The internet has given the business world a makeover. The consumers (we) have got smarter at buying. The mind games between us and salespeople are almost a thing of the past. When we make a purchase now, we have all kinds of information at our disposal from the promises that companies make to customer reviews. Under these circumstances, how can a company send across the right message to a potential customer? That’s where content marketing comes into the picture.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing engaging content related to your product or service to a target audience. It is mostly free and aims to educate or entertain the audience. When done consistently and creatively, it helps in increasing brand awareness, creating leads, and increasing sales.
Why is content marketing important?
1. It shows your customers that you are not merely a cold, pushy salesperson. Instead, you care about their interests and problems.
For example, imagine that you want to buy shoes. When you go to the shoe store ‘Bedazzle’, you meet a salesperson who straight away asks for your budget without asking you anything about your taste or need. They push you to buy a particular pair that you don’t like, but they try to convince you that it is the right choice for you. Either you walk away frustrated or you give in and buy those shoes only to regret it later. Next time, you go to store ‘Sole Mate’ a salesperson who is keen to know what kind of footwear you are looking for attends to you and helps you accordingly. They also have a catalogue related to choosing the right pair. How would you feel now? Which store creates a better impression?
2. If you create valuable content that is helpful for your prospects, then you establish yourself as an expert in the field. This helps build trust with your prospects.
3. It helps in creating brand awareness which can lead to new customers.
4. It is cost-effective and can pay dividends for a long time.
What are the types of content marketing?
Like all kinds of marketing, there are several ways of doing content marketing as well. Here are a few popular choices –
In the above example, a skiing enthusiast tells her story through an interview on Decathlon’s blog. Why does Decathlon, a popular sports brand, publishes her story instead of directly talking about their products? Probably because good storytelling can create more interest in the audience and can help them in connecting with the brand as they can relate to a real person’s experience. Once the prospect is eager to try skiing, they are more likely to browse through skiing gear that Decathlon sells.
Fear of writing deters a lot of people from using blogs as a content marketing platform. While writing is an important part of blogging, you can also publish content created by users. Tripoto is another company that uses a similar approach.
2. Video marketing
Besides being a godsend for people who hate reading, video content is also helpful for people who are pressed for time. Unsurprisingly, it is also the most popular medium for content consumption. Video marketing can take the form of how-to tutorials, interviews, vlogging, and webinars. For example, here is a YouTube video by Canva, a graphic design company, that aims to teach users how to design using Canva –
Newsletter is an email that is sent at regular intervals and generally covers a particular theme. It does not try too hard to sell the product or service. Newsletters are widely used for content marketing because of the high conversion rates that email marketing offers. However, if you want to make your newsletter stand out, pay attention to the quality, format, and frequency of your content. You can also make them interactive by including videos.
Infographics are bite-sized information presented in a visual form. They are versatile and can be shared across various platforms.
For people who are always on the go, podcasts offer a convenient means to educate and entertain themselves.
6. Social media
Over the past few years, social media has emerged as a powerful platform to build communities, and various companies are using it to increase their reach. Content marketing on social media can be done by posting topical content, launching campaigns which can appeal to their target audience, live streaming, etc. Here is an example of Swiggy’s content marketing on Instagram –
How to do content marketing?
Now that you have a fair idea of what content marketing is, let’s learn how to do content marketing. Here are a few pointers that will help you get started with your content marketing strategy –
1. Choose a medium
Find out which digital medium is your audience frequently on and create content for that. For example, if you are a dancer, you may want to create content for YouTube or Instagram. If you think that it’s a competitive space, you can break the mould by exploring other mediums.
You can also mix and match. However, refrain from being a jack of all trades and master of none, and prioritise where you want to spend most of your resources.
2. Explore topic areas and choose content format
Once you know which channel you want to go with, the next step is to think of topics. The best way to do this is to think like a customer. A buyer’s journey generally consists of three stages –
I. Awareness stage
As the name suggests, this is the moment a buyer becomes aware that they have a problem or an interest they want to explore. They are still making up their mind, so it’s no good talking about your products. Instead, you can help them understand what lies in store for them if they decide to pursue an opportunity. For example, if you were a French teacher, you could write blog posts about different aspects of learning French, such as grammar and spoken French, and French culture. You can even make videos, social media posts, podcasts, newsletters, etc.
Once they are convinced, they will want to know how can they go about it which is taken care of in the consideration stage.
II. Consideration stage
In this stage, the buyer spends a great deal of time researching their options. They want to know the specifics. Now the French teacher could talk about different ways to learn French and include their own business as one of the ways.
III. Decision stage
By now the buyer has a fair idea of what they want to buy. They want to know which vendor would be the best match for them. For this stage, you need to create content that tells your viewers why your product is the perfect match. This can include a trial, case studies, testimonials and so on.
Ideally, you should have content for all stages of a buyer’s journey because a prospect rarely buys as soon as they come across your product. However, depending on your content marketing goals, you can create content for different stages. For example, if you want to fuel sales, you should start at the last stage because it helps you in closing a sale.
3. Create a budget
Your budget will depend on the type of content you create and the medium you choose. For instance, if you choose video marketing, you might want to consider factors like equipment, additional team members, paid ads to promote it, etc.
4. Plan your content marketing schedule
Creating and distributing content consistently can help you in reaching more prospects and help with sales. You can create an editorial calendar to plan your content creation and distribution.
5. Measure your performance
This will give you insights into your strengths and shortcomings, and allow you to readjust your content marketing strategy.
How to measure your content marketing efforts?
1. Decide on the metrics you want to measure
Although content marketing metrics will vary according to your specific goals, here are a few basic ones to get you started –
When you spend time and energy curating the perfect content, you also want to ensure that people are viewing your content. You can do this for free by using Google Analytics.
Engagement refers to the action your audience takes after viewing the content such as liking, sharing, and commenting. Ideally, it indicates that your relationship with the audience is heading in the right direction. This can lead to more brand awareness and an increase in leads and sales.
While high traffic is a good indicator of successful content marketing, you should also monitor how much of your traffic is getting converted into leads. You can calculate this as the number of sign-ups or subscriptions.
The end goal of all content marketing is sales, so it’s important that you measure the number of sales coming through different channels. You can add UTM parameters to your links to track which content marketing channels your customers are using.
A few examples of other important content marketing metrics are –
v. Email engagement rate
To understand how effective your emails are, you can monitor the open rate of emails and the number of clicks on links shared in the email.
vi. SEO rankings
SEO rankings can impact the number of people who view your content. Since the first three non-paid links on Google receive the highest number of visitors, you should optimise your content.
2. Make use of free or paid tools to analyse
As a beginner, there are a number of free tools that you can use to do content marketing. Here are two free tools that you can start with –
i. Google Analytics
This is a free tool that can give you meaningful insights about the traffic that your website or social media handle is receiving. A few metrics which you can use are –
– New vs. returning visitors: This is an engagement metric and will indicate if you are retaining your audience.
– Unique page views: You can use this to determine which content is performing well.
– Average time spent on a page: You can use this to find out if your audience is going through the content or merely skimming through it.
– Devices used: If a large segment of your audience is using a particular device, you can pay more attention to optimising for that platform. This will ensure that your users have a good experience on your website.
– Traffic sources: This indicates the various sources your audience is using to find your content. This can include visitors who are typing your URL into a search engine, organic search results, or referrals from other websites.
– Demographics: This feature allows you to analyse your traffic on the basis of age, gender, geography, and interests. This allows you to evaluate whether your content is reaching your target audience.
ii. YouTube Analytics
This is a free tool that can be used to measure the outcome of blood, sweat, and tears that you put into video marketing. Here a few important metrics which you can use –
– Watch time: This is the total amount of time that your video has been watched for. The higher the watch time, the higher you rank on YouTube.
– Audience retention: This indicates the average amount of video that the audience watches. For example, if your video is 20 minutes long and most people watch 10 minutes of it, then your retention rate is 50%. YouTube uses this to determine which videos are more engaging. You can use this to your advantage by observing the parts that the audience found engaging or boring.
– Impression click-through rate: You can use this to find out whether people are clicking on your video when they see it as a recommendation.
– Views: Although the number of views is a good indicator of your video’s popularity, you should use it with other metrics to determine how effective it is.
– Demographics: Like Google Analytics, YouTube also offers you details about the demographics of your viewers like country, gender, and age.
This was a condensed version of content marketing. If you are amped up to learn more, then you can check out Internshala’s Digital Marketing training.