During our recent research into the state of small business marketing in 2019, we asked over 1,000 small businesses what they believed their most significant opportunity to build brand awareness was. We weren’t all that surprised when digital marketing means ranked amongst the highest, including social media, email marketing, and video marketing.
What we did notice was the fact that content marketing ranked in at the number four spot of the biggest opportunity for brand awareness.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a piece that focuses on providing prospective leads, customers, and others with helpful content. This content can take several different forms, including:
- Blog pots
- White papers
- Infographics and more
To be effective, the content you provide should be relevant and useful for your audience. While content can move potential customers through your sales cycle, the end goal of content marketing isn’t strictly conversions.
Your material should be informational, not necessarily promotional.
Content marketing in the digital age
According to Content Marketing Institute, 58% of marketing reams reported spending more on content creation in 2018 than in 2017.
In fact, when done correctly, integrating your content marketing strategy with your digital marketing strategy can create a force to be reckoned with.
Building a content marketing strategy that works
Just like any other marketing channel, content marketing all begins with having a solid strategy in place. While there is no one content marketing strategy that will work for everyone, there are a few vital steps every marketing team should follow when building their content marketing strategy.
1. Define your content goals
As is the case with each and every other marketing platform, you must take time to define your goals. This means getting specific with what you want your content to accomplish. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why are you creating this content? What’s the purpose?
- Who are you designing this piece of content for?
- How relevant is this information?
- What will your readers do when your content is successful?
The more specific you get with your content goals, the better. So, make sure you take adequate time with this step.
2. Know your audience
As with any marketing plan, if you don’t know who your audience is, then your content won’t help you reach the goal’s you’ve established in step 1.
Content marketing is all about putting the right information in the right place at the right time, and if you don’t know who your audience is, then you won’t be able to do any of this.
Take the time to properly outline who your ideal audience member is, where they spend most of their time, and what questions they may be asking.
3. Focus in on your unique niche
Once you know exactly who makes up your audience, you’ll want to ensure that you focus on your unique niche.
Consumers will turn to you for particular reasons, so if your niche is pet safety and you create content on the best ways for getting exercise, you won’t attract the right audience. Instead, write content about safe exercises for you and your pet—again, get specific.
Remember to keep in mind that you won’t please everyone, so don’t try to cater to everyone.
4. Determine exactly what types of content you want to create
You’ve got your goals set, your audience members defined, and you know what direction your content will take—the next step is to determine what types of content you want to create.
The opportunities for creating top-quality content in the digital age truly are endless. If you can think of a goal, there’s content that can help get you there. The sky is the limit.
Need help deciding what type of content you want to create for your audience? Here’s a helpful list of ideas to get you started.
5. Brainstorm some content ideas
Once you’ve decided the type or types of content you believe would be most interesting to your audience, it’s time to let the creative juices flow and begin brainstorming content ideas.
Remember, stay within your unique niche, especially when you begin your content creation. Once you’ve established yourself as an authority figure within your niche, you can start to branch off into new subcategories that will help you further share your knowledge.
6. Amplify your completed content
After you’ve taken the time to brainstorm and then create some amazing content, it’s time to get it out there. Share your content on various channels to build your audience and reach the most people.
However, you need to make sure you share your content where it matters most and will have the greatest impact.
This means you should focus on specific channels, and those channels should be where your audience members spend most of their time. Sharing through the channels where your audience already is will raise the chances of your content being spread, therefore amplifying it for greater reach.
Content marketing examples to inspire
Picking the right type of content can seem like an overwhelming task. With that said, we’ve compiled a go-to list of real-world content marketing examples to help marketing teams get started creating content that works.
When it comes to outstanding content, Buffer is widely recognized as a top example thanks to its focus on creating top-quality content.
Buffer focuses on quality work, and thanks to their dedication to quality, they have been able to grow into a multi-blog brand, sharing only the best content for readers to enjoy and share.
They have now grown to be one of the most recognized and trusted brands in content, with some million followers across multiple social media channels.
Takeaway: Focus on quality first, and stay consistent with how often you produce new content. This will help you build authority and build trust within your unique niche.
LinkedIn is another brand that stands out thanks to its multi-format approach to content marketing. While they may focus on sharing their content on their own social media channel, they stand out from other channels because they go out of their way to create top-quality research and share it with their users.
They then present their research in varying forms, including blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and more. In their Secret Sauce campaign, they not only produced an eBook for users to download, but they also generated video content and SlideShare content to go along with it.
Takeaway: Content creation affords brands to take their research and share it in multiple different forms. Your audience takes in information differently, so use the data you’ve generated and present it in forms they prefer.
Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign blew up after its initial release in 2014, and some 5 years later, it’s become one of the brand’s most brilliant content marketing examples to date. What makes it brilliant is the fact that Coca-Cola has to do very little work as far as creating social images because their loyal fans do the majority of the work for them.
Simply heading over to Instagram and tying in #shareacoke garners over 660,000 social images shared by the brand and its followers. Not only are these images great for spreading brand awareness and bringing in new leads, but it also has generated content that Coca-Cola can use for quite literally years to come.
Takeaway: Going social with your content can help create user-generated content for your brand to use in the future.
Content marketing is going nowhere, and brands would be wise to remember that. Just because your marketing strategy is going digital, doesn’t mean there is no longer a need for content. In fact, the need is only continuing to grow as more brands take to the internet to try and stand out from the crowds.
This means that marketers need to create a content marketing strategy that goes hand-in-hand with their digital marketing efforts, and this can be done by:
- Defining your audience
- Finding out where they are spending their time when online
- Creating content that suits their needs and answers their questions
- Presenting your content in multiple digital formats
Ready to amp up your content marketing efforts? Check out these 15 digital marketing tools to help get your content ready and optimized for your audience members.