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Are you using content marketing effectively to reach your customers and grow your business? From small businesses to startups to major corporations, everyone is starting to realize just how powerful content marketing can be. But not everyone understands what it is, how it works, or (most importantly) how to make it successful.
These days, content is one of the best ways to raise brand awareness among a targeted audience. According to the CMI, 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement and is a great lead generation tool.
More than 75% of those online people use mobile devices and social media, which has implications for your marketing. Content marketing campaigns can also bring you online authority, web traffic, leads, and sales.
So how do you avoid wasting your time on the wrong content marketing approach?
Simple! Read this guide.
We’ve collected the latest content marketing best practices to help you market your business with enticing content. From the mistakes to avoid to how to create high-quality content, here’s our definitive guide to content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing means marketing your business with content. It sounds deceptively simple, but there’s a lot to it.
First, there’s the content part. That’s stuff like blog posts, articles, podcasts, and videos. Basically, it’s information in written, audible, or visual form.
So, what about the marketing part? That hasn’t changed since marketing first took place in actual markets. It’s all about telling your target audience about your products and services so they want to become customers. With content marketing, you do this with content.
Unlike other types of sales and marketing, content marketing makes people come to you rather than you reaching out to them.
That’s why content marketing is part of inbound marketing. Content marketers create, curate, share, and distribute quality content. As you’ll see, quality content is content that is relevant, accurate, optimized for search, and delivers what your audience wants.
This content helps marketers:
Strong content marketing efforts lend credibility to your brand. By publishing shareable articles about your niche, you’ll build a reputation as an expert in your industry.
The more your customers enjoy your content, the more loyalty they’ll have to your brand. That loyalty, in turn, will increase your website traffic and ultimately result in more sales.
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Why is content marketing important for your business?
It’s one of the best ways to engage with your customers, drive traffic to your site, and provide your audience with valuable information. The latest stats from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) show that 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers consider content marketing a core strategy. Businesses with blogs get 67% more leads than other companies.
10 key reasons to invest in content marketing:
All businesses can benefit from having a strong content strategy. Here are just a few of the 10 key reasons why you should invest in content marketing:
Make sure that you’re creating and sharing the right types of content. After all, the end goal is to drive sales!
Types of Content Marketing
There are many different types of content marketing, including:
Even in-person product demos, seminars, physical leaflets, and phone books can be considered types of content marketing.
The key is that the content provides information or entertainment, usually for free, in support of a business goal.
How content marketing works
Your business can use content marketing to attract leads, make a case for your product or service when someone is researching what to buy, and close sales.
To use it effectively, you’ll need to deliver the right content at each stage of the sales cycle—from awareness through consideration to purchase. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry: Approaching content this way actually simplifies the process.
Here’s how companies use content marketing in each stage of the sales cycle to engage and sell.
At the first stage of the sales process, your content should focus on the top concerns of your audience. Writing about their pain points, challenges, and questions gives you the best chance of engaging with them. Content at the awareness stage should be educational, how-to advice. Save your selling for the consideration and closing phases.
The best content for this stage: articles, blog posts, e-books, videos, newsletters
In the consideration stage, content should offer a hybrid of helpful information and marketing. It should educate the reader about what features or functions to look for and how various features address their needs. Of course, your content should have a bent toward what your business offers.
The best content for this stage: case studies, how-to articles, how-to videos, checklists/worksheets
Content marketing plays an important role when a prospect is close to buying. At this stage, you can focus on sales, as long as you continue to drive home why you’re the best choice rather than just how great your services or products are.
Your central message here should be your expertise, knowledge, and the differentiating benefits of what you sell.
The best content for this stage: case studies, user-generated content, buyer’s guide, product video, a research report.
How to get started with content marketing
Content marketing can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. A successful content marketing campaign should be manageable and sustainable. When you set goals, make them SMART by answering these questions:
Take these steps to get started:
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Top 10 Content Marketing Tools You Need
Hubspot is an all-in-one content marketing, sales, and CRM suite that provides you with all the tools required to create actionable content, optimize it, and help it reach the right audience. It is also considered the most powerful marketing automation platform in the industry. HubSpot offers many features of which most are free to try. These include a powerful form builder, live chat and chatbots, popup tools, and an all-in-one WordPress plugin for marketing. In addition to these features, HubSpot also provides a world-class CMS that allows you to centralize everything within a free CRM.
Best used for: Consolidating multiple content marketing tools in a centralized location.
Google Analytics is another important content marketing tool used widely by most platforms online. Not only can you track product purchases and form submissions, but you can also set up behavioral events. The best part is that it is free and very easy to use. You only have to set up your Google Analytics account and copy the code to your website – it will automatically start tracking your data.
Best used for: Understanding your audience and tracking site metrics.
WordPress leads the market when it comes to content management systems. It offers marketers all the tools they need to create a blog or a website as well as an easy-to-use publishing platform. It also provides visitor tracking and a number of plugins to optimize your marketing process.
Best used for: Publishing content, blogging, and creating websites.
Yoast is one of the best content marketing tools for writing SEO-focused content. It is a WordPress plugin for SEO that can do pretty much all the work for you – optimize content for a keyword, preview and edit meta descriptions, suggest relevant internal links, or abstract away technical SEO tasks. There are coloured indicators in red, yellow, and green that make it easy to figure out whether you have optimized your page correctly.
Best used for Writing SEO content
Ahrefs is a powerful SEO tool that can also provide in-depth performance reports. It helps to track the rankings of your keywords, analyze competitors’ keywords and traffic, and much more. There are some powerful reports on Ahrefs like “top pages” that help you analyze the most valuable pages on a website or “content gaps” that help you see what competitors rank for that you don’t.
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Best used for Keyword research
Google Optimize helps you find out which part of your website visitors engage with the most and hone in on the areas that need further improvement. It includes statistical modeling tools to simulate real-world performance for any test that you would like to perform. It is a good starter for A/B testing, especially because it is free.
Best used for A/B testing on changes made to your site’s pages.
Anyone who does content marketing knows the importance of good visual elements. Canva allows both novice and experienced designers to easily create infographics, social media posts, blog cover photos, and other types of visual content. You can start from one of their templates or create your designs from scratch.
Best used for: Designing your own content marketing materials
If you’re looking for a way to make planning and collaboration fun, Trello is the answer. It uses boards to represent projects and cards to represent tasks. You can organize and keep track of all the tasks and projects in one place. It also supports integration with many other applications used for content marketing.
Best used for: Keeping track of tasks and project management.
Airtable is best used for storing huge amounts of data in one place and sorting them with customized filters. It is widely used as a project management tool but it serves a number of content marketing purposes – editorial calendars, marketing campaign tracking, influencer management, etc.
Best used for: Managing tasks and databases.
Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes to your content efforts, knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what to do. Here are some of the biggest content marketing mistakes we see companies make all the time:
Not Looking at the Data
Rather than just writing a ton of content and waiting to see what works, do your research first. Analyze your competitors’ websites, see which blog articles are driving the most traffic for them, and find topics that you can do a better job writing about.
Not Establishing Content Goals
You should always write with the intention of addressing a specific need.
Is your reader in the research stage where they’re trying to gather information? Are they reading your content in order to make a final purchasing decision?
Good content is always written with a goal in mind.
Not Knowing Your Reader
You should always create content with a specific audience in mind. Identify and define your reader so you can speak directly to them through your content.
Not Accounting for SEO
Search engines drive ten times more traffic to your site than any other marketing channel. Investing in SEO is the best way to increase website traffic and grow your business.
Not Building Links
The more links you have back to your site, the better. Ignoring links is one of the biggest content marketing mistakes you can make. If you can’t build links yourself, hire someone to do it for you.
Not Reviewing Performance
Identifying your top-performing content is essential. That way, you can build upon your success.
It’s equally as important to analyze your metrics and know what types of content drive the most traffic, get the most social media shares, and have the highest conversion rates.
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FAQs About Content Marketing
What is Content marketing?
Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing. It’s about using content to get the attention of prospective customers and subscribers before they are ready to subscribe or buy. It’s a way to start building a relationship with them and, in the long run, to turn them into fans and advocates of your business.
How does content marketing build your business?
These days, consumers mostly do their own research. Using content marketing gives you something they can find when they search. Content brings you traffic, educates your customers, and delivers leads and sales.
What are the trends in content marketing?
Content marketing is always changing. The latest trends in content production include using video and live video and creating more interactive content, such as polls and quizzes.
Where do I start with content marketing?
A good starting point for any kind of online marketing, including content marketing, is to understand who your audience is. If you know who you’re trying to reach, that makes it easier to determine the type of content, the publishing and sharing platforms, and measuring content marketing ROI.
Once you know your audience, you can get started by creating and sharing content. A common starting point for content marketing is creating a blog.
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What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a calendar that outlines when you plan to publish content. It allows you to keep track of your content creation workflow, as well as who’s responsible for producing content. Some content calendars also include information on the different stages of publication, such as research, writing, editing, and finding images. You can also include social media posts on a content calendar.
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Let your expertise and unique value shine through by creating content to attract, engage, and sell. With some planning and systematic content marketing, you can reach the right people and inspire loyalty to your brand. Watch this content marketing practical tutorial video through which you will understand more deeply how to put content concepts into practice.
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