Why is Content Marketing Important?
by Melanie, on 7 Apr 2020
One of the most popular marketing tactics for large companies and startups alike is content marketing. It's sometimes difficult to explain that in marketing, some things can be both strategies and tactics. For example, you can develop a tactical plan for your content marketing strategy while also having one of your tactics for establishing thought leadership or generating leads be content generation. It's like Russian nesting dolls.
What is Content Marketing?
With a 10,000 foot view, content marketing is any marketing that uses content to reach your target audience. Not exactly rocket science. Except that it's more nuanced than that in reality.
Here are two of the nuances: content marketing is educational, and it's all about your target audience and what they care about.
There are many, many ways of distributing content. Hopefully this is an exhaustive list!
- Emails and newsletters
- Social media posts
- In-person events
- White papers
- Case studies
- Data journalism
- Live streams
- Presentations/SlideShare decks
- GIFs and memes
- Forums and groups
- In-App messages
PS. Be sure to insert "Educational" in front of each of those formats!
Which Marketing Objective Does it Support?
To paint all marketing in broad brush strokes, there are 4 overarching objectives:
- Build an audience (these days, this tends to be on social media) — while this can become a "vanity metric", it can also help you evaluate whether more people are coming into contact with your brand and if there is interest in what you are doing.
- Build a list (normally an email list) — this measures how much of an engaged audience you have and confirm that it is growing.
- Qualify leads and turn them into paying customers - because your business has to generate revenue, or else it isn't a business.
- Delight your customers so they become loyal to you and refer new business to you — not only is selling to happy customers cheaper than finding and converting new ones, but you ideally want to make a difference in your customers' lives, so their loyalty and advocacy is a strong indicator of success in that regard.
What makes content marketing so powerful is that it can help you achieve your goals related to ALL of these objectives. Not many other marketing initiatives can do that.
One of the great things about content marketing is that you don't have to spend more to make it work — although additional spend on hiring talent to help you produce and/or promote your content may help.
The only required investment is the time it will take to produce each piece of content. Nevertheless, it's definitely cheaper than "traditional" marketing campaigns.
Companies that do content marketing well are seizing the opportunity to clarify their voice and their thought leadership (read: brand identity) with their target market.
They think through what type of content to produce for their target customer and then publish and/or amplify it on specific channels where their customers are likely to be.
Content marketing should allow you to build credibility and authority with your target audience.
Adding Value to Customers
A successful piece of content marketing will be valuable to your audience — and it should be presented in context with where they are in their buyer's journey (hint: if you haven't yet built a customer journey map, this is one area where such a framework would be extremely helpful.)
I tend to liken the process of successful content marketing to dating. The earlier someone is in their journey, the more your content should be about them, their problems, and their world. Further through the journey, it can become more about your company and your solution. Hopefully you wouldn't go on a first date planning to share your life story and propose!
- Revisit (or create) your target persona and their customer journey map, then analyze the content they most want and where they'd like to encounter it.
- Think about what you can realistically produce given your resource constraints and available bandwidth. However, don't think too narrowly. Are there other people — either on your team or guests — who might like to blog, write a paper, or co-present some research or results?
- Decide what you will actually show up and do. Initially, we recommend focusing on just one or two channels to stay focused and really learn about your audience — and what works on those particular channels. We also recommend that you produce a new piece of content once each week, then re-purpose it across each of your channels!
- Put together an initial content calendar, covering the next three months. Commit to it, stick to it, and then evaluating how things have gone.
- Have patience! Content marketing is a long-term tactic, not a short-term one. You should typically expect to see meaningful results within 3-6 months.