You wake up and grab your phone. Before leaving bed, you read an email newsletter. Throughout the day, you stream videos, listen to a podcast, and post a photo to a weekly Instagram challenge. It may not feel like it, but these pieces of your everyday experience are the result of a business’s content marketing strategy.
As a content marketing agency, Lightning Media Partners, helps many of our clients with content marketing for their business. We work closely with them to develop high-quality content that connects with their audience and is true to their brand.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “the strategic marketing approach 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.”
In other words, content marketing is a way to sell products and services without overtly “selling” something. Instead, as people regularly engage with content that provides something meaningful in their lives – information, entertainment, or community support – they arrive at decisions to use a business’s products or services because of the knowledge and experiences the business has provided them.
Let’s return to that email newsletter you read this morning. It was casual, and it had tips about healthy living. You started receiving it weekly when you attended a local nighttime cooking class. You like everything you’ve been learning and trying from the emails, and you’re looking forward to attending another class.
This is content marketing at work. You, the customer, are interacting with valuable (gaining new knowledge and skills), relevant (related to your health), consistent (weekly) content, and it’s driving you to profitable action (attending another class) for the business.
Content marketing works because it makes customers more than consumers. They are actively part of a business’s mission and experience. They develop trust in a business – because it’s doing more than selling to them. It’s helping them solve problems and work toward personal or professional fulfillment.
And customers today actively prefer content marketing over traditional marketing techniques. In fact, 70% of people would rather get information about a company or learn something from an article or blog post, rather than from a traditional advertisement.
Content marketing can work for any kind of organization, and success means more than profit. It’s holding onto customers and getting leads.
What does a content marketing agency do?
Content marketing is more than emails. It’s blog articles, audio, video, online communities, free and paid apps, interactive experiences (like using QR codes), augmented reality, virtual reality, and more. Content marketing is what people interact with in their everyday lives.
As a content marketing agency, here are a few common tasks that we handle for our clients:
In 2020, 55% of marketers designated blogging as their top content marketing priority. Why? It’s a way to reach customers that allows them to digest content and build familiarity at their own leisure. A business can use the copywriting services of a content marketing agency to ensure consistency and quality content – written by professionals experienced with producing content and employing best marketing practices.
Social media marketing
Globally, 3.2 billion people are on social media, and many people access social media throughout the day on their phones. A content marketing agency’s social media marketing services can help businesses find unique ways to connect with their customers in a way that speaks to their personal needs and interests, building relationships that are a natural part of customers’ everyday experiences. This may include creating graphics, live-tweeting events, and engaging with customers across social media.
Search engine optimization
Good content retains customers, but customers and leads must be able to find content. SEO (search engine optimization) services provided by a content marketing agency improve business content by using analytics tools, making it more likely to be indexed by search engines and accessed by internet users. (For more information on this topic, check out our blog post on SEO keyword research.)
A good content marketing plan can be supplemented with advertisements. Paid marketing can help businesses reach a wider audience, allowing more potential customers to engage with their content. With a variety of digital venues for advertisement, navigating set-up and follow-through can be overwhelming. A content marketing agency can generate advertisements aligned with a business vision and overall marketing strategy.
Businesses uncertain about tackling individual pieces of a marketing plan can rely on a content marketing agency to help with their public relations strategy. By working with an agency on PR initiatives, a business can get help developing a brand, setting goals, and getting media attention from relevant publications and influencers.
In addition to creating content, a content marketing agency also works with businesses to help develop their overall marketing strategy. Companies can consult with an agency to provide insight into what kind of content makes the most sense for their brand, where and how frequently to post it, and how to analyze the results.
Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy is a long-term investment for a business. Through engaging customers with content, brands connect to their personal goals and experiences, content marketing builds a reliable customer base that leads to business profit and visibility.
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy establishes the reasons why you’re creating content, who your target audience is, and how your business can persuade them that your solution is better than what the competition offers. These strategies are used by a business to increase revenue and brand awareness by building a strong audience and becoming a thought leader. This strategic plan will better help you understand the effect your business has on its consumers through engaging content and how to develop that relationship.
How do you create a content strategy?
1. Decide what your goals are
The first step to creating a content strategy is defining the short- and long-term goals you want to accomplish with your content marketing. Start by looking at the overarching purpose of your business (its mission and core values) and how it can influence the content you create.
Next, move onto long-term goals that content marketing can help you reach, such as building a community or providing your audience with a resource database. Then, create short-term goals that can lead you towards those long-term goals. Breaking the larger goals down into bite-sized chunks decreases overwhelm and allows you to reach them easier.
2. Define buyer personas
After you’ve decided your content goals, it’s time to understand your audience and pinpoint the target market you’re planning to reach, known as a buyer persona. To do that, put yourself into your customer’s shoes. What are their wants and needs? What problems do they need solutions to and how do you solve them?
It helps to develop a fictional persona based on real data of the person or audience you’re planning on reaching with your content. Build out the exact details of this person down to their behavioral traits and demographic region. The more detailed your persona, the better chance you have at developing your brand to attract a target audience willing to buy your product or service.
3. Conduct a content audit
Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, it’s time to conduct a content audit of your website’s blog and social media platforms. If you already have pieces of content written, ask yourself if it’s effectively attracting your target audience. You can do this by tracking visits to blog posts or viewing the reactions and comments on social media. When you see your content laid out in front of you, what’s the first thing you could improve on to draw in better readership? Additionally, what type of content would your audience benefit the most from? Gather these answers and make a plan for creating more engaging content.
4. Brainstorm content
After you’ve laid the groundwork for your current content and the best direction for future content, the next step is brainstorming. Using your buyer personas, speculate the content your target market will respond the best to. Generate topic ideas with your team and outline the pieces in a shared document. Additionally, you can use online tools to determine the metrics and SEO keywords needed for effective content.
5. Publish content
Once you’ve written your content, you’re ready to publish and share it with your target audience. Create an editorial calendar based on research for strategic times to publish. This calendar allows you to organize your content and track how your audience is responding. Developing a social media calendar tool can also help you schedule posts at optimal times where your audience will be the most engaged. Continue to monitor your content’s metrics and update it accordingly.
Considerations when creating a content marketing strategy
Use audience intent as a guide
Audience intent is the reason why your audience decided to read your content and what they’re looking to get from it. Maybe they’re searching for a new restaurant in their area or browsing for the best coffee maker. To determine audience intent, you must ask yourself what your readers want to see in your content. There are two types of audience intent:
- Informational: They’re looking for general information or are just researching a topic.
- Transactional: They’re planning on buying a product or service.
When you get to the root of an audience’s “why,” you’re able to plan your content around this intent and attract higher-quality consumers in the long run.
Center messaging around a purpose
Your business must have an overall goal or purpose for effective content marketing. Whether it’s increasing your website traffic, gaining brand awareness, or retaining more customers, it’s important to center your main marketing efforts around a singular purpose. Doing so allows for the creation of short- and long-term goals working towards that purpose. For example, creating content can develop sales goals by supporting sales campaigns for your business’s products. Another example would be utilizing content to promote new revenue streams or products that support the main purpose of business growth.
Focus on a single audience for one strategy
Find a niche audience that has a problem your business can solve best. When you’re creating your content, ask yourself questions like:
- What members of my audience aren’t able to get information from sources other than my business?
- Can we create content that will resonate with audience members we’ve struggled to reach in the past?
- Who would notice if we stopped providing this content and how can we build even more traction with these consumers?
Looking for help with your content marketing strategy? Book a discovery call with Lightning Media Partners to learn more about our signature editorial process and how we can help you publish more high-quality content.
Jacqueline Medina also contributed to this article.