What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute…
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
My own definition would be something along these lines:
Content marketing is made up of content creation (the creation of content that is usually digital such as blogposts, articles, vidoes and audio) and content distribution (sharing the content that has been produced, which would normally include sharing it via social media) with the aim of increasing brand awareness, generating interest and engagement and increasing sales.
In other words, creating and sharing content in order to get your brand in front of potential customers, helping them to understand more about your product or service and encouraging them to become involved with your brand in some way.
How Can This Work in Practice?
I like examples. And case studies. So, I thought I would give you an example of a content marketing success story that I have worked on. Of course, there are many other ways in which content marketing can work successfully, but hopefully this example should give you an idea of how it can work in practice.
I was asked to help with the digital marketing for an engineering / construction company. This particular company was very successful as a small business, but had very little online presence. In fact, it didn’t even have a website.
So, I set about producing a website using WordPress, and within a week or so the company had website live. This website showcased the company’s main lines of business, and shared contact details and a simple contact form for potential clients to get in touch. There was a nice logo and some basic content about the company and the services it offers.
Which was a great start.
But, this alone was not going to lead to an increase in sales. No-one knew about the website, it wasn’t showing up in Google Search for specific keywords, and it didn’t have any backlinks or anything else that was going to help it to stand out.
And that’s when the content strategy started.
Implementing the Content Marketing Strategy
First of all, I set up the website on Google Analytics, a great tool that records the total number of visitors to the website. It offers lots and lots of functionality, with different reports etc. but for me the most important metric was the number of unique visitors to the site over time, and specifically each month. Having Google Analytics set up meant that I could measure the success of the content marketing strategy over time. There are further ways to measure the success of a content marketing strategy, such as the number of people who visit the site and then complete the contact form, asking for a particular service.
In fact, I like to set up a “scorecard” for each project that allows me to measure its success over time.
The scorecard for this project looked something like this:
I like to measure things monthly, because I think it is the perfect time period for content marketing metrics. Depending on the nature of your business, and what you are looking to achieve, you might choose to measure these metrics over a different time period, say weekly, but for me, monthly works perfectly.
It is perhaps well worth pointing out at this stage that I am clearly measuring the progression of these metrics over time. I do not expect immediate results. Content marketing is a strategy that requires a little bit of patience, but one that can have incredible results.
For example, when an article is posted to your website it is not going to appear in the Google Search results straight away. It might take anywhere from 2-8 months. And even then, there is no guarantee that your webpages or articles will appear toward the top of those results.
But there is a way to stack the deck in your favor. The best way to propel your site to the top of the search engine results pages is by producing quality content. Detailed, clear, engaging, interesting and shareable content. Content that is not just there for content’s sake, but content that really fills a need, solves a problem, helps the reader understand a new concept, or points them in the right direction.
Once you have that kind of content, the natural workings of the internet will do the rest. Readers will spend more time on your site (and help to reduce bounce rates), they’ll share your articles and link to them, and your authority on your niche will attract traffic from far and wide.
So, back to this particular case study…
Producing and Sharing High-Quality Content
I started to produce content on a regular basis. Blogposts or articles with catchy, useful titles and packed with relevant content. I didn’t write the blogposts myself, but I did work with some fantastic writers. High-quality licensed images were added to improve the visual impact – and such images really help bring the blogposts to life (and improve SEO when they are correctly tagged).
Armed with an ever-increasing suite of articles (the great thing about producing content on a regular basis such as every week, is that the amount of content just starts to build up!), I started to share these articles on social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc. I used the appropriate industry-specific hashtags to attract people searching for those same topics (after all, targeted traffic is what we all want, not random traffic), and started to see the number of visitors to the site increase.
It wasn’t an explosion. But the numbers did start to increase. And even though it wasn’t huge at first, the numbers did go up over time and interestingly, keep on going up! Visitors started to fill out the contact forms asking for further details on a specific service, and some of those prospects were turned into clients. Tens of thousands of dollars of real business was closed and this content marketing exercise proved to be a massive success.
The other great thing about the strategy of content marketing is that, unlike paid advertising, when you stop producing content, the positive effect remains, sometimes for many years in the future. So, while I would always recommend that you keep producing new content, the content that you have already produced is going to help boost your brand for years to come!
In summary, content marketing is, in my experience, an amazing strategy that all businesses should consider implementing.
Content Marketing Services
If you would like to find out more about how content marketing can help your business, please get in touch using this form and we can set up a call to discuss your specific needs.
All the best!
About the author: Paul Urwin is a Cofounder of Big Box Content, a content creation studio which produces audio, video and written content for clients, helping them to increase brand awareness and make more sales.