This buzzword might sound like technical jargon that you just don’t quite understand, but it is an extremely important concept to master in today’s digital space. We all start somewhere when learning new things, so I am glad you're here to equip yourself with learning the basics of content marketing!
Content marketing is about building connections all around the internet
Intro to Content
Before we get into the how-to, let's discuss the what-is.
What is Content?
Content Marketing: The process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers.
Focusing on the first part of the definition: What do we mean by "creating content"? Content isn't just anything you can cobble together and throw on the internet. Well, it could be, but it won't be very useful that way. Content is what you see when you go to a website or social media page, what you see when you search for something on Google, and what you receive in newsletter emails. It is forms of media: blog posts, vlogs, infographics, videos, podcasts, freebies, downloadables, recipies, social media posts, and anything else you can think of that would be interesting to the target audience.
Essentials of an SEO strategy
Content is what gives the audience a reason to pay attention to you. If you don't have content, then you don't have anything to distribute. If you don't have anything to distribute, you have no website/business/blog/whatever it is you are trying to build. Nobody will buy anything from a website containing nothing but affiliate links. Nobody will read a blog that contains only links to other blogs. These are examples of compiling other websites' content; it is not your content.
To create effective content, you must know where your target audience is going to hang out. Will they Google things? Will they search YouTube? Will they go to Pinterest, Reddit, or some other website? Knowing this will determine what kind of content and resources you create.
Intertwining more than one methodology of content together creates a meta way of promoting something you have to offer. For example, you can write a blog about a topic, let's say "Common Car Problems" and inside the article, you can reference a downloadable checklist you've made, "Car Care Schedule," for people to use in tandem with what they learn in your article.
Good content provides solutions to searchers
Why Create Content?
Why do people search for content in the first place? To solve a problem.
So, in addition to knowing what audience you are creating for and where they will be hanging out, you need to know exactly what kinds of questions will they be asking there that you can answer. And, you need to make sure your content catches their eye so they will view it (this is the marketing part that we will cover later on).
To create effective content, you need to solve a problem people face. Let's use the car example again. The checklist you made, "Car Care Schedule," solves the problem someone has of not knowing when and how often to perform maintenance on their vehicle.
They will use your content because it helps them. Meanwhile, creating a checklist "Types of Cars" is not effective because why would anyone want a checklist that lists types of cars? It offers no helpful information.
Content is the conduit that leads someone from the problem to the solution. Sometimes the solution is also content (like a downloadable resource or online course). Sometimes the solution is a product, like a dashcam to record traffic accidents.
Another purpose of content is to get people engaged in your brand, site, or community. A solid amount of engaging, interesting, useful content gives people something to interact with and builds a relationship with your site.
When the audience can consistently find useful things from you that they like, they will seek you out again in the future. They will trust new things you offer, like courses (paid or free), and share your content with other people in their circles. Your content needs to be genuinely engaging to build relationships. Furthermore, your offerings need to be as good as you say they are or people will quickly learn that you do not deliver on your promises.
Finding solutions online fast means more time for life
Marketing Your Content
Spread the Word
Let's come back to the definition from before, and now focus on the "distributing to attract and retain" customers part.
Even if you create the best infographic in the world, if you do not market it properly, it will never find the audience who can benefit from it in any meaningful way. It's sad, but it's true. Content does not seek people out, and people cannot find content if it doesn't show up in their search results.
The solution: content marketing.
Start by choosing the format that best suits your needs: blogs, vlogs, podcasts, recipe, etc. Then, choose two or three distribution channels to market with. You'll get good at these methods of marketing before moving on to another channel. For example, if you start with blogs as a format, you will probably want to get good at Google SEO/paid ads, social media, and email newsletters first because trying to market your written blogs on YouTube doesn't make sense.
Viral is Vexing
It is important to learn good SEO practices on all channels, but especially with things like YouTube and Google, because they will put up older results that are still relevant to the searcher's query. Your older content has a much better chance of being found on these channels even after quite some time. If you rely on social media posts alone, the chances that your older content will be found and will attract people to you is exponentially lower. Even if something you have created goes viral, the traffic you incur is likely to be explosive for a very short amount of time, and then taper off extremely quickly as the viral post ages. This is overall not sustainable. You need to have people find you organically, not by chance.
Content that has solid SEO built in will generate clicks for months, perhaps years. It will remain relevant as long as people are searching for what you have covered.
You can even link to older content inside of your newer content in order to drive traffic around your site, rather than have the searcher click away. That brings us to one last point for this part one article...
Overlap in Ideas
But Wait, I Thought Content Marketing and Content were two different things?
The trickiest part to digest about content vs content marketing is that sometimes content is used for content marketing.
Huh? Let me explain.
A blog post about cars is content. Performing the keyword research, adapting your content to fit into the patterns of the top 10 sites about this topic, and ensuring that your post contains the keywords it needs to perform well is content marketing. Including a link to download your maintenance checklist within the blog post is also content marketing. So, you have used your content to market content. This idea is not unlike a Russian nesting doll; you can use a broader piece of content to lead people to the next bit of content inside of it, and so on. Internally linking your own content to one another is a great way to get people to click around on your site and learn more about what you have to offer. It is all still content that serves a dual purpose of marketing more content as well.
You've Got It!
Now that you know the basics of what content is and why you need to market it, take a look at part two of this article, where we explore more specific SEO practices.