What is content marketing? 6 reasons to use content in your strategy
As Bill Gates once said, content is king. And based on a recent SEMRush survey where more than 90% of businesses use a content marketing strategy, it’s a clear testament to this famous quote.
With the content marketing landscape constantly evolving, it can be overwhelming to decide where to even start. Take video content, for instance. The digital space expanded from Youtube, to TikTok, to Instagram Reels, and to Youtube Shorts. So before we discuss how to build a content marketing strategy, let’s first take a look at what it is.
What is content marketing?
Formally speaking, content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy that involves sharing relevant and valuable content to attract potential customers and retain existing customers. The ultimate goal is to convert customers by addressing their challenges and needs.
Content can be in the form of videos, blogs, social media posts, newsletters, case studies, emails, podcasts, or infographics.
A successful content marketing strategy helps brands generate awareness, build credibility and trust, and educate audiences. It’s often used by both large and small businesses as it is extremely cost effective.
What does a content marketing strategy look like?
Every content marketing strategy should answer the who, why, and how.
- Why are you creating this content in the first place?
- Who (or what) benefits from your content?
- How will your content help them and how will it add value?
While every content strategy differs, there are a few essential elements to consider, such as a customer persona, brand positioning, and owned media value proposition.
1. Customer persona
A customer persona is a fictional profile to represent specific people in the target audience. It is a great tool for brands to get an in-depth understanding of their audiences and reach them on a personal level.
To create a customer persona, start by looking at demographics such as age, geographic location, and gender. Then, conduct research on the customer’s attributes and habits.
For example, a meal subscription company, targeting college students aged 18 to 24, may want to gather information on how much students spend on groceries or how many times they cook a week. From there, it’s easier to build out a fictional customer to better visualize the type of individual who may purchase the brand’s product or service.
2. Brand positioning
To position your brand means to figure out how it fulfils a particular consumer need in a way that others may not. What that means is that this isn’t just a statement to “wow” the audience, but it’s something purposeful — and it’s imperative that the business buys into it.
Positioning includes values, target audience, and market landscape. And since a brand’s story can become a driving force behind the brand, there is a need to connect with the audience’s emotions.
Storytelling has been proven to boost conversion rates by 30% as people tend to remember stories and relate to them better. For us at Strategy + Digital, working with brands means starting start with a holistic understanding of their story and objectives, before determining an overall marketing strategy.
3. Owned media value proposition
Owned media is anything under a company’s direct control such as a website, social media, and blogs, while a unique value proposition (UVP) is what makes a brand stand out from their competitors.
To find the value proposition of owned media, each brand needs to understand:
- Who the audience is
- The audience’s needs
- How to address the needs
For example, as a marketing agency that specializes in reaching the Chinese audience, some of our online posts are for companies in North America (audience) looking to reach Chinese audiences (needs). We provide value by educating them about Chinese audiences and the marketing landscape in North America (how to address).
Why is content marketing important?
1. Conveys brand’s expertise
Providing consistent, high-quality, educational content shows audiences that your business is an expert in the industry or niche. More importantly, it has a great impact on audience decision-making in the customer journey. Simply put, the customer journey is a customer’s experience when interacting with a business.
When audiences identify a business as a reliable source for guidance and solutions, this establishes authority among the audience and strengthens their reputation.
2. Develops brand positioning
Content is a great way to demonstrate a brand’s UVP, which differentiates them from their competitors. Brands can do this by having a distinguishable voice, tone and style across all marketing channels. Audiences today want businesses to be more personalized. In other words, they want to know that there is a real person or people interacting with them. This process also helps brands better understand how they want to be perceived by their customers.
3. Increases organic search traffic
Blogs are among the most successful types of content, with 90% of businesses using blogs to reach potential and existing customers.
These online posts can reach potential customers searching for questions or solutions — which then increases organic traffic to the website and helps maintain the relationship with existing customers to ensure that the business stays on their mind.
For example, a recent blog we posted on our website has generated more than 23,000 impressions through Google in 3 months, without any advertising or special promotion behind it. This is simply from people searching for terms that relate to the topic.
Gaining more visitors doesn’t convert customers right away, but it enhances the brand’s awareness. And that’s important, as people who are familiar with a brand are more likely to click on its ads leading to more conversions.
4. Gains online visibility
Online visibility is a brand’s overall presence in the digital space. In other words, it’s how easily customers can find your brand’s website or “existence” online.
Although search engines are critical for online discovery, it is not the only means for customers to find a brand, especially with how competitive Google’s page ranking is.
That’s also where social media comes in — especially for pushing out content, such as videos, photos, and text — with it able to reach a wider audience.
Brands can simply take one piece of created content and repurpose it for multiple social media platforms. For example, a long-form blog article can be broken down into bite-sized reel with graphics for Instagram or TikTok.
Remember to tailor the content to the different platforms accordingly as audiences will prefer varying styles of text and visuals. And don’t forget to include a call to action (CTA) at the end of every post to encourage audiences to “do something” — whether that’s to visit a website, follow, share, purchase, or subscribe.
5. Builds relationship and trust with customers
Once brands decide on what type of content to post, the next step is to build a consistent content schedule.
Over time, customers and audiences will recognize the brand as experts in their niche and learn to expect similar content from the brand moving forward. Hubspot is a terrific example of this. As a company that provides software for marketing, sales, and customer service, they have strategically used blog content to gain credibility in the digital marketing space.
6. Helps think about your company’s goals
Brands have to define what they want to accomplish with the content and how it aligns with what the company needs. Is it brand awareness? Audience engagement? Website traffic?
Even though the marketing team can constantly churn out content, doing so without a goal in mind will risk delivering low-quality posts and visuals with low impact. This makes it more important exploring internally the objectives and direction that content is driving towards.
At the end of the day, content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. And at Sageus Strategy + Digital, we understand the challenges of adapting to an ever-changing market. We journey with brands to help them achieve growth and impact on a social, cultural and sustainable level — and that includes content strategy and creation.
With more than two decades of combined experiences working alongside global brands and organizations, Sageus Strategy + Digital focuses on getting to know your business, and help you connect with your audience.
Headquartered in Canada, and committed to making a global, cross-cultural, sustainable impact — we’re your one-stop firm for cultivation and growth, in all areas of branding and marketing.
Connect with us at sageuscollective.com/connect and learn more about what we do! Stay tuned for our next blog post, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook — so you won’t miss out on any updates from our Sageus Strategy + Digital Team.