What is content marketing?

The purpose of content marketing is to share relevant, interesting, and useful information with your target audience.

Content can be categorized into four types:

  • The written word
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Pictures

Mostly on Copyblogger, we talk about writing, audio, and video, so we’ll go over each of those later on in this post.

Keeping in mind that your job is to be useful is the most important thing. If your audience doesn’t get value from your content, then you are wasting your time.

It’s your job to help them, improve their quality of life, and establish yourself as a thought leader – someone they can trust to guide them through their challenges as it pertains to your area of expertise.

Why should you invest in content marketing?

By creating valuable content over time, your brand becomes more valuable, which in turn increases brand equity. Your brand will gain a reputation as a leader in your field the more you help your audience.

As a result, you start generating more and more momentum, until suddenly you’re dominating your field.

In order for content to provide value to you as a business, you need organic traffic. In this scenario, people find your content via a search engine, such as Google, YouTube, or a podcast directory, and go see it.

There’s one crucial difference between them and other kinds of traffic – these people are looking for you. They’re looking for information related to your business – that’s how they found you in the first place.

With every other platform, you’re interrupting what they’re doing. Instead of active searchers, they’re passive observers. This type of marketing is usually much more difficult and expensive (think of Facebook ads, YouTube ads, and pretty much every other kind of advertising).

In a nutshell, here’s the difference:

You have to reach out to your audience on those platforms. Organic traffic, however, brings your audience to you.

There are a few reasons why this should excite you:

  1. There is a problem with these people.
  2. They are aware of it.
  3. And they want to solve it.

As these three ingredients are critical for online sales, content marketing is uniquely suited to growing your business.

Developing a content strategy

You need a strategy now that you’re convinced content marketing is a good idea.

The goal of content marketing is to build an audience by publishing, maintaining, and spreading content that teaches, entertains, or inspires strangers into fans and fans into customers.

In other words, you build relationships and solve problems.

Your content will succeed if you provide value and provide your readers with the information they need in order to solve whatever problem they’re facing. It won’t make any difference how fancy your headlines and strategies are if you don’t make an effort to engage your audience.

You will create the most loyal customers if you create awareness of a problem your audience didn’t know they had, and provide them with the perfect solution.

And You will always be the authority in their minds even if there are better solutions out there – because you helped them first.

You should do three things before pumping out content like a machine:

1. Find out who your customer is

Getting to know your customer is the first step.

How do they want to be treated? What concerns them? Who are they?

Before you can begin, you need to know how your customer thinks. Make sure you understand their perspective.

To create an imaginary version of your ideal customer, you must first conduct research.

Your avatar, or character, should generally reflect who you’re trying to reach with your content. Based on the model you come up with here, you should be making proactive content decisions.

2. Determine what information they need

Now you need to put yourself in their shoes and walk through their customer journey.

To do business with you, what steps do they need to take? How should they know what they need to know before buying from you?

Here is your first piece of content – your content roadmap. Identify the steps of the customer journey and create content for each one.

3. Select a way to say it

Here’s where you can get a little creative.

You need to decide how you’re going to communicate this information.

How will you present your work? With video? Or with words?

Tell me what stories you should tell. How should your tone and voice sound?

You will be able to determine this easier if you know your audience well.

It will ultimately come down to running with your intuition and experimenting and adjusting mercilessly.

Building an audience

You need to write useful, relevant content about a particular topic to build an audience. Through your writing and content you can build relationships with your audience. It allows you to add your unique voice to the world.

As Brian Clark built Copyblogger in its early days, he did exactly that.

As it related to one specific niche: online marketing and copywriting, he shared his knowledge, ideas, and journey.

Due to the quality of the content, his work attracted readers interested in that topic.

By sharing, subscribing, and creating a community of people with similar interests, they created a community.

The online world has changed dramatically since 2006, but the basics remain the same. There are more blogs now than there were back then.

This brings me to a critical point about your content.

You must earn an audience before you can build one.

It needs to be good enough to earn the most valuable resources anyone has – their time and attention.

Putting out average content will cause your readers to lose interest quickly.

It may be true that people today have shorter attention spans than average, but I agree with Stefanie Flaxman, Editor-in-Chief of Copyblogger:

It’s not that our attention spans are short; it’s that our tolerance for mediocrity is short.”

You hit the nail on the head with this. Nowadays, our audiences don’t have time for just-average or below-average content.

The first step is to create content that is high-quality and attention-grabbing. However, simply posting it is not sufficient.

You can’t just build it and people will flock to it like in Field of Dreams.

Today, you can’t wait for your content to be discovered when you need to drive traffic. Your content must be pushed.

Take a look at where your audience spends time online and post your content there. Remember all your research about your ideal client?

You can also run paid advertising. Your content will be presented directly to a highly targeted audience.

Unfortunately, it costs money (of course) and it isn’t guaranteed to build an audience.

Simply presenting your content to someone doesn’t mean they’ll like it or want to read it.

By borrowing someone else’s audience, I mean asking people who already have an audience to share your content.

Maybe you write a guest blog post for their site, or maybe they share something about your article on social media.

It’s easy (and usually free) to get major distribution for your content by using your network. For some, that’s all they need to do.

It’s important that their audience resembles your ideal customer. You don’t want just anyone.

It’s your people you want.

We’ve already discussed the benefits of content marketing, how to create a strategy, and how to build an audience online. Let’s now discuss the different types of content marketing.

Written word

Content marketing is most popular and widespread when it comes to written content.

There is an immeasurable amount of written content in the world, but that does not mean you should ignore it in favor of other, modern, fancy forms.

As content marketing, writing has never been as relevant as it is today, so let’s examine how it works.

Blogging

Blogging is a tried-and-true method of using writing as a content marketing platform.

You, as a thought leader or subject matter expert, blog about relevant topics to your audience on a regular basis. No two blogs are the same, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They are available to everyone.

When people hear the word “blogging,” they usually imagine a misunderstood hipster sharing their thoughts and feelings with the world. There are certainly those, but that’s not what we’re concerned with.

We’re interested in using a blog to build an audience, market your content, and grow your business.

You should host a blog on your website, usually as a subdomain or as another section. Setting up a blog is quite simple. There is a built-in blog feature on most website platforms.

Blogs typically consist of three components:

  • Posts
  • Tags
  • Categories

This is the actual text you wrote. Consider it one episode or piece of content. Throughout the post, I usually explore one topic in depth.

There is a lot of talk about length here. Approximately how long should your post be? It’s better to write longer posts, right?

It is not necessary. Everything depends on the goal of the post and what you want to accomplish.

Blog posts are typically 500 to 1000 words long. You’ll find that on just about any blog. You should, however, know what to expect.

Seth Godin, for example, writes very short posts of 200–300 words. A lot of posts on the content platform Medium are long-form, meaning they’re much longer than your typical blog post. Many of these posts are more than 2,000 words long.

You have to understand your audience and your topic, which is where your writing comes into play.

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