Content marketing is more than just a trend, but one of the most important channels in online marketing. It allows you to advise your customers in an innovative and amusing way. You give them added value and you manage to build a real bond with your customers and prospects faster.
Definition: What is content marketing?
Content marketing and blogging includes all actions that help to provide a target audience with entertaining and helpful content. The goal and purpose is to convince potential customers of a brand or company in order to generate profitable interactions.
Compared to traditional advertising, the focus is not on your product or service, but on your customer. He is provided with valuable information and useful knowledge. With each positive experience, he perceives you again as a problem solver. Until you have built up a positive image and he immediately thinks of you because you have distinguished yourself as an expert in your field.
Through content marketing, you position yourself and your brand in the marketplace – without any intrusive advertising. This marketing technique has proven particularly effective for customer acquisition and retention.
Push vs. pull: let the customer jump on your bandwagon
Content marketing and traditional advertising take two very different approaches. While you use classic advertising (outbound marketing) to present your product or service (push approach), you let your customers find you with content marketing (inbound marketing). That’s why it’s called pull marketing.
So you start with the interests of your (potential) customers and create content for your target group. The more interesting your content is for your target group, the more interested people will find it and end up on your website, on your platforms (e.g. on social media channels) and on your promotional materials (e.g. white papers). With the right keywords and adherence to other SEO factors, you build targeted reach. The more people who visit your website and see value, the more likely they are to become qualified leads who want to buy your product or service.
There’s no blanket answer to which type of marketing is best. It depends on the online behavior of your target audience, among other things. Too much advertising may be perceived as aggressive or may not be displayed at all due to ad blockers. Content alone, on the other hand, can be too subtle and thus only lead to a few sales. As with everything, it’s the mix that counts!
Content marketing is a strategic endeavor. The content, formats and distribution channels depend on the target group. Thus, depending on the audience, content marketing can be a mix of PR campaigns, SEO, social media, email marketing and lead generation.
By aligning your strategy, you ensure that your content resonates well with potential customers and that it adds real value. Content should first be used to generate leads. If you convince these leads, they will become customers. And if they’re happy with your product and service, they’ll become brand ambassadors.
Content marketing goals
Now, you may well be thinking that the goals of content marketing are always the same. Because at the end of the day, the goal of any marketing strategy is to make profits. And customer satisfaction is also an important goal in content marketing. Because happy customers are repeat customers. But it’s not quite that simple.
As part of a successful content marketing strategy, these overarching goals can be identified:
- Establish in the market: brand building & brand positioning
- Attract more new customers
- Strengthen loyalty to existing customers
The important thing is that your strategy is and remains your roadmap – but with a critical eye. If the given situation requires adjustments, these can and should be implemented.
To stay focused, you should define short-term tactical goals and long-term strategic goals. Always consider your goals during individual campaign planning to ensure the sustainability of your brand and build a loyal customer base. As you can see, content marketing is a complex topic that requires a lot of strategy work.
Short-term content marketing goals
Here’s what your short-term content marketing goals might be:
Attract more visitors to your website
More is more? Not all visitors are automatically new customers. However, through content marketing, you can drive more traffic to your website, which increases the likelihood of generating qualified leads that will later become customers. Downloads, newsletter signups, online form inquiries – every visitor interaction with your website takes you one step further.
More qualified leads through social media and referral marketing / word-of-mouth marketing
Even though Google can already be a big step, it still doesn’t reach all potential new customers. Through content marketing on social media, you can increase the pool of prospects and have enthusiastic customers refer you to hot leads.
Increase engagement rate (more interaction with leads and customers)
Social media is perfect for quick communication with your target audience. Ultimately, even clicking “Like” is enough. Via “Share”, enthusiastic readers can soon share your helpful content with their friends and acquaintances. Another plus point: The inhibition threshold is relatively low. That’s why you can get important information quickly and easily and get to know your buyer persona even better (e.g., what really annoys and moves your target group?).
More reach with social buzz
Publish as many posts as possible on a specific topic and become a viral trend? That’s exactly what social buzz is! Content is spread from user to user via social media. So it works like word-of-mouth on a digital level, which is why this is called word-of-mouth marketing. Original content is the be-all and end-all here. Because only that which offers the user real added value will be shared.
Improving your search engine ranking through backlinks
If you want to make it to the top of Google searches, you need a solid SEO strategy. An important part of search engine optimization is the backlink strategy. Backlinks are references from external websites to your page, like a recommendation. So when external sites link to your content, it signals to the search engine that you are providing trustworthy and quality content. The more backlinks that lead to your site, the better it affects your search engine ranking.
Long-term goals of content marketing
Once you have that initial momentum, only one thing helps: keep at it! Building a brand takes a lot of time and heart and soul. After all, you don’t want to become a one-hit wonder with just one great campaign; you want to build a customer base with brand loyalty over the long term, have a good reputation, and be recommended to others out of conviction. To achieve this, you need a long-term strategy. This, of course, includes content marketing.
These could be your long-term goals to build a sustainable business in the long run:
Build a community
Attracting the attention of potential customers is one thing. Attracting them permanently as members of your community who identify with your brand is next-level. It takes skill to find the right amount of content to achieve this. Too little content can cause your posts to get lost in the content jungle. Post too much, and you may already be annoying your readers. If the content is repeated too often, your content loses its added value. In any case, quality is more important than quantity!
Brand building with positive association
Content is a helpful tool to present your company unobtrusively as a problem solver. Is it helpful, full of expert knowledge? Does it advise the user in an entertaining way? Or does it stir the emotions of your target audience? The qualities you give your content will be associated with your brand. That’s precisely why it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture when designing content marketing campaigns. After all, you want your brand to be recognized.
Gaining trust (customer trust)
Trust is not given to you. You have to earn it. Building and maintaining trust is an art in itself. Your customers need to be able to rely on you for the long term, so that you stand out as a trustworthy source. And who doesn’t know it? You do 100 things right – then one day something goes wrong and the negative experience stays in your head. The goal is to build and maintain a deep connection with the customer. Selling is secondary here.
Positioning as an expert
It’s easy to tell people what you know and can do. But do empty words convince you? With content marketing, you can reveal and share your knowledge directly. Wherever your target group hangs out, you can publish relevant content that opens up new perspectives. This is how you position yourself as an expert in your field. Blog posts, online seminars, white papers – these are all formats you can use to show why your company is right for your leads.
Better findability in search engines (increase reach)
Search engine optimization and content marketing go together like ketchup and mayo. A good SEO strategy should ensure that exactly the content your target group wants is produced. Search engines are geared to display the most relevant websites first. If your posts are always relevant, you’ll be found quickly on the web.
Achieve better close rates
Good content signals that you know what you’re talking about. You directly address the needs of your customers and leads. You advise them, give valuable tips and support them with your expert knowledge. Of course, it also depends on your product or service how important your expertise is to the prospect. For example, a supplier of plastic straws will probably be chosen more on the basis of price. On the other hand, someone looking for a website developer will pay close attention to references and how-to guides that back up their experience and expertise. It’s all about added value, brand image and ultimately the personality of the person behind a product or service.
Improve customer loyalty
Who wouldn’t want to go back to the store where they received such friendly and competent advice? It doesn’t matter if it’s in a specialty store or online! If customers feel that they get real added value from you, they’ll be happy to come back. Admittedly, this sounds easier than it usually is to implement. But once you’ve overcome the hurdle, the effort pays off.
Content marketing: A strategy for success
Content marketing is now an integral part of corporate communications.
“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.”Here’s how Joe Pulizzi of the U.S.-based Content Marketing Institute describes it
There are many ways to do content marketing. Here are a few examples:
- Blog posts
- Video tutorials
- Advice pages
How do you develop a content marketing strategy?
Content marketing should be well thought out and targeted so that readers don’t have to find their way through a sea of irrelevant information. In addition, only formats that are easy and enjoyable for the user to view should be chosen. In the best case, your USP is also reflected in the design from start to finish (corporate design). A content marketing strategy ensures that the process of your content planning, the choice of platforms and channels through to creation, distribution and evaluation is oriented towards your desired customer.
The content marketing process goes through the following phases:
Step 1:Preparing for your content marketing strategy
Before you plunge into content production, a few questions should be answered:
- Who is my target group or my desired customer?
- What specific goals am I pursuing with the strategy?
- Which topics are relevant for my target group?
- What is the core story?
Get to know your target group
You should always start with your target group. The more you know about them, the better. After all, if you want to create attractive content, you need to know who you’re writing for. This is the only way to directly address their needs and cover the topics that are relevant to them. A target audience analysis is therefore the first step in a successful content marketing strategy. My tip: If you already have customers, take advantage of their knowledge. Talk to them directly and ask if they are available for a validation meeting. In this conversation, by the way, you should not only talk about their company. It’s much more important to get to know your customer as a person. This is the most valuable information for your strategy.
As a rule, a goal is never “increase reach.” It needs to be much more clearly defined. An example would be “increase reach to women between the ages of 30 and 50.” The better you know your target audience, the more targeted you can be. Defining a target group only by demographic characteristics is not enough. Create a very specific buyer persona that you always keep in mind. Personas have names, personalities and characteristics. The more concrete your persona, the easier it is for you to understand what they need and what makes them tick.
Get to know the market and your competition
Before developing a content marketing strategy, you should take a critical look at your potential and weaknesses. Therefore, conduct a strengths and weaknesses analysis for your company and a competitive analysis.
Define smart goals
Brand building, customer loyalty, growth – these are all goals you can achieve with content marketing. However, they are too vague and do little to help you keep track of your progress. That’s why you should set smart goals. These are:
- realistic and
Be as specific as possible with the wording. What do you want to achieve? How do you want to achieve it? By when do you want it to happen? Set realistic and motivating milestones!
Select relevant topics
Once you have defined your persona, you can think about which topics are relevant to it. Once you’ve determined these areas of focus, you’ll be able to create an editorial plan more quickly and develop your content in a meaningful way.
The intersection of all topic areas is called the core story. Listing the topic areas will also help you develop your core story
Why do you need a core story?
The core story gives direction to your content marketing. Some believe the core story should align with the company and focus on its mission. This puts more focus on the company. While this may work in traditional advertising, it’s not necessarily the best approach in content marketing. Rather, the core story should cover the topic areas that are of interest to your target audience. What connects these together is basically your core story.
Content marketing is primarily one thing: benefit-driven. You go all out to create value for the reader. In the best case, this information manages to draw the reader unobtrusively to your offer. For this to succeed, this approach should be built directly into the core story.
Step 2: Analysis for your content marketing strategy
Next comes the analysis phase. To plan your content marketing, you need to define exactly what content makes sense for your goals and purposes. The following analyses can help you decide:
- Content audit
- User questions
- SERP analysis
- Elaboration of topic complexes
The content audit
The content audit is an important step in the analysis phase. You get an overview of what content has already been produced and where there is still potential. It is a kind of inventory of the content that already exists on your website. This involves checking whether this content is achieving its goals or failing to do so.
A qualitative and quantitative analysis of your content’s performance is helpful for strategic direction and the production plan. Likewise, you can see if you can reuse certain content (e.g., ever-green content).
Frequently asked user questions
What information is relevant to your target audience? And how do you best present that information? Good content addresses the needs of the user. But to do that, it’s necessary to know what those needs are first.
Various market research formats can help you answer these questions: Interviews, focus groups or surveys. With this data, you can find out firsthand what your target group needs. If you rely on data, you have a solid basis for designing your content. In addition, you can conduct your own surveys and make use of SEO tools that list the search queries entered in the search engines.
Carrying out SERP analyses
Content marketing and SEO, as you know, are closely related. In order for content to reach more people and, more importantly, the right people, it must be quickly discoverable in search engines. This only works if keywords and content appear that your leads and customers are looking for. The SERP analysis helps you with this.
SERP stands for Search Engine Result Pages. You can also use it to find out which questions are of interest to your target group, which search terms they use and what kind of content they prefer
Elaboration of topic areas:
Once your topic areas and core story are established, you can move on to the editorial part. You can develop content. This is based on your findings as to which content is really necessary and relevant. Define individual topics within your topic areas that you want to address and need for your editorial plan.
Step 3: Content conception
After you have completed your preparations and analyses, you can devote yourself to the conception of content. Here you can gather ideas, exercise your creativity and create a plan that is suitable for your target audience and purposes. In this phase, you can include the following steps:
- Define tactical goals and KPIs
- Develop content ideas
- Set priorities
- Attribute content
- Create content journey mapping
- Establish editorial plan
Tactical goals and KPIs
Content planning is already specifically about tactical goals. But of course, long-term goals also play a role in the grand scheme of things – they can be considered business goals. In this phase, the focus is on what you want to achieve with certain content in the short or medium term.
These goals need to be quantifiable, because that’s the only way you can measure success. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) enable you to do this. KPIs are key figures that you can use to measure and evaluate your online marketing measures. These include the number of visitors to your website, the number of backlinks and the leads you generate.
Developing content ideas
Now it’s time for creativity! After you have defined topics, topic complexes and goals, you can develop your content ideas. Take the results of your analyses into account. They tell you what users want. Now it’s up to you to transform these wishes into content that excites your target group. Don’t forget that content should always have added value for the user. It can be entertaining, informative and/or inspiring.
You’ve gathered ideas and set goals. But where do you start? Be aware that you can’t do everything at once. So prioritize. What content you start with depends on what goals you’ve set, what content has more pull potential – that is, can attract more visitors to your site – and what content adds more value to your potential customer. Based on these criteria, you can work out a sensible order for your ideas.
Content attribution is nothing more than classifying your content according to certain attributes. This is to help you keep track of your content inventory. If you know what you’re missing, you can include it in your planning.
The attributes you use to classify your content can vary widely. You can categorize it by topic, audience, media format, push-pull strategy, or utility. The important thing is to come up with a system that makes sense to you and that you can understand. It should contribute to your success, so you need to live it.
Content journey mapping
You need to know what the user’s needs are at what stage of your customer journey. After all, except for everyday products, we rarely make impulse purchases. The buying process goes through several steps: from determining that we need a product, to weighing options and suppliers, to making a purchase. Which content is relevant to a user depends on the stage of the sales funnel they are in.
Broadly speaking, you can find four phases in any customer journey:
- Awareness / Aufmerksamkeit: The potential customer recognizes his need.
- Consideration: The potential customer searches for information, products or services to fulfill his need.
- Conversion / Transaction: The customer decides in favor of a product or provider.
- Loyalty: The customer buys more products and recommends the provider to others.
A holistic content strategy covers all four phases of the customer journey.
The ideas are there, the priorities are set – now it’s time to create an editorial plan. The goals and content journey mapping should help you make sense of your plan. Make sure your schedule is realistic.
Step 4: Content creation
After the conception phase is complete, you can finally get started with content creation. Of course, the next steps will depend on the type of content you’re creating. However, here are the most common points to help you make your production meaningful and efficient:
- Content briefings
- Content creation
- Review and approval
- Landing-Page creation
- Tracking setup
You have a clear idea of what you want your text to say, but does your copywriter know that? Content briefings contain all the specifications the copywriter needs. These can be the goal of the text as well as content and style guidelines. These guidelines are especially important when multiple writers are at work.
The more precise your brief, the better! Invest enough time in a good briefing. This will save you from having to go through rounds of revisions and corrections in the end. You can also perform an SEO analysis and record all relevant specifications in the briefing, or leave this task to the copywriter. It is important that your content contains the most important terms (keywords) and answers the questions that your target group is asking.
Now create your content based on your plan. There are different types of content. Their uses depend on the goals, topic, audience, and platform, among other things. Here are some examples:
- Blog posts
- Professional articles
- Product tests
Checking and approval
Once the content has been created, it is important to check that all specifications have been met. If a good brief has been delivered, the step should be done in a timely manner.
Content is key to grabbing the attention of your target audience, but after all, it doesn’t help much if your helpful content is filed away in your personal archive. After all, you’re hoping for interactions from visitors that will turn into qualified leads and ultimately customers. Landing-Pages are a great way to publish content.
A Landing-Page is a single web page (just one page!). It is particularly suitable because it is limited to the essentials. So the reader can’t get lost in the depths of your homepage. Why is this good? The less room for maneuver your reader has, the better! So he stays focused
The Landing-Page has a specific topic. The call-to-action (CTA) motivates visitors to take a specific action. This could be registering for an online seminar or downloading info material. The lead reaches your Landing-Page via the online search in Google and receives the perfect offer for his request. You can pick one of the best and fastest WordPress themes for this and get started yourself, or get support from WordPress and web design professional.
This can’t be repeated too often: Content goals need to be quantifiable. This is the only way to measure success. When creating content, it’s therefore important to set up analytics tools that track the performance of your content. Google Search Console is probably the most common tool for this.
Step 5: Content distribution
When your content is ready, you need to share it with the world. There are different strategies for this. Which one is best for you depends on where your target group spends the most time. You can also act cross-medially. This is just a small excerpt of your options:
- Publication in the content hub
- Content seeding
- Content promotion and native advertising
- Content outreach
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Publishing in the content hub
A content hub should accompany leads throughout the entire customer journey. From the outside, you can think of content hubs as magazines, blogs, or portals. The hub has a core topic and this is broken down into many associated sub-topics. So they belong together, but they also function as individuals. For example, they take the reader from a blog post about lead generation to a blog post about sales funnels, etc., through the entire customer journey.
Content seeding involves publishing content as teasers or complete posts across various channels to generate backlinks to one’s own content. As a result, the search engines rate the company’s own content as more relevant and it appears higher in Google searches.
Social media plays a major role here, because it increases the reach. However, this can also be influenced by the platforms to drive operators to paid options. Owned media, i.e. own platforms such as blogs, websites or mailings, are usually the most cost-effective options for distributing content.
Content promotion and native advertising
Content promotion refers to paid media. You can promote your content for a fee. Examples include LinkedIn ads or sponsored content on Facebook. This can also be combined with native advertising. Then the ads look almost like editorial posts. For the user, they are hardly distinguishable from free content.
In content outreach, content is distributed via relationships with multipliers. Via bloggers, influencers or online editors, one’s own content is carried to a broad audience. Guest posts on blogs or contributions to radio and television are common. The advantage of this is that new target groups can emerge for you. The downside is that you give up most control over the scalability of your content.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Actually, search engine optimization should be built into every step of your content strategy. After all, content only serves its purpose if it can actually be found by the intended user. A good mix of content promotion, content outreach and content seeding can ensure better findability in search engines.
Step 6: the evaluation
Now you should check if your strategy has worked and if your goals have been reached. Constant evaluation is the key to success here. Through constant evaluations you can make sure that you are actually achieving the desired results with your content. If this is not the case, you can react quickly and adjust your strategy.
If you have set measurable goals, evaluation is relatively easy. Your KPIs will tell you if your plan is working. These are some examples for your evaluation:
- How many backlinks were generated?
- How many unique visitors made it to your website?
- How long do your visitors stay on your site?
- What do users search for on your website?
- How many visitors become leads by interacting with your site?
Remember, user behavior can change. Regular evaluation of your content is necessary to detect these changes in time.
How does content marketing work in B2B?
People often get the impression that content marketing is mainly used in the B2C sector. One has directly in mind the viral content that is shared via social media and thus appears on the cell phone of the private user.
But in the end, we are all not just entrepreneurs, employees or the like. At the end of the day, we’re all people. So if you receive ads via your private Instagram profile, you may also fall into the relevant target group because of your professional position. You may not perceive it directly as content marketing in B2B, but that’s exactly what it can be.
Content marketing formats in B2B
Again, the user should get added value from your content marketing. Because that’s what differentiates content from traditional advertising. Through expert knowledge, you can convince corporate customers of yourself and distinguish yourself as a competent partner.
Some formats that are particularly suitable in the B2B context:
- Blog posts
- Case studies / best practices
- Product configurators
- Online seminars
- Professional articles
It’s okay to experiment! Corporate customers also find new formats attractive. It’s the only way to stand out from the competition.
Advantages and disadvantages of content marketing
Content marketing has become an integral part of any good corporate communication and it’s hard to imagine life without it. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages. Only if you have the disadvantages on your radar can you use tools that compensate for them.
Disadvantages of content marketing:
- Content marketing is a lengthy process. It requires you to build expert knowledge that you convey to potential customers through appropriate content, and that takes time.
- It can also take more time to convert from prospect to customer than traditional advertising, since direct sales are not the primary goal.
Even though content marketing has drawbacks, they are trumped by the benefits.
Advantages of content marketing:
- Content marketing ensures lasting customer loyalty. The service is attractive, your SEO improves over time, and your advertising is not perceived as intrusive.
- With outstanding content, you distinguish yourself as an expert in your field, building your brand’s reputation and image on your own.
- Content creation is usually less expensive than outbound marketing. Content is so diverse that there is content for all budgets.
- Content marketing positively impacts the entire customer journey.
A good mix of content marketing and traditional advertising can yield the best results!
Content marketing examples
A picture speaks louder than a thousand words, as the saying goes. Therefore, some content marketing examples should not be missing.
1. Apple: Shot On iPhone 2020
Shot On iPhone started as a contest asking iPhone users to share their best shots on Instagram or Twitter. After a panel of judges reviewed the submissions, a select few were posted on billboards, in Apple stores and online.
Apple’s content marketing campaign became a viral hit. Even Lady Gaga participated with her song “Rain on Me.”
That’s what I call a success. But we are not used to anything else from Apple.
2. Hubspot CRM
The Hubspot CRM leads the way with its overarching suite of tools for small and medium-sized businesses.
But over the years, the vendor has also stood out as the perfect content marketing example. There’s hardly an area in marketing where the Hubspot blog doesn’t rank near the top.
3. Bosch #LikeABosch
Bosch, the electrical appliance manufacturer, has launched its #LikeABosch campaign in 2019. Everyone knows the saying “Like a Boss”, and fun is just the right emotion for advertising.
The music video now released charmingly underscores our leading position in the Internet of Things. It is a visible expression of the consistent cultural change that is leading Bosch into the digital future.Bosch
The slogan is the centerpiece of a global image campaign that aims to link the Bosch brand with IoT (Internet of Things).
The difference between content marketing and blogging
Is there a difference between content marketing and blogging? The short answer is, “Yes!”
And this is the detailed answer: a blogger’s main job is to generate reach with published content. Content marketing, on the other hand, is always about creating content for a company’s target audience. So in the background there is always a certain product or service, the reach is secondary. A sophisticated strategy and in-depth marketing knowledge are therefore much more important for the content marketer than for the blogger.
Conclusion Content Marketing and Blogging
Businesses have little chance of ignoring content marketing – and there’s no reason to. It offers an incredible number of benefits and implementation options, making it an especially important part of the sales and marketing process
It may sound like a lot of theory and strategy work at first, but it all pays off! So don’t be afraid to try something new. Start small, with the most leverage, and you’ll see how much fun and business success content marketing has in store for you.