You're missing out if content marketing doesn't already have a place within your marketing strategy.
Content marketing is a powerful tool with one of the best returns on investment (ROI) today.
Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing—like paid ads, for example—and costs over 60% less.
👀 Let's take a look at the numbers:
- Around 82% of marketers are currently investing in content marketing.
- Over 70% of marketers report that content marketing generates more demand and leads than any other type of marketing.
- Consumers engage with at least three to five pieces of content before purchasing.
- Over 45% of consumers take recommendations from blog content while shopping for products or services.
- Companies that blog for marketing purposes see 13 times more ROI than businesses that don't blog.
As you can see, content marketing is effective and trusted by marketers and businesses worldwide to generate leads, drive traffic, and boost sales, among other things.
What Is Content Marketing?
Simply put, Content marketing uses written or visual content to sell a product or service.
The idea is to provide consumers with valuable information and insights through high-quality content that will ultimately convince them to purchase.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, strategic content marketing is all about creating and distributing content that is:
Valuable and relevant.
For a clearly defined audience.
Aimed at achieving profitable customer action.
It’s worth noting there is a big difference between the low-quality, dense information that brands often push out to try to sell stuff—versus content marketing that is high-quality, relevant, informative, and valuable.
Consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages each day, which is why it’s so crucial that your content marketing follows the steps outlined in this guide so that your brand truly stands out from the rest.
Types of content marketing
The world of content is rapidly evolving, and new forms of content always emerge. However, the most popular methods or forms of content marketing in 2023 are:
The Benefits of Content Marketing
The benefits of this type of marketing are vast. High-quality, well-executed content marketing can help you:
- Create engaged audiences that are loyal and keep coming back for more.
- Develop groups of brand advocates.
- Achieve greater brand awareness and online visibility.
- Gain better traction on social media.
- Generate trust among your customers.
- Generate better quality leads.
- Improve website traffic and online conversions.
- Drive more sales.
- Establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
- Improve your customer journey.
- Build brand identity.
How to get started with content marketing
Typically, you have three options when effectively pulling off content marketing. You can decide to:
- Build an in-house team of content writers, strategists, and managers.
- Outsource your online content marketing to an agency.
- Hire freelancers to execute your content marketing strategy.
You can learn more about these options in our guide to content marketing costs.
The first step to getting your content marketing efforts right is to start with a content strategy.
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy is your action plan for executing your content marketing activities.
This strategy acts as a roadmap, outlining the exact steps you will take to execute your content marketing and identify the target audience you are attempting to reach.
Your strategy should also include the following:
- Your goals and desired outcomes—such as lead generation—and how these goals will be measured.
- Specific personas and a target audience, along with the channels through which you will reach these target audiences. You should also know who you don’t want to target.
- Your brand story and how this story will be presented to your target audience. This can include your unique value proposition.
- The marketing hook that you will use to entice your target audience once they have consumed your content.
- A detailed content plan that helps you keep track of your content operations to ensure you create and distribute content consistently and effectively.
Without a content marketing strategy at the start of your efforts, you won’t have any clear direction for your goal.
You won’t know who you want to speak to and what your content needs to look like.
Instead, you’ll be publishing haphazard content that wastes your resources.
Lastly, it would be best if you documented your content marketing strategies. Drawing a mind map on a whiteboard in a meeting room isn’t enough to get content marketing right.
78% of marketers who felt their content marketing was successfully ensured they documented their strategy from the start.
The Elements of Successful Content Marketing
Other than implementing a strategy, there are several additional aspects you will need to consider if you want this marketing approach to be successful within your business.
Quality over everything
Quickly whipping together a rambling blog post on a general topic without any target keywords isn’t cut.
To get content marketing right, prioritize quality over everything else. Quality is more important than:
Quantity: How often you publish content.
Cost: Of course, the price will be a consideration for your company. But remember that quality content is worth the investment, considering its ROI.
Consistency: While publishing content regularly is essential to some extent, it’s better to get a few good-quality pieces out there than loads of low-quality content.
Speed: You may be tempted to jump on industry trends as soon as they emerge. However, to compete with those already discussing the topic, you must ensure your content is better quality than the rest.
Selling: Yes, the ultimate purpose of your content marketing is to increase sales. But this won’t be successful if your output isn’t superior. You also want to offer value before you sell.
Find out what your target audience wants and give it to them
Effective content marketing is about putting your ideal target audience front and center.
You need to conduct in-depth research into what your audience wants to see and consider how you can cater to this.
Your content needs to speak directly to your target audience and should aim to solve their specific challenges.
So, one of the first steps in the content creation process is to identify your target audience and their pain points and determine how to position your brand as the best solution.
You can use content marketing tools like Google Trends to find out what your target audience is searching for online. This will help your content to remain relevant.
You can then identify how to provide more value in your content than your competitors publish.
Position your brand in your content marketing
Before you sit down to create content, you must determine how to position and present your brand within your content.
To get this right, you must plot a brand story, a positioning statement, and a unique value proposition.
Much like you need a mission and vision statement to run a business, you also need your brand story and positioning statement before creating content.
Your brand positioning should include your company’s tone of voice, personality, and how you will communicate your product or service's unique selling points (USPs).
Everyone who creates content for your brand must know how to tell your brand story.
Choose a content type based on your niche
Let’s face it; it’s unlikely you’ll be able to create every possible type of content and distribute it across all available platforms unless you’re running a massive content production operation.
It’s best to use the knowledge you have gained from your research into your target audience to determine how to reach them.
For example, if your audience is primarily Gen Z, social media platforms are likely to be the best way to reach your audience. So your primary content type would be social media posts.
If your audience is the millennial workforce, a better approach would be email content and newsletters.
It would be best to reach your audience where they already consume their content.
If your audience—like most consumers—consults blogs before purchasing, creating blog content is your best bet.
You need to create blog content that’s better than your competitors. And at times, this means utilizing channels and platforms where they aren’t active to your advantage.
Suppose you must reach multiple audiences on various channels to achieve your marketing goals. There’s nothing wrong with diversifying your content types as long as you have the resources to pull them off effectively.
Formulate clear content marketing objectives
Like any marketing activity, you need to have clear goals and objectives for your content.
Simply developing content, putting it out there, and hoping for the best isn’t an effective strategy.
Instead, if you have specific goals, you can measure your content marketing against them and determine how successful your efforts have been.
Clear and measurable goals allow you to analyze the outcome of your content marketing strategy and give you insight into what you need to adjust.
For example, don’t aim for better lead generation, be specific about exactly how many quality new business leads you’d need to generate for your brand.
Don’t forget SEO
Publishing content not optimized for search engines is like a shot in the dark. Getting recognized online is hard if you aren’t ranking on the search engine results pages.
The best way to do this is to use a search engine optimization (SEO) writing tool (more on this shortly) to help you optimize your content as you write.
Some of the main principles of SEO writing are:
- Powerful headlines that include keywords and help break content up into skimmable chunks.
- Incorporating keywords and keyword phrases into your writing—without keyword stuffing.
- Writing meta descriptions.
- Adding outbound links to your content.
- Incorporate other content types into your article, including videos, GIFs, photos, and infographics that complement the text.
If you’re unsure how to write for search engines, you can use SEO services provided by agencies to help you nail your search engine results.
Choose the right content marketing tools
To get content marketing right, you need the right tools to carry out your activities.
You will need content marketing tools that help you:
- Generate rich and relevant topics and ideas.
- Research industry trends.
- Analyze your competitors.
- Determine your target keywords.
- Manage your content calendar.
- Create your content.
- Optimize your content.
- Manage your content.
- Publish your content.
- Measure and analyze your results.
If you publish content like blog posts and articles, you need to set up Google Analytics to measure your results.
You may even want a tool like Ahrefs to analyze your traffic and competitors.
4 Types of Content Marketing That Work
You now know how impactful a solid content marketing strategy can be and the key elements to get content marketing right. Next, we will share some of the top types of content you can use to elevate your content marketing efforts.
Starting a blog is an effective way to drive traffic to your website and reach your content marketing objectives.
Blogging in 2023
To give you a better idea of why you should include blogging in your content marketing strategy, let’s look at some results of recent studies on blogging:
- Websites that include a blog have 434% more indexed pages than those that do not.
- Blogs have been rated as the fifth most trustworthy source of gathering information online.
- 77% of Internet users read blogs.
- Businesses that blog experience twice as much email traffic as businesses that don’t.
- Content marketers prioritizing blogging are 13 times more likely to receive a positive ROI on their content marketing efforts.
Pros and cons of blogging
As you can see, we’re all for blogging as a content marketing activity in 2023.
However, it would be best to consider the positives and negatives before embarking on this content creation.
- Blogging is relatively inexpensive - Other than paying someone to write your blog posts—such as an in-house copywriter or a content agency—setting up a blog on your website is mostly free.
- It's easy - Blogging involves writing content—that ideally includes some images or video content—and then publishing it to your blog page.
- Improves your SEO results - Having a quality blog post written according to search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, as discussed above, can significantly improve your search rankings.
- Showcases expertise - Having a blog establishes your brand as an authority on a particular subject or niche.
- Blogging is time-consuming - Although straightforward, crafting quality blog content takes time.
- You need a steady stream of ideas and topics - Consistently generate fresh ideas that help you stay ahead of your competitors.
- Results aren’t instant - Although your search-engine-optimized high-quality blog post may be perfect, it can take time to rank well on Google.
- You need to market your blog - Simply publishing blog posts on your website isn’t enough to get the best possible online visibility. You’ll also need to use various marketing tactics to promote your blog.
How to get blogging right
If these cons aren’t enough to deter you from blogging, here are some top tips on getting blogging right:
- Articles of 2,000 words or over achieve stronger results online. Ensure your articles are at least this length.
- A 2,000-word article is quite a lot of content to read through. You must ensure your blog post is easy to read and skimmable.
- Blog posts with images and like infographics and graphs get 94% more views than those without them. Be sure to include visual content in your articles.
- Keep your blog articles optimized and updated—around 34% of brands that blog say that updating old articles yields strong results.
Content marketing examples of blogs that are getting it right
Now, let’s look at three blogs that are getting content marketing right from start to finish.
This website delivers well-designed tutorials for people who want to learn how to code and design. Their blog provides relevant and valuable content to designers and developers worldwide.
The Tuts+ blog earns around $175,000 monthly, so it’s fair to say they’re getting their marketing strategy right.
This blog is mainly focused on topics like design and technology. However, they do sometimes delve into science and political subjects, too.
Gizmodo makes around $325,000 monthly through its blog—which is impressive.
This startup aims to transform the world of education, rooted in the concept of homeschooling.
Their blog is a perfect, well-organized article selection for their specific niche.
2) Social media
With over 4.8 billion social media users worldwide in 2023, there’s a high chance that your ideal customer—or target audience—can be found on social media platforms.
Suppose you’re not using social media as a content marketing strategy. In that case, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach your audience where they typically already are—glued to their smartphones and scrolling through thousands of social media posts.
The trick is to ensure your content marketing stands out enough to beat your competitors, who leverage social media to their advantage.
Social media in 2023
To give you an indication of how impactful using content marketing on social media can be, we’ve gathered statistics from some of the latest studies:
- Almost 40% of American Internet users between 18 and 34 have bought a product or service from social media.
- Users spend 19.6 hours a month on Facebook alone. Typically, adults consume at least 95 minutes per day on social media.
- Consumers are six times more likely to purchase from a product page with social media images.
- Over 90% of brands have earned new customers by publishing video content on social media.
- Customers who have had positive experiences with brands on social media recommend the company to others at a rate of 71%.
Pros and cons of social media marketing
As always, this online content marketing channel has both upsides and downsides.
- Affordability - Content marketing on social media is relatively affordable for companies. You would need to pay to develop the content, but setting up an account and publishing posts costs nothing.
- A large audience - As mentioned above, content marketing on social media gives you a massive audience to tap into.
- Speed - If you want to get your content out there quickly, social media is one of the fastest distribution methods.
- Engagement and feedback - Posting your content to social media allows users to interact and engage with your content.
Analyze these engagements, and you’ll have a treasure trove of insight and feedback on your content marketing efforts.
- It takes time - Social media marketing is time-consuming and will require at least one dedicated person within your organization to manage this function.
- ROI is slow - Much like blogging, seeing the full results of your content marketing efforts on social media can take time.
- Reputational risks - Publish the wrong thing at the wrong time or accidentally post to the wrong account, and you could have a publicity nightmare.
- A saturated channel - As a result of so many brands on social media, you have a lot of voices to compete with.
Content marketing examples of brands getting social media right
Two brands that are doing exceptionally well at content marketing all-round are Reimagine Work and Apple. Regarding content on social platforms, these two companies are acing it.
Published by solopreneur Paul Millerd, Reimagine Work is the perfect example of how content marketing and social media work hand in hand to achieve excellent marketing.
And, with over 80,000 weekly subscribers to his LinkedIn newsletter, it’s no surprise that Millerd’s content is spot on.
This mega-brand often uses clever user-generated content marketing campaigns to sell its products through mind-boggling, innovative perspectives.
As a part of its #ShotOniPhone content marketing campaign on Instagram, Apple was able to showcase its product from the vantage point of its biggest brand advocates: its customers.
How to get content marketing on social media right
If you’re going to use social networks as a content marketing channel, keep these tips in mind to get it right:
- Ensure you choose the right platforms for your content. For example, you’ll find most millennials on Facebook and many Gen Z groups on TikTok.
- Written content is great, but you should prioritize visual and video content on social media. Four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
- Social networks are a vital tool in the awareness stage of the sales cycle (or buyer’s journey), so ensure your content marketing is geared toward customers in this phase, for example, by providing them with valuable tips that encourage them to engage with your content.
- Use social platform tools like those mentioned above to monitor how your content performs so that these insights can inform the next batch of content you create.
3) Influencer marketing
If you’ve developed an effective content marketing strategy but can’t seem to get the results you’re after—despite your quality and relevant content—it might be time to call in the big guns.
Influencer marketing is a marketing tactic that involves working with well-known personalities with online visibility to further your content marketing efforts.
Influencer marketing in 2023
We’ve analyzed one of the latest studies on influencer marketing as a content marketing activity to show you just how successful this tool can be:
- Over 90% of marketing teams use influencer marketing as a content strategy.
- More than 60% of consumers trust influencer recommendations on products and services. Get an influencer to recommend your brand in their content, and you’ve hit marketing gold.
- On average, brands return $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
- Over 50% of marketers say influencer marketing has helped them generate better leads.
While getting a big name behind your content marketing can give you a big boost, there are also negative aspects you need to consider before entering into a relationship with an influencer.
Pros and cons of influencer marketing
- Reaching the right target audience - Working with an influencer relevant to your niche can help you get customers who match your target audience.
- Trust and credibility - Consumers tend to trust brands more when they are associated with an influencer they already trust.
- Increased reach - Your high-quality and valuable social media content reaches a far wider audience when you throw an influencer into the mix.
- The wrong influencers can harm your brand - Working with the wrong influencers can cause reputational damage to your brand. Most marketers say that finding the right influencer is their biggest challenge regarding content marketing.
- Mistakes are costly - Good influencer marketing can do wonders for your brand. Getting it wrong can lose your following and undo all the hard work you’ve put into your content marketing.
- Results are difficult to measure - It’s hard to track and manage the performance of an influencer campaign as the person you are working with often has such a vast reach.
How to get influencer marketing right
If the above points have convinced you to include influencer marketing in your content marketing strategy, here are some top tips for getting it right:
- Don’t choose influencers simply because of their following and popularity. You need to choose influencers who are hyper-relevant to your brand or niche.
- Before approaching an influencer, ensure that they are producing excellent content so that they can do the same for your brand.
- Analyze an influencer’s following and check if they’re being followed by bots or spam accounts. This could be an indication that they have bought their followers.
- When you reach out to influencers, ensure you are offering them something enticing in return for working with you.
4) Email newsletters
Email marketing is an effective and lucrative form of content marketing that you can integrate into your content strategy.
With over four billion email users worldwide, you have a massive opportunity to communicate with current and potential customers and win them over through well-developed content.
Email marketing in 2023
- Let’s take a look at why email is such a powerful type of marketing content:
- Over 80% of marketers say email newsletters are the most used form of content marketing.
- Around 69% of marketing teams prioritize email newsletters in their content strategy.
- Brands that send more than five newsletters a week get higher open and click rates than those that don’t.
- Email content marketing delivers an ROI of $40 for every $1 you spend.
- Adding video content to your email newsletter can increase click rates by 300%.
Pros and cons of email newsletters
Now that we’ve told you just how great email is as a channel for content marketing let’s look at the pros and cons of this tactic.
- Cost-effective - Other than paying someone to create content for your email newsletters, email marketing is low-cost—especially if you only pay for a small email marketing plan on platforms like Mailchimp or Sendinblue.
- Content Diversity - Email marketing tools allow you to include various types of content in your newsletters, such as plain text, visuals, graphs or infographics, video content, and even attached files.
- Effective at every stage of the sales cycle - Email marketing allows you to gently nudge your existing customers and prospects through the marketing funnel from the awareness stage to the consideration stage.
- Current and potential customers need to opt in - With privacy laws in place worldwide, you can’t just send email marketing to anyone. You need people to permit you to send them email communication.
- It’s hard to stand out - Email inboxes are already crowded, and your message may not even be opened if someone receives a high volume of emails daily.
- Emails can feel ‘salesy’ - As with any format of marketing content, you need to avoid using email marketing to purely sell your product or service. Customers often think emails are only sent to sell them stuff and will quickly unsubscribe if your content confirms this sentiment.
Content marketing examples of brands getting email newsletters right
Let’s look at some brands that clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to email marketing.
It is clear that this brand aims to deliver content that is useful and relevant to the reader. They generate and send out a daily meal plan to their subscribers to help them avoid the dilemma of what to eat.
This brand uses clever graphics in its email marketing to ensure messages are skimmable and easy to follow. They’re also prioritizing providing value over selling.
MarketingProfs uses email marketing to repurpose existing content into interesting newsletters that are relevant, valuable, and informative for the reader.
How to get email newsletters right
Now for some best practices on how to effectively get email newsletters to form part of your marketing strategy:
- Include a variety of content types in your email newsletters. Video content marketing is proven to be effective on this channel, and—who knows—you may even go viral.
- Email marketing is a complex form of digital marketing; you must ensure you have the right team with the best experience running the show.
- Email newsletters can significantly improve brand awareness for your company if you stay away from the hard sales pitch and stick to valuable content.
- Do not use the free templates provided by email marketing platforms; instead, design your own.
- Repurpose existing content like blog posts and YouTube videos as email content.
5) Whitepapers and e-books
A whitepaper or downloadable e-book is another way of distributing valuable content to win your current customers' loyalty and acquire new leads.
This content marketing format typically involves longer-form written content in a well-designed package or document.
Usually, whitepapers and e-books are downloaded from websites or sent via email for people to download and read.
A whitepaper is typically a report or guide that is highly informative and includes the opinions of your brand on a particular topic.
On the other hand, E-books are a little more diverse in that they can cover any topic. E-book formats range from guides and how-tos to recipes and e-learning.
Whitepapers and e-books in 2023
Now for some top stats on whitepapers and e-books:
- A study on IT buyers found that whitepapers were the second most effective type of content in the buying process in this sector.
- Over 60% of B2B companies see whitepapers as one of their most effective forms of content.
- More than 70% of consumers in the B2B space turned to a whitepaper to research their purchasing decision.
Pros and cons of writing whitepapers and e-books
While publishing whitepapers and e-books may be an effective content marketing strategy, it’s worth weighing the pros and cons before trying this format.
- Powerful lead generation - A whitepaper or downloadable e-book is a way to frame your entire sales pitch while looking professional and trustworthy. This can generate tons of leads.
- Appealing to decision-makers - If you’re in the B2B sector specifically, you need to reach decision-makers with your content marketing to win them over. Whitepapers allow you to do just this.
- Reusable content - The content in your e-book or whitepaper can easily be repurposed into social media posts, blog articles, and even explainer videos.
- The time factor - As e-books and whitepapers are usually long-form content; they will take time to develop. The content creation process will include researching, writing, and designing an attractive package.
- They might not be the right channel - Your audience may have shorter attention spans than you think, and long-form content can waste time if no one is willing to read them.
- Original insight is needed - If you produce a whitepaper or e-book, your content must include original ideas and opinions, which may be hard to develop and research.
Content marketing examples of brands getting whitepapers and e-books right
Here are some brands facing the world of long-form content for you to take inspiration from.
Highly respected in the tech space, Cognizant publishes whitepapers that inform the reader by providing original insights and quality graphics.
Whitepapers and downloadable e-books should provide valuable insights that readers might not gain elsewhere. Nucleus, for example, has published a whitepaper on the future of financial planning, offering a fresh perspective.
Well-known marketing pros Mdg are on the right track regarding guides presented in e-books. Their downloadable content includes a pleasing design and provides expert insight into how marketing content can be used all year round.
How to get whitepapers and e-books right
Research is everything. Invest time in extensive research to provide more value than your competitors. Don’t rush to publish something everyone has already read.
- Long-form content is a lot to digest, so ensure you present it in a way that is skimmable and easy to read.
- Although your main priority is providing value, be sure to include information about your brand—such as your company values, for example—and what you’re selling toward the end of your content.
- Whitepapers and e-books play a big role in the consideration stage for decision-makers. Ensure you consider where your reader is in the sales funnel as you write.
- Both your written content and your design need to be appealing enough to capture a reader’s attention for the full span of your document.
When done well, content marketing is a powerful marketing tool that can help you stand out from your competition.
Through online content marketing channels like blogging, social media, email newsletters, and whitepapers, you can achieve excellent results in lead generation, sales, and cultivating trust and loyalty.
Starting with a clear and detailed strategy is crucial to achieving content marketing success.
Also, having a detailed content calendar or plan is essential to your success as a content marketer. This will assist you in the day-to-day operations of running your content marketing activities.
Remember, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on providing value. Selling your product or service is part of this, but it isn’t the main focus. You're on the right track if your content is valuable, informative, educational, and helpful.
Following the advice and examples above, you can perform content marketing magic that takes your brand to new digital heights.
We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.