What Is Content Marketing?

If you have been using Google to search for information online, you may have sometimes wondered where all the search results like free information, news and tips you always find come from, who is responsible for making all these valuable information and knowledge available for free?

Before now, I used to think that the information that appears on search engines like Google are placed there by random generous people who wished to share their information or knowledge just for free.

Most people who still think this way about the free information age we are living in, but that is not how it is, there are intents behind most of the free content you access online, most free content online is based on content marketing.

I got to understand the how and why of the information age we live in when I began my digital marketing journey in 2018 and started dealing with digital marketing strategy like content marketing.

in this post, I’m going to paint the concepts of content marketing clearer, this will help you make sense of the information age we live in and also see how you can start optimizing content marketing in any form of business you engage in.

So, let get started;

What is Content Marketing?

First, let’s look at how Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing, content marketing Institute is one of the thought leaders when it comes to content marketing.

They defined content marketing as 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.

Simply put, content marketing is a marketing strategy that involves creation and distribution of informative, educative and entertaining contents for the purpose of attracting, nurturing and converting potential customer or client into action taking customer or client.

Content marketing is one of the contributing factors to the information age we live in today.

Content marketing is based on value-adding principle, it’s established on the idea that before you sell to people show them that you care about them, that you really want to help them solve their challenges, that you are not just after their money that you are in to help them overcome their challenges.

Content marketing is the opposite of Direct Selling, a marketing activity that involves trying to sell to people anywhere, anytime, any day you meet them, you might have observed many of them when watching your favourite show on television or listening to your favourite program on radio.

What is Content?

Looking at the phrase “content marketing” content is the word there that needs more explanation to properly explain the concepts of content marketing, let’s understand what content is all about.

According to Wikipedia, Content is “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any form of arts.”

Content is simply art or communication created in a form (image, post, video, audio…) it includes information, knowledge or experiences created in a form and directed towards an end-user or audience.

Content format

There are many formats in which content can be delivered to an end-user, here are some of the major format.

Text

Text is one of the most popular content formats out there. Contents can be created in text format as a blog post, social media post, email messages, books, ebooks etc.

It can also be distributed to an intended audience through different digital marketing channels like social media, emails, blogs, etc.

Audio

Content in audio format comes in the form of music, audiobook, audio interview or discussion in the form of podcasts, etc.

Video audio-visual

Video, the combination of audio and moving pictures, is today one of the most effective forms of content, many people prefer to watch videos these days than to read text-based content.

Image-visual

Image, a visual representation of an object is another form of contents.

Infographic-text and visual

Infographic is a visual and textual representation of data or information.

To be able to effectively implement content marketing, you need to understand some means through which content can originate, understanding this will help you create the right kind of content for your content marketing campaigns.

Source of content

Here are some major sources through which contents can be created:

  1. Personal experience
  2. Personal knowledge
  3. Interviews
  4. Data collections
  5. Curated content, etc

Let’s briefly look at them.

Personal experience

This involves creating content out of the things you have experienced in life, the content can be in any format, post, videos, image, etc.

For example, if you have gone through an experience that you know some people might be struggling with, let’s say you lost weight by going through a kind of work out routine, you can share methods and results, either through a blog post, video or other forms of content, or use many forms towards one goal, to inform, educate and help people who might be struggling with the same challenge you have overcome some times ago.

The goal of contents created from personal experience is to take the readers, or the listeners, or the viewers, whichever it’s, through your experience and at the same time offer your humble opinion, knowledge or advice.

Walking them through your experience will allow them to pick out ideas and methods that can be valuable to them in their journey to overcome their challenges.

Personal experience top the list of my sources of content.

Personal knowledge

Creating content from personal knowledge involves sharing your knowledge on a topic in any form to your audience or the public.

Its all about sharing what you know, for instance, let say you have studied administration in higher institutions and you understood administration more than an average person, you can start writing a post, creating videos, or audio to discuss or explain concepts about administration, which can be shared using various content marketing channels like social media, blog or website, email, etc.

One good thing with sharing your knowledge is that what you share can establish you as a thought leader or expert.

Contents’ titles that start with phrases like, How to… Steps to… The secret to… are examples of content created from personal knowledge.

Interviews

Creating content from interviews involves asking people questions for them to share their views, knowledge or experience about a subject.

It can be one on one interview or a roundtable interview where a topic is raised and more than one person deliberate on the topic.

Data collections

Creating contents from data collections involves gathering information from a different source and presenting it into easy to read and understand format, the format could be text, infographic, video, etc.

Data collections can be done through a survey, questionnaire or by researching to find out facts, or by holding a public poll to obtain the public opinion on a particular subject.

Curating content

You can also create content by pulling together different content from different people and different sources and then share them with your audience.

The goal with curated content is to be the source of important and relevant information for your audience, the content can be in form of a blog post, videos, podcast, books, infographic and so on.

How entrepreneurs implement content marketing

To paint a clearer picture of how content marketing works, let’s look at how entrepreneurs use this marketing strategy.

Let say an entrepreneur, Tessy by name, lol, no it’s not the name of my girlfriend lol, let say Tessy conceived an idea based on her knowledge or skills as a Baker, she wants to create a course to help people learn how to Bake anything bakable, let say she discovered that most people love to bake their own cookies but do not have recipes or know how to go about it, it was on this idea that she wants to build her online course on “how to Bake Cookies that taste different”

In a situation like this, one of the challenges Tessy might be facing when trying to implement her idea is that nobody knows about her or her skill or knowledge, people don’t know who she is and because of that people might not want to commit their money to buy her online course on baking cookies which she intends to create, this is based on the fact that people like to buy from someone they trust (especially online), someone they are sure will deliver on his or her promise.

To solve the problem of lack of awareness and trust, Tessy can include content marketing in her overall online marketing strategies she wants to use to develop her idea.

Her content marketing strategy could be something like, create valuable and relevant content about cookies recipes or baking, putting her ideal customers in mind Customer avatar, in a format like a post like this one you are reading, or video, audio or any other content format, then distribute it through channels like social media, video platforms, search engine (SEO), email and so on.

Her main objective with content marketing will be to gain attention, attract people to her platform, build trust with people who are interested in Baking, showing them she cares and has the ability to solve their challenges of not being able to bake once she establishes trust it becomes easier for her to sell her baking course to people who already knew her and trust her.

This is one of the ways most entrepreneurs use content marketing in this information age, and this is the goal of most content you can find on Google.

Content marketing in the entertainment industry

Content marketing is not only limited to the business model of buying and selling of products and services online.

The entertainment industry also uses content marketing, artists also make use of content marketing to increase their fan base.

In the past, before you could access the latest release of your favourite artists you most have bought their album or have paid a subscription to sources where you can listen or download their songs, but today the game is different, artists release their best tracks to the public, though some artist still maintains premium access to their songs, that is only done by top artists that are already famous with a large fan base.

The content marketing strategy that artists use mostly (especially upcoming artists) is to release their song to the public and encourage the public to play them.

You may want to ask, how do they profit from this strategy, I mean, putting their best song out for free.

One of the misconceptions most people have about artists and how they make their money is that they earn fee or data from every download people make in any platform their song is listed, but that is not the truth, that is not how content marketing works for an artist, the end game of artists releasing their best tracks to the public is to increase their fan base which creates opportunities for them to earn through avenues like show tickets sales, endorsement, awards and so on.

The ultimate goal for artists with content marketing is to increase their popularity because they make more money when they have a large fan base, popularity means more endorsement, more shows and other opportunities.

Content marketing in other business models

This applies to other forms of business or business model.

For example, for media platforms like a news site or social media their content strategy include creating a system that produces on consistent base useful, relevant informative or entertaining contents so that they can attract and have people presence on their platforms, which they monetize by the display of ads or subscription.

Content marketing is the root of social media, forums, Google, etc. which are the major facilitator of the information age we now live in.

The objective of content marketing in any form and in any instance is to use valuable, relevant or entertaining contents to attract potential customers or fan, nurture them and establish trust and hopefully convert them to taking profitable actions.

A brief history of content marketing

Content marketing has been around a lot longer even before and without the internet, it’s believed that it has been around since 18 century.

See this video by content marketing Institute About how long content marketing has been around

But without going back to history, you can find content marketing strategy in play around you even without looking at the internet, take the television and radio, for instance, they also make use of content marketing, a traditional form of it.

When they offer you free shows, programs or news, mostly their objectives is to hold your attention which in most cases they monetize by showing you an advertisement.

So content marketing is not a new concept that became viable because of internet, it has been in play for a while, the advancement and improvement of technologies and digital tools and channels like the internet gave it another playing ground.

Some important elements to pay attention to when thinking of content marketing

When a digital marketer decides to use content marketing in any situation, there are some things that he needs to put into consideration, there are elements of content marketing he needs to think through, evaluate and make decisions about.

Let’s examine some of these elements so that you can better understand content marketing.

They include:

Strategy

The first place to always start with content marketing is deciding on a strategy, a strategy is always dependant on the objectives of the brand or business that the content marketing wants to be applied to.

Like our example with Tessy above, a content marketing strategy could be to create valuable, relevant or entertaining content that will attract and retain customers or potential customers, build trust with them and hopefully turn them into paying customers.

Another strategy could be to create valuable content that will attract people and turn them into fans.

The objective of a business or brand will always determine the overall strategy.

Value-adding

This is always personal for the brand or business that is implementing a content marketing strategy, it’s about specifying the kind of value that will be shared with potential customers or current customers.

One of the most important elements of content marketing is value-adding, the value can be in different ways and it will greatly depend on the nature of the business or brand in context.

Mostly, the value in content marketing is always in the form of information, education or entertainment.

The goal of the value is to help customers or potential customers solve their problems, and at the same time prove to them that your brand or business or you as an individual have what it takes to solve some of the bigger challenges they might be facing.

Relevant

This is more about converting the value to something that will appeal to your prospective customers, It includes choosing the right format of content, context, platform, etc.

Create

It’s all about creating the content it can be created by your team or you hire a freelancer from a platform like Fiverr.

Distribute

You can use various channels or platforms to distribute your content, you can share it on your blog or to social media or optimized for search engines, or distributed through email etc

Attract

With nice tittles, graphics, links and call to action, people will notice or find your content from social media, search engines, emails, etc. then click on it to the platform where you wants them to come to.

Conversions

Here, you have to decide on how to convert the potential customers that you will be attracting into leads by collecting contact info, this can be achieved by placing newsletter sign up on your platform or offering a lead magnet for the exchange of your potential customer email address for future communication.

Retain/nurture

You have to create more contents to solve similar problems that brought your potential customers into the platform in the first place.

Profitable actions

When your leads are settled in your tribe, a pitch about products or services can be sent to them, informing them that there’s a product that can solve their challenges.

If you have bought things online before there are chances that you have gone through this process, but the truth is not everyone goes through the above process from the top funnel of attraction to the bottom funnel of profitable actions, this is because we don’t always have the same challenges, needs or desire.

You may go to Google to find information and through Google, you land on a page and after getting the information you need, you exit the page, but someone else might go through the same process, and after getting the information they need they decide to establish a relationship with the writer or platform by giving out their contact info like email, which might lead to them buying products or services from the platform in the future.

Content marketing is mostly a game of numbers, the more people your content reach the more it becomes possible for you to reach your potential customers that will convert.

Final words

The most important factor in content marketing is value-adding.

Content marketing has contributed to making our world today information age, people create tons of valuable and relevant content put it out for free for people to read, watch and listen, with the intention of proving to people that they care, that they are not solemnly after their money but concern about helping them solve their problems.

In digital marketing, content marketing is one of the most viable online marketing strategies. It’s viable because In most cases it offers you free access to your potential customers, that is when it’s done properly, saving for you lots of money that can be spent in promoting or advertising.

One other reason content marketing is viable for digital marketers is that it has long term conversion rate, for example, you can create a single video or post publish it on YouTube or on your blog and it will keep reaching your potential customers, generating leads for you even after many years have passed.

Business and company are adopting content marketing because it’s effective both in terms of branding, generating sales, increasing sales or maintaining potential customers and paid customers.

If you are hoping to build a personal brand or business, content marketing is one strategy I suggest you add to your overall marketing strategies, it’s one strategy that I’m using to building my business and that is why you are able to read this post.

I hope you have learnt one or two things about content marketing from this post?

Do you have any questions about content marketing, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

P.S

Now, I guess you already know that this post is part of my content marketing strategy, after reading this post you might decide to sign up to my mailing list, which I hope you do, we can establish a relationship which can lead to business opportunities for us in the future 😊.

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