People love good content. That said, your prospective and existing customers don’t want to read just any content you pump out - they want pieces that are valuable and insightful, pieces that provide all the answers they’re looking for.
By delivering such content, you’ll attract qualified leads, win more sales, and grow your brand.
Whether you’re currently struggling with your content marketing strategy or you’re just starting to implement one, this ultimate guide will help you think of effective ways to craft content that will get your audiences hooked and coming back for more.
From the very basic definition of content marketing to the different types to content planning, you’ll find everything there is to know about content marketing here. We’ll even be sharing some of the best tools that will make content creation much more convenient for you!
Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing useful and relevant articles, videos, infographics, podcasts, and other forms of media.
Through these media, your target audience will be able to learn more about your brand, expertise, and product or services. Implementing them strategically doesn't just convey expertise and authority. It also lets your prospective and existing customers know that you truly value them.
Once they see that you’re making a huge effort to establish and nurture a relationship with them, they’ll think of you as a brand that’s eager to solve their problems. Odds are, you’ll be the first name to pop up into their minds when the time comes for them to buy a product you offer.
Content marketing can work wonders for your business. That’s actually one of the reasons we’ve had so much success - and it’s not just us.
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), content is one of the most effective ways to promote a business. They found that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach customers. Another study they conducted revealed that 86% of B2C marketers believe content marketing is a key strategy.
Why might that be? Here are six of the most common reasons:
Anyone specializing in inbound marketing will tell you that all your SEO efforts will be for nothing if you don’t have a solid content strategy.
As a matter of fact, content creation is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic and grow organic search. The more consistent, high-quality content you produce, the higher you rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). Websites that publish content addressing common searchers questions are rewarded by Google with better rankings.
In turn, this makes it easier for your target audience to find you as they search for brands like you online. If your content is something they can relate to, expect them to turn into new customers.
While almost any marketing tactic can build brand awareness, nothing does it as well as content creation. Compelling content gives you an opportunity to show your audience what your company is all about.
Brand awareness isn’t just about getting people to be familiar with the name of your brand. Rather, it’s about how well people understand your qualities, especially those that set you apart from everyone else in your industry. It’s about why they should choose your business over others.
This is where your content comes in handy. The key is to stick to your voice in every piece you publish. Whether you want to be viewed as upbeat and energetic, warm and friendly, or formal and intelligent, your content should reflect your brand.
What’s more, consistently producing content around topics your audience is interested in increases their chances of recalling your brand. They’ll start to associate outstanding content with your brand, perhaps even spreading the word about you on social media.
Some prefer reading content, while others only pay attention to visuals. Some would rather listen to podcasts, while others would consume content through videos.
Content marketing does it all. It allows you to flexibly offer formats that can satisfy various customer needs. Infographics, emails, webinars, and videos are all useful tools for keeping your customers engaged.
Lindsay Kolowich, the team manager of the HubSpot Academy Acquisition Content Team, explains that content can effectively guide visitors to a landing page.
The secret? Provide useful, free information and killer calls-to-action (CTAs) in your content. If visitors are fascinated with what they’re reading, they’re more likely to click your CTA and move onto your landing page.
Any content that sells a product, educate, addresses concerns, builds trust, or provides excellent storytelling can encourage your audience to take your desired action - be it to make a purchase, subscribe to your newsletter, or book an appointment.
Believe it or not, people who are gushing about your content are likely to turn into brand advocates before they even buy one of your products.
An example helps illustrate our point. Let’s say a certain Instagram business profile has caught your eye, thanks to its clever content. The thing is, it’s a brand that sells pet products…. and you’re not a pet owner. Instead, you recommend it to friends and relatives who have cats and dogs.
Increasing your social media followers across channels is one thing; creating viral content is another. If you’re having trouble gaining traction despite having a large following, it’s time you turn to content marketing for help.
Your brand advocates can actually help you here. They’ll follow you on social media, share your posts, and maybe even give your brand a shoutout.
If you’re producing content just to keep your blog page looking active or simply because everyone’s on the bandwagon, then you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. You have no real goals in place.
Good content marketing forms a relationship with your prospects and customers. Your aim is to provide content that’s exactly right for your audience at a particular moment in their buyer’s journey.
Ever heard of the Content Marketing Matrix? It’s what many content creators and digital marketers use to check whether their content appeals to their audience at every point in the buyer’s journey.
This matrix helps you precisely clarify what your content should achieve, assisting you with future planning to tackle a wide range of topics that satisfy the demands of your audience.
Your content must be able to address the needs and interests of your audience on both emotional and rational levels. It must be able to entertain, inspire, educate, and convince, so that your audience will engage with you from the very first point of contact with your brand all the way to their buying decision.
Amusing and attention-grabbing content can quickly trigger an emotional response in people, leading them to become invested in your brand. Such content is especially suited to reach out to those who haven’t heard of your brand yet.
Branded videos, contests, games, quizzes, and viral campaigns are your go-to formats for this purpose.
Like entertaining content, inspiring content reaches your audience on a similar emotional level. However, its goal is to push prospects further down the purchase funnel.
Your types of content at this stage should focus on enticing your audience. This can take the form of reviews and ratings, celebrity or influencer endorsements, widgets, or community forums by your brand.
Educational content leans towards the rational side of the matrix, with the purpose of helping your audience solve any problems they’re facing. It is less emotional than the other two, as it seeks to inform and offer solutions rather than to elicit positive feelings.
Common formats for educational content include e-books, infographics, guides, trend reports, and whitepapers.
Now that you’ve successfully entertained, inspired, and educated your audience, the final step is to convince them to become customers. In contrast to inspiring content, convincing content persuades people through facts and figures, addressing the rational interests of your buyer personas.
You can use webinars, events, and demo videos for those who are still in the middle of the buyer’s journey, whereas price guides and case studies are ideal for those who are almost ready to make a decision.
With a plethora of content marketing types available, it can be tough to determine which ones you can use to make a statement and which ones might just not work. What’s effective for a certain brand may not bring about the same results for you.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you wish to achieve, where you’re posting, and the audience you’re catering to. With that in mind, below are the most common types of marketing types you can choose from:
Blogs are the building blocks of content marketing. When done right, they can positively impact your company in many ways while adding a lot of value to your SEO performance.
For you to see these results, though, you need to ensure that your content is optimized for search. Below are tactics proven to have worked time and again:
Keywords are essential for SEO, which is why you should carefully pick relevant terms or phrases and include them naturally throughout your content.
A good rule of thumb is to target one or two long-tail keywords per post.
Searchers who are typing long-tail keywords are more likely to finish reading the entire post and seek further information. In short, they’re visitors who convert.
With your keywords in place, your next move is to sprinkle them throughout your posts. Aside from the body of your copy, you should also sneak your keyword into your title tag, meta description, header, and URL.
See to it that you avoid keyword stuffing, a method where you add too many keywords. Google is getting smarter by the day, and it can tell right away if you’re stuffing your keywords. This can lead to penalties.
Image alt text is a description of the image you’re posting.
Since search engines can’t really see images, they rely on image alt text to understand what the image is about. This alt text is essential for ensuring that your images rank for relevant terms.
In today’s fast-paced world, written content is no longer enough to draw in customers. Many brands have now incorporated video into their overall marketing strategy, and it’s easy to see why.
54% of consumers want more video content from a business they support. 74% of people downloaded an app or software after watching its product video.
83% of video marketers say their videos have helped them generate leads. 88% are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing efforts on social media. And 93% have landed a new customer because of a video they posted on social.
Need ideas to start an effective video content strategy? Allow us to help you get started with these quick tips!
Infographics make boring content more enjoyable and hard-to-understand content more digestible.
For marketers like you, infographics can make life much easier. You don’t have to spend as much time figuring out how to deliver complex ideas in a single blog post. You only need visuals and the key points worth highlighting to present those ideas.
E-books can be an integral part of a thorough content marketing strategy. Perhaps the biggest benefit you’ll get is by establishing an expert status. People who discover your e-book and find it valuable will see you as a thought leader in your industry, solidifying your status as an authority.
People trust fellow consumers more than a brand, which is why you should proudly display testimonials from your customers on your website. You can also dedicate a section like what we’ve done here.
Doing so confirms for your audience that they can trust your brand.
Checklists exist to make everyone’s lives more convenient. They show a list of steps that will get people to solve a problem or reach a goal. Giving away a tool like this to your audience will give them a reason to engage with you.
User-generated content is any content created by customers and then shared by the brand on website and socials. It’s extremely effective at building trust and credibility among consumers – 51% of Americans trust UGC more than other information on a commercial website.
Running a photo contest is one of the most popular strategies marketers use to collect UGC on Instagram. They ask fans and followers to post a photo that should be relevant to the theme, and the winning shot gets to be featured.
Re-sharing mentions on your stories is another UGC tactic that works. Once others see that you’re reposting content from your followers, they’ll likely tag you on their posts, especially if they’re also looking to gain followers.
As with creating blogs and e-books, podcasting can help establish you as a reputable expert in your field. It presents an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and opinions on a certain topic, as well as connect with and expand your audience.
61% of podcast listeners have actually bought something a podcaster promoted on their show, while 71% visited a sponsor’s website after the show ended.
Just be sure not to spend the entire time talking about your product. Instead you might casually mention it when you’re discussing an issue that it can help solve.
If you’re selling complicated products, you’ll want to add how-to guides to your marketing strategy.
Say you specialize in email marketing. Why not teach your audience the basics of drip campaigns in a simple guide? You’ll catch their attention and earn their trust in no time!
Now, it’s time to map out your content strategy. Your first move is to ask yourself these questions:
Who are you crafting your content for? Your content strategy can cater to more than one type of user, so it’s best that you deliver content that’s crafted to each persona.
A good content strategy is one that seeks to solve a problem. For your content to yield positive results, it should be able to support two groups of your audience: Those who are still figuring out what their primary challenges are, and those who are already using your products to overcome their challenges.
Chances are, your competitors are selling products similar to yours. That’s exactly why you should explain why you’re unique. Your prospects should know what makes yours better, and why they should choose you over everyone else in your industry.
With the popularity of podcasts soaring, you might be tempted to launch a channel. However, before you start, it’s smart to learn more about your audience first. What if the majority of them prefer videos?
Again, think about your audience. If you’re serving younger people who enjoy quick content, go for TikTok and Instagram. If your audience wants to see longer videos, YouTube is the place to be.
Next, let’s explore the specifics of creating a content strategy that will motivate your audience to take the actions you intend them to take - a content strategy that can turn your goals into reality.
What’s the purpose behind your content marketing plan? What made you decide to produce content?
Do you need to drive more traffic to your website? Expand your reach? Grow your social media followers?
Whatever it is, make sure that it should contribute to the overall achievement of your business goals.
If you’re like most who use the traditional SMART goal-setting approach, perhaps you should think about switching to a different method: CLEAR goal-setting.
While we can’t deny that the SMART concept works like magic when done properly, it hasn’t kept up with the faster, more-agile environment that most modern businesses find themselves in. That’s why many are now beginning to turn to setting CLEAR goals instead.
So, what does CLEAR stand for?
Collaborative: Your goals should encourage your team to work together and have them use their unique skills and expertise to achieve their objective/s.
Limited: Similar to the “achievable” and “timely” elements in SMART goals, your goals should be limited both in scope and duration.
Emotional: Your goals should make an emotional connection to your employees, tapping into their passion and energy.
Appreciable: Larger goals should be broken into a series of smaller objectives so they can be achieved more quickly and easily for long-term gain.
Refinable: You should always be willing to refine and modify your goals whenever priorities change or unforeseen challenges arise.
Developing a successful content plan requires researching your audience: understanding who they are and identifying their needs and pain points. That way, you remove all assumptions you have about them. This allows you to produce more valuable content they’ll want to read, which in turn makes them more likely to convert.
What’s important to your audience? What problems do they want to solve? What types of content do they prefer? What are their buying habits? What social media platforms are they usually on?
You can find your answers and gain deeper insight into your audience through the following:
Industry blogs and publications are great sources to learn what your potential and existing customers care about. Such resources provide in-depth and data-driven content, helping you understand your target audience better.
Following industry leaders on social media can give you a clearer understanding of your audience. People who follow them are most likely the same people you’re trying to win over.
Online communities are a great place for content marketers to learn about their audience. Many people go there to ask for advice or share their opinions on matters they care about. Whether your target audience mainly consists of web developers or writers, there’s always a community built for them.
Your competitors can actually help you become more familiar with your audience – indirectly, that is. By going through their content, you’ll be able to identify what problems their audience is dealing with, and how they’ll fix them. You shouldn’t copy what they’re doing, but understanding their current content marketing strategy can help you understand how to improve on it.
Content management is divided into three parts: Content creation, content publication, and content analysis.
To streamline these processes, you’ll want to invest in a content management system. Basically, a CMS simplifies the creation and editing of digital content, giving you the ability to upload, modify, and remove content from your site without the need to have any background on HTML, CSS, or other coding languages.
Keep in mind, though, that not all CMS platforms are the same. Some are better at certain functions such as creating and publishing content, while others place more emphasis on SEO. Be sure to study their features first before deciding.
Better yet, follow these tips to purchase the right CMS for your team:
As you’re trying to determine which content to use, think of your objectives so you’ll find it easier to narrow down your choices.
For instance, if you want your audience to check your website on a regular basis (who doesn’t?), you should consider developing a recurring schedule of high-quality blog posts. If your goal is to demonstrate how a product works, shooting a video is your best bet.
This is the part where we tell you to get your creative juices flowing. That’s right, it’s time to come up with topic ideas that will resonate with your audience!
Here are a few surefire methods for sourcing topic ideas:
When you’re ready to create new content, you shouldn’t be wasting time deciding on a topic.
Here’s a pro-tip: Come up with many topics at once. Make it a month-end habit to compile a list of 25 to 30 ideas for the following month. That way, you can just pick any topic from it when it’s time to produce a new piece for your website.
If it works for us and many other content marketers, it’ll certainly work for you!
Almost everyone’s on social media, which makes it a fantastic platform to source content ideas.
One way to do this is by studying what your audience is interested in. Learn about what they post and which brands they already follow.
It also helps to join Facebook Groups related to your industry. Follow the discussions to learn what people are presently struggling with and take note of their questions. These findings can provide you with fantastic ideas.
Twitter should be on your radar as well. Reading tweets can give you tons of insights into what your prospects are thinking about. Subscribe to TweetDeck, a dashboard app where you can view a full list of what’s happening with your followers, including what posts they’ve liked, retweeted, and commented on.
Another way to take advantage of social media is by using analytics. Your social media analytics are there to tell you what’s working and what’s not.
Study your top-performing posts and re-create them. Look for common themes and see if there’s any content type that performs better than the rest.
Check out this post for 10 of the best social media analytics tools.
Since you’re creating content for your audience, wouldn’t it make sense to get inspiration from them? All you have to do is ask them directly on social media!
If you prefer open-ended answers or opinions, you can post a question on your Instagram Story or Facebook page. For example, if you’re in the fitness industry, you could ask your followers what they usually have for breakfast or what their favorite workout is. Then, use their responses as inspiration for your content.
If providing options is more of your style, you can create a poll or survey, like what Buffer did here:
If you’ve run out of content ideas, you can always turn to your competition to refill your creative cup. Head over to their blogs to see what they’re writing about so you’ll have heaps of new content ideas.
If you want to know which pieces of content are performing strongly, just type their blog address into BuzzSumo. Steal those topics but make your pieces better by creating additional value.
Have a broad topic in mind? Input it on Google and the search bar will automatically complete related search phrases to you. These suggestions are actually based on actual searches, which means you’re getting concrete ideas about what users are typically looking for.
Regardless of the industry you’re working in, there will always be new developments worth covering – from new products and emerging trends to recent studies and the latest technology.
You can write content explaining what these developments mean for your audience or how they can deal with recent changes. This gives you something valuable to share while furthering your status as an authority in your niche.
Once you’re satisfied with your content ideas, you can move on to the next step: Identifying the most relevant channels to publish them.
Your content should go to the platforms where your audience spends most of their time to boost your chances of exposure. This is where audience research comes into play again.
Looking at social media analytics and demographics can help identify which channels work best. If you happen to market to millennials and tweens, for instance, Snapchat is the place to be. If you’re running a B2C business for areas like lifestyle and beauty, you can capture everyone’s attention by narrating a visual story on Instagram.
However, it’s also crucial to take into account the type of content you’re creating. For example, if you’re focusing on tutorial videos, then YouTube is certainly your go-to platform. You can share them on your social media accounts as well, or simply post the links.
Social media isn’t your only option, though. Here are other places to amplify your content and grow your traffic and conversions:
You’re finally ready to craft your content!
Before you begin, however, remember to integrate everything you’ve learned from your in-depth research. If your audience prefers Twitter over anything else, for instance, don’t write your social media content using Facebook’s format. Or, if you found from your competitive analysis research that your prospects aren’t so keen on reading long blogs, then keep your posts relatively short.
Now, for the content creation process, here are several best practices:
Don’t publish as soon as you’ve finished writing and proofreading. Instead, conduct outreach. Look for Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, and other pages or businesses that have ties to the subject of your content. Reach out and invite them to share once your content is live.
Also, you might want to use two calendars to organize your content - an editorial calendar and a social media content calendar. An editorial calendar helps you publish a well-balanced and diverse content library on your website, whereas the latter makes it more convenient to promote and manage your content on social media.
Lastly, track your results so you can recognize which areas need improvement and which are performing well. Refer to your CLEAR goals to calculate the success of your content marketing strategy.
Did you achieve everything you hoped to achieve? Did you almost reach them, or were your estimations a bit off?
Although it’s completely up to you to decide on what metrics you want to track, here are some ideas:
While having the right skill set is a good start, it’s still best that you have all the right tools in your arsenal. They’re what you need to up your content game, boost your SEO, wow your audience, and drive conversions.
From generating content ideas and managing your content to optimizing it for search, here are some of the best tools to help you simplify the art of content marketing:
Growing a successful content marketing strategy takes time, organization, and creativity. From building a foundation to adding tools for better content management, setting up your strategy can be a daunting task.
If you're ready to turbo-charge your marketing efforts, look no further than Digital Resource! Not only do we specialize in writing high-quality, relevant content that engages and converts audiences, but we also have a team of SEO experts who are well-versed in optimizing content for higher rankings.
Get in touch with us today to learn what we can do to bring value to your business.