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The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing

Worldwide, content marketing is predicted to generate over 82 billion dollars in 2024, according to Statista. Creating content for your audience that communicates your brand’s expertise and mission is one of the most mutually beneficial kinds of marketing: your customers gain valuable information, and in return, you gain loyalty. 

What makes this form of marketing so impactful? How has it become so significant to the digital landscape? And why does informative, engaging content have such a powerful influence over customer decision-making? 

In this guide, we’ll break down everything there is to know about content marketing at a high level, giving you all of the information you need not just to develop your own content marketing campaigns, but to ensure they’re as effective as possible.

How does content marketing work?

Let’s look at some of the more mechanical aspects of content marketing and how it’s implemented.

The content marketing funnel explained

The content marketing funnel is usually broken down into three parts:

    • ToFu (Top of the Funnel)/Awareness
    • MoFu (Middle of the Funnel)/Consideration
    • BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel)/Decision

Each part represents a different stage of the customer journey and offers a broad outline of the stages a potential customer goes through before purchasing. It outlines the process from the moment they become aware of a brand, product or service to the point where they make the decision to buy. Each stage requires a specific type of content to guide a potential customer to the next step.

Awareness stage content will revolve around raising awareness of the kind of problems your brand or product can solve. It may be a problem that a potential customer already knows they have, or it may enlighten them to the fact that they’re facing this problem in the first place. Examples here can include blogs, social media posts and even webinars.

Consideration stage content presents customers with your products and services and shows why they should consider them as a solution to their problem. Examples include comparison guides, user-generated reviews and case studies.

Decision-stage content seals the deal and gives prospects the final push they need to become customers. This usually involves content that can provide some kind of proof that your product is what they need. Examples include free trials, detailed customer testimonials, and success stories.

Types of content marketing

A diverse content strategy is key to keeping your audience engaged at every stage of their journey. Here are some different kinds of content you can produce to achieve this engagement.

Digital experiences are highly personalized content experiences across multiple touchpoints, such as content hubs and webinars, tailored to a customer’s interests and buying stage.

Virtual conferences are great for being able to invite potential customers from all over the world to partake in events such as press conferences and product launches. Plus, with features such as live chat, polling options and Q&As, they provide an excellent opportunity to interact directly with your audience.

Webinars allow you to speak to a large group of people at once and answer any queries they might have. These virtual events can come in the form of a workshop looking to solve a particular problem, a panel event seeking to discuss trending topics among subject matter experts and even educational courses that offer attendees certifications upon completion.

Webinars are particularly useful because they retain their value as an on-demand asset even after the live event has passed.

Content hubs are collections of content centered around a particular topic. They are made up of assets such as blogs, videos, webinars and infographics, all laid out in a way that’s easy for your audience to navigate.

Video content is fairly self-explanatory but can cover a wide range of formats. Everything from detailed FAQs to five-second social media animations falls under this category—video provides a chance to get creative with your content marketing.

Blogs are great for delving deeper into topics relevant to your products or services and for demonstrating your expertise to your audience. By using the optimal keywords and providing valuable information to your readers, blogs are a great way to boost visibility and authority.

Infographics are perfect for transforming complicated information, facts and figures into an easily understood and eye-catching format. For platforms where space may be limited and pictures speak louder than words (such as social media), a well-crafted infographic can do a great job of sharing information stylishly and concisely.

The role of content marketing in driving customer engagement

Content marketing really shines in engaging customers because it can often feel like you are organically meeting the customers wherever they are instead of dragging them to you with aggressive selling tactics. Here is how you can use content marketing to drive customer engagement.

Creating content that resonates

There are lots of ways to ensure your content strikes a chord with your audience. It has to feel relevant to them somehow — whether it’s solving a problem, showing an understanding of their interests and needs, or simply speaking to them in “their language.” 

Using storytelling and adding a narrative to your content is a great way to do this. Content can follow a three-act structure the same way a book or movie can: you set the scene, present a problem to be solved, demonstrate how that problem is solved, and explain the positive repercussions of the choices made along the way. Customer and employee experiences, or even the story behind how your brand came to be, are great examples of engaging narratives that can really resonate with your audience.

Content marketing KPIs and metrics

You can use many KPIs and metrics to measure the success of your content marketing efforts. Some of the most common include site traffic, repeat customers, subscription rates, mentions and backlinks. The KPIs and metrics you decide to track will all depend on what goals you have set yourself — setting those goals is the place to begin your content marketing journey.

Impact on customer decision-making

    • The right kind of content can guide customers through the content marketing funnel (more on this later) from the moment they become aware of your brand to being a satisfied customer to the first time they become advocates and recommend your brand to someone else.
    • When customers decide whether or not to buy a product, they’re deciding whether or not it will solve their problem and whether or not this solution comes at an appropriate cost. 
    • You can build trust by addressing your customers’ needs head-on, not just with your product but with valuable information and additional content. You’re showing that you not only understand what your customer wants, but also that you care about giving them unbiased, genuinely helpful information. 
    • Embellish this information with your brand’s unique personality, and you’re on your way to creating a relationship with customers where your brand will feel like the best choice, every time.

How to get started with content marketing

With so many content marketing methods available, and with successful efforts having the potential to do so much good for your business, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out where and how to get started. Here are some basics to help you to form your content marketing strategy.

Setting goals and objectives

As always, goals should clearly define and align with your overall business strategy. You should always do your best to ensure your goals are SMART goals. This means they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Using this outline will prevent you from picking objectives that are too vague to quantify.

For example, it’s great to want to be the “best” at something, or even to “improve” something, but how do you measure that you’ve done these things? Focus on targets you can clearly reach, whether it’s a certain amount of impressions, clicks, new subscribers or an increase in conversions.

Understanding your audience

You can’t expect to reach your audience without first understanding their needs, behaviors, and preferred ways to communicate. Customer research and segmentation are essential to making sure your content is seen by the people who need to see it, at the time where it will be the most effective. Without due diligence in your research phase you run the risk of wasting time and money by creating the right content for the wrong people, or vice versa.

Just a few of the ways that you can build a clear picture of your audience include: 

    • Surveys
    • Analytics
    • A/B testing
    • Customer feedback.

With this data, you can create detailed buyer personas, which allow you to visualize exactly who you’re creating content for.

Content planning and calendar creation

Once you understand your audience, you should be able to develop an idea of what content topics and formats will best appeal to them. A content marketing brainstorming session is a good idea at this stage. Likewise, competitor research is a good way to confirm that you’re on trend and stay on top of current topics in your industry. 

Creating content is one thing — deploying it at a time when it will be most effective is another. That’s why it’s important to strategically plot your content creation and implementation, even down to the time of day it is launched — there are so many variables that can impact how many impressions your content makes. 

This is why content calendars are necessary. They should have detailed timelines of exactly what content is being made, when it will be finished and when it will be published.

Content production

Feeling ready and excited to create the content needed to execute your strategy? Good — you’ll need to be prepared to make a lot of it to scale your activities and feed the marketing beast. You can create this content yourself and oversee the production of each individual asset, or you can use AI-powered tools such as generative AI to help scale your content production. Both methods have their place and can also work well in tandem. 

For example, if you have a webinar series and you would like to be able to present the same information in another format (essentially doubling the amount of content) you can feed transcripts to a generative AI solution, which can then create e-books, blogs, social media posts and other supporting content to support your strategy.

Leveraging webinars in your content strategy

Webinars are a powerful content marketing tool for presenting information in a dynamic and interactive way. Webinars can engage your audience in a way that traditional formats may not, and, with artificial intelligence capabilities, are easily repurposed into other formats after creation, like downloadable content or social media soundbites, with very little time or money involved. This means that there’s potential for a high ROI on webinar creation.

Use webinars and virtual events to fuel content production

We’ve already mentioned how webinars can serve as a catalyst for a wide range of valuable content. Here’s a more detailed example of how that could work:

  • You decide to host a webinar as part of a virtual event. You promote your webinar and its chosen topic across various channels.
  • If your webinar includes a Q&A section, you will be able to attain organic user-generated content from your audience’s questions and queries, and your expert answers.
  • After the webinar is over, a content marketer can use AI to transform a webinar transcript into various content types. Blogs can summarize key takeaways and insights. E-books can dive deeper into the event’s topic. Social media snippets can show excerpts from the webinar.  You can also use your event to create infographics highlighting key statistics and trends.
  • Offer some form of interactive follow-up to the webinar, a) to gauge audience reception and gather feedback, and b) as another form of content itself.

One webinar, when properly leveraged, can create a wealth of high-quality content and directly contribute to the overall success of your brand.

Increase engagement with content marketing

Hopefully you’ve found our content marketing guide to be the perfect springboard for your content marketing strategy. To summarize:

  • What is content marketing? Producing and sharing content that educates, entertains, or informs your audience of something, while at the same time making them aware of your brand and services.
  • How and why does it work? Content marketing speaks to your customers on a personal level by solving their problems and giving them valuable information at every stage of their buyer’s journey, thereby increasing the trust they have in you as experts and as a brand.
  • What factors are essential to producing effective content? Researching and understanding your audience, deploying your strategy in a well-planned and tactful way, and measuring your content’s success through SMART goals.

But let’s not stop here. We can do more. 

Content with your content marketing, or looking to upgrade?

We want to continue to empower you to enhance your content marketing journey with the help of our supportive features and services. Our intelligent engagement platform can help you to produce highly personalized, highly effective content such as webinars, content hubs and virtual events. And, to keep that good work as effective as can be, we can provide the data and analytics that will keep your strategy on track come what may. 

Content Marketing FAQs

The main difference between content marketing and traditional marketing is that content marketing places an emphasis on creating valuable content instead of promotion and pitches. The goal is to create valuable, relevant content that will help to establish trust between your organization and its audience. Traditional marketing can also be seen as a one-way form of communication, whereas content marketing involves a lot more engagement and interaction with customers.

Some of the most effective forms of content marketing include:

  • Webinars and virtual events – to both educate and engage with your audience in real-time.
  • Social media posts – to build a sense of community, improve visibility, and cement your business’ tone of voice.
  • Videos – to demonstrate products and services, or to entertain in a very shareable format.
  • Blogs – to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of your industry and establish thought leadership.

Infographics – to easily share complex information in a visually pleasing format.

You should regularly review your content marketing strategy to make sure it’s performing the way you would expect it to, and adjust accordingly where it is struggling. There is no set answer for how often you should update your strategy, but it is often a necessity following a change in your business goals, offerings, or target audience – or a major industry shift, such as a technological advancement.

Through proper research you should be able to get an idea of the platforms your content will be the most successful on. For example, as part of your customer research you should know where your audience is spending their time online, and plan to engage them there. Similarly, if there is a particular platform that is popular in your industry you should know that it’s a good place to start – especially if your competitors are active there, and doing well because of it.

The advice in our content marketing guide should have you feeling prepared to start developing your content marketing strategy, but when it comes to making your content stand out, it depends on your unique value proposition (UVP). What sets you apart from your competitors? Why should customers come to you instead? It could be your services, your personality, or your results –  but if you can’t answer those questions, and clearly demonstrate your reasoning in your content, then you’re going to struggle to stand out.