What is Content Marketing and How it Works?

What is Content Marketing and how it works? In 2020, the content marketing industry is worth over $413 billion dollars. Compared to traditional ads and the way we used to do marketing, content marketing is still a fairly new concept. 

What is Content Marketing? 

This post was created to answer that question. My goal is to answer this question for you; what is content marketing and inspire you to get started on your own successful content marketing journey, let’s get into it. 

A classic definition from Content Marketing World, Cleveland goes like this. 

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing, valuable, relevant and consistent content. To attract and retain a clearly defined audience and ultimately to drive profitable customer action.”

Instead of pitching your products or services, provide truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their problems. 

Wikipedia has over 34-sources cited for their definition of content marketing, so it’s worth taking a look at too.

Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. Businesses use content marketing to attract attention and generate leads. Expand customer base or increase online sales, increase brand awareness or credibility. Engage with an online community of users.

And finally, Marketo has an awesome definition on content marketing. Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content to attract, acquire and engage your audience. 

On the internet, over an email, customers today are flooded with more marketing messages than ever before. More than two thousand nine hundred per day by current estimates. 

This creates an environment of attention scarcity, challenging marketers with the task of producing engaging content that won’t get lost in this static. Content marketing strategies make your business a thought leader in the industry.

When content marketing works best, it usually has two core elements or commitments. First, the core goal should be to attract, engage and build an audience. Not sell something, that’s when you’ll kind of lose that great definition of content marketing. 

Instead of being pushy, instead of being ‘me centric’ we’re focusing on them, how to solve their problem, how to give them valuable information. 

The second core element is; the content marketer doing the content marketing whether that’s a brand, you, a publication, a business, you name it. 

Whoever is doing it must be ready for a long-term commitment otherwise it’s just not going to work. Kind of like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The one who actually finished a race was the turtle not the rabbit.

Slow and steady truly wins the game when it comes to success through content marketing. There is no overnight hack here. You’re not going to achieve those massive traffic numbers with one piece of content, it’s 12 to 18-months of publishing consistent content.

Even though this concept of content marketing seems fairly new, some say that the first example of content marketing goes all the way back to 1732, when Benjamin Franklin published the Poor Richard’s Almanac. He published this to get people hooked to his printing service.

In the 19th century, John Deere started a publication called The Furrow, a print magazine with the goal of providing accurate, unbiased information for farmers. If you study the best examples of content marketing from brands through time, the most successful ones were the most committed content marketers. 

So, content marketing really isn’t all that new. If you study the best content marketing examples from brands through time. Pretty much, all of them focus on creating valuable audience-focused content for the first 18 to 24 months before even making an offer to that audience.

I think this will be true for years to come, looking at the most successful marketers doing content right, is all about mastery. This is actually good news. I learned that commitment over years is all about mastering what you’re putting out, the topic, the content and the channel.

Focus on mastering your area of expertise, instead of trying to be on all the social media platforms. You should try and create a foothold on one social platform before moving on to the next one. Focus on how amazing the content is, that you’re putting out in one place. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to launching a podcast, doing video and the other formats. 

Even big brands today say that content marketing works. 

For example, Craft has said that the ROI of content marketing was four times as great as any traditional form of advertising that they were doing. Content Marketing can even be a lower entry cost than ads. Since ads really are like a faucet turned on and off with money. Ads can be a lot more costly especially if they fall flat which today the ROI on is as low as 0.6. 

With Content Marketing, you put all your efforts into a great blog post. Pay a writer and then you put that on your site that could generate leads, prospects and traffic for years to come.

7 Successful Content Formats

So, as we wrap up on this question, “what is content marketing and how it works”, let’s talk briefly about the types of content involved in content marketing. Usually a cost marketing plan involves web pages, blogs, social media, email copy, news ad, sales copy and then creative content. Below is a brief description of each of these content types.

Website Content

Think of your website content like building a house, in this analogy website content is our foundation, this includes your home page, about us page, pages about the services you offer. Those are the foundational content pieces every business needs to have on their site. 

Without these core web pages, readers can’t find the information they’re looking for about a business. So, these pages are critical to develop and so are the skills that a good writer needs to have to write a great web copy with SEO writing knowledge. Remember that a good web page copy should always be about the customer and never just about the brand or product.

Blogs

If website content is the foundation, then our blogs are the structure and the rooms in our house. Blogging is a primary content format. It provides context for an audience and connects an audience to a brand. It ensures presence in top Google Search Rankings and gives businesses a way to nurture their leads with fresh & consistent content. 

Did you know that companies that blog 11 or more times per month, gain as many as four times the amount of leads as those who blog only a few times per month. Blogging is an essential type of content and this kind of content needs to be done consistently. When it’s done correctly, it can dramatically increase the bottom line of a brand. 

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a good blog, instead there are really multiple formats that work well for blogging. 

The primary type of blog that brings in maximum leads are comprehensive blogs. With numbered lists, actionable tips and takeaways for the reader. Tons of images and screenshots to validate our points. Statistics, research facts and CTAs (Call To Action) to engage the reader and get them to take a next step. 

By mixing and matching your blog goals and formats, you can hit a wider area of goals; such as brand awareness and SEO rankings. 

Social Media Posts

Think of social media as a supporting content player, it’s not enough for a company just to have a social presence or only to blog. Social media is really complimentary to the content that you do on your site. 

On the flip side, companies that have no social media presence really aren’t going to get far in today’s social media dominated world. A lot of people and countering brands for the first time online, want to go follow them on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram to see what they’re really like. 

So, having that presence is important, even if you can’t connect it straight to a sale. Constantly posting good relevant content on your social media can absolutely play a part in a purchasing decision. 

Social media works, a good social presence will incorporate a lot of things; good visuals, fun, original captions, stories, emojis, hashtags, all that good stuff. 

Social media really is a world of content on its own, there are people who get paid just to write Instagram captions, there’s software to help you find trending hashtags. 

For brands, finding the right platform and staying consistent with a great presence there, really is key to seeing more results from social media. 

Ad and Sales Copy

Advertising and Sales copy really brings the curb appeal to the products and services you do. This kind of copy is created to get your house, your presence online, to appeal to the people you’re trying to bring in. 

Advertising and sales copy applies to almost every business in every industry and it can take on a variety of shapes from a long-form course sales page to a short form Facebook ad. It’s really important when it comes to sales copy, remember that building an audience and trust comes first. 

So a good Ad copy should read like an approachable message for a friend. Good ads are segmented to the right audience at the right time. 

Good sales copy is not manipulative and it’s not misleading. 

Writers can make a ton of income by writing good sales copy, because the return on investment for a marketer investing in that copy could be tens to hundreds of thousands of rupees. 

Expert Copy 

Think of expert copy like the fine art collection inside your house. At some point or another, businesses that are trying to reach an elite or high-level audience, really need that expert for ways to bring them in. 

So when it comes to technical writing for example, you can sell this type of content. Some of the best tech writers are professors at local Universities, teaching a class on tech. On the side, they take up part-time assignments to write Expert Copies. 

If you’re a lawyer looking to retire you could make a living writing legal blogs. If you’re a chiropractor, you could write holistic blogs about chiropractic health. That’s what it takes to be an industry expert writer. 

Journalism and Press Release Writing

If you want to get the news out about what you’re doing, launching a product, launching a new business, launching a platform etc. Then you want this type of writing. A press release can be used by a company of any size, to invite more people in and tell them about a new offering.

Some have said that press releases are dead, well they are if you’re using them just for SEO purposes. Google doesn’t really look at a press release as a viable piece of content to rank for a keyword anymore. 

But if you’re trying to get the news out about a newsworthy topic, then absolutely press releases are not dead. That is the kind of content you share and announce your news to the world. 

Creative Writing

The seventh and last type of content is creative writing, this is a genre that encompasses the super creative projects that companies create content for. 

It supports almost every one of the formats we’ve talked about so far. Marketing copy for example, can be creative. 

Social media is a channel where you can really do some creative stuff, blogs, advertisements.

 Creative writing is blending the best of a writer’s storytelling abilities and using that in the other formats. We’ve seen a growing need for creative content. 

A clear and customer-focused copy always beats out clever content that doesn’t really serve a purpose. 

I have to tell you, the best content to publish consistently is definitely blogs that should be done weekly. Social media post, daily and emails that should be going out weekly to your list. To build and nurture that audience and share your new content to drive traffic to it.

Seven content types can sound like a lot. But with a good content strategy and smart delegation, it can be a few hours of your time each week.

I hope this post shed some light on the topic “what is content marketing and how it works”. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment and I will get back to you. Thank you so much for reading.