What is Content Marketing & Why Must You Embrace It?

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What is Content Marketing?

Like many buzzwords we all use, content marketing is akin to the emperor’s new clothes: we might know the term but not fully understand it. It’s often used as a synonym for writing blog posts but the truth is content marketing is WAY more than just pressing the publish button.

In this post I’ll explain what content marketing is, what it involves and how you might use it to properly promote your blog in spades.

A Definition of Content Marketing

Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online.

Source: Wikipedia

This is a basic definition but content in content marketing terms is much more than writing blog posts and doesn’t only refer to things people can read. Content can be anything that someone might engage with:

  • Blog posts.
  • Video.
  • Podcasts.
  • Images.
  • Tweets.
  • Pinterest pins.
  • LinkedIn posts.
  • Infographics.
  • Newsletters.

I could go on.

You might use a content marketing strategy that shares the same foundational content, albeit modified, across multiple channels (content repurposing). Or perhaps create less obviously related content ideas by way of campaigns and a series of connected pieces.

So this overview explains “the what” but it doesn’t tell us “the why”… the reason why you’d embark on any content marketing strategy.

Why Build a Content Marketing Strategy?

Marketers build content marketing strategies for a bunch of reasons, but primarily the end goal is to develop relationships with their desired audience(s).

Content marketing touches on a wide variety of traditional marketing objectives such as brand reach, sales and customer relationship building, but does so in a way to engage with a target audience in a deeper way than most traditional standalone formats.

For bloggers, content marketing means creating content that truly adds value and answers the needs of your target readership… and then working to put that content underneath their noses!

Of course the motivation behind it may appear to be cynical at first glance. Let’s be honest, marketing techniques are designed ultimately to promote something. However, to me, content marketing is much more useful to people than “Hey, look at me.. I’m here!” advertising and is beneficial to both the marketer and the people likely to engage with it.

I’ll spend time working to provide valuable content, and for that more people will come to my blog… potentially! As long as the content gives value to visitors it’s a win-win.

Why is It Important?

Content Marketing is important since it delivers a more sophisticated, nuanced and engaging experience than some traditional marketing disciplines.

It’s most often educational or entertaining and gives value to those who read it. It differs from other more overtly promotional forms of content in that it doesn’t try to sell something directly. It may lead to sales down the line but it’s not necessarily designed to generate a conversion immediately.

Instead, content marketing provides value that strengthens relationships with those who consume it, and make sales / conversions more possible in the future.

As such content marketing is symbiotic: it benefits the consumer AND the marketer. The consumer gains value and the marketer gains trust.

Well-executed content marketing, in all of its forms, creates opportunities for people to find out about you and potentially provides them with solutions to specific problems they might have.

Blogging IS of course content marketing but not just writing and publishing. We know that if we can produce exceptional blog posts we’ll gain the following benefits:

  • High quality content leads to increased potential for external links to your blog and the associated SEO advantages such links bring.
  • Consistently well-produced content reinforces expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
  • Possible traffic growth.

However, without a little help the best blog post ever written on any subject is like a raindrop in a storm. This is where content marketing makes a massive difference.

A Content Marketing Example for Your Blog Posts

To outline how a basic content marketing campaign might work for your blog, here’s a basic example. This is something that works well for me… but it does take some effort. I’ll lay it out in steps for you to apply to your own situation.

Creating Your Content

  1. Write a long form blog post (in excess of 1,500 words) and refer to / cite relevant sources, including a link to their site / blog.
  2. If you are able, leave a comment on any source blog posts adding value to the discussion prior to publishing your post. Here are some tips on how to execute blog commenting with grace!
  3. Create an attractive featured image for the blog post that will be picked up whenever the post is shared in social media.
  4. Create 2 – 4 images designed for Pinterest. Insert one of them into your post with a call to action to share it on Pinterest.
  5. Create an image (or images) for Instagram if it works for your niche. You could repurpose any of the images you’ve created thus far.

After Publishing

  1. Submit your blog post to Google.
  2. Submit you blog post to Bing.
  3. Send an email to anyone you’ve referred to in your blog post letting them know you’d recently commented on a post of theirs that inspired you to reference them in your post. Include a link to the post as a courtesy but don’t ask for anything in return. You may get a social share, mention or even an external inbound link if you’re lucky!
  4. Share your blog post in Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Take the 2 – 4 images you created for Pinterest and schedule them as pins weeks apart from one another. N.B. Your own images should not be the only source for your pinning activity.
  6. Post your image(s) to Instagram.
  7. Take as many standout nuggets of content as you can from your blog post and schedule them as Twitter tweets over the course of days / weeks. You can schedule them directly in Twitter or use a tool such as TweetDeck.
  8. Look for opportunities to provide comprehensive answers to questions relevant to your blog post in Quora, and add your link subtly to provide further value to your answer.

There are further steps before and after publishing, but I’ll save those for a more advanced example as a standalone piece. You can of course improvise and add your own to build on this… but hopefully this gives you an outline for the type of activities you can build into a single item you’ve blogged about.

Pretty neat right?

Summary

Content marketing is a highly powerful technique to market your blog posts… but it takes a lot of work.

At its heart is always is exceptional content. It’s not enough to simply pump out flabby blog posts or social media tweets, pins and updates because volume without quality and value will not develop trust and long-term relationships.

Using a content strategy as I’ve outlined can help you to generate:

  • A loyal following.
  • Increased reach and reputation.
  • Social media shares and mentions.
  • External inbound links.
  • Visits to your blog.

That’s it for now!

Paul

Please feel free to share any of the above images on Pinterest.

I’d love to hear what you think of this piece. Leave a comment below and tell me… after all it’s free!

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