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What is content marketing and how to do it? The Complete Guide

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy - 2022

By Emma RandyPublished 2 years ago 16 min read
What is content marketing and how to do it? The Complete Guide
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

What is content marketing? What is it for and how do you use it? These are probably questions you've already asked yourself.

Today, it is impossible to ignore content marketing, a technique adopted by more and more companies. So, what do you need to know and do to implement it?

A. What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a marketing strategy that relies on the creation and distribution of valuable, useful and informative content in order to communicate with its audience and develop its visibility. Content marketing is a component of inbound marketing.

Content marketing aims at attracting visitors to your website and transforming them into consumers thanks to an editorial strategy, a targeted and valuable message, and storytelling techniques. It allows to increase its visibility to the audience, on search engines and social networks. It differs from traditional advertising, considered too intrusive by the consumer.

The creation of an interesting content allows to attract the attention of qualified prospects, to influence the behavior of potential consumers and to make known its brand or its company.

The history of content marketing

Content marketing as we know it today first appeared in the United States in the 19th century. In 1895, John Deere, owner of the famous tractor company, published the first edition of his magazine The Furrow. The magazine was not intended to advertise its tractors, but rather to help farmers improve their yields by addressing various agricultural issues such as crop choices, changes in farming methods and economic diversification. Today, the magazine still exists and is read by more than 1.5 million readers in 40 countries around the world.

In France, the first example of content marketing comes from the Michelin company. In 1900, the Michelin brothers created for the first time a guide on vehicle maintenance, as well as travel tips. You know the rest and the success of the brand!

Content Marketing and inbound marketing

The terms content marketing and inbound marketing are often used interchangeably without highlighting the difference between these two marketing practices. Yet content and inbound marketing are very different.

Content marketing is based on the production of quality content for a targeted audience. Inbound marketing is associated with a set of marketing strategies whose final objective is to generate traffic to qualify leads and close customers. Thus, content marketing is often perceived as a component of inbound marketing, these two concepts are complementary and if content marketing is a means, inbound marketing is an end to achieve.

Content marketing and brand marketing

Brand content is a marketing strategy that consists in producing editorial content (articles, videos, reports...) that serve to promote the brand and assert its expertise. An example of brand content is Felix Baumgartner's freefall jump for Red Bull. Brand content is therefore very often associated with advertising, since it extols the merits, history, benefits and values of the brand.

However, content marketing and brand content are quite different: while content marketing focuses on the production of content in order to enhance the company's expertise on a specific theme, the creation of content in brand content allows to develop the visibility of the brand itself. Thus, in content marketing, the target and objectives of the content are not the brand, but rather to meet the needs of an audience, hence the need for a precise editorial line.

B. What are the elements of content marketing?

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1. Blog article

A blog is a type of website that has the form of an online journal. It is accessible to Internet users worldwide. It is a simplified version of a website that is offered to Internet users and is managed by an editor. Blogs were created in the early 1990s. Blog posts are a very important part of content marketing. They generate traffic, contribute to SEO and influence the audience.

2. Image

Images are also important in a content marketing strategy. Indeed, most consumers attach great importance to the visual aspect. Whether it's on a blog or on social networks, quality and relevant images help capture the attention of visitors and keep them engaged. Not to mention that visuals convey the brand image and values of the company. To maintain consistency, the images used on different media must meet the requirements of a global graphic charter.

3. Video

Video is now the preferred format for Internet users and consumers. It is possible to use a video to present a product (advertisement, tutorial), to broadcast a storytelling campaign or interviews of people related to the brand (employees, customers, partners) or to show a behind-the-scenes tour of the company. Social network users are particularly fond of this format. Videos can be used for various purposes, from attracting new customers to retaining old ones.

4. Podcast

To distinguish itself through its content marketing strategy, a company can record podcasts. This format allows you to reach your audience in a personal way. A podcast is an MP3 file that can be downloaded or viewed on a dedicated platform. Making a podcast generates engagement. It allows you to reach your marketing objectives and to stand out from your competitors.

5. Infographics

Infographics have a great success on the web. They deliver information in a visual, clear and synthetic way. They are very appreciated by Internet users, because they easily capture their attention. They are present in social media and have become a key lever for companies looking for resources to feed their content marketing. Today, there is software to create an infographic, easy-to-use online tools that allow you to design custom visuals.

6. E-book

An e-book, often called an "electronic book" or "digital book", is a book about the company's business. It can also take the form of a magazine, a catalog or a manual. It allows to attract prospects directly interested in the content. It is therefore ideal for promoting the company's skills. It engages its audience and encourages them to take action. It generates leads and boosts visibility. It is a growth lever that cannot be dissociated from the marketing content strategy.

7. Case studies

A case study consists of a concrete feedback aimed at attracting prospects who inquire about the company. This type of marketing content helps them to envision what the added value of a product or service could be before they buy it. The case study highlights a successful mission of the company, its expertise, skills and services. It brings offers to life. It humanizes the company while improving its brand image.

8. Interview

Conducting an interview can be particularly effective for a company's content marketing strategy. Interviewing a company's in-house expert brings credibility to the brand and allows the company to promote its work and field of activity. This means of communication then creates commercial opportunities.

9. Webinar

A webinar, a contraction of "web" and "seminar", is an online conference. This interactive solution gives the company the opportunity to keep in touch with its customers, but also to enlarge its contacts by opening the webinar to a larger audience. This collaborative conference format gives all participants the opportunity to intervene and react. In addition, webinars are flexible as they can be replayed.

10. Press release

A press release is a rather short document, addressed to journalists and influencers, which presents a company, a product or a service, an event or a marketing action. The press release allows you to gain visibility, develop your notoriety, highlight your expertise or stand out from your competitors.

C. Why do content marketing?

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Content marketing is convenient because it allows you to showcase your expertise, reach a more qualified audience and improve your SEO while costing less than traditional advertising.

1 - Build brand awareness

By publishing quality content related to your product or service, it will be easy to establish and strengthen your brand's identity and authority in your industry. Gradually, with quality content produced by your marketing team, your company will be able to appear as an expert in your chosen field and your prospects will naturally turn to your company to fill a need they are facing.

With the help of content marketing, position yourself as an ambassador on topics that concern your brand and your customers. Make a qualitative watch and do not hesitate to involve influencers or external contributors in your content creation strategy.

2 - Increase your online visibility

The production of quality content will also allow you to develop your online visibility, not only on social networks, but also on search engines. Indeed, by sharing quality content on social networks, you will not only increase your online visibility, but also your traffic on your website.

The creation of valuable and search engine optimized content (thanks to SEO techniques) will allow you to improve your ranking for certain keywords and increase the natural traffic on your website. Content marketing serves your website: if you publish content regularly on a particular theme, search engines will give your company's website a particular authority, which will allow you to gradually increase your website's ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

3 - Attracting leads

This traffic generated through quality content from social networks and search engines will allow you to attract the interest of qualified prospects. Implementing a content marketing strategy in your business allows you to become your own media and reach prospects through the creation of quality content that may have seemed out of reach until now.

Then continue to generate their interest and qualify your database by adopting lead nurturing processes.

4 - Build loyalty with your audience and customers

The more quality content you create, the more your audience will identify you as an expert in your field. Content marketing helps build brand equity. Moreover, by publishing content regularly, you can engage this audience and keep a two-way discussion going across multiple channels and keep them coming back to your company's website or blog.

Content marketing figures

  • 90% of companies will have a website by 2021 (source: Marketing Evolution Report).
  • 77% of companies are currently running marketing campaigns (source: Marketing Evolution Report).
  • 83% of companies are actively using content marketing (source: Marketing Progress Report).
  • Media downloads are up 80% year-over-year, with a peak of 103,603 videos downloaded on April 22, 2020 (source: Marketing Evolution Report).
  • In 2021, the French spend an average of 1 hour and 41 minutes a day on social media (source: Hootsuite and We are Social 2021 digital report).
  • 69% of marketers will invest in SEO in 2021 (source: Marketing Evolution Report)
  • 77% of companies are seeing more engagement from email marketing campaigns than in the past 12 months (source: Marketing Evolution Report).
  • 68% of companies have increased their marketing budget in 2021 (source: Marketing Evolution Report)

D. The 4 examples of content marketing

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In content marketing, it's sometimes difficult to find the inspiration to launch original campaigns. Follow the example of brands that are investing more and more in content marketing. To inspire you, here are examples of brands that have adopted B2C and B2B content marketing.

1- Blissim's blog

Blissim is a French-American brand known for its monthly cosmetic boxes to be received at home. While its website offers boxes and beauty products, the brand also has a blog where it publishes articles, mainly beauty tips. Thus, the brand's customers can learn about the use of products that they can then buy directly on the site.

2- Jules' participative community

The menswear brand Jules has created a real community around its products. On its website, it offers access to a dedicated site, Relove, for fans of the brand to meet and discuss looks. But the brand goes further by involving community members in its projects. It asks them to give feedback, as well as test new products. It's an unstoppable way to build customer loyalty. Jules has thus completely integrated the content generated by its customers into its content marketing strategy, a technique known as User Generated Content.

3- Michel et Augustin's videos

Michel et Augustin is a French food brand that mainly manufactures cookies. The brand understood very early the interest of content marketing by launching its YouTube channel in 2009, on which it offers original and varied content. It is possible to follow the journey of pastry students in CAP, to find recipes or contests.

4- HubSpot's e-books

HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales software development company, also uses content marketing to disseminate information about its field of expertise. On the HubSpot website, users have access to more than 189 e-books that cover a variety of topics, including web marketing, social media and SEO.

E. How to create a content marketing strategy?

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Content creation for your content marketing strategy

It's impossible to adopt a content marketing strategy without going through the content creation stage. So, how do you go about it? You can use different content production techniques, some of which are aligned with inbound marketing techniques. Here are 4 steps to know to adopt a content marketing strategy.

1 - Identify your audience with buyer personas

Before you start writing your first blog post, we advise you to ask yourself: "Who do I want to write for? Who is my target audience? For example, there are differences between B2B and B2C content marketing, especially when it comes to messages. To best identify your target audience, you need to create your buyer personas, which are a fictional representation of your ideal customers. To create your buyer personas, conduct analyses of your audience or existing customers.

Knowing your audience will allow you to produce content that interests them and thus attract qualified leads to your website or business blog. Don't forget to add a personal touch to your content to stand out from the competition.

2 - Create different types of content depending on the buying process

In content marketing, blog posts are the most popular types of content, but there are many other types of content to increase your business' online visibility. Be creative in the types of content you produce, vary the formats and create for example: images, videos, podcasts, Slideshare presentations, infographics, case studies, press releases, etc.

Identify the type of content and message to send to your prospects based on the phase of the buying process they are in. There are three different phases in the buying process: awareness, consideration and decision.

3 - Create attractive content and adopt a publication schedule

To attract visitors to your website, it is important to create attractive content. To do this, your content must provide a solution to the questions of your buyer personas.

A brainstorming session with your colleagues will be enough to find attractive content topics. Also, find out what content already exists on the web by doing a preliminary research. Then use tools such as Google Ads, Google Alerts or Buzzsumo to orient the angle of your content to maximize the number of searches. Don't forget to optimize your content for SEO and make it visually appealing by adding images and colors.

To ensure that you publish content on your blog regularly, set up a publishing schedule. Indeed, publishing frequency is vital in a content marketing strategy. Try to publish at least one or two blog posts per week, varying the themes and formats of your content. This publication schedule will ensure that you publish the content necessary for your content marketing strategy on a regular and consistent basis.

4 - Content curation in content marketing

Content curation is a practice that consists of monitoring a given theme, then selecting the best content to propose it to a target audience. Content curation can be assimilated to content aggregation, but by improving the existing content.

Content curation can be interesting for the reader when the curator selects quality content and aggregates it with comments or observations. For the marketer, content curation allows to avoid the content creation step which can be time consuming, but it is however very important to be careful with duplicate content which can be harmful to the SEO of a website.

Integrate SEO in your content strategy

To increase your online visibility and increase traffic to your website or blog, it is necessary to optimize your content for SEO (search engine optimization). SEO can have a real impact on the performance of your content marketing strategy, so should you really treat content creation and SEO individually? The answer is no: SEO and content marketing are complementary.

1 - SEO, referencing techniques and traffic increase

In content marketing, you want the articles you produce to be discovered in the search engine results pages. For this, it is necessary that your content is well referenced for a particular keyword. This is where SEO comes in. Target a long tail keyword, then add the "alt" attribute to your images, integrate your keyword in specific elements of your content such as the page title, the article title (H1), the other title tags H2 to H6 or the URL.

Before you start creating your content, don't forget to do some research to identify the competition for your keyword in the search engines. These SEO optimizations will help you increase the SEO of your blog posts, increase traffic to your website, convert more leads and generate more customers.

2 - Link Acquisition Strategy

Link acquisition is one of the three most important SEO criteria according to Google. For companies that want to improve their SEO through a link acquisition strategy, content marketing can be a very good way to acquire links in a natural way. Indeed, by producing quality content, external people or influencers are much more likely to add external links to your domain.

Using social networks in content marketing

97% of B2B and B2C marketers agree that social networks generate business opportunities. Social networks are the showcase of your content, they allow you not only to distribute it to a large audience, but also to increase your notoriety and your online reputation.

1 - Social networks as a source of traffic

By sharing your content multiple times and on several different social networks, you can get the most out of your content creation. To maximize your traffic, make sure to make the content you post on social networks engaging: find a catchy title, share images, infographics, quotes or videos.

Social networks are mostly consulted on mobile devices, so don't forget to make sure your website and blog use an adaptive design.

2 - Social networks to improve your online reputation

Social networks will allow you to analyze and understand the content that your readers like: listen and follow the reactions and engagement of your audience, they will be useful to adapt your editorial calendar. Using social networks in content marketing will also allow you to tell your company's story and develop a brand image.

To quickly increase your reach on social networks, you can also set up partnerships with influencers.

How to measure the ROI of content marketing?

To analyze the return on investment of your content marketing efforts, you need to define performance indicators (or KPIs) for your company, such as the number of visits, the sources of your traffic, the engagement on your social networks, or the ranking for a specific keyword in the search engine results pages.

Number of visitors

It is important to analyze the number of people who have visited the company's website by comparing it to the same KPI from previous years or months. This analysis will allow you to see the evolution of the site traffic.

Page views

The analysis of page views gives a precise idea of what works or not on the site. Thus, the most visited pages show the strong points of the company.

Traffic sources

Analyzing the sources of traffic allows you to identify where the visitors come from. On which site, blog or search engine did they find the link to access your company's site? There are many sources and you need to know which ones generate the most traffic to your web pages. They may have searched for the company name or a product on a search engine, found the company via a social network, or clicked on another site where the company is listed. This way, the company can see what its main source of traffic is and what other sources need to be improved.

The conversion rate

The conversion rate is obtained by dividing the total sales by the total number of visits to the site.

The rejection rate

The rejection rate evaluates the percentage of visitors who accessed a single page of the company's website and then left the site without continuing the navigation. However, this KPI should be interpreted with caution depending on the type of information communicated and the objective of the web page. Indeed, the user may have found the answer to his question on a blog page and not need to go further in his research.

The engagement index

The engagement index is the total number of visitors who interacted with the page, divided by the total number of visitors on the website.

The social influence index

The social influence index is widely used, especially on Facebook and Twitter. It corresponds to the total number of publications or results consulted divided by the total number of publications.

The effects of content marketing are measurable in the long term. Unlike traditional advertising, its effects do not disappear with the investment, simply because your content will remain hosted on your website or blog and will continue to be referenced and generate traffic. So content marketing can have a huge impact on your company's SEO strategy. In addition, a content marketing strategy can also help you save some of your advertising budget through the production and distribution of quality content.

By combining your content with inbound marketing techniques, allowing you to track your leads through your sales funnel, you can generate leads and engage them via email through marketing automation to move them down the sales funnel to close more customers.

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