Your customers, leads, and audience members want valuable content from your business. And that content needs to reach audience members in a way that feels natural and organic versus being disruptive.
By honing in on effective content marketing, you can do just that — and as a result, increase conversions, improve brand awareness, boost revenue, establish yourself as an industry leader, and more.
In this guide, we'll give you a birds-eye-view of content marketing, types of content marketing, content marketing examples, and how to get a strategy going.
Today, outbound marketing strategies (or anything that interrupts your audience members) aren’t as effective at resonating with and converting audience members as they once were.
Today, your content needs to reach your audience in a way that feels natural (a.k.a. inbound). A common way of doing this is by creating a narrative for your content — or telling a story. In doing so, your content will feel more authentic, engaging, and tailored to your audience.
So, what defines content marketing anyway?
Content marketing can also help your business with the following:
There are many types of content marketing that you may choose to incorporate in your strategy — here are some of the most common:
With over 3.6 billion global social media users, it’s easy to understand why so many businesses invest in social media marketing. There are a number of platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat) to work with and several ways you can create and share content on each of them (e.g. photos, live videos, pre-recorded videos, stories).
Featured Resource: Social Media Content Calendar
Infographics display content, information, and data in an easy-to-understand, graphic format. With a mix of simple wording, short statements, and clear images, infographics are a great way to effectively communicate your content. They work well if you’re trying to distill an educational and/ or complex topic down so all audience members can understand it.
Featured Resource: 15 Free Infographic Templates
Blogs are a powerful type of inbound content and allow for a lot of creativity in terms of their purpose and topic. With a blog, you can do things like promote other internal and external content and blog articles via links, add social share buttons, and incorporate product information.
Featured Resource: Start a Successful Blog
In a 2020 survey, it was found that 37% of U.S. adults listened to a podcast within the last month. For this reason, many businesses and media outlets have began creating and sharing their own podcasts.
Podcasts allow for a lot of creativity as they can be about any topic of choice. Additionally, you determine other factors related to the podcast such as cadence of episodes, who's on the podcast, where you advertise the podcast, and how long episodes are.
Featured Resource: How to Start a Podcast
According to HubSpot research, over 50% of consumers say they want to see videos from the brands they interact with. Additionally, video marketing can boost conversions, improve ROI, and help you build relationships with audience members. You may choose to share your video content on social media platforms, landing pages, or on a co-marketer's website.
Featured Resource: The Ultimate Video Marketing Starter Pack
Paid ads can help you reach a broad audience and allow you to position yourself in all of the places you want to be seen — paid ads are especially beneficial when paired with inbound marketing. There are many places you can share paid ads including on social media, landing pages, banners, and sponsored content.
Featured Resource: The Ultimate Google Ads PPC Kit
Next, let's look at some content marketing examples that are associated with those types of content marketing we just reviewed.
The following examples will give you a better understanding of how you can incorporate content in your greater marketing strategy.
Lush Cosmetics’ Instagram account is on-brand and complements the rest of their marketing content — if the page didn’t say “Lush Cosmetics” anywhere on the profile, customers would likely still know the profile belongs to Lush.
The Instagram page shares the Lush product line, displays different color and scent options for the products, and shows the various ways each product can be used. The profile feels and looks colorful and uniquely Lush, and depicts members of their wide customer base.
IBM created an infographic when they launched their Cloud marketplace. Their infographic is on-brand, well-organized, and easy to read. It clearly explains what they’re doing with their Cloud marketplace and how customers can benefit from it. It also tells audience members how they can access the marketplace and get started using it.
Expedia has a blog called “[Out There Starts Here]” that shares travel-related information including hotel recommendations, great places to visit, and travel-related activities you can take part in around the globe.
Expedia regularly publishes their blog content to keep readers interested and engaged. It includes a wide range of topics related to any type of trip you could imagine. The blog is on-brand and all articles relate to the travel technology company’s goal and mission of gaining customers and boosting brand awareness. They do this by linking to their services and writing about customers who have already had positive experiences with the company.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) has a weekly podcast called HBR IdeaCast which features industry leaders in both business and management. You can either subscribe to consistently receive their hundreds of podcasts or pick and choose which ones you want to listen to.
The podcast is on-brand and complements the rest of HBRs published content. It also serves as a great way for HBR to connect with their target audience, enhance brand awareness, and gain a following of audience members through a medium that differs from their typical work (e.g. podcast versus HBR article).
Much of Dollar Shave Club’s video content has gone viral. Their marketing efforts are on-brand, humorous, and entertaining. In fact, one of their videos has over 26 million views on YouTube. By establishing a name for themselves via online video content, Dollar Shave Club has experienced impressive growth and brand recognition.
Revolve — a clothing and accessories company — uses paid and sponsored ads on social media (like this one on Facebook) to reach their target audience while they browse their news feeds.
The content ads feature some of their products as well as details about their free shipping and return policy to drive target audience members to their site (and, hopefully, convert them into paying customers).
Lastly, let’s cover your content marketing strategy. By implementing a strategy, your content marketing efforts will be impactful and effective in converting leads and reaching your target audience.
The first part of your content marketing strategy is to set SMART goals. These should be specific to your business — they’ll likely complement your broader marketing and company goals.
Here are some SMART goal examples:
Next, set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your SMART goals. KPIs are quantifiable data points you can use to measure your actual performance against your goal.
|smart goal||related kpi|
|Brand awareness||Site traffic, social media followers, subscription sign-ups, mentions (by customers and partners)|
|Revenue||Daily sales, site traffic|
|Conversions||Conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, associated shipping rate trends, competitive price trends|
|Brand loyalty||Returning customers, promoters, product reviews, referrals|
|Customer engagement||Likes, shares, follows, mentions, backlinks|
|Rapport and trust||Returning customers, promoters, followers, mentions|
|Strategic partners||New partnerships, mentions, backlinks|
Next, choose the type of content you’ll create. To do this, start by thinking about your target audience and buyer personas.
Answer the following questions about your target audience to help you narrow down the right types of content for them:
Then, take a look back at the various types of content we reviewed earlier to decide which types of content you’ll create.
Once you’ve decided on the type of content you’ll market with, it’s time to choose your specific content channels. Where will you share your content? Where will it live and be shared from?
For some of the content types, the channel you need to work with will be obvious. For example, if you’re creating Facebook content, your channel will be the social platform itself.
Now, set your budget. Think about the type of content you’re creating and which channels you’re marketing that content on.
Then, ask yourself the following questions to determine your budget:
Make note of how your responses impact your budget — whether that’s an increase or decrease in what you may have already estimated.
Create and distribute your content so your audience members can consume it — and possibly convert. To ensure you’re consistently producing content and sharing it among your prospects and customers, use a social media calendar or an editorial content calendar. This will help your team stay on top of all of the content being created as well as allow you to schedule it ahead of time.
Lastly, analyze and measure your results so you can make any necessary changes to enhance your content marketing efforts and reach more audience members.
Look at your SMART goals and KPIs to determine the success of your content marketing strategy. Did you achieve your goals and KPIs? Were you close to reaching them, or were you off in your estimations?
Here are some tools to help you with your content marketing strategy analytics and results:
With effective content marketing, you can reach your target audience and increase conversions. There are several ways to market with content to boost revenue, grow your brand awareness and recognition, and build relationships with your prospects and customers.
And don't forget to extract more value from every piece of content you create.
To get started, determine which type of content works best for your business and audience, and develop a content marketing strategy to begin boosting your bottom line today.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.