Why should I care about content marketing?

Content marketing is one of those concepts that many people just don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around. 

In one sentence: content marketing is about creating useful, interesting ‘stuff’ for your target audience that doesn’t directly try to sell your products or services. 

So how come people still get confused? 

There are a couple of reasons for this, we think. 

Firstly, it’s a form of marketing or advertising that is not as clear cut, say, as running a Google Ads campaign or having a TV commercial running on prime-time television. 

Secondly, at first glance, it seems like a lot of time, effort and expenditure for something which does not translate to immediate sales.

But, if you’re trying to improve organic search rankings and you’re not looking at your content first and foremost – you’ve got a big problem. 

No matter how good your product, if your website is bare and poorly-done, expect a high bounce rate. 

In fact, I might even go as far as to say that there’s no point even bother with SEO if you’re not going to look at your actual content.

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    Content marketing might be tricky, but it has a lot of benefits.
    content marketing at an agency
    Content marketing might be tricky, but it has a lot of benefits.

    So, what is content marketing?

    Simply put, content marketing is all about producing educational, interesting and informative content that is not about the products or services the company sells. 

    This is what the Content Marketing Institute has to say about it (and they’re pretty much the authority when it comes to all things content):

    Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

    So, content marketing is all about producing educational, interesting and informative content that is not about the products or services the company sells. Sure, there’s likely to be a bit of overlap, subject-wise – but it should be easy to distinguish from hard-sell, obviously advertorial material.”

    The thing is, if your content does not add any value to the reader or viewer, then it’s not good content at all. You’ve simply slipped into the trap of creating marketing material for hard-sell, rather than anything else. 

    It’s also not just about what is written. Instead, it’s everything on your page that’s there to be useful to an audience – and not just marketing. 

    Content marketing is great for a couple of reasons – it raises your profile and legitimacy and creates really loyal customers. As we move into the cookie-less world, promoting brand loyalty and customer retention will become of increasing importance. 

    Customers are only going to share their personal information (such as emails or phone numbers) if they think that they are likely to get something in return. This is where you can succeed, and really push yourself beyond your competitors. 

    What makes content marketing different to other forms of advertising?

    The thing to keep in mind when it comes to content marketing is that it’s not about ‘you’. I know that sounds pretty harsh, but if you do content marketing with the goal of promoting your business and nothing else, you’ll be spotted from a mile-off. 

    Basically, what we mean is that content should be designed for your audience!

    To customers this makes for poor reading or consumption and it’s much harder to trust the information you’re providing. 

    That’s not to say that content marketing should not be aligned with your broader marketing strategy. In fact, if you can create a piece of video content, for example, that is both advertising your own business but also informative and therefore actively sought out by customers, well, you’re winning the game. 

    So, when content marketing, you need to consider what your audience cares about. Cater to them and what they really want to see. 

    This is quite simply the cost factor. If you’re hosting your own content, or posting it to an unpaid platform, you’re content marketing. If you’re paying for it to be hosted, it’s advertising. 

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay to promote your content. In fact, that’s likely to be a significant aspect of your content marketing strategy. 

    What types of content marketing are best?

    Simply put, it doesn’t really matter what forms you choose – whether that’s educational articles and e-books or videos, all the way to an app or game – as long as you’ve picked the form you think your audience will engage with most of all. 

    For more on audience targeting, we put together a comprehensive guide to help even as we move into the cookie apocalypse. 

    You need to make yourself an authoritative resource on whatever topics you think matter to potential customers. It’s all about increasing brand awareness and trust. 

    To build an audience, it pays to have great content that ultimately leads to a fantastic user experience, and keeps your customers coming back for more. 

    Key types of content marketing

    This is often perceived as one of the more difficult ways to launch yourself into content marketing, but considering it’s cheaper than ever to hire some professional equipment and upload something to YouTube, video marketing is actually quite accessible. 

    Remember, no matter what kind of video you end up creating – it needs to be useful or entertaining for viewers. Let’s imagine (one of my favourite examples), a pizza restaurant. Now, there is no point posting a video where you talk through your menu – this is boring and no one really needs that content in their lives. 

    Instead, how about making a video where two chefs cook off against one another? Or a blind tasting? Or a simple cook-through recipe all the way from dough to toppings?

    This is much less obviously advertorial. 

    A great local example of content marketing is Coles’ What’s for dinner segment which they publish across social channels as well as showing during Prime Time TV. During the height of lockdowns last year, they focused particularly on this element of their content marketing campaign. 

    Many Aussies suddenly found themselves trapped at home and uninspired when it came to dinner-time, so the supermarket chain cleverly capitalised on the pandemic-induced need for people to rediscover home-cooking comforts. 

    The thing is, many of these videos have been filmed at home with a relatively low budget. 

    Take this one, with celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge and his daughters, for example

    Obviously, there is a link between the products being used which are sold by the supermarket, but it’s actually a quick, easy-to-follow and informative segment for viewers.

    2. Articles/Web-pages

    If you already have a website, this is one of the easiest ways to get your content marketing campaign off the ground with relatively little difficulty. 

    You can host the new content on your website, or on another domain. But the thing to remember that sets the content apart from simply advertising, is that you shouldn’t be paying for its placement, and it should be actually useful for people. 

    Another great local example is Officeworks. Once again, this is an Australian brand that capitalised off the new needs and stresses for families that arose from parents having to move to homeschooling, and children just being forced to spend much more time at home in general. 

    Their response? Craft an entire section of their website dedicated to tips for parents and handy guides for kids’ activities. 

    Articles included: 

     

    These articles will occasionally reference the products sold at Officeworks, but more often than not, they provided genuine expert advice. Officeworks staff interviewed other bloggers or mental health professionals, in order to provide something of tangible value to stressed-out, harried parents.

    3. Podcasts

    I think a fair warning is necessary before we dive into this one. You see, every man and his dog has a podcast these days – and so, to stand out from the crowd it’s pretty essential that yours is done well, and is actually providing unique content. 

    A podcast is a great way to tap into a different segment of the market – as many users on iTunes or Podcasts might discover your material in a quite organic way. These apps provide recommendations based on what is similar to users’ interests, but also by what is popular or trending. 

    One globally renowned podcast that made waves from pretty much its inception is Tinder’s DTR: Define the Relationship, produced by Gimlet Creative. A lot of the reasoning behind its success is based on its open and honest look at dating in the Internet era. A lot of the stories are amusing and the first episode dissects the meaning of ‘hey’  and whether it’s lazy or polite to send as an opening message. 

    It’s also very much a subtle promotion of Tinder, rather than one which is very overt.

    4. Books (ebooks) or magazines

    Obviously, it goes without saying that publishing a hard-copy book, or even a digital one takes a lot of effort. Of course, self-publishing has made this much easier in some ways, removing some of the financial barriers that often make this unattainable for small to medium businesses. 

    If you can do this though, and do it well, then publishing an ebook, book or magazine can be an incredibly valuable resource for consumers. 

    As the pandemic forced everybody online, one Australian business that sought alternative ways of connecting with customers was Australian Seniors Insurance, which began publishing a magazine Dare to be distributed to customers. 

    They understood that the older demographics were much less likely to be online, on Zoom or on other social media and so were more likely to be feeling disconnected and alone during times of social isolation. 

    This innate knowledge of their customer base served Australian Seniors Insurance very well, and the magazine acts as a source of connection. It includes information about how to improve your financial, mental and physical wellbeing and tips on how to plan for the future amongst many others. 

    This sort of evergreen, actionable and truly valuable content is what keeps customers coming back for more. 

    Want to know the importance of good ad copy and creative? We’ve covered all of that before. 

    is content marketing for me?

    As I mentioned in the introduction, content marketing takes an awful lot of effort. It is most definitely not for everyone.

    As we’ve spoken about here on the blog before, writing well is imperative here. If writing is not your thing, make sure you hire a qualified freelancer to help with your efforts. Similarly, if you’re looking to develop an app or game, find web and app developers who can do this well. 

    But content marketing can be a really good way of developing a rich, varied customer base. It’s all about those more slippery parts of the marketing funnel, so you want to be thinking about customer retention and loyalty. 

    How do I make sure my customers find my content marketing efforts?

    As I mentioned in the introduction, content marketing takes an awful lot of effort. It is most definitely not for everyone.

    As we’ve spoken about here on the blog before, writing well is imperative here. If writing is not your thing, make sure you hire a qualified freelancer to help with your efforts. Similarly, if you’re looking to develop an app or game, find developers who can do this well. 

    But content marketing can be a really good way of developing a rich, varied customer base. It’s all about those more slippery parts of the marketing funnel, so you want to be thinking about customer retention and loyalty. 

    What makes optimised content?

    Just because you are writing really good content does not mean, of course, that it shouldn’t be SEO optimised. 

    Ensure you do your keyword research using tools like SEMRush or even Google’s own Keyword Planner. 

    A great tip is to focus on long-tail keywords and just avoid any that are so highly competitive you know you won’t have any chance. 

    Also, don’t target a hundred different keywords with one article – your content will not sound great at all. 

    Then, make sure you split your content into digestible chunks. Long articles and briefing papers are fantastic, but only if they’re presented in a readable format. Remember a lot of your customers will be reading on their mobile phones, which makes it even harder to read lots and lots of unbroken text. 

    Also, everybody’s attention spans are simply getting shorter and shorter. 

    Ensure you link to relevant, authoritative sites where you got your research from, as well as deep links within your own blog. 

    Summary

    Content marketing, it would seem, is not as scary as it seems. In fact, it might actually be a pretty friendly way of growing your business and really reaching out to audiences with content that makes their lives better. 

    Remember, content marketing comes in a variety of forms, from books to podcasts and everything in between. But it cannot be immediately recognisable as advertorial content. When that happens, it’s just not valuable for users anymore. 

    Yes, crafting this kind of quality, valuable content takes time. It is most definitely not a band-aid solution or a way of making a quick buck. What it can be useful for, however, is building a strong, loyal customer base. It establishes you as an industry leader and an authoritative voice on the market and keeps customers coming back again and again. 

    As we move to the cookie-less world, this will become increasingly important. Now’s the time to get ahead with your content marketing. 

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