Content marketing is one of the most important channels for businesses of all kinds. Whether it’s customers, users, leads, audience, or something else, content marketing has become such an effective way of reaching and converting that it’s easier to find the companies that aren’t doing it.
Today more than ever, this content has to be of high quality. It has to be smarter, engaging, and, above all, delivered in a transformational way for the person who reads it.
I work as an SEO consultant here in London, and I am constantly reminded of the importance of content marketing when I talk to my clients and help them to get more traffic to their websites.
This guide will take you through everything you need to know about content marketing, from storytelling to blogging, to distribution. If you want more conversions, then this is the post for you.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of delivering high-quality content to your target audience to engage, raise awareness, convert, and make sales.
This process is usually long-term, and it’s all about building a great relationship. This relationship will improve brand affinity, increase trust, and make it more likely that audiences will purchase something or perform your desired goal.
Is content marketing B2B or B2C?
One thing that often gets asked is whether content marketing is primarily for B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) businesses.
Well, unfortunately, the answer is – it depends. Today many marketers agree that the style of marketing between the two is becoming more blurred. Content marketing is for both and can be incredibly effective in both.
The difference is mainly in content marketing forms that each side of the marketing fence uses the most. We’ll come on to that in our types of content marketing section.
Benefits – Why is content marketing important?
What’s the point? I hear you all ask. There’s a reason that content marketing has become one of the most utilized forms of marketing strategies. Let’s look at why:
Gets more traffic, leads, and purchases
Never underestimate the need to focus on your bottom line. Whatever your metric of choice, content marketing can help you to boost it. It might be a little slower than some paid marketing, but it does have one massive advantage over other channels: It’s recurring.
That means that it might take a while (depending on your niche) to build your strategy and see results. But once you have, you will see huge ROI, and best of all, it will stay consistent. This is great for investors, your wallet, or any other metric where predictability is essential.
Educates your target audience
Content will educate your audience about what you offer and what makes you better than the competition. It’s a great format to show what you do, explain it, show it, and demonstrate why it’s the best solution/product/tool.
Improves the relationship between you and your audience
The customer journey can be a lengthy endeavor, especially in the B2B world. That’s why you need to build relationships and tell stories to your potential customers.
There are few better formats to do this than content marketing. By continually providing detailed and lengthy information to your customers, you will build stronger relationships and boost affinity, keeping those customers coming back to the brand they trust.
Build a community and develops your brand voice
It’s not just about providing value once. Most businesses are now focused on recurring revenue models, and to keep these working, companies need to ensure that they are helping their customers consistently.
Building a community is a great way to do this as it means that customers and audiences will keep coming back as they know to expect value. Content marketing is a great way to engage in this way.
Can show your customers how you can help them solve their problems
One benefit of content marketing is that it is an ideal format to help solve customer’s problems. Finding a product audience match can mean that your content can sit at an ideal juncture between your customer’s problems and how they solve these problems.
It can be done will little cost
One of the best things about content marketing is that it can be done on a startup marketing budget in some niches. Even in competitive niches, you can get great results without investing a lot of cash upfront. Perfect for smaller businesses or other
Helps you to test new products, angles and understand your customers
Organic content marketing can also work as an excellent area for testing. Finding what it is, that engages your audience can be difficult. Highly targeted pieces of content can help shed light on this, allowing you to divert resources into the right areas.
Types of content marketing
When it comes to content marketing, there is a tonne of different ways to go about it. In terms of formats, there are a lot of different types of content marketing.
Try not to be overwhelmed; just because there are many different formats doesn’t mean that you need to attempt to do them all. Choose the ones that are most relevant for your customer and what it is that you do.
This content marketing method is a fantastic way of getting a lot of information into a small amount of screen space. It’s concise and can be fun to engage with, creating a lasting impact on your audience.
Infographics will often contain few words that explain the proposition or value simply. Statistics that prove the value of your offering work great in infographics.
B2B businesses explaining complex propositions.
The blog is one of the most powerful types of content marketing. They can be highly specific to the niche in which you operate.
Blogs, or written content, allow you to nurture and engage with audiences over a long period of time. They provide value to your customers and let you position yourself as an industry leader or trusted voice.
Blogs are powerful because they can be shared easily and distributed via several high impact channels. In terms of organic growth, they can be useful as they can be combined with effective SEO strategies to drive a large amount of recurring business.
B2B and B2C businesses that want to sell a solution or a way of being.
Organic social media represents much less of an opportunity these days. Paid social media has taken precedence, especially in the B2B world.
However, these challenges do not mean that you can extract success from a well designed social media content strategy. Nurturing highly engaged audiences can be great for customer retention.
With a whole range of new platforms and formats (TikTok, stories), there’s an excellent opportunity for brands to engage with their potential customers.
Best for: B2C businesses looking to build loyalty and set trends.
Research has shown that video is extremely effective in driving conversions, with over 50% of consumers believing that it’s a fundamental part of content marketing and brand engagement.
Video content marketing lets you communicate complex ideas to your customers in a highly engaging and impactful format. Platforms like YouTube allow you to deliver guides, courses, and content to solve your customer’s problems. All while placing your solution front of mind.
Best for: Both B2B and B2C to explain complex propositions or provide extra value to consumers.
This has become a new type of content rather than a place to share content with subscribers. Carefully curated newsletters are today far more impressive than collations of what has been published on the blog this week.
The best email content takes a niche and explains to the reader what the challenges are, what people are talking about, and how they can join in.
Loyal email subscribers are powerful because, if loyal, they will take the time to read the best newsletters. If the time isn’t right, or they are too busy, they will often leave the content in their inbox, ready to read once they have the time.
2020 proved that switching to a ’human-to-human’ approach instead of B2B and B2C is a necessity for brands that want to stay afloat. Building interest through subject lines and body copy is as important as showing kindness, support and empathy to your subscribers.
Best for: Companies looking for a more nuanced relationship with their audiences.
The rise of podcasts has been phenomenal. It seems like every day, bigger and bigger stars get their own.
However, podcasts are more and more becoming an incredibly useful format for content marketing. In the world of B2B, content marketing brands have the opportunity to settle in for long-form content with their audiences.
Doing this makes it a fantastic format for engagement, problem-solving, and building brand loyalty. They also represent an excellent opportunity for partnering with other experts in the space to turbocharge that trust that we all know can be the difference between a loyal subscriber and a fleeting visit.
Best for: Companies looking to position themselves as experts or trendsetters in their niche or industry.
Paid advertising – a content marketing channel, or something else altogether?
As you might have already picked up, paid advertising is for more and more or a means to an end. While you can get incredible results and ROI from paid advertising campaigns, they should work in tandem with other forms of content.
You can pay to get your content in front of the right audience and easily reach 000’s of potential customers. However, to seal the deal, you will still need to build loyalty, engage, and effectively communicate your offering’s value.
So think of paid advertising, not as a content marketing format but more of a means to turbocharge the results once you have found a recipe that works.
So we’ve looked at what content marketing is, what it can do for your business, and we’ve looked at the different types and formats. But how can you build a strategy that works and brings success?
Step one – define the problem or pain.
Well, this is two steps, but it all starts with finding your audience. Who are the people that you are trying to target with your content marketing? It’s not just enough to say, marketing professionals. To get this right, we need to go even further.
The exciting thing is, the more content you produce and the more data you get around engagement and conversions, the easier this process becomes.
But, by understanding your audience, you can create a better idea of what it is that these people want to achieve.
And that leads me onto the next part. Once you have defined your content marketing audience, you need to find out what they are trying to do. What is their biggest pain point? What is the problem that they are constantly trying to solve?
Let’s take our marketing professionals and get a little meta. To go further, we need to say that they are a B2B in house marketing managers. What’s their biggest problem? What annoys the hell out of them every day (enough to make a purchase)?
There are many tools to find this out (BuzzSumo, social media, Seotagg, to name a few!), but you might already have a good idea.
In this example, my audience is trying to engage their audience, generate leads to B2B SaaS platforms. Great, we have a problem.
This is what we’re going to help them solve.
Step two – map this problem/pain to the right type of content marketing
Once we have this pain or problem, it’s time to help solve it. We want to provide as much value to our audience as possible. We want to be able to build trust and position ourselves as experts.
To do this, we can hypothesize the content that will have the best results.
Pro tip – this doesn’t have to be a single type of content marketing.
Now, engaging potential customers and generating leads isn’t a simple thing to explain. So, in this case, we would most likely need to look at a blog post or potentially a series of videos.
A piece of written content would be fantastic to help our audience solve their problem. It would provide ample information, and it could be actionable. It would allow the user to come back and find the right section when ready for it.
So we have our audience with a problem, and we’ve identified the best format to communicate with them.
Step three – solve this problem and link it to the KPIs for your business.
Now comes the tricky part. In our example, we will be writing a blog post that will help solve their problem.
To solve this problem, I’m identifying that our audience needs to generate a SaaS lead pipeline. To do that, they will need to develop content (told you it would be a little meta) and learn how to convert these leads in to free accounts.
So we will put together this comprehensive post. It will be informative yet simple to understand. And, remember, whatever your content, it should be actionable!
Next, we need to link this to our KPIs. Let’s say, in my case, I’m trying to build subscriptions to my marketing newsletter. So I will bear this in mind when I’m making my content to include sign-up forms that will allow the audience to join over 10,000 marketing professionals generate even more leads by signing up for our weekly newsletters.
Step four – promote it and get it out there.
Now I’m not just talking about posting onto social media and waiting for the traffic to appear. In today’s world, you need to put just as much work into promoting content as you do in producing it!
For my piece of content, I will post it on social media. I will include it in my weekly newsletters. I will also look at starting a link building campaign to ensure that it will generate organic search traffic for relevant keywords.
There are a million ways to promote content, and these are different depending on the format. But you can’t just sit and wait for audiences to find you.
Content marketing KPIs
Okay, so you want to know how well your content marketing strategy is performing. What are the KPIs to keep an eye on when it comes to content marketing?
Here are a few to keep you informed, split by category:
- New sign-ups
- Cart value
- Social following
- Newsletter sign-ups
- Repeat visits
- Lifetime value
- Cost per lead
- Cost per click
- Annual contract value
Bonus step – content stage mapping
Okay, you dedicated content marketing wannabes, here’s a bonus step for those of you looking to go one stage further than the three-step process I’ve just outlined.
When we talk about mapping content to audiences and problems, we can go a little further. What about the stage these segments are in the customer journey?
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey is a kind of funnel, with audiences becoming aware of you at one end and becoming a customer, subscriber, or whatever you are trying to achieve at the other. The stages in-between are different for each company but represent the audience being a step closer to that final goal.
Content mapping is the act of understanding that audience to map content to them based on exactly where they are in the customer journey.
In a lot of cases, customers don’t just see your product once and hit buy. Sorry to burst the bubble, but that’s the truth. Instead, many prospective customers will look to do research, wait for a new budget cycle, or simply wait for a need to make a purchase.
This is where content stage mapping comes in. By providing content that is even more specific to customers in a different stage of the journey, you can nurture them to the right goal for that stage.
The stages of content mapping:
Here the audience will be unlikely to make a purchase. They are most likely coming across you for the first time. It’s important to deliver content that captures attention, provides value, and helps them solve problems. Key metrics might be newsletter sign-ups, channel subscriptions, or follows.
Next up is consideration. Here the audience is aware of your product and what you do. The goal is now to help them understand why yours is better and why it’s the perfect fit for their pain point or problem. Key metrics could be demos, inquiries, calls, store visits.
At this stage, you are trying to close the deal. Content should be highly specific and relevant for the stage. Heavy focus on the why is needed. Examples might be a comparison of the top social media content tools or a hands-on video of a product in action. **
Best examples of content marketing
These guys are a great example of content marketing done right. This isn’t just because they write a load of helpful content that is highly actionable and problem-solving for their target audience.
Buffer does the fundamentals right, but where they really excel is when they promote their content. They are a B2B company, making it a little more challenging to utilize virality or get consistent social results.
The result is a tonne of organic traffic, engagement, and hundreds of thousands of users.
Despite being a highly competitive market, the Rolex brand seems to stay swimming while other watch brands have fallen to smaller challenger brands and the e-commerce revolution.
However, one thing that Rolex does well is it refused to sacrifice its luxury, high-quality tag. And this extends to its social media channels.
You’ll find extremely high quality and high production snaps across its social media channels. By refusing to sacrifice on quality where it engages with consumers, it can continue pushing its luxury products to its market.
Now product hunt isn’t just a product listing site. They have thought carefully about how they can grow their users and generate a load of buzz around their platform.
They did this by building a hugely dedicated community, where founders, tech savvy people, and product builders come together to share their expert opinion on the world’s latest and greatest products.
But the real genius of their content marketing is to condense the best parts into a daily newsletter. This daily newsletter has become so engaging and so impactful that getting onto it has generated its separate ecosystem.
When I launched my site on Product hunt, full of the best Notion templates available, it ended up in the top products of the day. Then it went out in the email the next day. This kept the ball rolling and generated even more buzz – that’s the power of email content.
In the UK, Monzo is taking the finance world by storm. As a challenger bank, they are positioned as a company that is moving fast and breaking the rules. But the best thing about Monzo is, this is achieved through their excellent marketing team and their fantastic content.
I could focus on several things, but I would like to focus on their video. It’s a fun and fast way of getting to their audience’s pain points and showing them how signing up for Monzo will solve all these problems and more. It makes you think, oh yes, that is annoying, and I didn’t even know it myself.
It’s a perfect example of a content marketing team that has spent the time researching who their users are and understanding what has consistently proved problematic for them over the years. Okay, they did have a pretty slow and outdated industry to do this in, but it’s still impressive.
If you’re going to do a B2B podcast, then you need to look at Indie hackers. They have created a fantastic weekly insight into the problems and interests of their niche. It’s super engaging and informative, and it’s a great way to tell their audience what they are all about.
But the best thing, because it’s so great, everyone who is anyone in the space also wants to be on it. So they have the smartest people in the space doing this problem solving for them.
With content marketing, it can take a great deal of experimentation before you get it right. Testing and optimizing is the name of the game, but here are some key challenges that content producers face as a whole:
Struggle to produce engaging content
For this one, there could be several different reasons why that content isn’t hitting those engagement metrics. It could be a problem with discovery – have you done all you can to promote your post. Compare your bounce rate to industry standards, are people arrive and then leaving without engaging? In this case, you might need to think a little harder about your audience’s problems and how you are trying to solve them.
Remember to diversify your content marketing across several channels and look at incrementally growing engaging with your audience.
Measuring the effectiveness of content
A lot of marketers have great ideas for their content marketing strategy across many different channels. They make the content and put it out into the world. This works, and they start to see some success, but they have a big problem. They haven’t set up measurement.
Measurement is vital so that you can understand which content is working. Which blog post is driving the most sign-ups? Which video is cause channel subscriptions?
To answer these questions, you’ll need to set up analytics and understand how to track conversions. But once you do, it will help you choose which channels to prioritize, which content and topics to pursue to maximize success.
Once you can measure your content’s effectiveness, you are ready to calculate key financial metrics, such as ROI.
This is especially important if you promote your content via paid channels but is still useful for organic content marketing. You need to understand that for every dollar you spend on making or promoting your content, how much revenue you are getting in return.
Content marketing variety
It’s easy to get stuck in a single content marketing format. Diversifying your content offering can help you reach new demographics and activate audiences that you didn’t know were interested in what you have to offer.
Keep testing new channels and syndicating content across channels for maximum impact, engagement, and conversions.
Lack of budget
Many marketers complain that they don’t have enough budget to make their content marketing strategy a success. Well, a budget can help you to improve your content marketing, but in my opinion, it’s not the best way to go about it.
Paid can generate vast amounts of traffic and engagement, but here’s the thing, it’s not sustainable. No matter the company, your budget will eventually run out. At that moment, you are back at the same need for organic growth that you were before.
Start organic content marketing right away, and over time you will see the results. Drive results with organic, and it will also stay consistent, with recurring sign-ups, revenue, and purchases likely to make your business more predictable.
Rather than confuse you will a million tools, I’d like to suggest one tool that I love from each category. That way, you can keep your monthly subs down and make sure you streamline your content marketing workflow.
For content writing, research, and SEO tracking:
This tool is fantastic. It eliminates the need to keep moving between different platforms in the research and writing process. Add your keywords, find content ideas, and then let it manage your workflow based on calculated traffic opportunities.
Keep on top of your content production and even get SEO insights once your posts have been published.
For SEO research and outreach:
The thing that makes Ahefs a must-have in the content world is its industry-leading data. It’s not cheap, but if you want to get the most up to date SEO metrics, it’s a no brainer.
Combine that with a great UI and a dedicated blog that shows you how the get the most out of it. It’s a must-have for any content marketing professional.
For social media-focused content teams:
For social media content marketers, it can sometimes get a little hectic. With new formats and channels coming out all of the time, Buffer saves time and ensures that you are updated in all of the places where your audience is.
For visual storytellers:
This is such an excellent tool for stock content that will make you stand out from the rest. Not only is it great for images, but Video marketers will love their database of royalty-free videos that will make your business stand out from the rest.
For measurement and analytics:
Ah, the humble Google Analytics. Don’t let any tell you that this isn’t needed. These days it’s even more powerful, easy to use, and most content marketers would be foolish to ignore it. For measuring engagement to calculating ROI, it’s fantastic. And for free, well, you can’t complain, can you?
Mediatoolkit is an award-winning media monitoring and social listening tool that notifies its users immediately when their company, products, or services are mentioned in any language across 100+ million online sources such as social media, websites, forums, etc.
The tool helps you find what has been said about your brand online including, posts, customer reviews, questions, suggestions, and more. Those insights can help you get to know your customers better and create relevant and engaging content. Plus, you might find interesting UGC that you can incorporate into your content.
With Mediatoolkit, you can also create reports, find influencers, manage brand reputation, and much more.
Wherever you are on your content marketing journey, this guide will have something useful for you. Remember the key steps we outlined:
- Find your audience and what their problems are.
- Match the content to these problems and where they are in the buying journey.
- Measure and optimize.
Whatever your format, content marketing has brought about incredible results for many companies in virtually every category across the world. Don’t waste time. Get in on the action, and start your content marketing journey today.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of delivering high-quality content to your target audience to engage, raise awareness, convert, and make sales.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing is extremely effective in driving traffic, leads, sales as well as driving engagement, brand loyalty and growing a community.
Is content marketing B2B or B2C?
Today many marketers agree that the style of marketing between the two is becoming more blurred. Content marketing is for both and can be incredibly effective in both.
What are the most important content marketing KPIs?
Mainly content marketers are looking at engagement, conversion, loyalty and ROI metrics.
Is social media content marketing?
Social media is used by companies to educate and raise arareness to their potential customers, so it is absolutely a form of content marketing.
James is an SEO consultant based in London. Working with clients around the world to get more traffic from search.