What Is Content Marketing And Why Is It Important?

By @TheMarkDalton

‘Content’ is the hot buzzword at the moment. You hear people mentioning the word ‘content’ all the time now and you hear them talk about ‘content marketing’. At the moment we have three different categories that businesses tend to fall into when they approach content.

Businesses who get it and are rocking out great content across multiple social platforms (some of you), businesses who get that they should know what it is but are too embarrassed to ask anyone (a good number of you) and businesses who are confused and think they know what content is but don’t really have a clue (a lot of you).

I want to clear up the confusion this morning and help you understand what content is, what content marketing is and why the whole thing is important along with why your business needs content to survive online. Read this post and you won’t feel the need to be embarrassed to ask someone about the word ‘content’. Also, if you think you know what content is but the reality is you have no clue and have been doing it all wrong, don’t worry. I’m here to help.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The key word when it comes to content is value. This is something I talk about time and time again. I don’t write blog posts to sell you my service, there is never a right hook back to my company details begging you to spend money and hire me to look after your social media.

I don’t go around Twitter asking for people to retweet my business details, my website or my contact cards. I don’t begrudge or scoff at anyone who does this by the way, I know it works for people and you have to do you. However, that is not me and not what I want to do.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Why your business needs content to survive online.”]

Instead, I create content which I am continuously building up into a big library of my work. Every single piece of content I create is done with the intention of providing some form of value. Advice, tips, guidance, practical know how. The readers decide where they find the value but if you look back over the past number of months of content I have produced – every single blog post is created with the intention of providing value to the reader.

If you can provide value through your content then over time you will see the rewards. People gravitate to great content which is not trying to sell you something. If your content is great and you keep producing that great content then people will start to look for more information on who you are, what you do and will look to buy your product or service.

There is a huge variety of content that you can create. We could be here all day listing them so let’s just look at some of the most popular ones.

Blogging

Blogging is incredibly popular and easy to do. Pick a CMS (content management system such as WordPress) and start creating written content for your customers. Blogging allows you to express your feelings and emotion through written content and should be updated regularly. Blogging is also a great way to get noticed by Google who loves long form dynamic content which is updated regularly. You can customise your blog with plugins and different themes depending on which CMS you choose, we would recommend WordPress.

Infographics

Infographics are generally long vertical graphics which include statistics, charts and other information. A good infographic can be passed around to a wide variety of websites. You can approach infographics in a few different ways when you have one created. You can email blogs and websites asking them to post it with a link to your website or you can set up a board on Pinterest where you curate infographics on topics related to your business which is a form of content marketing. Infographics come at all different prices, you can get them as low as €50 but they are a lot of work so typically companies could spend up to €1,000 on a high quality infographic. Bigger brands could spend several thousand for contractors to create infographics which include strategy and planning, research, copywriting and design.

Podcasts

Podcasting gives you the chance to get your voice out there and gives you visibility through platforms such as Soundcloud and iTunes. A podcast gives you the chance to let your personality shine through and connect with your audience on a more personal level. Podcasting is also great if you want that level of personality in content but may not feel that you are a good practitioner of video content. Podcasts can lead to more traffic on your website and also more sales.

Videos

People believe that video content is expensive, hard and resource hungry. As a result there is still huge potential in video marketing and video content. With the falling cost of professional grade equipment, it is now easier and more cost effective to make great video and audio content. Video content can be used to sell products and services, like anything else your production quality and editing will improve over time.

There are countless other forms of content marketing such as books, ebooks, apps, webpages, public speaking and more.

Where businesses are getting confused is thinking that a tweet or a Facebook post is great content. That is what we call ‘micro content’ and while micro content is important for any strategy you need to understand that there is a difference between the two.

If you spend all your time creating just micro content you are going to struggle to improve your SEO rankings and you could struggle to improve your visibility. Micro content on its own is just not enough.

Why content marketing?

Now that we have an idea of what content is, we need to know why content marketing is important. You are a business owner, you want to run your business, content is one more thing to work on and think about so why would you need it?

Not so long ago the more effective form of advertising online was to shove popup ads, pre rolls on videos and banner ads all over the place and watch the returns come back in. All of these methods of advertising are still used online today but when you look at the data you will see that not all of them are effective anymore.

Look at banner ads. Unless you have a big big website churning big amounts of traffic the chances are you won’t see much of a return from banner ads. Why? Well let me ask you this, when was the last time you went on a website to click on a banner ad?

With the rise of social media, consumers have been given a voice and their awareness around brands and brand reputation has grown. Shoving ads in the consumers face no longer works and instead businesses need to raise awareness, provide assistance and solutions and educate customers in the hope that they will then buy from them.

This is where content comes in to play. Content can educate, advise, provide solutions and raise brand profile without directly trying to sell something. If you are trying to sell something in every piece of content you produce then you are doing it wrong.

Great content will be what drives people into the funnel which then allows you the chance to convert them into a sale. As mentioned it will also enhance your SEO and your social media presence.

So to answer the question, why do I need content?

– Improved SEO
– Improved social media presence
– Build brand awareness
– Provide solutions
– Drive people into the funnel to convert to a sale

How do I get started?

You can employ an external agency to come in and execute a content marketing strategy for you. Of course many businesses may want to do it themselves and the easiest place to start tends to be blogging.

It will be hard at first but once you get going and you start building up momentum you will get better at it. Blogging never gets any easier, it is you getting better.

When you start to create content on any platform you need to be patient. They are not going to flock to your website overnight just because you decided to start creating content all of a sudden. It takes time to build an audience, it could take years to build a big audience. Be patient, don’t just rubbish content marketing and claim it doesn’t work for you.

Trust me, content marketing works for any business but you need to put the work in to get the returns.

The number 1 content marketing secret?

It’s not actually a secret. I have talked about it in this post and I talk about it all the time when I speak to businesses or people wanting to grow personal brands. Provide value.

Thats it, you simply need to provide value in your content so that people want to consume it. It is up to you to figure out how that is done because every business is different so you need to think about how you can provide value to your customers.

Still struggling with it over time? Then hire someone to come in and help you out or hire a consultation to get you going.

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