More than 71% of businesses have a website in 2023, which means you need more than a simple online presence for business growth. In fact, of those businesses, 21% have reported low website traffic, meaning that they likely have low visibility online. On top of that, consumer expectations are constantly on the rise. These days, they expect all businesses to have an online presence and anticipate personalized experiences, convenience, and added value — all while being delivered by an exceptional brand.
So, how are businesses setting themselves apart within the increasingly crowded and competitive digital landscape? Through strategic, creative, and intentional content marketing. Successful content marketing strategies are a key driver to business growth, not only by driving traffic, generating new leads, and finding new customers but also by retaining them.
Businesses set themselves apart through strategic, creative, and intentional content marketing.
The phrase ‘content is king’ is one that many marketers will be familiar with, originating from an essay written by Bill Gates all the way back in 1996. In the essay, he emphasizes how most opportunities for internet businesses will lie within content that provides information or entertainment and how it will be preferred to advertising. Almost 30 years later, he was right, and his words have never been more true.
The key to content marketing success lies in creating a meaningful and lasting connection with your target demographic. This customer-centric approach is focused on generating as much value as possible for the appropriate audience, helping build a trusting and loyal customer relationship.
This comprehensive guide to content marketing will cover everything you need to know for your business. From understanding exactly what content marketing is and its benefits to building your own content marketing strategy and measuring the success of your content.
In this guide:
- Understanding content marketing
- The benefits of content marketing
- How to create a content marketing strategy
- Measuring content marketing success
- How to adjust your strategy based on analytics
- Content creation tips for beginners
Feeling content with that?
That’s the great thing about content marketing, you can (just about) get away with cheesy puns!
Let’s get started.
Understanding content marketing
Content marketing is a form of strategic marketing that involves distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a targeted audience. Unlike traditional advertising, content marketing aims to educate, entertain, and inform rather than directly promote products or services.
Content can come in various forms, like blogs and articles, social media posts, podcasts, videos, infographics, e-books, and more.
What is ‘value’ in content marketing?
A buzzword in content marketing is the term value. It’s often thrown around a lot by marketing gurus on social media, but what exactly do they mean by telling us to create value for our audience?
To create value, content should cater to the needs and preferences of the target audience. Examples of valuable content that brands can create include:
- And lots more
Push vs. pull marketing
To better understand what content marketing is and how it slots into your overall marketing strategy, you can think of it in terms of push vs. pull.
Traditional marketing efforts and advertisements are a form of push marketing. The brand brings the commercial or advert to the consumer to tell them all about the product or service that they’re offering. The consumer didn’t ask to see the advert, it just popped up while they were doing something else — like watching TV or listening to the radio.
Content marketing is a form of pull marketing. Rather than going out to find customers, content brings the customers right to the brand. The brand creates value in the form of content — that will relate either to the business offering, their industry, or their brand purpose, etc. — and the consumers come to them. It’s a more organic approach to marketing that passively attracts customers, rather than actively seeking them out.
Now that we have a better grasp of what content marketing is, let’s take a look at the benefits it can have for your brand and business.
The benefits of content marketing
Content marketing plays a pivotal role in achieving various business objectives.
Building brand awareness and recognition
With more and more businesses operating online, brands need to find effective ways to stand out and cut through the noise. Content marketing offers a powerful way to showcase your brand’s identity, values, and expertise to a broader audience.
By consistently producing engaging and valuable content that aligns with your target customer’s interests and needs, you’ll build deeper relationships and receive more customer interactions. When it comes to the time for them to make a purchase, your brand will be top of mind.
Establishing thought leadership
Sharing high-quality, original content with expertise and insights can position brands as thought leaders within their respective industries. Regularly posting valuable content can lead to new opportunities, including increased media and press coverage, speaking opportunities, and brand partnerships.
Thought leaders are typically perceived as industry experts, fostering brand trust and credibility.
Driving customer engagement
Great content keeps your customers engaged and coming back for more. Customers appreciate regular communication, which helps deepen and strengthen relationships. It demonstrates a commitment to customer success, which customers will reward with their ongoing loyalty.
Boosting SEO and online visibility
When your target customers are searching for answers or solutions, the goal is to have your brand’s content appear right when they need it.
You could say that it gets pretty competitive fighting for that top result on Google, especially when it’s the most visited website with 85.1 billion visitors. The same goes for YouTube, another content-focused platform with more than 33 billion visitors, making it the second most visited website.
The good news is that search engines like Google and YouTube recognize and prioritize high-quality, relevant, and user-friendly content. The more value your audience gets from your content, the more they’ll engage with it, and the more that search engines will reward you with higher rankings. These higher rankings increase your online visibility and drive more organic traffic to your content and website.
Generating leads and improving conversions
Content is a great lead magnet. It allows you to capture the attention specifically of your ideal customers, making it much more targeted and effective than traditional marketing methods.
Content marketing sits at the top of the sales conversion funnel by attracting a wider audience. So, it’s crucial to carefully craft your content to nurture and guide them along the customer journey.
Let’s imagine you’re selling a floor-cleaning product. You could attract the right audience by creating content around popularly-searched topics like ‘How to stop your floors from being sticky’. Then, to really drive the sales home, your content could cleverly feature your products as the best solution for sparkling clean floors.
Cost-effectiveness and longevity
Unlike paid advertising, which stops when the budget runs out, content remains accessible to your audience indefinitely, continuously delivering value. Evergreen content is designed to stick around and continue delivering value to your audience, unlike other types of content that might play on trending topics and deliver a shorter burst of traffic.
Encouraging social sharing and virality
The more shareable a piece of content, the more likely it is to go viral. When this happens, brands reach an exponentially larger audience, which works wonders for brand awareness and recognition.
Viral content doesn’t just apply to social media. Any piece of content can go viral, but it’s most likely to be shared on social media.
Ready to learn how to create your own content marketing strategy? Here’s how!
How to create a content marketing strategy
Here’s an easy-to-follow guide for creating a content marketing strategy for your business.
Step 1: Understand your audience
Before you do anything, it’s crucial that you know your target customers inside out. You’ll need to segment your customers into specific personas that cover everything from their age, wants, needs, fears, jobs, values, interests, motivations, and more. You can find this information through in-depth market research, user interviews, focus groups, etc.
By knowing your audience intimately, you can create content that resonates with them and addresses their particular needs effectively.
Step 2: Set clear marketing goals
The next step is to define clear and measurable goals that align with your overall business objectives. Some examples of the goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) that you may want to achieve for your business are:
- Increasing website traffic
- Generating leads
- Improving brand awareness
- Boosting social media engagement
- Enhancing customer retention
Keeping these goals in mind while you create content will guide your content creation efforts and help you track your success.
Step 3: Define your unique selling proposition (USP)
With so much online competition, you need to know what sets your brand apart. Your content should subtly communicate your USP and highlight the benefits that customers can get from interacting with your brand.
Step 4: Choose the right content formats
The more content formats you can produce, the more touch points customers will have to discover and engage with your brand. Here are some of the formats that you may want to use:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts — Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter (X), Threads, etc.
Pick the formats that feel right for your brand. Make sure to tailor the content to whichever format or platform you use. You may want to experiment with different formats to determine what resonates best with your audience.
Step 5: Implement content pillars and themes
Content pillars are broad themes that reflect your brand’s core areas of expertise. They help align your content with your brand and its values so your audience knows what to expect when they come across your content.
Your pillars should all be relevant and appealing to your target audience. For example, cooking tips and recipes would make excellent content pillars if your business sells food. On the other hand, heavy metal music might not be such a relevant content pillar — unless that’s a key aspect of your customer persona, of course.
The next step is to apply your content pillars to the types of valuable content we discussed under ‘What is “value” in content marketing?’. For example, let’s say we’re planning a week of social media posts for our food business.
- Educational: share an infographic on the difference between all the types of onions and when best to use each type
- Inspiring: share an inspirational quote for chefs
- Entertaining: share a Gordan Ramsey meme, obviously
- Problem-solving: share an article that you wrote about how to stop caramel from burning
Step 6: Create a content calendar
Content calendars help ensure you’re producing regular yet varied content that contains a mix of your content pillars. They’re useful for outlining your content topics, formats, and publishing schedule. Content calendars also help you align your content with relevant events, holidays, and industry trends.
Or work with marketing experts
Developing a superior content marketing strategy is no easy feat. Going through each of these steps can be very overwhelming and time-consuming — and that’s before you’ve even begun creating the content itself. When you do, you need it to be of a high standard to deliver the results that you want.
That’s why content marketing experts exist. They’re able to work with businesses of all sizes to deliver a content marketing strategy that’s tailored to each of their unique needs and goals.
Measuring content marketing success
Measuring the success of your content marketing efforts is essential to understand how well your strategy is performing and to identify areas for improvement. By tracking key performance indicators and analyzing your marketing data, you can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your content, audience engagement, and overall impact on your business goals.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) for content marketing
As we touched upon earlier, business goals or KPIs are the metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your content performance. You can prioritize KPIs according to those that align with your personal marketing goals. Some common KPIs include:
- Website traffic: the number of visitors coming to your website through organic search, social media, email campaigns, etc.
- Conversion rates: the percentage of website visitors who ‘convert’ or take desired actions, e.g. making a purchase, subscribing to your newsletter, etc.
- Engagement rates: how many people engage with your content. This will vary depending on which platforms you’re using. For instance, on social media, you’ll measure clicks, likes, comments, watch time, etc. While on blogs you’ll measure clicks, bounce rate, time spent on page, scroll depth, etc.
- Leads generated: the number of leads generated through content downloads, contact forms, or other lead-capture methods.
Tools for tracking content marketing success
There are a whole array of marketing analytics tools out there that can help you to gather relevant data and insights. Below, we’ve shared some of the top tools used by content marketers in the industry, arranging them by usage type.
Data analytics tools
- Google Analytics 4 (GA4): GA4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics. It collects user and app data to help businesses better understand the customer journey.
- Mixpanel: Mixpanel positions itself as a web and app analytics tool to help businesses make better, data-driven decisions.
- HubSpot: HubSpot is a marketing software that keeps all your marketing tools and data in one place. It allows you to measure and optimize your marketing efforts.
- Hotjar: Hotjar is a behavioral analytics tool that helps businesses to understand how customers are interacting with their websites and where they may be falling off along the conversion funnel.
- Later: Later is a social media management tool that lets you plan, analyze, and publish content in advance.
- Hootsuite: Beyond its scheduling capabilities, Hootsuite offers an automated inbox that brings social media notifications straight to your inbox, as well as content planning capabilities.
- Buffer: Similar to Later, Buffer positions itself as an all-in-one toolkit for social media, saving you time while growing your following.
- Semrush: Semrush combines SEO, content marketing, competitor research, PPC, and social media marketing in one platform.
- Moz: Moz is an SEO-focused tool that aims to help businesses increase traffic, rankings, and visibility in search results.
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO toolkit that lets you analyze competitors, audit your website, find keywords, and explore content ideas.
How to adjust your strategy based on analytics
So you have your marketing analytics and insights in front of you, but what do you actually need to do with them? Let’s break it down.
Compare with your KPIs
When looking at your content marketing analytics, you’ll need your KPIs in hand. This way, you can see how your content performance is measuring up to your expectations.
If you’re outperforming your goals and KPIs, congratulations! Now it’s time to raise the bar. You could set even more ambitious goals for next time.
If you’re underperforming, you’ll need to figure out why. Were the KPIs simply too ambitious? Or perhaps you need to increase your marketing budget and put out more content each month?
Learn what’s performing well and what’s performing not so well
Sometimes the content that we think will perform the best will hardly receive any engagement — or flop, as TikTok users would put it — while the content that we’re unsure of can take off, and even perhaps go viral.
Rather than relying on intuition or gut instinct, you can check your content performance analytics to see which content performed the best.
Learn new things about your audience and customers
A lot of the time, what we think we know about our customers is based on assumptions. When it comes to content marketing data and analytics, the numbers don’t lie. You can understand more about their behavior and interests by how they’re interacting with your content and website.
Segment your audience
The more data that you have on your audience, the more you’ll be able to segment them. This helps you target specific pieces of content towards each segment, which is more likely to increase conversions.
Test your learnings and iterate
Having worked through each of the points above, you can take your new learnings to create more content. Hopefully this time, you’ll repeat your successes and continue to grow.
However, it’s important to remember that it’s always a learning process. The key is to keep consistently creating content and paying attention to the data to ensure that you’re sticking to the content and format types that work well and avoiding those that don’t.
Scribly’s content creation tips for beginners
As a team of expert content marketers, we’re pretty clued up on what makes good content. Here are some of our top tips for creating content when you’re just getting started.
Understand SEO and keyword research
As we’ve mentioned earlier on in this guide, SEO is critical to being discovered by your target demographic online. You’ll need to do some research to familiarize yourself with the basics of SEO, but at the core of it all is creating an excellent experience for your audience, user, or customer.
To increase the chances of your content appearing on any platform — be it social media, Google and other search engines, Spotify, etc. — you’ll need to include keywords in your content. Conduct some keyword research to learn which kinds of terms your target customers are searching for, then create more content based on those keywords. The SEO tools that we recommended above have some useful keyword research tools.
Once you have them, use these keywords strategically in your titles, headings, and content to improve your chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting organic traffic.
Write engaging and valuable content
Your number one aim is to provide value to your audience. Whether you’re making them smile, teaching them about a topic, or solving a problem, you want them to feel like they’ve taken something away from your content.
Ensure that all of your content is well written, with good grammar and a consistent tone of voice across each and every piece.
Use visuals to enhance your content
Visuals, like images, videos, and infographics, can help keep your audience engaged throughout your content. They’re essential for platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok, but they’re also good to use in your blogs and articles.
Visual elements break up large blocks of text and make your content more visually appealing. Well-chosen visuals can also convey complex information more effectively.
Promote your content on social media
If you’re producing content that’s not on social media, like an article, e-book, or podcast, don’t be afraid to promote and share it on social media. Ensure that your chosen platforms are the ones your target audience uses frequently so they’re more likely to see your content.
It’s important that you tailor your content to each social media platform — and try to incorporate trends wherever possible!
Ready to create some exceptional content?
And there you have it, folks, everything you need to know to get started on your content marketing journey.
We get it. Wrapping your head around the entirety of content marketing can be a lot, especially when it spans social media, blogs, e-books, and more. But for businesses to thrive in the digital age, content marketing needs to be at the forefront of your overall marketing strategy. When it’s done to an excellent standard, content attracts customers for life, asserts your brand as an authority in the market, and can send your sales and conversions skyrocketing.
As the wise Bill Gates once said, content is king!
Thankfully, you don’t need to do it alone. The content marketing experts at Scribly are on hand to help you with every step of your content marketing strategy, from the planning right through to the execution.
Scribly offers full-service content marketing support to businesses of any size in any industry.
Book your free content audit and start working with our friendly content marketing team today!