What is content marketing?
June 13 2022
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Content marketing is about building long-term relationships with your audience by providing them with valuable content. The aim of content marketing is to build and then consolidate the recipient’s belief that the content author or brand is a competent, trustworthy institution. The end result of content marketing is product sales and customer relations.
The key term here is “institution”. Nowadays, when we are flooded by content all over and it is often of poor quality, it is the brand that counts. Confidence that if a given person or company has created something, it can be trusted. That it is simply good. In the past, such a reliable person or company was often referred to as an “institution”.
I know from over twenty years’ experience and from what my customers tell me that it is difficult to find a reliable company today. Content is produced on a mass scale, without in-depth analysis. It’s hard to find someone who does it well, within an acceptable timeframe and reasonable budget. Quite often it turns out that the problem for businesses is not time or money. The challenge is quality. Today, anyone can create content, but not everyone is the right person to do it.
How do you go about creating content? How do you judge the results of someone’s work?
Content marketing – what is it, who for and why?
Content marketing is simply content. Content that can be consumed. In case of digital marketing, this simply means different forms of getting the message across to the customer. These can be:
- blog articles
- research and industry reports
- case studies (descriptions of projects created for clients)
- testimonials (customer reviews)
- webinars (online courses)
- public relations (PR) materials
- mailing (e-mail content sent as part of paid or free campaigns based on address database)
- social media content
These are naturally only a few of the most common and popular forms of content marketing. Much more important than the form of content itself is the awareness of the target group of the marketing message. It defines the form and above all the content.
The basic principle of content marketing is to address topics that are important to the recipient themselves, not to the brand. A company that talks about itself straight away loses the viewer’s attention to a company that offers content that solves problems. Answering questions, clarifying doubts, expanding knowledge.
Content is one of the primary tools for establishing brand-customer relationships. Before making a purchase decision, consumers consult as many as a dozen different sources of online content. Nearly 90% of consumers start their search with a search query that is not related to any particular brand. According to eMarketer, one out of four Internet users uses various types of ad blocks (in Poland as many as 50%!). This means that no adverts are displayed to them and money for promotional campaigns is thrown down the drain. What does all this mean?
Firstly, customers are generally not attached to companies, they are simply looking for a solution to their problem. Brands are naturally an exception. Companies that have become icons of their industry and are well known. Not because they are universally recognisable, but in the opinion of the consumers themselves they offer some value. This is what brand authenticity is increasingly proving to be.
Since customers are looking for the right product and not a specific company, it is necessary to offer them content that will direct them to that product. All the more so as this is one of the most effective ways of fighting for customers today. Classic ads can still sell and aren’t going anywhere, but content, understood as a guide and educational tool, will have the upper hand in most situations.
Content marketing – what does it mean?
Content alone, however, is not enough. The most important thing is that it is effective. So creating a text or shooting a video is just the beginning. Or in fact a subsequent step. The material itself, in whatever form, must be preceded by one more thing: awareness of the goal to be achieved and the target group. Here’s what a content marketing strategy should look like:
- definition of business objectives (e.g. increase in sales, creation of a new market, reaching a new target group)
- defining the target audience for the content
- SEO strategy (search engine positioning)
- content creation
- content distribution
And here’s where problems arise. The classic marketing saying goes: content is king, but distribution is queen. That is to say: you can create great content, but if nobody sees it, it’s just more money wasted. Distribution is what counts. The right promotion in social media channels, networking with media, influencers, etc. And for this you need an SEO strategy to know which keywords to base your material or product description on in your online shop.
What should the content be – regardless of form?
- tailored to the business goal and target audience (serious, educational, entertaining, etc.)
- unique to the brand that makes it
- valuable, bringing something to the recipient’s life
- interesting, i.e. attention-grabbing and engaging
Benefits of using content marketing
If you ask a trainee “what is content marketing” they might answer: a necessity. And so it is, best exemplified by so-called evergreen content. It’s like with songs: certain tracks never get old and we have them embedded in our minds (and above all in our hearts!) for years or even decades. This is because they offer us a certain value. In the case of songs, it will be emotions, in the case of content, it will be knowledge.
The matter is very well described in the Ahrefs blog, a great tool for positioning content. Ahrefs uses two terms to describe evergreen content : spike of hope and flatline of nope. The former term refers to concepts and themes that “take a hold” for some time. People search for a term and it is popular in the search engine. For some time, because then another concept emerges. It means “flattening” the search for a given phrase. Interest has fallen and, apart from statistical error, no one is interested in it any more.
Evergreen content solves this problem. Valuable materials that have timeless value are always welcome. Both by consumers themselves and by Google’s algorithms, which are all the more eager to suggest this kind of content to users.
Another benefit is audience engagement. The more time a customer spends on your website, the less time they have for your competitors. Above all, they see your company as a brand. The difference can be illustrated with an example – there are plenty of companies producing sports shoes, but there are only a few brands: Adidas, Puma, Champion… Why them? Because they have created value, they are seen as brands. Well-designed content will help you become a brand. This is nothing more than a branding strategy.
Another benefit is a relatively low cost of the activities carried out. Paid campaigns are expensive. The more competitive the industry, the more expensive the advertising. In addition, because of their cost, they are only published for a limited period of time. Meanwhile, content just exists. Of course, due to the actions of the competition and to how Google’s algorithms respond, you need to constantly create new content (and occasionally update the old), but even so, the expenditure is incomparable.
Another aspect is market positioning. What content marketing means can only be seen when it starts to work properly. Well-executed content will show itself in a new light. As a market expert, a trustworthy company. It cannot be overestimated!
Another benefit is that websites are built based on so-called Core Web Vitals (CWV), which are the technical guidelines necessary for websites to function. These are indicators that are part of a broader set of so-called Page Experience Signals (PES), or signals that indicate whether content is useful. Both of these collections were created by Google for its search engine and website owners. As a result, they know how to optimise page content. Why is this important?
It directly affects the benefits of using content marketing. Core Web Vitals, as a set of metrics that affect user experience, allows you to move a page up the list of search results. The better a page is ranked by Google’s algorithms, the easier the content itself is found. The easier the content is to find (and better!), the potentially more sales of your products. But to the point.
Core Web Vitals consists of three factors:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long the largest (heaviest in megabytes) element on a page takes to load. Optimally it should be a maximum of 2.5 seconds, in practice the less the better.
- First Input Delay (FID) represents the time between a user’s first interaction with a web page and the browser’s response to that action. Optimally, it should not exceed 100 milliseconds.
- The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is a vehicle for so-called ‘visual stability’. This parameter shows whether and to what extent elements of a web page change their position during its loading. Optimally, this ratio should be below 0.1.
Why is all this important? Because it has a direct impact on the user experience. This is another element of effective content marketing. In addition to SEO optimisation, taking care of your website optimisation is essential for success. And the truth is that these few parameters, introduced by Google in August 2021, are just the tip of the iceberg affecting SEO, and have their source in the company’s algorithms. All of this you need to be aware of in order to effectively not only create, but also position content. Content marketing – you will find out what it means when you take care of all the elements mentioned.
You can check CWV indicators using tools such as Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, or GTmetrix.
How to measure the effectiveness of content marketing?
What is content marketing? It is a value, but also an efficiency. We measure it using so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Translated as key performance indicators, these parameters will show you whether your content is achieving your business goals.
Examples of KPIs:
- time spent by users on the website
- number of unique users
- number of sub-pages visited by the user
- number of purchases made after visiting the content
- number of e-mails opened in the mailing campaign
- number of content shares
- number of newsletter subscriptions
- number of downloads of an ebook
- number of comments
- number of product ratings
Important note – the effectiveness of content marketing can be seen almost immediately. Single, well-optimised blog articles can appear high in search results almost immediately. In the case of new companies on the market or in the case of rebranding, when often almost everything changes (including the concept for content marketing), the effects can take from six months to even two years. And you should be fully aware of this.
Content marketing is a great and relatively cheap tool for building brand awareness and increasing sales, but it’s not a magic wand. You have to wait a while for comprehensive results, but it is worth it. Because of the lower price, compared to other forms of marketing, and the long-term benefits that this tool offers.