Have you ever tried to explain what you do for a living to an older person or someone who works outside your industry?
As marketers, we spend so much time surrounded by people who understand the concept of things like SEO, PPC and evergreen content, it’s easy to forget these are relatively unknown terms for most of the general public.
“Oh, you’re a copywriter? So you stop people from stealing others’ ideas?”
No, Grandma, that’s copyright. I work in content marketing. Yes, I understand they sound the same. Let me explain….
What’s content marketing when it’s at home?
Within the marketing world, content marketing is actually fairly new. We’re all familiar with traditional advertising and its unapologetic, in-your-face approach to brand awareness, thrust into our consciousness on every bus, brochure, and billboard.
Traditional advertising interrupts your day to tell you, “Hey, buy this thing!”
By contrast, content marketing is useful. Interesting. Informative. Optional.
Content marketing essentially provides a free media resource that prospective customers might find relevant, and within that content—whether it’s a blog post, video or infographic—may recommend a certain product or service.
It usually falls into one of two categories: educational or entertaining. The best content marketing achieves both—and as a result, it gets shared around.
How do you decide what to write about?
At the heart of every good content marketing campaign is a brilliant idea: one that will pique interest, excitement, and intrigue and get users sharing (on social media, Grandma. We’ll talk about that another time).
It’s important to plan it right; otherwise, you may waste time and money creating content that just won’t fly.
Luckily, there are lots of good ways to generate ideas.
One way is to always keep a log of posts, articles, and ideas as they come to you. You might not write about them now, but you certainly might want to in the future. Use these resources for inspiration next time you need something on-point to write about.
You can’t beat a good old-fashioned brainstorm (though you’re not supposed to call them that anymore). Thought shower? Creative hurricane? You get my drift. Group discussions where everyone is free to bat around ideas are a good way to get people thinking freely.
Then it’s just research.
Keep abreast of what’s trending, what’s relevant, and what your competitors are writing about. Doing keyword research to discover frequently asked questions about your industry is a great place to start, using a tool like KeywordTool.io or Ahrefs.
And if you need more inspiration, check out these 7 Easy Ways to Find Unique, Fascinating Content Ideas (Video).
So how does it make money?
The reason content marketing can be so effective is that each piece of content is researched, created, and designed to meet a particular need or query. Or perhaps just to entertain.
Either way, it’s the ideal way to reach out to prospective customers and genuinely provide something of value, whether it’s a step-by-step guide or an educational piece of writing with lots of visuals.
Content marketing positions you as an authority in your field and raises your industry profile.
A good content marketing campaign can be used in several ways:
- to increase traffic, conversion rates, and email sign-ups
- to gain links to your website
- to raise social shares
- to boost brand awareness
High-quality content does well on its own merit—people will share and link to it because it offers something beyond simply throwing a product in someone’s face.
Content marketing can be delightful. It can also be terrible. So lots of prior research and a little bit of sensitivity is worthwhile.
How do I tell if I’m looking at content marketing?
What does content marketing look like? Often, it doesn’t look like marketing at all. That’s the beauty of it.
Content marketing covers everything from articles, blog posts, and whitepapers to podcasts, infographics, and videos. It lets you shout about what you do—but in such a way that people will want to pay attention rather than simply ignore you.
At the very least, every business with an online presence should have a blog that covers topics relating to its industry. Additional fun pieces such as videos and infographics are a great way to gain visibility across other channels, as they are compact, shareable, and visually appealing.
It may not always be that obvious, but if you’re reading an article online (that isn’t a news article) and it recommends a certain product or service somewhere in the article, then you could well be looking at some content marketing.
Or if you come across a funny video and it includes some branding or a closing call-to-action, this too is probably content marketing.
It’s okay because you got something out of it. The primary difference between advertising and content marketing is that you’re creating content that customers actually want.
Can you show me?
Yes! There is so much brilliant content marketing out there, we are really spoilt for choice. Let’s look at some good examples:
The Skinny Teatox Blog
We both like tea, don’t we Grandma? Well, Skinny Teatox is an online shop that sells specialty teas. A simple website built using Shopify, it looks clean and professional. And most importantly, it has a blog.
credit: skinny teatox
Skinny Teatox caters to people who are interested in living a healthy lifestyle, so their blog posts cover a wide range of subjects relating to health and fitness.
In this post about creating a fitness program, it takes you through the five steps needed to achieve this goal. And in the first paragraph? A link to the Skinny Teatox “About” page, recommended as a great product for weight loss.
Skinny Teatox has done a great job of identifying its audience and creating useful content that will interest them while still advertising their products.
It’s a win-win.
The Tea Song (Yorkshire Tea)
Since we’re on the topic of tea, it would be remiss of me not to mention the classic piece of content marketing that is The Tea Song, created by Yorkshire Tea.
In this hilarious one-shot video that lasts approximately 3 minutes, we are introduced to all the many benefits of tea—some of which are truer than others. Tea may not bring your pet back from the dead, but it does make you feel a little bit better. This catchy and entertaining song is just what content marketing should be.
Don’t you kind of want to support Yorkshire Tea now?
Infographic: The World Bank
One thing is for sure, we can’t make tea without water. In this infographic, “Why Waste Water,” by the World Bank, we are taken on a visual journey that explains how we can better reuse water to ensure that we all have plenty to drink.
Infographics are increasingly popular for their ability to disseminate information in a digestible way, making it easier to remember and more likely to be shared.
So Grandma, what can we take away from this?
We know that content marketing is based on finding out what your customers want to know and creating content that they want to see. It’s all about finding a great idea and being able to execute that idea well, whether it’s in a written, visual or video format (or anything else for that matter).
About the Author: Patrick Foster, Ecommerce Entrepreneur & Marketer, is an ecommerce entrepreneur, coach and writer; sharing industry tips and latest trends on his blog EcommerceTips.org. He’s always looking for a great story or a great bit of content that sparks a new customer relationship. You can follow him on Twitter for more tips on ecommerce.