When you’re searching the web for a way to make sure your promotional strategy packs a punch, you might stumble onto the phrase ‘content marketing.’ You might even feel as though you have a vague idea of what it is and more importantly, what it could mean for your business. After all, based on the articles online, it will probably seem like content marketing is as important for a promotional campaign as bread is for making a sandwich.
The Content Marketing Institute, a helpful online guide for content marketing from A to Z, have compiled a neat little content marketing definition. Paraphrasing, the site states that content marketing is about conceiving, creating and delivering content that is useful, important and maintains a high level of quality. By doing this, marketers can reach their target audience and hopefully gain a customer.
Right now, let’s focus on the idea that the content you’re delivering is important. When we say important, we don’t mean to any random person but rather to a member of your buyer persona. It’s this idea that separates content marketing from other more typical forms of advertisement.
Hopefully, any content that is part of a campaign will be something with relevance to the audience. To the point where they actually seek it out and are eager to consume the information it provides.
Since content marketing is based on appealing to a specific buyer persona, this does mean that it won’t be valuable to every individual that sees it, but that’s okay. A typical viewer will probably see it as nothing more than an ad, but if a member of your buyer persona reads or views it, they could be urged to buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, hit follow and the list goes on. It’s an online content creation tactic that can, when used correctly, lead to consumer action. Although for this to happen, you need to make sure that the content provided is important, compelling, valuable and worthy of sharing.
More and more business are realising that content marketing isn’t an optional form of marketing, but if you want to keep up with the competition, it’s essential. Content is vital to almost every stage of the inbound methodology which is why businesses use content marketing agencies like Toast Inbound to attract, convert, close and delight.
Toast Inbound have helped numerous clients to create their buyer personas as part of the content strategy planning stage, included in our content marketing services. We often get comments on how useful this has been for businesses. Once they have created their buyer personas, they can then use this in everything they do – both online and offline. Sales colleagues should also use these to help them prioritise business development activity.
Although, you may have noticed we still haven’t really answered the key question (what is content marketing?) fully. What is content marketing? Well, there are a few different types of content marketing, and by looking at them, the answer to that question should become clearer.
The umbrella term of content marketing contains a whole range of different types of content. When discussing the various possibilities of content marketing, it’s impossible to discuss them all. However, we don’t need to because once you understand some of the key possibilities, you will have the building blocks you’ll need to get your own content marketing strategy underway. You’ll also be able to start to answer another question – what is the importance of content marketing? Before we get to that let’s look at a few different types.
You might be wondering about the difference between the typical standard web page and a webpage that is using content marketing. Looking at some of our case studies where content marketing has been could be useful to find some tips on how you could content marketing to achieve success in your own business. A webpage using content marketing will be written in a way which will appeal to your buyer persona. Not only this, but the content will be tailored to the stage of the buying cycle that the reader is at. For example, a person looking for more information on what a particular topic is, typically, will not want to see a web page on a list of your products, they simply want more information on the subject area. As well as this, content marketing web pages use calls to actions that encourage users to interact with them but incorporates them in subtle ways that still have an impact on the reader.
What is a pillar page?
A pillar page covers all aspects of a given topic on one page, leaving room for more in-depth blog posts covering different sections of the topic that all link together. Pillar pages are generally over 1000 words and broadly cover all aspects of a topic, but don’t give in-depth guidance like a blog post does. Learn more about the changes in Google and why you need to convert your content marketing efforts to focus on topic clusters.
Why are pillar pages used?
Pillar pages are used to rank highly and generate traffic for a more generic keyword. For example, you may have a pillar page covering everything you need to know about choosing a sports car (a medium/high volume keyword). Throughout this page you would have numerous conversion opportunities, offering visitors various guides and infographics in exchange for their details. From this page you would create cluster content (blog posts) about things you have addressed in your pillar page, but not in much detail. Your pillar page and blogs should all link to and from each other, this shows Google that all of your clustered content is high-quality and providing value to your visitors.
What is a blog?
Blogs are short web pages that address specific topics in detail. They focus niche keywords that address a given topic in detail. Often the aim of a blog will be to solve an issue that your visitor may have, for ourselves an example could be ‘why doesn’t your website generate enough leads’. We would then solve this issue by suggesting ways that you could generate more leads through your website – within the blog we would link back to our main lead generation pillar page.
Why are blogs used?
Blogs are used in topic clusters to address parts of your pillar page in more detail. They are generally used to target more specific keywords than your pillar page, which is why they can be much shorter (around 500 words). Blogs can give your visitor just enough information so they now understand what they were looking for, but they may need a little more information to help them further. This is where your conversion opportunity comes in. Depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey you could offer them a guide or even a consultation.
Books, in particular, eBooks are actually a great form of content marketing. An advantage of a published eBook is that you can actually use it as a link building tool. For instance, marketers often use eBooks to advertise their services to a buying public. People often avoid eBooks as a form of content marketing because they think it’s difficult and time-consuming but those problems are now issues of the past thanks to the rise of self-publication options.
Video content can be used to sell anything from dental products to an International consulting service. Similar to books, video content marketing is now cheap and easy for anyone who has the time to record and edit a five or ten minute video. The tech needed is completely affordable, and a number of video content marketers have seen great success, using social media networks.
Toast Inbound have recently produced a corporate video, showing how we use content creation to generate leads for businesses. Take a look at our video below, it might give you some video ideas for your own business.
Infographics offer valuable information in a visual way. They are a good way to help people understand complicated subjects as it’s often easier to do this visually, through graphics as opposed to writing. Infographics are a soft conversion opportunity as they’re simply there to provide more information, just in a different format. For an easy way to start building your contact database, use infographics.
Guides are a great opportunity to show people that you are experts in what you do. A guide gives you a way to teach the reader about a subject they might not be too familiar with, whilst showing that you are true experts. This way, if they ever need any additional help with the subject of the guide, they will think of you straight away. Guides can come in many different formats, you can have simple, more generic, guides that can be used in many different circumstances. Or you could have guides that are specific to a topic, these would usually be larger with more information in. Downloadable guides make great conversion opportunities because if your visitor wants to learn more about a topic then the guide is there to teach them.
Do you need help creating any of these?
Toast Inbound is a full-service inbound marketing agency, from SEO and online content creation experts to graphic designers and even video producers, we can offer you services in all content creation departments. If you’re looking to grow your business with the help of a content creation agency, we may be able to help. We operate from our office in Banbury, North Oxfordshire, but provide content marketing services to clients all over the country. To find out more about all of our content creation services please fill out the form below.
Now you know what content marketing is we need to look at the benefits of it. But before that, it is important to understand how buyers operate. There are four key stages: awareness, research, considering and buying.
First, a customer has a problem that needs resolving, so they complete research to find products or services that are relevant. After that, they consider the different possibilities from potential buyers, and after doing this, they then decide which product to buy or which service to use.
Most advertising hits the customers when they are thinking about a purchase or about to buy a product. Content marketing allows you to be the early bird and instead works during the awareness and research stages.
One of the huge benefits of content marketing is that it lets customers know that there is a solution to their issue that they are probably not aware of. If the content is valuable then by the time they have finished watching or reading it, customers are already at the buying stage, and they may not even bother to consider other businesses.
It’s also a hugely efficient process. Some content marketers don’t need to put much time or effort into their campaign strategy at all. Instead, a few well crafted and high-quality blogs can be enough to have a significant impact on the number of sales that a business is receiving.
Furthermore, you can use content marketing to fuel other areas of your campaign. After all, if you’re creating content, it can be used on social media, for SEO possibilities, for link building and for generating leads.
At this point, we bet you only have one question.
If you’re wondering how to get started with content marketing, there are a number of different paths to consider.
However, if you are interested in getting started with content marketing without outside help, there are a few things you need to know.
Creating great content isn’t about just producing something that people want to watch, listen or read but rather something that people are willing to pay for. If you want the best example of this, look at the entertainment industry. It’s a well-known fact that films and TV shows are often created purely to sell products, particularly when they are aimed at children.
So, the secret to delivering great content can be found in any examples that you are already willing to pay for yourself. Do you subscribe and pay to view articles or videos? If you answered yes then the chances are that they are delivering truly exceptional content marketing.
If you have absolutely no idea about what content to produce, do check in with your most valuable allies – your customers! After all, they know more than anyone else what type of content they would be willing to pay for.
Do you want to know one of the best facts about content marketing? Hardly any companies are using it, and those that are aren’t using it in the right way. If you’re looking for a way to speed ahead of the competition then content marketing could be a great way to achieve this.
Now you have all of the answers to your questions:
It’s time to get started. We would love to talk to you about our experience in growing businesses using content marketing and how we could help you. Find out more about the services we offer, get in touch with us today.
Author – Dan Stillgoe
Dan is a digital marketing executive at Toast Inbound, he has a HubSpot certification in content marketing and delivers content related services to clients daily.
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