Content Marketing 101 : A Beginners Guide -

Content Marketing 101: A Beginners Guide

Content Marketing is one of the most important parts of Digital Marketing. Considering that 86% of marketers are using Content Marketing, it's safe to say that this process isn't going away anytime soon. In fact, some call it the future of advertising.

But why is this process such a huge aspect of Marketing? A great content strategy will attract the right kind of customers for your business, rather than trying to get to as many customers as possible. It’s not about casting a wide net, it’s about focusing on smaller niche areas and thriving in them.

On the following lines, I’ll cover the basics of Content Marketing, so you can take advantage of my techniques and have fun in the process.

What Is Content?

Let’s start with the basics. To talk about Content Marketing, we need to address the definition of content since it is, ultimately,  the fuel for the whole process.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, content gathers  "the ideas that are contained in a piece of writing, a speech, or a film."

Taking that concept into consideration, we could say that content presents a concept (or idea) in different formats such as video, audio, text, or graphics, among many others.  

Ideally, content must have a purpose, must be strategically created and should be targeted towards a specific group of people. Your content should not be a sales pitch! Your content should have shareable value, and to do this your content should Inform, Educate, Advise and/or Entertain. Whether its goal is to entertain, teach or help, content can't be an afterthought, it needs to communicate.

But how does it work?

What Is Content?

Let’s start with the basics. To talk about Content Marketing, we need to address the definition of content since it is, ultimately,  the fuel for the whole process.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, content gathers  "the ideas that are contained in a piece of writing, a speech, or a film."

Taking that concept into consideration, we could say that content presents a concept (or idea) in different formats such as video, audio, text or graphics, among many others.  

Ideally, content must have a purpose, must be strategically created and should be targeted towards a specific group of people. Your content should not be a sales pitch! Your content should have shareable value, and to do this your content should Inform, Educate, Advise and/or Entertain. Whether its goal is to entertain, teach or help, content can't be an afterthought, it needs to communicate.

But how does it work?

What Is Content Marketing and How Does It Work?

There have been several attempts at giving Content Marketing a definition, but the one that I think stands out the most comes from Hubspot’s Content Marketing Strategy Guide:

"Content marketing is a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience -- usually online -- the goal of which is to reach new people, building a brand and attracting new customers."

Instead of focusing on getting to as many people as possible (like traditional Marketing efforts), Content Marketing is aimed towards a specific and targeted audience that is relevant to the brand, business or company.

To determine what a brand's target audience is, Content Marketing first comes out with buyer personas.

Buyer personas are a key ingredient in a Marketing strategy, and in the Digital Marketing Institute's words, they are "a profile that represents your ideal customer."

First steps to all marketing efforts should be knowing your customer DNA and buyer personas profile. You must have certain knowledge about your audience before creating any content!

If your business has been established for sometime then you may already know your audience very well, so this part shouldn't be hard. If you’re a new business then this could be slightly more difficult and will take time to research and learn.

Customer DNA

Learning About Your Audience and Customers

To start learning about our customers we need to ask ourselves some questions:

  • Are they predominantly male or female, or is it an even mix?
  • What is the average age group?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What do they do for a living and what is their income?
  • How do my they search online using Google’s search engine, social media search, forums etc.?
  • How do my they prefer to communicate? Social media, blog comments, contact forms, by phone?
  • How do they prefer to consume content, visual, audio, or written?

You can obtain customer and audience data by using research methods such as polls, surveys or by asking them questions. If you already have a growing audience on your website, social platforms or other platforms then you could also use analytical tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, social media analytics, etc.

These methods can tell you a lot about the kind of content you should be creating to provide value or solve problems, however, if you don’t have any data on your customers then it could be a little more tricky to come out with the right 'buyer personas' and to know who your audience are. But don’t worry there are other methods that can help you when in this situation. Try looking at the competition, the kind of content shared by your audience and produced by your competition and how your competition interacts with their audience on social media and other places.

Storytelling With A Hypothetical Audience

You can have fun by creating hypothetical customers/audience. Think of it as storytelling: This is the part where you create characters.

Try to be as specific and detailed-oriented as possible. For example, let's say that you own an ice cream shop, this could be a Buyer Persona profile:

Name: Icy Elliot:

Age: 37.

Sex: Male

Occupation: Legal advisor, 40k annually.

Hobbies: Climbing, Hiking, Self-Improvement.

Interests: Watching crime documentaries on Netflix.

Search: Educated - Using sophisticated words, long-tail keywords

Communicates Online: Using Twitter and the Youtube comments section

Content Consumption: Written articles in listicle format, YouTube videos and Netflix videos.

Taking this profile into account, you create useful content that Icy would benefit from. For example, you could create a listicle about the top 10 most common mistakes made during legal proceedings. This should appeal to Icy because the topic is relevant to his occupation and interests, it hits the educational and informative factors that I mentioned earlier, and it also appeals to Icy further because of its listicle format.

Undertaking buyer persona research like this allows you to build your Marketing plan around the people who are most likely to buy your products and services. That's why knowing your audience is so important in the content marketing world.

Once you have established your audience and buyer personas it's time to decide which type of content you'll deliver to them. Here's a brief explanation to some of them:

What Are The Different Types of Content?

Another fun aspect of content marketing is that it makes it possible for you to combine all kinds of formats to tell your stories and engage people. Among those formats, you'll find:

Marketing With Blog Posts and Articles:

One of the most commonly consumed types of content is blog posts and articles. A blog post can easily advise, educate, be informative and/or entertaining.

It is really important that you make your blog posts relevant to the rest of your website. For example, if your website offers mountain bikes for sale and your customers and audience are located in Manchester then writing an article about ‘How to repair a flat tire’ or ‘Best locations in Manchester to visit on your bike’ would be incredibly relevant and useful.

What you shouldn’t do is use your blog posts to solely sell your products, it’s ok to have an ad or two within the content if it's relevant but don’t let this dominate the post and avoid having an agenda. Ask yourself: Does this content have shareable value? Or, why would someone share this content?

When you're writing blog posts, you need to think about your personality and brand persona. Ask yourself: How can I relate to my audience, how can I develop a relationship and promote consumer loyalty, how can I differentiate myself from my competitor, is my content comprehensive, engaging and useful?

To make your posts more engaging you should include other elements such as photos and videos. You should also link to other content that will compliment your own. Linking to other relevant content provides your audience with in-depth knowledge on a subject and shows that you are a good resource to have. Linking to internal and external sources will also help with your search engine optimization. To learn more about SEO fundamentals and on going optimization then read my article - Search Engine Optimization (In-Depth Beginners Guide).

Posting well researched, unique, well-written and thoughtful content on a regular basis can do wonders for your business. You could become a respected influencer, which (simultaneously) could boost your sales or passive income.

Furthermore, being an authority in your field would make other pages link to your blog, leading to more visibility for your brand. Start blogging!

Visual Marketing With Images

Nowadays, we are more visual than ever. Sometimes, instead of coming out with a blog post, you could use the power of an image to get your point across easily.  “37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business, second only to blogging (38%)”.

Pairing your blog posts with visual content will also be hugely beneficial to your audience.  When people hear or read information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later”.

Read 42 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know for more statistics on visual marketing.

Infographics, for example, are a great way to tell a story or to provide information in an easy to consume fashion that could be too hard to grasp with only text. Just make sure that your visuals go well with the overall vibe of your brand and you really could increase your traffic and engagement tenfold.

Visual Marketing With Videos

Videos are another great type of eye-catching visual content that never goes out of style. Personally, I consume around 75% of my educational content through YouTube videos. Sometimes I’ll sit and watch videos meticulously, and other times I’ll watch passively as I am undertaking other tasks.

To benefit from video consumers like me you could create a YouTube channel for your brand and even embed your created videos into your blog posts for greater reach and audience transfer. You could also turn your video content into micro content which would allow you to share snippets across various social media platforms which in turn could increase your social presence, visibility and awareness.

Videos are a very versatile format that have been rising in popularity year on year. Even live streaming has become hugely popular and trending massively since late 2017. Live streaming allows to provider richer content, create a sense of urgency and increases interaction with your audience.

Audio Marketing With Podcasts

When it comes to creating a reputation for yourself as a respected authority or influencer podcasts can be a perfect ally.

These audio files make the listeners feel like they know your brand or business on a personal level, even if they don't get to say a word.

Audio format have three main advantages over video content

  1. You don't require big equipment. To get started you can do a great job with only a basic audio recording device and laptop.
  2. It's very easy to learn and edit, you don’t need to be a tech expert or master video editor.
  3. Your audience can listen to you on the go.

You could upload podcasts to teach others about the techniques that your brand is famous for, to share a personal experience with a client or to create a discussion about anything that your audience will find relevant and interesting.

Branding On Loyalty With Email Marketing

Email Marketing also plays a crucial role in Content Marketing. This channel allows you to stay in touch with your audience. They have already taken an interest into your business by providing you with their email and signing up to your newsletter so now you can use that established relationship to provide your latest news, content, latest offers, and loyalty rewards.

You can even divide your database into groups for each Buyer Persona that you created. Doing this allows you to send different emails to each group, so it feels like the latest addition to their email inbox was specially crafted for them,

Types of content - Content is King!

Benefits Of Content Marketing

Now that we have addressed basic concepts and the different formats available, it's time to end the discussion with the benefits of content marketing.

Tailoring content for a targeted audience instead of just individuals builds a trusting relationship between your brand and its customers. Any time they need to know something about your area of expertise they'll go to your website to find it, especially if you keep updating it with new and useful content, as well as going back and updating older content.

Nonetheless, once you got your visitor's loyalty, they will be more likely to recommend your website and brand to other people, and potentially even link to it which will help your search ranking. Word of mouth marketing is still the strongest form of marketing available today so you shouldn't take it for granted. A satisfied client could even talk about your products or content on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram which could lead other users right into social profiles and/or website.

Content Marketing does something very powerful,  It brings your customers to you, instead of you looking for your customers.

Those who have consumed your content and have realised that you are an expert in your field and are the go-to knowledge and entertainment base could lead people to potentially buy from you as opposed to your competitors. This is due to the relationships you build through content and the respect earned through that relationship.

Also, content marketing is 62% less expensive than traditional marketing. While I’m not saying that traditional marketing is dead, it is smarter to invest in content marketing due to businesses having a better chance of getting a higher ROI (return on investment) aided by better targeting opportunites and by using content to promote their brand.

Final Words

We live in a digital era, and your customers are most likely to see your content through their electronic devices. Joining the content marketing frenzy will only help your company stand out from the crowd. In an ever-growing competitive market differentiation is key.

Avoid the in-your-face “sales pitch” tone of traditional advertising that reads spammy (which users strongly dislike these days). Choose quality content as this will resonate with them.

The next steps for you: Start brainstorming ideas and schedule a content calendar, today! And remember, content created for everyone has actually been created for no one.

Did you find this article useful? Let me know in the comments.

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