What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves creating and publishing content that your target audience (i.e. your potential customers) is looking for in order to educate themselves and evaluate their options.
The content marketing is not and should not be about encouraging an immediate purchase but about generating an interest, educating, and building a lasting relationship with your target audience. Hence, the content you generate as part of your content marketing should be different from your ad copy and sales pitch.
Content marketing is a long game. It takes time, energy, expertise, and commitment. The key to the success of content marketing is clarity and consistency.
3 things to identify before you start content marketing
The objectives and key results you’d like to measure: Why do you want to invest in content marketing and how will you measure its success?
Your target audience for content marketing: Who do you want to attract to your content?
Your content niche: What are your content topics? What content will help you attract the target audience whom you’d like to eventually turn into your paid customers
When you have these three things clearly identified, create a content calendar so that you can regularly and consistently produce and publish content.
Why is content marketing important to marketing’s long-term return on investment and success?
Given its very nature, the short-term return on investment of content marketing is rather limited. Why do many businesses, small and large, invest in content marketing? Because its potential, long-term return on investment is quite significant. Here are five specific reasons why content marketing is important to marketing’s long-term success:
1. People want to educate themselves rather than being sold to.
People’s buying journey has four stages: education, evaluation, purchase, and loyalty. By investing in content marketing, your business can take part in all four stages of your target audience’s buying journey. You want your content - whether it’s a blog post, white paper, webinar, demo, or podcast - serves your target audience in one or more of their buying stages. When you help your target audience via content marketing throughout their buying journey, your business delivers real value to them and you get to build relationships with them. This is a more effective and respective way for your business to engage your target audience than other outbound marketing tactics such as cold calling and cold emailing. It is because content marketing engages your target audience on their term while cold calling/emailing is your attempt to engage them on your term.
2. People want to move through the four stages of the buying journey on their term.
When you invest in content marketing, have an intentional plan to create content for all four stages of the buying journey. For example, publish blogs that help your target audience educate themselves, provide a demo that’s helpful in the evaluation stage, create a checklist that is useful in the purchase stage, and offers value-add workshops that turn your customers into fans. This way, you can make sure you do engage your target audience every step of the way throughout their buying journey.
3. You want to build audience.
When you regularly create and publish content that you have expertise on, the people you want to attract to your business will be attracted to your content. When you continue to meet their expectation by providing useful and valuable content on an on-going basis, they will certainly come back for more. And those people who keep coming back to your website to consume more content are your "audience". When these people are finally ready to purchase, they will want to purchase from your business as opposed to your competitors given that there is an established trust and relationship. They know you have the deep expertise on the subject matter and they appreciate the guidance you’ve provided them along their buying journey.
4. You want to reduce customer acquisition cost.
Many outbound marketing tactics are becoming more and more expensive. For example, advertising and cold emailing/calling are becoming more expensive and less effective. Ad blocking services become widely known and adopted as people find advertising interruptive. The more people refuse the idea of advertising and cold calling/emailing, the less people you can reach via those methods. This leads to inefficiency and ultimately, a higher customer acquisition cost.
5. You can increase customer lifetime value.
Content marketing is not only to attract new audience (i.e. your target audience who haven’t consumed your content or product/service yet) but also for your customers. Content marketing is one of the ways your business can continue to provide additional value and stay relevant to your customers. When customers feel fully connected to your business, their lifetime value to your business is 52% higher (source: HBR). From a customer’s perspective, when you actively engage them by publishing useful and relevant content and make it highly accessible by, for example, sharing it via email newsletters, they will start considering you as the "go-to expert". This leads to repeat purchase and loyalty, which means a higher customer lifetime value to your business.
Content marketing's role in marketing strategy
Content marketing is especially useful in the "Attract" pillar of the 6PM (6-Pillar Marketing) Framework although it plays an important role in all four pillars of the marketing strategy: Attract, Engage, Delight, and Grow.
We can link each of these four pillars to each of the four stages of the buying journey. As mentioned above, the four stages of the buying journey are: education, evaluation, purchase, and loyalty. Content marketing has a place in all four stages of the buying journey.
Designed for SME CEOs, the 6PM (6-Pilar Marketing) Framework visualizes your marketing priorities while avoiding loopholes in your marketing plan. Here is a 5-minute summary video that gives you an overview of the Framework.
To learn more about what marketing strategy is, how to create your own, and how content marketing fits in the marketing strategy and the 6PM Framework, check out a workshop recording below.