If you have been using Google search to find information online, you may have sometimes wondered where all the free information that pops up in the search results comes from. Who is responsible for making all this valuable information and knowledge available for free?
Before now, I used to think that the information that appears on search engines like Google is placed there by random, generous people who wish to share their information or knowledge just for free.
Most people still think this way about the accessible information age we are living in, but that is not how it is. There are intents behind most of the free content you access online. Most free content online is based on content marketing.
I started to understand the how and why of the information age we live in when I began my digital marketing journey in 2018 and started dealing with digital marketing strategies like content marketing.
in this post, I’m going to paint the concepts of content marketing more clearer. This will help you make sense of the information age we live in and also see how you can start optimizing content marketing in any form suitable for the kind of business you do.
So, let’s get started;
What is Content?
Looking at the phrase “content marketing”, content is the word there that needs more explanation to anyone already familiar with digital marketing as a subject, to properly explain the concepts of content marketing, let’s understand what content is all about.
According to Wikipedia, Content is “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any form of arts.”
Content is simply art or communication created in a form (image, post, video, audio, etc.). It includes information, knowledge, or experiences created in a form and directed towards an end-user or audience.
What is Content Marketing?
First, let’s look at how Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing, content marketing Institute is one of the thought leaders when it comes to content marketing.
They defined content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Simply put, content marketing is a marketing strategy that involves the creation and distribution of informative, educative, and entertaining content to attract, nurture, and convert potential customers or clients into action-taking customers or clients.
Content marketing is one of the contributing factors to the information age we live in today.
Content marketing is based on the value-adding principle. It’s established on the idea that before you sell to people, you show them that you care about them, that you want to help them solve their challenges, that you are not just after their money, and that you are in it to help them overcome their challenges.
Content marketing is the opposite of direct selling, a marketing activity that involves trying to sell to people anywhere, anytime, any day you meet them. You might have observed many of them when watching your favourite show on television or listening to your favourite program on the radio.
A brief history of content marketing
Content marketing has been around a lot longer even before and without the internet, it’s believed that it has been around since 18 century.
See this video by content marketing institute about how long content marketing has been around.
But without going back to history, you can find content marketing strategies in play around you even without looking at the internet. Take television and radio, for instance. They also make use of content marketing, a traditional form of it.
When they offer you free shows, programs, or news, mostly their objective is to hold your attention, which, in most cases, they monetize by showing you an advertisement.
So content marketing is not a new concept that became viable because of the internet, it has been in play for a while, and the advancement and improvement of technologies and digital tools and channels like the internet gave it another playing ground.
Some important elements to pay attention to when thinking of content marketing
When a digital marketer decides to use content marketing in any situation, there are some things that he needs to put into consideration, there are elements of content marketing he needs to think through, evaluate and make decisions about.
Let’s examine some of these elements so that you can better understand content marketing.
The first place to always start with content marketing is deciding on a strategy. A strategy is always dependent on the objectives of the brand or business that the content marketing wants to be applied to.
A content marketing strategy could be to create valuable, relevant, or entertaining content that will attract and retain customers or potential customers, build trust with them, and hopefully turn them into paying customers.
Another strategy could be to create valuable content that will attract people and turn them into fans.
The objective of a business or brand will always determine the overall strategy.
This is always personal for the brand or business that is implementing a content marketing strategy. It’s about specifying the kind of value that will be shared with potential customers or current customers.
One of the most important elements of content marketing is value-adding. The value can be in different ways and it will greatly depend on the nature of the business or brand in context.
Mostly, the value in content marketing is always in the form of information, education or entertainment.
The goal of the value is to help customers or potential customers solve their problems, and at the same time prove to them that your brand or business or you as an individual have what it takes to solve some of the bigger challenges they might be facing.
This is more about converting the value to something that will appeal to your prospective customers, It includes choosing the right format of content, context, platform, etc.
It’s all about creating content, which can be created by yourself, your team or some people will hire content creators from freelancer platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.
You can use various digital marketing channels or platforms to distribute your content. You can share it on your blog or social media, optimise it for search engines, or distribute it through email etc
With nice titles, graphics, links, and a call to action, people will notice or find your content from social media, search engines, emails, etc. then click on it to the platform where you want them to come to.
Here, you have to decide on how to convert the potential customers that you will be attracting into leads by collecting contact info. This can be achieved by placing a newsletter sign-up on your platform or offering a lead magnet for the exchange of your potential customer’s email address for future communication.
You have to create more content to solve similar problems that brought your potential customers to the platform in the first place.
When your leads are settled in your tribe, a pitch about products or services can be sent to them, informing them that there’s a product that can solve their challenges.
If you have bought things online before, there are chances that you have gone through this process, but the truth is not everyone goes through the above process from the top funnel of attraction to the bottom funnel of profitable actions. This is because we don’t always have the same challenges, needs, or desires.
You may go to Google to find information and through Google, you land on a page and after getting the information you need, you exit the page, but someone else might go through the same process, and after getting the information they need they decide to establish a relationship with the writer or platform by giving out their contact info like email, which might lead to them buying products or services from the platform in the future.
Content marketing is a game of numbers. The more people your content reaches, the more it becomes possible for you to reach your potential customers that will convert.
There are many formats in which content can be delivered to an end-user. Here are some of the major formats.
Text is one of the most popular content formats out there. Content can be created in text format as blog posts, social media posts, email messages, books, ebooks, etc.
It can also be distributed to an intended audience through different digital marketing channels like social media, emails, blogs, etc.
Content in audio format comes in the form of music, audiobook, audio interview or discussion in the form of podcasts, etc.
Video, the combination of audio and moving pictures, is today one of the most effective forms of content, many people prefer to watch videos these days than to read text-based content.
An image is a visual representation of an object. It is another form of content.
Infographic-text and visual
Infographic is a visual and textual representation of data or information.
To be able to implement content marketing effectively, you need to understand some means through which content can originate. Understanding this will help you create the right kind of content for your content marketing campaigns.
Source of content
Here are some major sources through which content can be created:
- Personal experience
- Personal knowledge
- Data collections
- Curated content, etc
Let’s briefly look at them.
This involves creating content out of the things you have experienced in life. The content can be in any format, post, video, image, etc.
For example, if you have gone through an experience that you know some people might be struggling with, let’s say you lost weight by going through a kind of workout routine, you can share methods and results, either through a blog post, video, or other forms of content, or use many forms towards one goal, to inform, educate, and help people who might be struggling with the same challenge you overcame some time ago.
The goal of content created from personal experience is to take the readers, or the listeners, or the viewers, whichever it’s, through your experience and at the same time offer your humble opinion, knowledge, or advice.
Walking them through your experience will allow them to pick out ideas and methods that can be valuable to them in their journey to overcome challenges.
Personal experience top the list of my sources of content.
Creating content from personal knowledge involves sharing your knowledge of a topic in any form with your audience or the public.
It’s all about sharing what you know. For instance, let’s say you have studied administration in higher institutions and you understand administration more than an average person. You can start by writing a post, creating videos, or audio to discuss or explain concepts about administration, which can be shared using various content marketing channels like social media, blogs or websites, email, etc.
One good thing about sharing your knowledge is that what you share can establish you as a thought leader or expert.
Contents’ titles that start with phrases like, How to… Steps to… The secret to… are examples of content created from personal knowledge.
Creating content from interviews involves asking people questions for them to share their views, knowledge or experience about a subject.
It can be a one-on-one interview or a roundtable interview where a topic is raised and more than one person deliberates on the topic.
Creating content from data collection involves gathering information from different sources and presenting it in an easy-to-read and understandable format. The format could be text, infographic, video, etc.
Data collection can be done through a survey, a questionnaire, by researching to find out facts, or by holding a public poll to obtain public opinion on a particular subject.
You can also create content by pulling together different content from different people and different sources and then sharing them with your audience.
The goal with curated content is to be the source of important and relevant information for your audience. The content can be in form of a blog posts, videos, podcasts, books, infographics, and so on.
How to Use Content Marketing as an Entrepreneur or Business Owner
To paint a clearer picture of how content marketing works, let’s look at how entrepreneurs use this marketing strategy.
Let’s say an entrepreneur, Tessy by name, conceived an idea based on her knowledge or skills as a Baker, she wants to create a course to help people learn how to Bake, let’s say she discovered that most people love to bake their own cookies but do not have recipes or know how to go about it, it was on this idea that she wants to build her online course on “how to Bake Cookies that taste different”
In a situation like this, one of the challenges Tessy might be facing when trying to implement her idea is that nobody knows about her or her skill or knowledge, people don’t know who she is and because of that people might not want to commit their money to buy her online course on baking cookies which she intends to create, this is based on the fact that people like to buy from someone they trust (especially online), someone they are sure will deliver on his or her promise.
To solve the problem of lack of awareness and trust, Tessy can include content marketing in the overall online marketing strategies she wants to use to develop her idea.
Her content marketing strategy could be something like this: creating valuable and relevant content about cookie recipes or baking, putting her ideal customers in mind through a customer avatar, in a format like a post like this one you are reading, or video, audio, or any other content format, then distributing it through channels like social media, video platforms, search engines (SEO), email, and so on.
Her main objective with content marketing will be to gain attention, attract people to her platform, and build trust with people who are interested in baking, showing them she cares and can solve their challenges of not being able to bake. Once she establishes trust, it becomes easier for her to sell her baking course to people who already know her and trust her.
This is one of the ways most entrepreneurs use content marketing in this information age, and this is the goal of most content you can find on Google.
Content marketing in the entertainment industry
Content marketing is not only limited to the business model of buying and selling products and services online.
The entertainment industry also uses content marketing, artists also make use of content marketing to increase their fan base.
In the past, before you could access the latest release of your favourite artists, you must have bought their album or paid a subscription to sources where you could listen to it or download their songs. But today the game is different. Artists release their best tracks to the public. Though some artists still maintain premium access to their songs, that is only done by top artists that are already famous with a large fan base.
The content marketing strategy that artists use most (especially upcoming artists) is to release their songs to the public and encourage the public to play them.
You may want to ask, how do they profit from this strategy, I mean, putting their best song out for free.
One of the misconceptions most people have about artists and how they make their money is that they earn fees or data from every download people make on any platform where their song is listed, but that is not the truth. That is not how content marketing works for an artist. The end game of artists releasing their best tracks to the public is to increase their fan base, which creates opportunities for them to earn through avenues like show ticket sales, endorsement, awards and so on.
The ultimate goal for artists with content marketing is to increase their popularity because they make more money when they have a large fan base, popularity means more endorsement, more shows and other opportunities.
Content marketing in other business models
This applies to other forms of business or business models.
For example, for media platforms like news sites or social media, their content strategy includes creating a system that produces consistently useful, relevant, informative, or entertaining content so that they can attract and have people present on their platforms, which they monetize by the display of ads or subscriptions.
Content marketing is the root of social media, forums, Google, etc. which are the major facilitator of the information age we now live in.
The objective of content marketing in any form and any instance is to use valuable, relevant, or entertaining content to attract potential customers or fans, nurture them, establish trust, and hopefully convert them to take profitable actions.
The most important factor in content marketing is value-adding.
Content marketing has contributed to making our world today an information age. People create tons of valuable and relevant content and put it out for free for people to read, watch, and listen to, to prove to people that they care, that they are not solemnly after their money but are concerned about helping them solve their problems.
In digital marketing, content marketing is one of the most viable online marketing strategies. It’s viable because, in most cases, it offers you free access to your potential customers when it’s done properly, saving you lots of money that can be spent on promotion or advertising.
One other reason content marketing is viable for digital marketers is that it has a long-term conversion rate. For example, you can create a single video or post, publish it on YouTube or your blog, and it will keep reaching your potential customers, generating leads for you even after many years have passed.
Businesses and companies are adopting content marketing because it’s effective both in terms of branding, generating sales, increasing sales, or maintaining potential and paid customers.
If you are hoping to build a personal brand or business, content marketing is one strategy I suggest you add to your overall marketing strategy. It’s one strategy that I’m using to build my business, and that is why you can read this post.
I hope you have learnt one or two things about content marketing.
Do you have any questions about content marketing, please feel free to ask in the comments section.
Now, I guess you already know that this post is part of my content marketing strategy, after reading this post you might decide to sign up to my mailing list, which I hope you do, and we can establish a relationship which can lead to business opportunities for us in the future 😊.