What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a type of marketing that consists of strategically creating, publishing, and promoting content (including blog posts, emails, videos and podcasts). Content marketing is typically used to increase brand awareness and engagement, attract visitors or users, generate sales leads, or drive purchases and revenue.
Why Is Content Marketing Important?
Simply put: when done right, content marketing has a great ROI.
And unlike other forms of digital marketing (like PPC or PR), content marketing can continue to deliver for your business over the long-term.
Unlike a Facebook ad or press release, content can continue to drive traffic, brand awareness and leads for years.
Which is why, according to HubSpot, marketers who make blogging a priority are 13x more likely to see positive ROI than those that don’t.
I’m living proof that content marketing works.
Since launching my business in 2013, our blog content alone has generated 18,859,737 total visitors to date.
That doesn’t even include the millions of people that have seen our content on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
So it’s clear that content marketing can work. The question is: how do you start taking advantage of it?
For the rest of this guide I’ll walk you through the content marketing basics you need to know.
Define Your Audience
The first step to any content marketing campaign is figuring out your target audience.
In fact, I’ve seen lots of people struggle with content marketing because they don’t clearly define their audience. Instead, they jump right into finding keywords and writing blog posts.
For example, when I started Backlinko, I defined my target audience as “professional marketers who want higher rankings and more traffic”.
And this informed EVERYTHING I wrote.
For example, because my audience was made up of pros, I tended to cover more advanced SEO topics.
There were times that I wanted to dumb things down to appeal to newbies. But I knew that this wouldn’t appeal to my target audience.
So I skipped explanations.
Your target audience not only defines the topics you’ll cover, but the content formats that you focus on.
For example, a few years back I noticed that more and more of my target audience was learning about marketing from YouTube. So I decided to launch a YouTube channel so that my content would get in front of my peeps.
Fortunately, figuring out your target audience isn’t a hard or complicated process.
In fact, if you talk to customers on a regular basis, you probably already have a good idea of what types of problems they have… problems that your audience can help solve.
And if you want to dig deep into who your content’s audience will be, I recommend trying HubSpot’s “Make My Persona” tool.
This free tool helps you create a customer avatar that you can share with everyone in your marketing team.
That way, everyone involved in creating content, from writers to editors to SEO professionals, knows who the content is meant to serve.
Create Content That Your Audience Will Love
Now that you have a grasp of who your audience is, it’s time to create content specifically for them.
In my experience, the best way to do that is to figure out your audience’s pain points. And create content that helps them solve those problems.
For example, my content is almost 100% “how-to” content that teaches people how to optimize their site.
You can find your audience’s burning problems on subreddits, forums and Facebook groups where your target audience hangs out.
For example, if you run an ecommerce website that sells tennis rackets, then the tennis subreddit is a goldmine of content topic ideas.
And if you’re in the SEO space, then the Moz Q&A forum is one of the first places I’d check out.
Pro Tip: Those same places you go to get content ideas are also the places you can promote your content once it’s published. So don’t just observe those communities: interact with them, make comments, add value. Then, when you have something to promote, you won’t come off as a pushy marketer. You’re just a member of the community that wants to share something cool.
There’s a place for straight-up entertaining or inspiring content too. For example, Red Bull publishes content of people doing all sorts of extreme stuff.
But like I said, if you’re new to SEO, I recommend focusing on practical, helpful content. Then, once you get the hang of that, you can test out different approaches.
Keyword research is another great way to identify issues that your audience wants to solve.
After all, what do people do when they want to figure something out? They search in Google!
Plus, SEO will probably end up being a big part of your content marketing efforts. So it’s a smart idea to start creating content that’s designed to rank in search engines.
Develop a Content Marketing Plan
So you have a handle on who your audience is. And the type of content they want to consume.
Now it’s time to put what you learned into a step-by-step content marketing strategy.
Specifically, you want to create content for people in different stages of the marketing funnel (aka the buying cycle).
The goal of each step of a marketing funnel is to push people into the next step.
In a perfect world, someone first finds your website at the top of the funnel. And your content pushes people to the next stage.
In reality, people enter your funnel at lots of different stages.
So you want to have content that appeals to people at each stage.
Top of the Funnel: Awareness and Branding
Top of the Funnel content isn’t designed to convert random visitors into loyal customers.
Most people need some nurturing and education to go from “I have this problem that I need to solve” to “this is the product I need”.
That’s where Top of the Funnel content comes in.
Top of the Funnel Content helps your target customer solve an issue or problem that they’re facing, which helps drive brand awareness.
Then, when they’re deeper in the funnel and ready to make a purchase, your company is top of mind.
In fact, one survey found that 62% of people agreed that online content helps boost brand loyalty.
Common types of Top of the Funnel content include:
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Live video
- Viral content
- Social media posts
- Podcast episodes
Even though Top of the Funnel content usually doesn’t increase conversions right away, it’s still a super important part of content marketing.
In fact, the growth of our business is largely due to Top of the Funnel content. It’s what we publish most and what we’re best at.
Top of the Funnel content is powerful for two main reasons:
First, there’s a lot of demand for this type of content. This means that you can use Top of the Funnel content to drive significant amounts of traffic to your website.
For example, look at the monthly search volumes for these two keywords:
The early-stage term “what is the keto diet” gets searched for 4.5x more than the Bottom of the Funnel term, “keto supplements”.
Also, this type of content is great for establishing your company as an expert in your field.
For example, thanks to regularly publishing helpful content, I’ve been featured in dozens of major media outlets.
And this wouldn’t have happened if I only published content about my own products.
Middle of the Funnel: Interest
With the Middle of the Funnel, your goal shifts from awareness to interest.
At this point, your potential customer has decided to take action. They just need to decide which option is best for them.
For example, let’s say that you sell an at-home workout app.
Well, someone that wants to lose weight and get in shape has A LOT of options.
Thanks to the awareness that you already built, your app is already on their radar screen. Now it’s a matter of sending them content to help them decide that an app is their best option.
Common types of Middle of the Funnel content include:
- Email newsletters
- Product comparison posts
- Case studies
- Pre launch sequences
- Product demos
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Landing pages
As an example, before we launch a new course, we send our email subscribers content that shows how our students have seen results from our material.
I should point out that this content doesn’t have a call to action to make a purchase. The #1 goal here is to show our readers that our course might be the best option for them.
Bottom of the Funnel: Drive Action
Last up, we have Bottom of the Funnel content.
This goal here is straightforward: create content that pushes people to convert.
Common types of Bottom of the Funnel content includes:
- Sales pages
- Sales emails
- Customer testimonials
For example, when we open enrollment for one of our courses, the type of content that we publish shifts from “here are some helpful tips” to “check out this new product”.
The content on the pages that we send people to also changes.
There is some helpful content on our sales pages. But it’s engineered for sales.
Make Your Content Work on Different Channels
The cool thing about content marketing is that people WANT to consume it.
People already read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos.
So it’s just a matter of getting YOUR content in front of them.
The easier you make it for people to consume your content, the more likely they’ll consume it.
(And share it with their friends on different social networks.)
Here are a few ways to make that happen:
Focus on Actionable Content
There’s a place for high-level “thought leader” content.
But in general, people want to consume ACTIONABLE content that they can put into practice right away.
For example, we pride ourselves on giving people tangible strategies that they can use to get more traffic.
And it forms the base of our entire content strategy.
I’m not alone. Blogs like Nerd Fitness don’t just say: “you need to exercise more often”.
Instead, they show you exactly HOW to exercise the right way.
The Denitslava Makeup YouTube channel is another great example of this approach in action.
All of their videos are SUPER practical.
As a bonus, this kind of content is much more shareable than high-level fluff.
For example, when we published this study on Google’s organic click-through rate, most of the shares came from people sharing a specific stat… not the post in general.
Make It Mobile and Desktop Friendly
According to Comscore, people spend 69% of their time consuming content on their phones and tablets.
So it’s important that your content doesn’t just work on all devices… but works WELL.
For example, when you visit this poorly-optimized site on a phone, the content is super small and hard to read.
That’s a horrible UX.
The easiest way to make this happen is to use responsive design for your website.
But even then, I recommend testing your content on different devices to make sure that it’s super easy to read, watch and understand.
Repurpose Content For Different Channels
Content repurposing is one of the best ways to get more value out of the content you create.
This approach is simple:
Instead of publishing a single piece of content and calling it a day, you repurpose it into several different types of content.
For example, a while ago, I published this video about copywriting.
Some of the content was original. But 90% of it was repurposed from my guide to copywriting.
The only catch is that you usually need to tweak your content for each channel.
In my case, I had our editor add animations to make the content work better on YouTube.
Focus on Pro Design
Design quality is one of four major factors in a site’s trustworthiness, according to the Nielsen Norman Group.
The better your site and content look, the more people will trust and value them.
What makes “good” design is obviously subjective. But there are a few content design best practices that most professional content marketers follow.
For text content, design is mostly about making your posts easy to read.
This means using a big font with lots of contrast.
Lots of white space around the text.
And short paragraphs.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t add design elements just to look cool. We do that all the time here at Backlinko and it works well.
But illustrations and images usually won’t make or break your content. But readability definitely will.
A clear visual hierarchy can make your content MUCH easier to understand.
Visual hierarchy is the way your content is structured.
For example, on this page, you can see that we have a big title, headings, and smaller subheaders underneath some of the subheadings.
This helps readers understand how the topics and subtopics that you cover relate to each other.
Systematize and Scale
It’s one thing to write one amazing blog post.
But can you write 5? 50? How about 500?
In many ways, consistency is what pushes blogs, YouTube channels and podcasts to the top 1%.
That’s not to say that you need to publish a million posts to succeed with content marketing.
Instead, you want to publish great content on a consistent basis.
It can be once a week. Once a month. Or even one per quarter.
The amount of content that you put out doesn’t matter as much as sticking with it and staying consistent.
For example, when I first launched my blog, I published a new post every month no matter what.
Even though one per month is MUCH less than most other blogs push out, I stuck with this schedule for over 5 years.
Not only did I see traction right away (because I was focusing on quality over quantity), but the consistency has helped my blog’s traffic continue to grow.
Last year I realized that we had the resources to go from one post per month to two posts per month. Still not a lot. But it’s a rate that my team and I can stay consistent with over the long term.
With that, here’s how to scale up your content marketing for the long haul.
Use Content Templates
Templates are the secret weapon that almost every marketer uses to bang out high-quality content on a consistent basis.
Templates are great because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you want to write a new blog post or film a YouTube video.
Instead, all you need to do is come up with a topic, whip open a template, and fill in the blanks.
Let me explain what I mean with an example.
One of my go-to templates is called “Tools of the Trade”.
It’s basically a list of tools, strategies or resources that I personally find helpful.
So whenever I want to write anything related to tools, I use this template as my base. For example, I recently wanted to write a post about the best free SEO tools on the market right now.
Thanks to my “Tools of the Trade” template, I was able to bang out this post in a few hours.
Even though that post didn’t take much time to put together, it’s performed great for me.
In fact, that page brings in over 2,000 visitors every month.
Scale With a Team
If you’re just starting out with content marketing, chances are you have one person on your team that finds topics, does keyword research, writes the post, and edits it before it goes live.
But to grow and scale, you need multiple people working on every piece of content that you create.
For example, a single post on our blog is the result of at least 5 people:
- A freelancer we work with finds topics and keywords
- Someone else (me) writes the post
- A designer takes screenshots and creates visuals
- Our admin proofreads the post for spelling and grammar
- Our CTO does final quality control on the post before it goes live
This definitely speeds things up. But it also adds a lot of complexity. Instead of one person doing everything, communication needs to flow between editing, design, coding and writing.
Content promotion might be the most underrated part of the content marketing process.
It’s tricky to scale promotion (especially outreach). But it’s doable.
The key is to have a process in place that anyone on your team can follow.
For example, our #1 promotional channel is our email newsletter.
From sending out hundreds of newsletters, we don’t need to wonder what to write, what to send and when to send it.
We have a process for creating newsletter content, spell-checking, and scheduling it to go out at the right time.
Which helps our open rates stay high even as our email list grows.
This is just one example. You can also create processes for posting content on LinkedIn, sending out tweets, finding journalists, networking with bloggers, and reaching out to influencers.
Focus on Key Metrics
How do you know if all this valuable content that you’re putting out is actually working?
It’s easy: focus on these 4 key metrics.
For many folks, the main goal of content marketing is to drive traffic to their website.
So if your content isn’t bringing people to your site, something isn’t working.
Maybe your topics aren’t hitting home with your audience. Maybe your content is hard to read.
It’s impossible to say without digging deep into your entire content marketing process.
But in general, you want to see traffic start to increase within 3 months of starting a new content marketing campaign.
Content can take months or years to fully pay off. But you should start to see SOME traffic come in somewhat early on.
If you do, that’s a sign that things are working.
For example, when I launched my blog, traffic was flat at first.
Which is normal.
But, as you can see, after a few months of regularly publishing and promoting my content, traffic started to move in the right direction.
It’s one thing to bring a bunch of people to your website. But if those folks just scan your content and bounce, your content didn’t do its job.
On the other hand, as we talked about earlier, Top of the Funnel content probably isn’t going to convert right away.
Enter: the email list.
Building your email list is KEY.
That’s because your email list gives you an opportunity to communicate with your audience… even after they’ve left your website.
So I recommend adding signup forms to your site. And if you see people signing up for your email newsletter, you can consider that a really good sign.
This is the uber metric that helps you figure out if your content is working over the long term.
The only tricky part is that it’s hard to tie your content marketing efforts to sales. Yes, there are tools out there (like Google Analytics) that can help you draw a line between a specific post and a new customer.
But in reality, most customer journeys are messy, complicated and hard to track.
Someone might first watch one of your YouTube videos. Then visit your blog. Then, a few days later, sign up for your newsletter at work. And a few days later, they open your email on their phone.
And a few weeks after that, they make a purchase.
What content do you attribute that sale to? The YouTube video? The newsletter? It’s impossible to say.
So instead of complicated attribution models, I prefer to ask people why they bought.
For example, when I asked a recent group of customers what pushed them to invest in one of our programs, I noticed a lot of them cited out video content.
Which told us that our video content was directly leading to sales.
I hope this guide not only answered the question: “what is content marketing?”, but helped you get started with it.
Content marketing definitely takes time to kick in.
But when it does, you can find yourself with more traffic, leads and customers. This is why it’s such a popular marketing channel.
With all that said: I recommend focusing on the basics at first. Focus on creating content for your audience. Create world-class content that’s head and shoulders above what’s out there. And be consistent.
Then, once you master the fundamentals, start experimenting on search engine optimization, scaling up and new content formats (like live video).
What is content marketing for beginners? ›
Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.What is content marketing explain with few examples? ›
Content marketing examples include media like newsletters, podcasts, social media posts, and videos. All of these forms of content are meant to provide useful and relevant information that delights users and attracts them to your brand.What is the best definition of content marketing coursera? ›
Content marketing is the marketing strategy of creating articles, podcasts, videos, infographics, and other types of media to engage and retain potential customers.What are the 4 main categories of content marketing? ›
There are four content categories used in content creation and marketing—attraction, authority, affinity, and action. It's important to note that the four content categories are not mutually exclusive, and a single piece of content will often fit in multiple categories.What is the main objective of content marketing? ›
Content marketing is 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.What are the 3 types of content? ›
The best way to look at the kind of content you're using across your digital landscape, including social media and email marketing, as well as social media and your blog, is to divide it into three types. They are: Creation, Curation, and Creative Curation.What are the three rules of content marketing? ›
- Rule One: Deliver content through the correct medium.
- Rule Two: Target the right audience through the right platform.
- Rule Three: Publish quality content frequently to gain notice.
Creating and sharing content provide the incentive for others to do the same. Make sure to spend a bit of your time sharing and discussing the content of others. Make sure to respond to everyone to takes the time to share, reach out, or send you a message.What are the 5 types of content? ›
- Blog content.
- Social media.
A content marketer is responsible for the planning, creating, and sharing of valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.
What are the 3 most important things in content marketing or blog writing? ›
a description of your audience and the way they speak. your ideal relationship with your audience. examples of specific words and phrases you do (and don't) use.What are the 3 S's of successful content? ›
The folks at Skyword have summed up how to develop a content strategy that works by ensuring your content has 3 key elements. Your content should be searchable, snackable and shareable.What are the key elements of content marketing? ›
- A defined target audience. ...
- Clear and measurable goals. ...
- Relevant buyer personas. ...
- Diverse range of content. ...
- The perfect content marketing platform. ...
- A robust distribution and promotion strategy.
In a nutshell, the 4 P's are the core concepts for creating the right product at the right price in the right place with effective promotion. Inspired by the 4 P's, I created the 4 P's for my book, Global Content Marketing: Plan, Produce, Promote and Perfect.What are some types of content marketing? ›
- Blog posts.
- Case studies.
- Testimonials and reviews.
- Influencer marketing.
- Visual content.
- Lead magnets.
This diagram represents the four main purposes of content, which include to entertain, to inspire, to educate and to convince. Failure to create content that aligns with these criteria could result in missing out on attracting your potential audiences.What are the roles of content marketing? ›
The purpose of content marketing is to persuade a person into taking action. Content should entice someone with valuable, engaging, and relevant information. The content marketer's job is to determine not only how to do that, but how to evaluate the efficacy of strategies employed by using metrics.What is the vision of content marketing? ›
A content vision is a forward-facing statement of the very soul of your company that propels your content marketing. Ultimately, your company depends on having this kind of innovation so it has a future far beyond goals you have set this year, even five years from now.What is content marketing 2022? ›
Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, and sharing content with your target audience. It helps you generate brand awareness, convince customers to take action, and drive revenue.
What are the four elements of content? ›
- Relevant. People want content relevant to their interests. ...
- Intellectual. People want content that introduces them to new things. ...
- Sensorial. Good storytelling is all about the details. ...
- Understand your Audience. Content marketing is very customer-centric. ...
- Creating the right conversations. You know who you're talking to, and know which content to use at which stage of the buying cycle. ...
- Integrate with your SEO Campaign. ...
- Optimise your content to Mobile.
Multimedia such as high-quality photos, graphics, photos and graphics with text, GIFs, and videos are low-effort, high-impact content that can easily engage your audience. These types of posts are more creative and attention-grabbing, which makes them very effective on social media.How do you attract customers with content? ›
- Watch and learn. ...
- Figure out what your customers like. ...
- Do an inventory. ...
- Be strategic. ...
- Find a content champion. ...
- Avoid hard sales messages. ...
- Encourage audience contributions and feedback. ...
- Build a fan base.
The content marketing process consists of four steps: strategy, content creation, distribution and conversion.What are the six types of content? ›
- Blog posts. ...
- Guest-contributed articles. ...
- Press mentions. ...
- Email marketing. ...
- Gated content. ...
- Video content.
Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant articles, videos, podcasts, and other media. This approach establishes expertise, promotes brand awareness, and keeps your business top of mind when it's time to buy what you sell.What is the 95 5 rule in marketing? ›
Understanding the long-lasting impression brand advertising makes is especially important given our research on The 95-5 rule, which shows that 95% of your potential buyers aren't ready to buy today. These 95% are “out-market” today, but will be “in-market” sometime in the future.What is the 4 1 rule in marketing? ›
This rule says that for every six posts you create on your social media channels, four posts should entertain or educate, one post should be a “soft sell” and one post should be a “hard sell.” Let's take a closer look at how you might use the 4-1-1 rule.How do I create content? ›
- Choose the right data for your target audience.
- Choose the right graph or chart for your data.
- Do your research.
- Tell a simple visual story.
- Don't add too much data.
- Make your main points easy to read and remember.
What are the basic content? ›
More Definitions of Basic Content
Basic Content is product information that delivers at a minimum, the required fields as specified in the SciQuest Product Information Content Table, attached hereto as Exhibit B from available information and includes the BugsEye genus classification for such product information.
Some examples of content include blogs, emailers, newsletters, social media posts, case studies, and more. 2. Is content writing easy?What is a core skill to work on as a content marketer? ›
We know which skills frontline content marketers believe are important: SEO, data analytics, working with technologies, audience development, and writing and editing topped the list of desired training in another recent CMI study.How do beginners write content? ›
- Write a compelling headline. The headline of your content serves a triple purpose. ...
- Make your content easy to read. ...
- Focus on the topic, not keyword stuffing. ...
- Word count matters. ...
- Proof your content. ...
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Pick a Specialty That Interests You. ...
- Build Your Foundational Knowledge. ...
- Take a Course or Get a Certificate. ...
- Build a Digital Marketing Portfolio. ...
- Network Online and In-Person. ...
- Look for Agency and In-House Jobs. ...
- Consider Related Jobs To Get Your Foot in the Door.
- Assemble Your Team. Start by setting up your team. ...
- Set Content Goals. Set content marketing goals that align with your larger company goals. ...
- Gather Ideas. ...
- Review the Buyer Journey. ...
- Choose Content Direction and Types. ...
- Develop a Content Calendar. ...
- Research Each Idea. ...
- Create an Outline.
Thus, content marketing must be consistent and constant. The message needs to be on-subject but different all the time. Creating one good advertisement can be challenging enough, but creating weeks and months of engaging and varied content can be exhausting.How do I prepare for content marketing? ›
When it comes to content marketing, self-education is essential to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. Marketing blogs, social media algorithm adjustments, and reading widely on marketing can be listed as ways for candidates to stay up to date on the industry.What is the golden rules of content marketing? ›
Read into your audiences content and join discussions to learn what's important, interesting, or funny to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than noise to their lives. Build a strong marketing strategy for your brand and stick to it.What does a content marketing person do? ›
Content marketing managers are responsible for developing, planning, and implementing an organization's overall content strategy. Their responsibility is to manage the creation and production of marketing content both online and off-line.
How can a beginner improve content writing skills? ›
- Review grammar and spelling basics.
- Read what you want to write.
- Get feedback.
- Think about structure.
- Know some common fixes.
As mentioned before, you also don't need to have any type of experience to become a content creator. After a while though, you will get better at things like photo or video editing. Your experience then helps you become more efficient and create better content so it is more entertaining or helpful to your audience.How do I start content writing with no experience? ›
- Write samples. ...
- Find a writing agency to support you. ...
- Launch a blog. ...
- Write for friends and family. ...
- Network with other freelance writers. ...
- Get your start with a content network. ...
- Revise and refresh your grammar. ...
- Learn about SEO.
The 6 Essential Characteristics of Compelling Content
- Clear and Coherent. ...
- Human. ...
- Relevant Knowledge. ...
- A Memorable Hook. ...
- Purpose. ...
- Believable and Trustworthy.