The phrase “content marketing” often falls into the category of words we’ve heard before but are not quite sure we understand. We nod along with everyone else but wish someone would explain.
Perhaps you’re too embarrassed to ask. We’ve all been there. Or maybe you’re looking for a refresher.
It doesn’t matter what brought you here, because below you’ll find absolutely everything you need to know about the meaning of content marketing, alongside some eye-opening examples.
- Content marketing is an incredibly relevant and growing strategy. 82% of marketers are investing in the approach.
- Effective marketing solves a customer’s problem by understanding what they want and aligning towards it. 70% of buyers will actively define their needs on their own before they engage, so they know what they’re looking for.
- 62% of Google searches include video. If you want to create engaging content, most of it should be visual.
- The best advice out there is to create and use a documented content marketing strategy. 64% of the most successful B2B marketers have one.
The meaning of content marketing
Content marketing is the act of creating and distributing consistent, great, and relevant content to engage your target audience. Your online materials should interest them and attract them towards your brand. When the right people see it, it should be valuable to them, which encourages retention.
The term was coined in 1996 by John F. Oppendahl, referring at the time mostly to email marketing and blog writing. The rate of technological evolution might have changed a few things, but the term successfully made its way to our modern world.
What is the purpose of content marketing?
This approach does not rely on explicitly promoting a brand; the intention is to excite consumers and build relationships with them. In the words of Velocity’s Doug Kessler, “Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.”
The approach has a range of purposes, and they will differ depending on what your business goals are. An analysis of how you’re performing, where you want to improve, and what your values are should give you some clarification. For inspiration, below are some of the things content marketing can help you with.
- Increasing revenue
- Boosting brand awareness
- Generating high-quality leads
- Improving conversions
- Educating audiences about your values
- Furthering customer relationships
- Gaining more social media followers
How does content marketing work?
To execute your content marketing successfully, you need to be aware of the marketing funnel. This is where you visualize your customer journey. Imagine a ladder where consumers begin by discovering your brand. What you publish helps them to climb down to the next step, and eventually, they hit the ground and become loyal advocates.
Your funnel may change depending on your target audience. B2C (business to customers) buyers are likely to be independent buyers. Because the decision is theirs to make alone, the journey is often shorter than for B2B (business to business) customers. Taking this into account will ensure you’re optimizing the process.
The awareness stage
Awareness means your brand is in consumers’ minds. But when do they start thinking about businesses? When they need to purchase something. Their adventure begins because they’ve discovered that they have a problem. Maybe their desk is wobbly, or they can’t decide where to go on their holidays.
What do they do? They find their way online and begin their investigation.
This is the time to focus on which methods provide the widest and brightest visibility. You want to concentrate on lead generation and nurturing, which is the process of finding prospects and converting them into people who are interested in your products and services. Here are our best practices for just that.
- Put a compelling press release out there
- Build your social media presence
- Use super shareable visual content like infographics
- Purchase some paid advertisements
- Use inbound marketing
- Engage in SEO (search engine optimization) to rank higher on Google
Australian clothing retailer Princess Polly demonstrates how to grow awareness with social media. Competition is a good tool for the next stage (consideration) because it generates excitement and opens up opportunities for interaction.
But it’s actually an effective method here too. Take a look at how these guys do it. They encourage sharing with the reward of an extra entry and even ask participants to tag their friends in the comments.
The people who saw the competition in their feeds would’ve been followers already. They know about the brand, so targeting them will do nothing to grow brand awareness. But by asking them to tag others, they introduce new potential buyers and followers to the page. They will then tag even more people…you get the gist.
The consideration stage
Once consumers have gone through the awareness stage, they will have determined that you could solve their problem for them. They like what they see. Congratulations! Now they will be investigating your brand to see if they should consider purchasing from you.
So, you need to build relationships with them here. You can do this by projecting knowledge and value, which can be done in several ways.
- Upload video tutorials
- Publish helpful blog posts
- Introduce your marketing campaigns
- Keep up with your email marketing
- Host events (such as webinars)
Let’s pretend you’re a hair cosmetics company (or maybe you are, which would be a cool coincidence). Instead of only paying for a banner ad, write a blog post called “10 Hair Products You Didn’t Realize Could Help Your Growth”. This way you are appealing to the customer’s needs and showing that you are informed on the topic.
Have you heard of British cosmetics retailer Lush? Their articles perfectly encapsulate what we’ve been saying. The headline “How to care for blonde hair” is something that many people have probably Googled at one point or another. Consumers find a helpful article that they trust, which makes the publisher memorable.
Why does this work? Buyers won’t just type “shampoo” into the search engine when they need a problem solved, they’ll usually pose a question like “what is the best shampoo for a dry scalp?” or “best shampoo on a budget”. If your non-promotional and free content gives them the answers they need, they will be more likely to trust your products and services.
The conversion stage
Finally! The time has come, and the researcher wants to become a customer. But because of all this research they’ve been doing, they know how many of your competitors are out there. They become aware that you’re not the only business that can solve their problem.
To ensure the buyer’s journey is fulfilled and reaches its end, you’ve got some convincing to do. They know they can go to hundreds of businesses that offer solutions. Your goal here is to present yourself as the frontrunner.
Being an option isn’t good enough; there needs to be an arrow pointing to you that says you have the best solution for them. To do this, it’s a good idea to understand your audience to your fullest capabilities. Try surveys, feedback meetings, and data-driven buyer personas.
Customers know what they’re looking for. After all, 70% of buyers will actively define their needs on their own before they engage. You need to be clever and align your content to their desires. Don’t just talk about the features of your product or service. Explain how it works, what its unique selling points are, and how it’ll benefit their lives.
There are plenty of methods out there. Here’s our list of best practices.
- Create content with the facts in mind
- Sprinkle in data wherever you can
- Always publish positive customer testimonials and reviews
- Spend time making some educational videos
- Utilize product or service how-to-guides and tutorials
- Focus on benefits instead of features
If you were to Google CRM platform HubSpot, you’d find resources such as “Why Choose Hubspot?”. Instead of just telling you that they’re a good choice, they provide the data and then tell you how their solution can get you the same results.
It’s unrealistic to assume customers will just believe your brags. The information here shows them how they’d benefit from a customizable CRM with trusted statistics. Which, conveniently, is a feature mentioned in the paragraph before. They see that the brand knows what they’re talking about so their offer has more authority.
The benefits of content marketing
If you’re now thinking that sounds like a lot of work, you’d be right. It’s a big commitment, but one that is essential to your business. 82% of marketers are investing in the approach. Numbers like that can only mean one thing: it’s the way forward. Let’s look at what this approach can do for you.
- It’s more cost-effective. Content marketing costs 62% less than its traditional counterpart, and an average of 41% less than paid search. Who can turn that down?
- It’s more fun. We all get irritated by spam emails and adverts that pop up when we’re trying to read an article. This method allows you to promote yourself in a way customers like.
- It will work for you. Think about the nichest industry out there. Whatever it is, a content strategy will improve results across the board. If you’re clever with it, even the most boring information can be enjoyable.
- You become more shareable. Users are unlikely to share your paid ad with their friends. But a funny meme, a competition, or a video of your product in action? Much more likely. This means you can drive traffic, get more sales, and gain more followers.
- People are easily influenced. Personally, I’ve bought something because I’ve seen someone rave about it on TikTok. Just a compelling thirty-second video, that’s all it took for me to make a purchase. Take advantage of this.
- Google will be your friend. When you want to know how to rank higher, the answer will always be “good content”. Being attractive to the search engine will push you beyond your competitors.
Consumers aren’t just asking for great content anymore, they’re demanding it. Their money means a lot, and this is the best way to show them you’ll handle it with care. By putting your all into your content marketing efforts, you’ll soon see that the rewards coming your way.
Careers in content marketing to consider
One of the fantastic things about content marketing is that there are so many job opportunities in the field. Here you can find a pretty long list of what is available if you want to research some more. To break it down, consider which of these 6 options sounds right to you, and then work from that point. Which one grabs your attention?
Many of these roles will be within an existing creative team or marketing agency. However, there is always the option to go down a freelance path. This is a self-employed position where you lend your skills to clients when they need help. To make it a bit easier to digest, you can find our picks below.
Social media manager
Staying current online is important for all businesses if you want to engage your audience. 84% of adults in the United States are active on social media. Everyone and their pets (quite literally, sometimes) can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and everywhere else.
This role involves producing and publishing valuable content to whichever channels the company deems appropriate. It would also be on the social media manager to oversee any competitions, strategies and content marketing campaigns. Interacting with users in comments or direct messages is also key to success, so they would be on top of this too.
- The average annual salary for a social media manager in the US is $53,375
- Key skills: social media, customer care, time management, and creativity
Content marketing manager
A content marketing manager is responsible for all online media and the strategy that comes with it. Their priority is creating, editing, planning, and distributing material on behalf of a business. They plan the company’s marketing calendar and make sure everything is done to a high standard.
Research is at the heart of this role and alongside that comes lots of analysis. After all, someone has to check that the content is doing what it needs to. If it’s not, then they will develop inbound marketing strategies to get it back on track.
- The average annual salary for a content marketing manager in the US is $76,106
- Key skills: editing, planning, analysis, management, and decision-making
Companies will publish blogs, articles, and press releases with the intention of educating, entertaining, and informing readers. That’s exactly what a content writer does. They tell a brand’s story and promote their products and services through clever writing, which ultimately persuades customers to become customers.
They produce the best content they can on a range of different topics that all relate to the business. After all, you’ve got to make some noise if you want to be worth remembering.
- The average annual salary for a content writer in the US is $48,763
- Key skills: writing, editing, research, SEO, and time management
6 types of content marketing that’ll get your name out there
Well, we’ve definitely given you plenty of information to chew on. And while you might feel pretty clued up, we’ve still got a long way to go. There’s a difference between understanding the marketing strategy and knowing how to do it well.
So let’s talk about the wide variety of ways you can put information out there. You will be aware there are many formats to consider, and you should be thinking about all of them. A bouquet of the same flower is pretty. But one with roses, tulips, and the works will turn heads.
First up, we’ve got an often underappreciated method. While many consider visual content to be the most effective, audio should be utilized alongside. You’ll find a few of our reasonings below, so you can pick up your recording device with confidence.
- Multi-task friendly. 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast at some point. Why? Because with podcasts you can tune in anywhere, anytime, and you can take part in other activities while listening, such as walking and cleaning.
- Connections. Podcasts can be a great tactic for creating a close-knit community. They are more intimate as listeners will hear the host’s voice and the content is usually more conversational.
- Captive audience. Due to the ease of consumption, 82.4% of listeners will engage with podcasts for more than 7 hours a week. This gives you a lot of opportunities to form relationships and put your message out there.
There are plenty of examples of successful podcasts. On Spotify, you can find The Girls Bathroom, a podcast hosted by two best friends Sophia Tuxford and Cinzia Baylis-Zullo, who talk about dating, relationships, and friendships. Their target audience is young women in search of life advice, and the hosts easily reach their audience each time.
Their friendly personalities cultivated a large following, and with each submitted question they answered, the women built up a reputation for expertise. Though they didn’t begin by promoting a product, they sold themselves. As a result, they have many loyal fans, sell merchandise such as card games and clothing, and are even doing a live UK tour in 2023.
Sometimes, a wonderfully written piece is the best way to get your point across. After all, blogs have been around for a long time for a reason. When you create something fun that resonates with your target audience, these can do wonders for your brand. If you’re looking for some other benefits, look no further.
- Trust. Through blogging, you become a valuable member of the niche you’re in. By bringing a unique perspective and new ideas to the table, you make yourself a thought leader. Customers aren’t buying from you because you were the first thing they saw. No, they listened to what you had to say, they liked it, and now they trust you.
- Control. Isn’t it the worst when you’re perceived in a way you don’t want to be? You can change all of that by crafting your narrative. If you want to be seen as an expert, give concise and clever industry insights. If you want to be entertaining, write something witty with fun anecdotes. How you use a blog is really up to you.
- Traffic. When you craft a blog, you can write about trending topics, match search intent, and build strong, high-quality links. All of these things will increase your traffic and engagement.
Take Corgan, an architecture and design firm based in the United States. Their website hosts a variety of blog posts and news articles relevant to their industry. This snippet was lifted from a blog called “Neurodiversity in the Workplace”. You’ll notice that it’s a thought-provoking piece, but it isn’t directly telling readers to buy from Corgan.
Corgan could’ve published a white paper, which is a more complex, informative, and promotional document. However, this blog post instead promotes their brand’s image. The business presents itself as an industry expert rather than an expert in their product alone. It also shows their passion for what they do, which is sure to impress potential buyers.
The best kind of content is one that provides real context. It shows consumers that you walk the walk. A case study is a way to tell the story of something your business did. It is in-depth, highly informative documentation of an event or action that took place.
A case study could be written about various things, such as a past or future event, a project or a client’s success story, how you identified a problem and reached a solution, or maybe a broader topic. Which one you choose will often depend on your business and goals. So, what else do we like about them?
- Convincing. Customers will discover your study through their research and will see that you’re a good fit for them because you put your money where your mouth is. Fun stories and reels are great, but people need to see actual, authentic results too. Having public case studies will streamline the funnel and increase sales.
- Better than an advertisement. Consumers trust other people over brands’ pledges. But they can be wise to reviews, which aren’t always accurate. They are more likely to appreciate a case study because it is built upon a real client, event, or success.
- The numbers don’t lie. Of the most successful content marketers, an impressive 73% of them used case studies. This is because you are providing something beyond meaningless promises, you are giving customers a solid foundation for their purchasing decisions.
In the world of digital marketing, everyone has to prove themselves. Let’s look at how the workplace management platform Asana uses case studies to win over customers. This piece of content tells the story of their client’s success and growth.
There are various reasons why this is a great example of marketing. This case study makes it super obvious that they mean business and can deliver what is needed through real examples of their products in action. Therefore, they build trust and their credibility increases, which acts as motivation for making purchasing decisions.
You can also find direct quotes from the customers about what they found useful. Even though the study was created by Asana, the clients add a personal and genuine touch which consumers are more likely to be convinced by.
Successful content marketing never feels like the same thing over and over again. You need to be a bit more creative than that. But we also understand that you have a lot of information to get out there. People don’t always want to read long texts, sometimes they want something a bit easier to comprehend.
Let’s turn away from wordy content altogether here and talk a bit about infographics. Consider summarizing important facts and data in an aesthetically-pleasing image. There are so many benefits to this method that you really should know about.
- Adaptable. Infographics can be used anywhere. You can attach one to your emails, post it on social media platforms, or interweave them into your blogs. Also, certain industries might need to explain a complicated project, but find that only experts can understand what they’re saying. Infographics make information much more accessible because they can be adapted for simplicity.
- Cost and time effective. You can find many tools, such as the graphic design tool Canva, that offer free templates. They can also be made in minutes, which is magic for busy marketers and small businesses.
- SEO friendly. Visual content is seen by Google as more shareable, so it will likely improve your ranking when you use a few on your websites and blogs. People look for something to share and often choose infographics. They can therefore produce many inbound links.
Here’s one we created recently on the topic of content curation:
We think beauty subscription service IPSY has the whole infographic thing sussed out. To promote their “ultimate guide” on Facebook, they posted the link alongside an image that summarizes what the content is about. They use bright colors that will likely attract their target audience, which is young women who enjoy cosmetics.
If the brand had posted a link to their guide, we’d all be yawning. We’d probably scroll past without a glance. But the infographic picks out the most interesting parts of the blog, which catches your eye. It’s sort of like a blurb of a book. IPSY gives just enough information to make readers want more, making it likely that they’ll click further.
In the same realm of thought, you’ve got video content. You can put as much stuff out there as humans (and AI, for that matter) are capable of creating, but it isn’t a given that it will help your business. You need to consider your audience demographics and what they interact with. In almost every case, the answer is visual content. Here are some other reasons to make the jump.
- Brand awareness. 62% of Google searches include video. By adding your own to your platforms and pages, you increase the chance of being seen and remembered. I know if I think about the chocolate company Cadbury, I think of the advertisement of the gorilla playing the drums and the wiggly eyebrow kids. Most of you probably know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, give it a watch. That’s good visual content marketing right there.
- Engagement. Consumers can get the information they’re seeking much quicker. It’s like getting to skip the queue at the supermarket. Who wouldn’t be a fan of that? This, along with the fact that your content becomes more visually appealing, will bring you higher engagement.
- Persuasive. 84% of customers state that marketing videos have convinced them to make an investment. We’re talking powerful stuff here. They speak to your potential buyers in a way traditional advertisements just can’t. Embed videos into blogs, link them to emails, or create advertisements to really sell your brand.
At Quuu, we value the way video can transform content. For example, we had exciting news to share about new features, rewritten apps, a new brand, and so much more. We could’ve put everything in a very long blog post that would’ve taken well over ten minutes to read. Instead, it became an under-two-minute watch.
When we rely on something very word heavy, there’s a risk that readers won’t take in any of the information. Who could blame them? Our attention spans can’t always hack it. Our video breaks up daunting information into manageable chunks, making it easier for consumers to retain. We were also able to post this content across other platforms like Twitter because videos can be seamlessly shared.
You can’t talk about online content marketing and neglect to mention social media. When it plays such a huge and significant role, there’s no turning a blind eye. Apps are integrated into our daily routines, and scrolling is now a habit for most of us. If you want to target your desired audience quickly, this is how you do it.
Social media content comes in different forms, some of which we discussed already, like infographics and videos. But it’s the relationship businesses can form with users that make it so unique. Some brands create such strong presences that you start to see them as an individual. It really takes humanized marketing to a whole new level.
If we’re going to talk about this, let’s focus on who does it best. When it comes to a long-term commitment, such as learning a language, brands like Duolingo need to keep their customers motivated. Their giant green owl mascot was supposed to be a fun solution to that problem. Instead, it turned out… pretty menacing. Hence, memes like this one.
The internet absolutely loved it and the owl became a social media celebrity. Now, as a result of joining in on the fun, the brand is instantaneously recognizable. Their awareness is off the charts and as of February 2022, their TikTok account, where the mascot jumps on the latest trends, has an awe-inspiring 5.9 million followers. To put it into perspective, their competitor Memrise has 1921 followers. Hats off to the marketing team.
The brand listened to its audience. They didn’t quite succeed the way they thought they would, but were able to see incredibly positive results by letting users lead the way. Social media is a brilliant way of learning what your potential customers think of you and applying it to future marketing campaigns.
As you can see, social media is a tool to be reckoned with. Here are some other benefits to getting yourself a platform.
- Customer service. We’ve all missed an important email or call before. We’re only human, after all. But on social media, you can set alerts and notifications that will tell you when someone is trying to interact with your brand. This makes growing connections so much easier.
- It’s free. Social media generally doesn’t cost a penny. If you have no budget, you could take your own photos, curate them from elsewhere, and utilize content creation tools. No one should have to sacrifice good content marketing because they can’t afford it.With social media, you don’t have to.
- More efficient reach. People love to connect over social media, it’s one of the best things about it. By participating in online communities, you can seek out potential customers who are most likely going to be interested in your content. You can even find opportunities for guest posting and links if you interact with the right people.
Our 3 favorite marketing tools
This guide isn’t just about what you can do for your brand, but how you can utilize outside help to be the best you can be. There are so many tools and services out there designed to help you achieve your goals and ease the workload of your team.
Here are our top picks for the most valuable applications, and ones that should be non-negotiable in your marketing tool-belt. We’re confident you’ll feel the same once you try them.
So, now you’re ready to start your social media marketing venture. You’re buzzing with excitement, but you have a small team and no time to fit in regular posting. But,hope is not lost, because we’re introducing you to Buffer, the toolkit that will make your life easier. The application lets you schedule social media posts to publish when you need to.
All you have to do is plan when, what, and where. Users will think you’ve got a secret superhero on your team, because you’ll never miss a beat. Your Buffer desktop can be managed from a phone or computer, too, so you can read your metrics and make changes when necessary. From the office, the bathroom, or the train. You do you.
Promoting your content is a huge part of marketing . It wouldn’t just hurt your feelings if no one saw your post, it would hurt your brand too. The next tool for you comes from us, and we’re confident it will change your game forever. Real people share what you publish, which means hundreds of genuine mentions, traffic, and opportunities to engage.
Once your work is ready to be promoted, we will get it in front of the right people. Your own content will be shared by appropriate social media accounts, whose followers will be relevant to you. Reaching your target audience can be a difficult part of the process, so let us ease the burden for you. Register now so we can prove that we mean business.
Effective content marketing is a long learning process. Sometimes your strategy or plan won’t work, and you’ll need to reconsider. But how are you supposed to know what to improve without any data? You need a metric, or a way to measure, track, and analyze your performance. Conveniently, that’s exactly what Google Analytics can provide.
Metrics ensure that any business decisions you make are smart and informed. This service does so by giving helpful insights into your business, such as engagement patterns, traffic, and visitor information. Think back to the green owl. You know the one. Learning is essential if you want to grow, so why not go straight to the source?
So, what next?
Woohoo, you now know the meaning of content marketing! We bet you feel totally enlightened. Good for you!
You’re in the loop, but might be wondering about what your next steps are. You probably have an idea of what you want to create and why, but need a way to make sure it stays consistent and organized. If your content gets lost in translation, it won’t meet your goals or your audiences.
Everything you’ve learned should come together to form your very own shiny, new, content marketing strategy. A lot of people get confused and wonder what the difference between the approach and the strategy is. They work together like peanut butter and jelly, but here is guidance on where they differ.
These are your first steps to success. After all, 64% of the most successful B2B marketers work from a documented content marketing strategy. Putting one of these in place and allowing all of your team access to it will ensure everyone knows what they’re doing and, crucially, why.
This is your opportunity to define what you’re using content for and what you want to get out of it. Below are some of the things that need to be on your to-do list before you get ahead of yourself.
- A schedule
- An action plan
- Brand positioning
- An SEO strategy
- Your style guidelines
- A plan for creating high-quality content
- Customer personas
- Your defined goals
Phew, we did it! The ultimate rundown and what all of it actually means. You won’t be laughed out of the conversation now. You’ll be leading it. Hopefully, you can see that content marketing is an absolute powerhouse that businesses should know about. It’s an approach that guarantees to improve your brand as you know it.
You have all the stepping stones to begin your venture and the first things you need to do as you get started. Just remember to listen to those who matter. Your content should always directly connect you to your target audience, no matter what its general purpose is. If it’s entertaining, it should entertain them. So on, and so forth.
Good luck and all of us at Quuu cannot wait to see what you do with this new-found knowledge. We’re certain it’s going to blow us away.
Let us know if you’ve seen any great examples of content marketing that left a lasting impression. We’d love to know what inspires you.