Chances are good you’ve heard of the term “content marketing.” You may even know you should be doing it. But do you understand it or how to do it?
It’s actually a simple idea that has been around for a very long time. After all, informative newsletters, magazines and literature have been around for decades. It’s only in recently, as the need for digital marketing has accelerated, that the term “content marketing” has become an industry buzzword. But, it’s oh-so much more than that.
Content marketing is the strategic creation and distribution of many types of content that aims to inform, engage and attract a desired audience. While content marketing can help to promote your brand, you may be surprised that it’s actually more important to push content that helps your audience understand a topic related to your business — not your actual business.
That’s right, content marketing does not include overt advertising for your company.
So, what does content marketing look like? Here’s an example: Consider a pet store that sells all types of dog food. To employ content marketing, the store owner could begin educating customers about the benefits of each label via informative e-newsletters, targeted social media posts, explanatory videos, blog posts featuring actual customers and more.
Now, these pieces of content don’t explicitly promote the pet store because the subject of each piece focuses on a different type of dog food — not the company. But the information is delivered by the store, packaged in company branding. Every time a customer consumes a piece of the content, he learns important information about dog food and how knowledgeable the pet store is.
These inbound marketing techniques help the savvy owner build trust with dog owners. Over time, many of these customers will seek additional information from the expert store, and its reputation will develop as the go-to, preferred source for dog food (and possibly more).
Now, it’s important to note that the owner must be selective about what types of content she uses. For her audience, publishing informative and graphic social media posts are probably a better choice than pushing out a scientific white paper. The store owner must be strategic to maximize her efforts. For more details about how to choose the best content for your audience, watch for a coming blog post.
Finally, as part of her content marketing efforts, the owner publishes each piece of content to her store website, complete with strategic metadata. The growing collection allows those who are researching dog food options online to find the store’s website. Once there, they can contact the store for more information or purchase products. Importantly, online publishing also improves her site’s overall SEO value, which helps even more customers find her. (More about that here.)
Because of content marketing, the owner will likely see her sales tick up and the store’s reputation develop into a trusted resource for dog owners. This is just one simplified example, of course, but it helps to explain the need for content marketing.
In short, if your business has a website, you must use content marketing to drive visitors and increase sales. It’s that important.