For most brands with an online presence, content marketing is a fundamental part of marketing strategies and day-to-day work. Content marketing adds value to the user and can serve brands for all kinds of business goals, so their role is very important.
As marketers, we need to fully understand what content marketing is and is not, what it can contribute to our brand and what are the best practices and mistakes to avoid. Let’s go for it!
What is content marketing?
According to the definition of Joe Pulizzi, content marketing is a technique based on the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and attract the attention of a well-defined target audience, with the aim of encouraging them to be future clients.
This strategy is based, therefore, on adding value to the user for free. It does not focus on making immediate purchases, but seeks to attract the user and develop a long-term relationship. It is like an investment that seeks to achieve better results for the brand in the future, instead of instant gratification.
Content marketing and inbound marketing
A very common confusion that should be clarified is the distinction between content marketing and inbound marketing. Both concepts are closely related and may even overlap, but ultimately they are different things.
While content marketing is a technique that is based on offering the client valuable content that may be of interest to them, inbound marketing is a whole methodology that is based on attracting the client to the brand and nurturing a relationship with him to get them to become a customer and to retain long-term loyalty.
The term inbound marketing arises in opposition to “outbound” or traditional marketing, which is based on interrupting the user to get our message to him (let’s think, for example, of the typical television commercials). We must not make the mistake of thinking that outbound is equivalent to analog and inbound to digital, since in digital marketing there are also many outbound techniques, such as advertising banners or pre-roll ads (which are shown before a video than the user wants to play).
Within the inbound methodology, content marketing plays a key role, since content often serves as the “bait” that serves to attract users to the brand. But there are some essential differences:
- The inbound marketing deals with the whole process, from initial capture user until it becomes and customer loyalty. Content marketing is a specific technique that serves to attract customers in the initial stages, or it can even play a certain role in loyalty, but ultimately it is an aid to the process and not a methodology in itself.
- It is possible to do content marketing without doing inbound marketing, for example, by sending a newsletter massively. It is also possible to do inbound marketing without resorting to content marketing, although it is not usual. Inbound marketing uses a variety of techniques to drive traffic in addition to content, for example pay-per-click advertising or email marketing.
- Working in content marketing requires more creative profiles, based on writing, photography, video editing … while the marketer specialized in inbound has a more technical and broader profile, since carrying out a global inbound strategy requires knowledge of programming, analytics and marketing automation.
What exactly do we mean when we say “content“? In its origins, content marketing relied mainly on written pieces, for example, through corporate magazines. But today we no longer have the limitations of traditional marketing and content can be presented in a multitude of formats:
- Blogs. Written texts continue to have their place within a modern content marketing strategy, and many brands base their strategies on the company blog (a collection of articles arranged chronologically). For this type of content to work, we have to bear in mind that we are writing for the internet and that it is essential that the texts are well organized and easy to read.
- Ebooks. Many companies include ebooks as a way to link content strategy and inbound marketing. In essence, the technique consists of offering the user an ebook on a topic of interest in exchange for leaving their personal data (including their email) in a form. Subsequently, these data are used to maintain contact with the user and guide him towards the purchase.
- Infographics. The infographics are superpopulares on the internet, and that can offer a lot of data in an easy to understand and share.
- Videos . Videos or video marketing are becoming a star content on the internet, and in recent years they have experienced a boom thanks to the functionalities to broadcast live. For brands, they offer a lot of possibilities to connect with the audience and get their message across.
And that’s not all: you can also opt for podcast, interactive content and a long etcetera. Let your creativity fly!
What is the content for?
As we have already seen, content can play a key role in attracting users and incorporating them into our inbound strategy. The idea is that users find our content when they seek to solve a need related to our brand.
But although we understand that this is the key functionality, the reality is much more complex and interesting, and that is that the contents can serve to fulfill a multitude of objectives and are interrelated with many aspects of online marketing:
- Content marketing complements perfectly with SEO, since search engines like Google value very positively that a website contains quality content and is updated frequently. Therefore, the content should be related to the keyword strategy of the brand, so that users find it quickly when they do related searches.
- Content can help improve branding and brand reputation. Videos, articles, etc. published by the brand must respond to its style and values, which reinforces its image in the mind of the consumer. In turn, if this content is useful and entertaining for users, it will help create positive associations with the brand.
- Content marketing can support loyalty. If a brand has a large number of useful resources (for example, guides or video tutorials), users will have a more positive experience after the purchase and are more likely to become long-term customers. We can also offer content as part of our newsletters to continue building the relationship with the client.
- Content marketing can help improve customer service. If we have ready-made resources in relation to the most common customer questions, for example, an FAQ guide or short videos that show how to solve installation problems, we will make it easier for users to quickly resolve their concerns. Thus, customer service times will be reduced or we will even make it possible for the user to find the answer on their own, without having to resort to our team.
- Content marketing strengthens public relations. Traditionally, public relations is based on sending content (for example, press releases) to different media, with the hope that they will publish it. Today, brands have their own channels to get their message across.
- The content feeds the brand’s paid channels and social media. Content marketing works synergistically with other channels to convey useful and entertaining information about the brand to the user.
7 good content marketing practices
- Know your audience. The success of a content marketing strategy lies in its being able to offer valuable content to the brand’s target audience. Logically, what is valuable to one type of user may be completely irrelevant to others. So before planning the content that we are going to develop, we have to clearly define who our ideal client is (what in marketing is known as “buyer persona“).
- Be consistent. One of the keys to content marketing is frequency and consistency. It is necessary to refresh the blog or brand page with new content on a regular basis, and maintain this periodicity over time to reap medium and long-term results. A resource that can be very useful is to develop a content calendar that establishes the dates of creation and publication.
- Check before posting. Sometimes the rush can lead us to the temptation to sit down this step, but it is essential to avoid mistakes that can negatively affect the image of the brand.
- Think about your dissemination strategy. The best content in the world won’t do us any good if we don’t get users to reach it. This is where you have to think about synergies between content and other brand channels, such as social media, SEO or paid advertising.
- Seize the moment. The popularity of content on the internet can be very short-lived, so you have to take advantage of trends and jump on the bandwagon at the right time. For example, we can plan our content based on seasonal events, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
- Recycle and reuse your content. Content marketing is a long-term investment and requires time and resources, but the good news is that some content does not lose value over the years. Think of ways to republish or recycle them, for example in a new format or a compilation of content related to a specific topic.
- Measure the results of your content marketing. This practice can (and should!) Be applied to any marketing strategy we carry out. Periodically, it is necessary to review the results of what we are doing, see what the strengths and weaknesses are, and use this information to continue improving.
5 mistakes to avoid in content marketing
- Staying stagnant. I always say that the motto of digital marketers should be “Renew or die!” If a format or type of content gives good results, we can always repeat it, but we have to bear in mind that consumer tastes and habits evolve. That is why it is essential to incorporate new formats, techniques and ideas to our content marketing to continue evolving.
- Being too promotional. This error is very common among brands that want to get quick results from their content strategy, but it is not effective at all. The idea of content should always be to add value, never sell. If it is excessively promotional, users will identify it as advertising and it will not achieve the effect we are looking for.
- Do not include calls to action. If we can’t sell directly, how can we link the content to our marketing? The answer is in the calls to action, that is, buttons or links that tell the user what we want him to do next: visit our website, leave us your data, request a free trial … In this way we will connect content marketing with our digital marketing goals.
- Neglecting quality. The “quality is worth more than quantity” thing also applies to content marketing. Yes, you need to post regularly, but never at the cost of posting sloppy articles, videos, or images. Keep in mind that the content represents your brand and your image depends on it.
- Not optimizing content for social media. Although the most important thing is always the quality of the content, the presentation is also essential when users decide to share content or not. The main thing is to have a good image and headline and optimize the description to suit the requirements of different social networks (more or less brief, with or without hashtag …).