If you’ve looked into marketing your business online, I’m almost certain at some point you’ve heard about content marketing. Getting started with online marketing is quite easy, but it can often throw business owners off because of how broad the subject is.
In this blog post I want to break down what content marketing is, the different aspects of content marketing, and a first step for you to start creating great content for your business.
Content marketing is the act of creating engaging and relevant pieces of online material (content) that attract an audience to your project or business.
What that means exactly is that you’re thinking about and developing pieces of content that your target audience find interesting, entertaining, informative or valuable.
Why? Because in an online world, it’s not enough to just blast your latest discount offer or Christmas special to everyone online. That’s too risky these days.
Firstly, it’s risky because people can just ignore you, unfollow you or block you. That’s not how you get customers. Secondly, it builds no trust and no relationship with your customers.
In today’s world, customers have all the choice in the world about what content they choose to consume. They’re overwhelmed with choice, because the bar for people to create content is so low.
However, content that speaks to your target audience and is valuable to them is going to spark their interest. This is what you need to start thinking about. Think about what content you can produce that will attract your target audience and draw them to you.
Remember this – not all content is created equal. The different strategies you choose to reach your customers will each likely involve one of the three different forms of media. Earned media, owned media, and paid media.
Let’s start with Earned Media. Hubspot defines Earned media, or earned content, as any material written about you or your business that you haven’t paid for or created yourself. For example, it may be the online reviews your customers leave you.
It may be mentions and shares about your business on social media. Customers are more than ever influenced by the suggestions and opinions of friends, family, and even online strangers – which is why it’s important to understand how earned media is important to track and manage.
Owned Media is the second form. This encompasses all content and media that you and your business owns. This includes your website, the blog posts you write, the social media content you post and more.
The more content you create and the more owned media you develop online, the greater your overall presence and reach to potential customers.
Finally, Paid Media. As you might’ve guessed, paid media is any content or media that you’ve put an advertising budget behind. This means paying to promote your latest video or blog post through social media, or paying to send potential customers to your website offers.
Paid media can be effective for accelerating the growth of your online reach and getting your content in front of more eyeballs.
Now that you know what earned media, owned media, and paid media are – you can start to see how each of these three work together to build or “online presence” and how your customers will find you online.
If you’re creating content for your business, you may want to think about how people actually consume content. Sure, there are so many channels that content can be consumed these days – but it comes back to some fundamentals you can use.
Let’s categorise the different forms of content down into written, video, and audio. With these three areas, you can start to visualise which types of content you interact with and create online fall into which category.
Written content consists of media that is usually text based and may range from anything that is written and read – from a blog post on your website to an email you write to your customers to a tweet you write on Twitter. These are all forms of written content.
Video content consists of media that is consumed in video format. This could be anything from an online course you watch on a company website, to product review on YouTube, to a 10-second Instagram story. Each of these are forms of video and each have their own place in building an online presence.
Audio consists of media that is audio based and consumed by listening to it. It could be anything from a podcast your company has created around your industry, to audio versions of your blog posts on your website.
With over 4 billion active people using the internet as of 2019, there is no question that we are in an age where there is an abundance of content. No single person could even think of consuming every piece of content being created each day.
So, with so many platforms to choose from, pages to follow and content to consume – we’re all stretched for choice.
What this all means for you and your business is that it’s becoming harder to stand out. People don’t have the time, patience, or attention span to consume bad content – and if they associate your business with bad content, you’re out of their minds entirely.
Creating great content comes back to a principle you’ve heard throughout this entire course. Value first. You need to create content that is valuable for your end user – the person you’re aiming to influence.
Not every person enjoys the same sort of content. Food lovers may enjoy reading in depth food guides and product reviews of the latest cooking devices – but to anyone else, this may be boring.
So, how do you know what to create? A great place to start is conducting some market research and seeing what other people are creating in your industry. This can give you a great first step into what’s popular with potential customers in your space, and allows you to adapt.
You can even go a step further and sort through comments, reviews and mentions on other people’s content to see what people are saying they love and what they wish there was more of.
However, you need to make sure you’re not just blatantly copying other people’s content for your benefit or rewording it to fit your business. Use other content as inspiration and insight into what your customers want to engage with, then create something new that is even more valuable.
Another way to look at content is to break it down into three categories that are most commonly engaged with by people online. They are, informative content, personal content, and entertaining content.
Informative Content is any type of content that helps your target audience solve their problems. It’s the blog posts you write, the product demonstrations you film, the customer guides you create, or the FAQ’s you develop.
It encompasses anything that helps to inform your audience in some way and is valuable because it’s making their life easier and helps solve their problems. Make it informative.
Personal Content is any type of content that is authentic and shows a personal side to your business. Online interactions are still interactions and people enjoy doing business with other people, not some faceless corporation.
Personal content might include showcasing any milestones celebrated by your company, sharing behind the scenes of the company, or talking about the many faces who work in the business. It’s about sharing the personality of the company – from who works there, to why you’re even in business. Make it personal.
Entertaining Content is any type of content that stands out as remarkable, unique or interesting in the eyes of your target audience. There are points where we all want to be able to relax, zone-out and enjoy content that is just entertaining to consume.
Your job is to find out the things your target audience finds entertaining and aim to create something that fits into that category. If you can get a pulse on what they like and enjoy, you can continue to create more of that sort of content.
Now every industry and every business is going to have a different mix for creating content in each category.
It may be easier for a lawyer to create informational content than entertaining content, while it may be easy for a tour company to create entertaining content over informative. It’s all about finding your own mix of what works, and yes – you want to keep a pulse on what’s working.
What’s getting the most engagement and what’s reaching the most people? Create, test, get feedback and create more of what works.