Content marketing is when you create content (blog posts, ebooks, videos, etc.) related to your product but not about your product. This is the difference between teaching and selling. By teaching you are
Content marketing (a part of inbound marketing) is a great way to get customers to come to you rather than you always going to to sell to them (outbound sales). There are a few reasons why content marketing is a great strategy for many businesses:
- It scales. You do the work creating one piece of content and there is no more effort on your part if it is read be ten people, a hundred people, or a thousand people.
- It is shareable. Truly great content can go viral as it is shared via social media, blogs, and email.
- It helps your SEO. The more great content you have related to your industry the higher you will rank on Google.
- It establishes you as an authority. People are more likely to trust, and thus buy from, people they view as an authority on a subject.
Sourcing Content Ideas
The best content teaches and one of the easiest ways to come up with content is to create it in answer to questions. Anytime you are asked a question related to your industry that starts with, “How do I…”, you have an opportunity to create a piece of content that answers that. If one person has that question you can bet that others do too.
Places to look for questions include when people ask you questions personally or via email, subreddits on Reddit where people ask questions related to your industry, and questions on Quora.
Another way to find content ideas, and one that directly helps with your SEO is by looking at what people are searching for online. You can use Google’s free Keyword Planner (https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/) tool (it requires an Adwords account but you do not have to spend any money) to look up words related to your industry and how many searches it gets every month (called the search volume). When you write in-depth guides about the best keywords you will often rise in the search results for the keyword which increases traffic to your site.
Picking the Medium
Some content works best in specific formats. Teaching somebody how to fix something simple is often best done via a video rather than a blog post. Diving deep into a topic is usually best done with a long blog post or an ebook that can be read whenever the reader has time and that they can reference later.
Picking the right medium makes it more likely that your content will be consumed.
Blogs are the easiest of all of these ways to publish content. You write it and hit publish.
You can host your own blog or use a service such as Medium to post your content on. Hosting your own blog (usually in WordPress) is more powerful and allows you to do things like asking readers to subscribe to your mailing list, however, with Medium you can generally reach a wider audience.
Ebooks are great for longer guide type of content and are one of the better ways to establish authority on a subject as there is a certain amount of respect given to authors. Additionally they are great lead magnets to help you collect email addresses for your mailing list.
What makes podcasts unique to all of the other content we cover here is that, due to them being audio, they can be consumed anywhere. People listen to podcasts in their cars, on public transportation, at the office, and while they cook.
A couple great things about podcasts is that they are often subscribed to which puts any new episodes you publish in queue for your listeners and that you can distribute them via distribution platforms such as iTunes and Soundcloud which will help you be discovered by a large number of people that might never see your blog.
With a podcast your audience really gets a chance to know you which helps you build a relationship and trust with them.
Youtube is one of the biggest sites on the Internet in terms of audience and, with their related and recommended videos, a great way to be discovered. The downside to video is that it takes some work to make them look professional.
A popular thing for people in certain industries (lifestyle industries such as fashion or travel) is to do a video blog (vlog) that consist of a series of short videos that introduce you to your audience and helps them get to know you and your brand.
Your mailing list can be one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience and drive sales because, unlike these other mediums, you control exactly what content each subscriber receives and when. You can identify the people that are the closest to buying and send them content or coupons that will push them to purchase.
A lot of content marketing is about making people aware of your product (the first step in the customer adoption cycle. By keeping track of the number of people that listen to your podcast, download your ebooks, watch your videos, and join your mailing list you are getting the number of people at the top of your sales funnel. Keep track of them as they move down the funnel and become customers so you know what type of content is the most likely to result in customers. Doubling down on that content is one of the best growth strategies for your business.