Organisations are forever seeking new ways to connect with their customers. One of the most popular and fast-moving types of digital marketing nowadays is content marketing – but what does this type of marketing involve?
Put simply, an online platform or website is divided into its more functional components – online hosting, payment and security systems and so forth – and then ‘content’. It’s a wide term, but it applies to everything creative that goes onto a website or the wider internet – in fact, the article you’re reading today is itself a type of content.
If you’re confused because of how broad a term content marketing can be, that’s completely understandable. With this quick guide, you’ll soon be able to understand not only what content marketing is – but also its wider role in digital marketing as a whole.
What is the definition of content marketing?
If content is what we call the ‘stuff’ that goes online – images, writing, videos and audio files – then ‘content marketing’ is when we use those creations to educate, inform, persuade and inspire our audiences.
In other words, if you decide to create a blog for a personal hobby, you’re simply creating content. In fact, whenever you upload a photo to social media or a video to a streaming site – even stream a video game – you are creating content.
When does that become content marketing? It’s when the intention of the content being created goes from that of recreation or a hobby to having the intention of persuading people to buy a product.
For example, influencers online are content marketers. Companies approach these people to feature products or services in their existing content creations, in the hopes that people see those products and choose to buy them.
That’s only one example of digital marketing using content to lead customers to make a purchase. Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the different kinds of content marketing you might use in a digital marketing career.
Blogs, articles, interviews, ebooks, whitepapers, how-to guides – if it can be written online, it can be used in content marketing. Nobody can use the internet without reading something – and in digital marketing, that’s put to good use helping people understand why your products and services are the ones to pick.
Digital marketing has been exploring video content for a number of years now, and it’s definitely growing in popularity.
When a company rather than an individual has a YouTube channel, and uses that to talk about products, how to use them and what to buy for certain events in the year, that’s an example of video content marketing.
Podcasts and online radio have become a very popular way for people to connect and discuss topics that mainstream media doesn’t always touch on.
Because audio content like podcasts so often reaches a niche audience, it’s a great platform to advertise via audio content – and some companies create podcasts or audio livestreams specifically for marketing purposes too.
What can content marketing be used for?
Is content marketing simply about telling people about products and persuading them to make a purchase? Not so much. In fact, digital marketing and content marketing go hand in hand, and often you can’t effectively do one without knowing at least a little about the other.
The great news is, content marketing is so versatile and so capable of doing so many things that it can be put to work in a great number of digital marketing strategies.
Let’s explore a few examples.
Conversions and sales
The most obvious use of content marketing as part of a broader digital marketing strategy is appealing to customers. Using something written cleverly, filmed beautifully or photographed aesthetically to convince someone to buy something is hugely satisfying.
However, there’s a mix of technical and creative thought that needs to go into this kind of content marketing. It needs to capture the audience’s interests, hit high on search engine results and be creative enough for people to believe it’s worth sharing.
Creating brand awareness and brand identity
Even some of the biggest companies in the world sometimes make the mistake of using digital marketing only to sporadically post content online to try and get people to make a purchase.
In fact, content marketing is just as much about using various talents and media – writing, video, audio and others – to give your brand identity a level of consistency.
Remember, people buy from brands they not only know about, but also trust. Would you place an order at an online store that was quiet most of the year and only posted a blog every Single’s Day or end of year sale, for example?
Creating a rapport with customers, clients and users
A consistent pipeline of relevant and appealing content goes a long way in any digital marketing strategy. That’s because, by sparking the imagination of your customers and clients, you are inspiring them to think of your brand often in their day to day lives.
That rapport is valuable because of another aspect of content marketing that many digital marketing experts accidentally overlook – user generated content (UGC). Comments on your blog posts and videos, social media posts about your products or tweets to your company’s accounts are all user generated content.
What’s amazing is that this can all be used and repurposed to create more content marketing assets of your own – and it firms up your relationships with your customers as you do so.
How can you use content in your digital marketing strategy?
Content marketing can be used as intensively or as casually as you like – although many businesses try to cover as many bases with it as they can. Because content marketing is so versatile, it can be used to educate, convert, inspire and inform.
Creating thought leadership
Most organisations these days use a blog to host announcements and tell their story, and that’s a big part of digital marketing. You can also create blog content that touches on keywords that are searched for by people who are active in your industry – as well as educate people.
When you teach and inspire people with your written content, you establish thought leadership – which means people come to trust your brand as an expert. When they next need a product or service your company provides, you’ll be the one people come to when your written content marketing is strong.
Whether your industry is going through hard times, or competition is heating up and you need to get as much repeat business as you can – trust is the key to digital marketing done right.
Content marketing means you’re in constant dialogue with your customer base, and that means they come to view the relationship between themselves and your business very positively. Trust builds loyalty, and clients who trust you always come back.
Upsell and create added value
Let’s say a company that sells laptops hires you to head their digital marketing strategy. Good content would be blogs and videos that explain about these various laptops and get the business more sales.
Meanwhile, great content marketing would not only sell lots of laptops, but also make each order for the business a bit bigger by using blogs and videos to suggest complementary products. Why buy a laptop when you can bundle a laptop, mouse, webcam and printer in one order – all recommended in one article?
Content marketing can inspire customers to shop longer, buy more and stick with your brand for the long haul, which is incredibly valuable to businesses of all sizes.
Stay relevant in online searches
Perhaps the most obvious, yet certainly most sought after, capability that content marketing offers businesses is the ability to sustain a high ranking in search engine results.
Many businesses thrive or flounder based on how well you can do this, and learning how best to create content in a digital marketing strategy that best appeals to search engine algorithms is equal parts an art and a science.
Master this, and you’re going to have a set of skills that are extremely sought after in today’s employment market. Digital marketing training also gives you insight into how best to adapt to changes in search engine algorithms or content marketing best practices – both of which are evolving all the time.
Creating content that has value, appeals to audiences, widens your company’s customer base and speaks the language of your existing buyers to keep them loyal is a complicated challenge. Yet if you showcase this set of skills, it’s a wonderfully satisfying business to be in.
Better yet, gaining these skills isn’t a complicated task either. It’s all about following best practices, applying your creativity to create content that stands out, and learning how to logically approach a digital marketing strategy that converts.
Ready to conquer content marketing? Digital Academy’s content marketing course will soon have you mastering this craft!