A Beginner's Complete Guide to Content Marketing

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By Gem Muzones on July 05, 2017
Gem Muzones
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What is Content Marketing?

Instead of giving you a jargon-filled definition, let me tell you a story.

Back in the 1900s, Andre and Edouard Michelin were struggling with selling their tires in France, which only had about 3000 cars on the roads. The only way for their sales to increase is if the number of cars would increase too.

So to inspire more people to travel and explore the country, as well as increase the demand for cars, they created a guide for French motorists that lists the best hotels and restaurants to eat and sleep in, along with road maps, tire repair and replacement instructions, and listings of car mechanics and petrol stations in France. They called it the Michelin Guide, and it’s one of the first and best examples of Content Marketing in history.

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This guide created by a tire manufacturer eventually came to be one of the most famous restaurant rating systems in the world after more than a century of publishing. Getting a star from the guide is highly-coveted by every restaurant in the world. Awarded with 3 stars meant that you offer "exceptional cuisine that’s worth a special journey". Aside from their successful guide, they also became to be one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world.

You see, Content Marketing is actually a very simple concept.

It’s regularly creating and distributing valuable, educational, and highly-relevant content for your target market. When you add value to their lives with the content that you create to help solve their problems, their loyalty already lies with you and will prefer your company when making a purchase or availing of a service.

To better understand what Content Marketing means, let’s break it down into these 4 important elements:

1. Consistently creating valuable and relevant content 

Content marketing is a long-term strategy. You don’t create content once, you create it regularly. Regularly providing relevant content helps you build strong relationships with your customers.

According to Google’s Avinash Kaushik, “Content is anything that adds value to a reader’s life.” Content Marketing educates your buyer persona about their problems and solutions to those problems, and not about who you are or what you do/sell.

2. Distributing content 

With a whopping 92,000+ articles published online daily and 27 million content shared every day, you have to make sure you effectively distribute your content to your target audience.

To make your content relevant, you have to distribute it so your target audience gets to see it and share it.

3. Attract and retain a clearly-defined audience

To create relevant content, you have to know who you’re creating it for. You have to know what your target audience’s problems are, how they can find out about you, how they consider to purchase/avail of a product/service, and what factors they look into when deciding.

It’s also not just about finding potential customers. Content Marketing strategies also help in keeping your existing customers happy with the service by continuously providing them relevant content.

4. Drive profitable action

While Content Marketing isn’t as hard sell as advertising, the main goal is to have a potential customer buy a product or avail of a service.

 

How Powerful is Content Marketing?

Now that you have a grasp of what Content Marketing is, how exactly did it change the marketing industry? From being just one of the newly marketing strategies introduced to the industry, Content Marketing is now crowned king. Content isn’t an interruptive form of marketing. Furthermore, according to Seth Goding, “Content Marketing is the only marketing left”.

Why? Take a look at these statistics:

  • 2 million blog posts are written and published every day. (source)
  • The Content Marketing Institute reports that 8 out of 10 people identify themselves as blog readers, and 23% of all time spent online is spent on social media sites. (source)
  • 77% of Internet users read blogs.
  • 200 million people now use ad blockers. (source)
  • Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.
  • Because 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, they are also more likely to buy from that company.
  • 90% of consumers find custom content useful, and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.
  • Companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than non-blogging firms.
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (source)

Through the years, businesses have seen the huge effect of Content Marketing as a part of their marketing strategies. Here are the benefits of implementing a planned and well-thought-out Content Marketing strategy for your business:

  • Brand marketing/awareness

Are you new to the industry? Or have you released a new line of products? Content Marketing can help you reach your target market.

By creating, publishing, and distributing content that is in line to your market’s problems, you can generate topics that would provide solutions.

Along with that, you can upsell the product through the content or create ad banners through the blog layout that would showcase your business.

  • Site traffic

By providing valuable content to your target market, your business’ blog will be the hub for all the credible and accurate information. Through word of mouth and simply sharing these content on social media, new visitors will flock to your site.

Moreover, Content Marketing has this concept of “guest posts.” This is the manner of hosting your blog posts through another website with a high domain authority to increase your own authority. As an effect of a high site traffic, your blog will increase its authority.

Content Marketing allows itself to be your sturdy foundation in propelling your site traffic and maintain it at a high level (e.g. blog series).

  • Direct conversion

If your target market is convinced enough that you produce valuable content, they will convert right there and then. This is what Content Marketing could give you.

If through your content you’re able to share the values of your business and brand and tap a portion of your target market, then you’ll surely have direct conversions.

In line with that, Content Marketing can give you direct conversions by placing the right calls-to-action (CTAs) in your website’s blog. It’s about making the reader sign up to a newsletter or even make a purchase right away.

  • Thought leadership/Build credibility

Content Marketing allows you to showcase your business’ strengths and competencies. Through this marketing strategy, you can let the industry know that what you can offer is something that they haven’t seen before.

Through time and a series of well-written blog posts, you’re building your image as an expert and a perennial source of information to your target market.

  • Search visibility/SEO

Through Content Marketing, you can publish blog posts that have the specific keywords you want to rank for. Naturally, when a person looks for your business website, you want to be at the first page of the search results.

Also, you can build links with the keywords to improve your search visibility and SEO rankings.

Related article: How to Boost Search Rankings Through Content Marketing

  • Lead generation

Aside from blog posts, Content Marketing also allows you to produce bigger types of content such as eBooks, case studies, whitepapers, and webinars or podcasts.

It’s important to remember though that these content should gated, which means the reader needs to provide contact details such as name, email address, and even the industry he/she belongs in.

With this information, your lead can be further driven down the funnel and eventually make them convert. A CTA to download or sign up can be placed through the banners in the blog layout.

  • Community building

Distribution is a crucial part of Content Marketing. A well-written and well-researched content is no good without the effort of distributing it to your target market. You should always connect your blog to your business’ social media accounts.

In this manner, your target market will be notified quickly if there’s new content they should pay attention to. Social media is there to assist and build a community for your blog, and moreover, for your brand and business.

  • Client retention

After gaining your clients through Content Marketing, you can keep them around by sending relevant and accurate content to them through newsletters or exclusive branded content.

By collecting contact details though CTAs to download and sign up, you can create a database for an easier and organized distribution of your content.

 

Traditional Marketing vs Content Marketing

It isn’t interruptive like TV ads or billboards that pop up here and there, as Content Marketing is empowering because your target market are the ones actively looking for your content to find solutions to their problems and educate them on the subject.

Traditional Publicity vs Content Marketing.png

 

Types of Content Marketing

Content Marketing is one of the most flexible marketing strategies out there. Because of its nature, it allows you to push the envelope for creativity and it is never boring.

Here are the different types of content you can produce:

  • Blogs/Articles

Blogs and articles are usually in the form of listicles. Since the attention span of readers nowadays is very short, it is important to catch and sustain that attention. You should divide the ideas in bite size where they won’t get bored and leave the page immediately. (source)

  • Infographics/Visualizations

An infographic is a presentation of information or data in a visually pleasing way. Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3x more than other any other type of content. Because of its design, it catches the reader’s attention right away. The information presented is easier to digest and process. Usually, infographics are highly designed. Moreover, there have been innovations in infographic like it can be animated like GIFs. (source)

For an infographic to work for you, the design has to stand out. Remember that not every data or information is suitable to be put in an infographic.

  • eBooks/whitepapers/resource guides/case studies

These types of content go beyond the usual length. It also differs in tone and approach. They serve as content offers to your target market. They are usually downloadable content and can be used by your target market for other purposes. Typically, these are presented in a PDF.

Businesses use eBooks, whitepapers, resource guides, and case studies as an exchange for the reader’s contact details.

Because of its value, the design, layout, and presentation matter heavily in these types of content. (source)

 

How Does Content Marketing Work?

 

1. Goal-setting

Your content strategy will depend on what your content marketing goals are. Study thoroughly the marketing brief, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the product?
  • Who is the target market?
  • What are the goals?
  • Who are the competitors?

A great content marketing strategy is backed up by these information. It makes the strategy strong and competitive to other content marketing strategies out there. This will allow you to visualize the goals for marketing and accurately lay out the key performance indicators, observe such KPIs, and adjust when it’s not performing.

Related article: Content Marketing Expectation Management: Understanding Goals and Setting KPIs

2. Identify your target buyer persona 

Your target market is not a faceless person in the crowd. At the very least, every marketing effort should be rooted to your target buyer. Therefore, you should build a persona for this target buyer. Identify their demographics, their jobs, pains & gains, and buying behavior among others.

By establishing this, you can create valuable and relevant content for them. In addition to that, create the buyer’s journey—from the awareness to conversion stage.

Put yourself in their shoes and create how they would react in every stage to your product or service. All of these are a part of your business’ buyer’s profile.

Related article: Establishing Your Buyer Personas Will Make or Break Your Content Marketing Strategy

3. Audit your existing content 

To produce compelling and newer content, you need to look back at the status of your current content marketing. In this manner, you can see which of your content performs the best or the worst. You can also use some existing content as inspiration for your future content.

By auditing, it means that you should examine your blog from head to toe: design, layout, format, nature of content, authors, and target of content.

Metrics such as page views and shares can help you analyze your existing content. From this, you can formulate sound recommendations moving forward.

4. Research top performing content/spy on your competitors 

For every business, there’s a set a of competitors. You can observe your competitors blogs and see what type of content they produce. This will give you an idea what also to produce and what to produce to cover what they haven’t delivered yet. This will also allow you to differentiate and stand out from the competition.

If you’re doing an analysis of your blog, you should also do it when it comes to your competitors. On the other hand, you can also do a competitor analysis on the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Based on the keywords, you can find the top global content and analyze its performance.

5. Topic generation 

By going through the first four steps, you can come up with topics that are relevant, accurate, and non-repetitive. Use the information you’ve gathered in the previous steps, along with the help of content analysis tools. 

Related article: Snackable Content vs Big Content: How and When to Use Them

6. Create a distribution plan 

After generating the topics, you should think about where you want these content to go next. In this plan, you can utilize social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. Other platforms can be bookmarking sites, Q&A sites, and forums.

7. Implement 

The most exciting part to this process is the implementation of the plans. You can hire writers to do your content. Just make sure that even though your writers are not current experts to the topics, they are willing to do research to produce reliable content.

For the visuals, your designers should get involved. The important thing is to clearly state the design pegs and inspiration. Always remember that good content is the combination of well-written and well-researched information, as well as the visual that accompanies it.

8. Measure, adjust strategy, repeat 

What a lot of people forget after implementing is tracking at the performance of their content. You can formulate your own frequency for performance reports (weekly, monthly) depending on the goals you’ve established early on.

In these reports, you can see the metrics which include conversion, brand interest, blog traffic, social media shares, and built links. It is important to measure because this will tell you basically if you’re doing the right thing. If not, measuring will also allow you to adjust your strategy and improve some aspects of it. After measuring and adjusting, repeat the strategy that works best.

 

Tools that You Need to Implement Content Marketing

Here are some tools to guide in implementing an awesome Content Marketing strategy:

1. SEO Tools for Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords for your business blog to rank for is not a walk in the park. It’s not an aspect of your Content Marketing strategy where you could just guess and wing it.

If you really want to rank and be in the best position in the search results, use SEO tools to generate accurate data for your performance reports. Here are some of the SEO tools you can use for keyword research:

2. Content Research Tools

To help you create and produce good content, you need the help of content research tools to always come up with fresh ideas for your topics. Tools like Buzzsumo and Ahrefs will show you metrics such as social shares, pageviews, and built links.

You can tweak these tools to whichever metric you want to focus on. These research tools can also assist you in tracking the performance of your content.

3. Editorial Calendar 

If you don’t have one, start an editorial calendar for your content. This will help you easily watch the type of content you’re going to create whether that be an article, infographic, or an eBook. By having an editorial calendar, you can see which concepts or topics you have or have not covered yet.

Moreover, an editorial calendar will also help you plot the assignments for your writers. You can assign a topic to a writer if you find the need to be consistent with the tone and approach.

Here's our guide on creating an editorial calendar + a free template

4. Writing tools 

As for writing tools, you can use Grammarly for the grammatical errors, better arrangement of words, and better terms for some instances. Surely, you don’t your brand and business to be tainted with an issue of bad grammar and poorly written content. While the mistake might be an attraction, it’s not the one you’re aiming for. Here are other free writing tools I recommend that every writer should use. 

5. Distribution tools 

As mentioned earlier, social media platforms are the friends of content promotions. Any great content won’t realize its potential unless it’s distributed.

Ultimately, for Content Marketing, you’ve created this valuable content and it would be a sin for your target market not to see it. The social media distribution tools don’t have to be installed. Just make sure that you know how to use the features and strengths of each social media platform to fully use it to your advantage in promoting your content. 

However, for email outreach, email sourcing and mass email sending need some help of tools such as Hunter, YourOutreach, and Ninja Outreach.

Related article: 5 Ways Content Promotion Improves Your Branding

6. Analytics 

Tools like Google Analytics are there to help you see, track, and measure the performance of your Content Marketing strategy. Use this to your advantage by looking at the metrics such as page views, visits, clicks, and others.

Analytics tools give you in depth information and should be enough to assist you in formulating recommendations for the adjustment of your marketing strategies.

 

Content Marketing can really do wonders for your marketing when it's planned and strategized well. At the end of the day, building great content marketing strategies for your business boils down to its alignmnet to your marketing goals and objectives. Furthermore, being aware of tools and knowing how to use them are crucial to maximize their potential.

Want to learn more about Content Marketing? Check out and bookmark our other posts:

5 Essential Tips to Launching a Solid Content Marketing Strategy

How to Use Content Marketing to Establish Thought Leadership, Build Trust and Increase Authority

7 Essential Keys to a Winning Content Marketing Strategy

B2B Lead Generation: How to Attract, Nurture, and Convert Targeted Leads Through Content Marketing

What a High-Converting Blog Page Looks Like [Infographic]

 

Topics: Content Marketing

Gem Muzones

About Gem Muzones

Gem is Spiralytics' adopted nomad and Content Marketing Manager. Before she dove into content marketing, she was a news writer who walked alongside protesters in the streets of Manila and a magazine editor who got free passes to product launches and the hippest events. She's a big Game of Thrones fangirl, 1/2 of a budget travel blogging duo behind Travels with a Hobo, and suffers from chronic hair dissatisfaction (she changes her hair color every month). Connect with her in Twitter for writing, blogging, and content marketing news and tips @GemMuzones

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