Jan 19, 2016
What is content marketing and is it right for your business?
You have probably heard the term content marketing, but do you know what it is and if it’s right for your business? As a small business owner, marketing can occupy a lot of your time. To market effectively, you need to know which types of marketing work best for you and your audience.
This article is the first in a series in which we explore different types of marketing to help you find one or more strategies that are right for your business.
In this article, I explain what content marketing is and show you examples of how to use it effectively to both attract your ideal client and turn her into a lead.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on the generation and distribution of relevant content valuable to your target audience. Generally, the intent of content marketing is not only to attract and engage your target audience, but also to convert those audience members to leads.
Content that is relevant and valuable to your customer is simply content that your target audience wants to consume—read, view, listen to, watch, download, and so on—including:
- White papers
- Landing pages
- Blog posts
- Trials or betas
- Case studies
The list goes on and on. Your business goals and audience are key to deciding which kinds of content to create.
Advantages of content marketing
A strong content marketing strategy can help your business grow your online audience and reach more potential clients. Here are just a few of the advantages that content marketing offers.
It builds trust.
Content marketing provides you an opportunity to share your expertise with your target audience. It helps to establish your authority and to build trust. Your audience will come to know you as the go-to person in your field as you demonstrate what you know through the content that you produce.
It is cost-effective.
For little to no money, you can create content that your target audience wants. To get your content out, there’s no need to hire a professional content marketer—unless you’d prefer to do just that. You can start with a blog and begin sharing what you know right away.
If you create content that your audience finds valuable, they’re likely to share it with others.
It can help your target audience find you.
Content marketing helps with your organic search engine optimization (SEO) efforts as long as you’re generating online content that search engines can find and index.
Content that is gated (that is, behind a registration form) is typically not indexed because search engines are unable to access it.
Not only does content marketing feed your search engine marketing, but it also can serve as the cornerstone of your other marketing efforts.
How to get started
If content marketing is right for you, then you’ll want to begin by aligning content with your business goals. If you have the time and resources, then consider creating content to support each goal.
Let’s take the following two goals as examples and provide marketing tactics appropriate for each one.
Goal #1: Attract more audience.
To attract more audience to your website and your business, you want to make it as easy as possible for the audience to find your content.
First and foremost, do not gate this content. You want to make this content accessible not only to your target audience, but also to search engines that will index your content.
Web visitors are less likely to register for these content types possibly because they are often freely available on the web:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
Goal #2: Generate more leads.
To generate more leads for your business, you want to offer content for which potential clients are willing to exchange their contact information.
In order to collect contact information, you need to gate this content. You want your web visitors to register to receive this valuable content.
Web visitors may be more willing to register for the following types of content based on the perceived value of it:
- White papers
- Trials, such as a software or app trial
How do you know whether or not to gate your content?
In a word: value. As a rule of thumb, if your goal is to increase leads, then place your most valuable content behind registration.
As an example, you will presumably spend more time writing, revising, and editing a multi-page ebook than you will writing and editing a one page worksheet. Therefore, make the ebook a gated offer, but don’t gate your the worksheet.
Maybe only a small percentage of your website visitors register for your gated content, however, those who do are probably more qualified leads for your business.
Because there are exceptions to every rule as well as gray areas, make value the determining factor rather than content type when it comes to registration.
I have seen, for instance, both gated and ungated case studies. I’ve also seen videos that require registration to be viewed. It all depends upon the content’s value to its audience.
How do you create valuable content?
You want to create content that your audience is willing to register for, but how do you know what to create? Here are a few ways to help you find content ideas:
- Discussion forums. Forums are a great place to uncover ideas. Read through forums related to your industry and take note of the questions, issues, and problems raised by the participants.
- Magazines. You don’t need a subscription. Stop by your local bookstore or newsstand to find relevant magazines. Read through the headlines on the covers to discover what’s trending now. Because of their timely nature, magazines almost always focus on what’s current.
- Social media. If you have a following or access to a group, why not ask for ideas? What it is that your audience struggles with? What keeps them up at night? What’s working for them? Whatever it is that you need to know, don’t be afraid to ask.
Even if you think that a topic, issue, or idea has already been exhausted, don’t let it stop you. As an expert in your field, you have experience and a perspective to share with your audience that is unique to you.
I started this series with content marketing because you may find that content marketing underpins your other marketing efforts. In later articles in this marketing series, I’ll cover email marketing, search marketing, and social media marketing.
If you’re a small business trying to determine where best to spend your time and marketing dollars, then check back in to learn more.