skills that the content marketers are required to have are:
- Subject Matter Expertise
- Search Engine Optimization
- Strategy and Analytics
The art of content marketing requires lots of patience and research, but once carried out thoroughly with timely follow-ups and staying updated with the trends, gives long term gains to your business.