Content marketing for beginners 
local seo optimisation
by Candice Brandt
12.20.2022

“67% of marketers report that content marketing generates demand/leads”, according to a recent article published by Ahrefs. If so many people are reporting success, can you really afford to not be investing in content marketing? 

 What is content marketing? 

Some people might argue that content marketing was a practice started when humans came into existence. There is some truth to this. Although it might have taken a different form, humans have been using content to communicate messages to each other since existence. 

Perhaps you’ve only heard of content marketing recently but it definitely is not a new concept.  

John F Oppedahl first coined “content marketing” at a journalism conference in 1996. This put a name to what had been taking place for years and what we consider “content marketing” today.  

The first noteworthy efforts of content marketing was seen in 1895 when American tractor and farm equipment manufacturer John Deere launched a printed magazine, named “The Furrow” which was published every quarter. The Furrow was different to other publications at the time because it wasn’t trying to sell or promote anything to its users. It was a publication that aimed at educating the consumer and building the reputation of the brand with its consumers. 

This strategy helped the readership of “The Furrow” grow and by 1912, they had a staggering 4 million subscribers to the magazine and the success of this marketing model saw many brands follow in its footsteps. 

Another magazine saw staggering success, when the well known Michelin Guide was created in France in 1900 by brothers Édouard and Ándre Michelin. Their goal was to create a guide for automobile owners, including tire care instructions, mechanic and hotel recommendations. The publication was a big hit and later, in 1929 began to include restaurant listings in its publication. It became most famous for the awarding of “stars” to fine dining establishments that were considered worth traveling to. The Michelin marketing strategy was brilliant. At the time there were fewer than 3,000 cars on France’s roadways and  The Michelin Guide was designed to generate interest in automobile travel and, subsequently, the need for tire services.  

From the early days of content creation, we can already see two main objectives – to build brand awareness and to educate. 

There are countless publications that we can mention, but by looking at The Furrow and The Michelin Guide as examples, we can see how their content marketing strategy led to the success of their business. They provided value to their customers before asking for anything. Both publications provided educational content with the aim of helping their customers and also by providing reviews of products and establishments.  

Fast forward to today and this is what every content marketer worth their salt should be aiming for. 

Content marketing in a nutshell 

So to recap, content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content to attract, engage and retain a targeted audience. 

When looking at how saturated the market is today, with nearly every business having a blog, it is important to remember that your content should establish expertise, promote brand awareness and keep your business top of mind when it is time to buy products. 

When it comes to content marketing, consistency is key. Consistent high-quality and engaging content will allow your business to reap the benefits for years to come. 

Channels to use for content marketing 

Blog posts 

Blogging is important for not only your marketing but also for your SEO efforts. Having high-quality, valuable content is important to help grow your website organically. There is a reason why 90% of businesses use blogging to market their brands. Through blogging you have the opportunity to educate your users by means of informational posts, helping them solve various challenges. 

An added benefit of blogs is that you can repurpose the content! One well-written blog post can give you tons of posts that you can use to share across various channels. 

There is no recommended word count for blog posts, while some topics can be covered in 500 words another topic might need 3000 words to get the point across. As long as every post is written for the right user intent, with high quality information, your post will be a valuable asset.  

Website pages 

Website content is the most important, especially if your website is a sales tool. You need to ensure that your key messaging is consistent across your website and that the content tells the story of your brand in a way that is relatable and appealing to your audience. 

Every page on your website should be created with intent and provide your user with a good experience, increasing the probability that they will return to your website to make repeat purchases. 

Digital PR 

Digital PR is used to increase a company’s online visibility. By getting exposure on external websites for your brand, you will help build your company’s reputation and brand awareness. 

Backlinks generated from digital PR and new brand mentions are always a great way to build your website’s domain authority and increase your credibility.  

Social media 

Regularly posting on social media is crucial if you want to amplify your brand’s reach. 

Find out which platforms your audience engages with and adjust your content to that platform to capture your audience. 

Downloadable Assets (guides, ebooks, templates etc) 

We all love free stuff. And we love companies that give us free stuff. Providing your audience with free resources is a great way to give them value without expecting anything in return, creating a positive interaction with your potential customers. 

If you are able to help them solve a problem by providing a free template, they’re more likely to return to your website in future and make a purchase. 

Case studies 

By using case studies, you’re sharing a story a customer can relate to while also showcasing the usefulness of your product or service. 

 Through a case study, you can present a customer that might have experienced a pain point that you have helped solve, there is no better testimony. 

 People are more likely to trust and try a brand when they’re able to relate to stories that are similar to theirs.  

Videos 

Videos can offer a high ROI and be an engaging medium. Videos can be shared on your website and adapted to be shared across various platforms over and over. It is also a way to authentically connect with people, showing them who is behind the brand, making it a valuable medium worth investing in. 

Email 

Regardless of how many unopened promotional emails you might have – email is not dead. 

40% of B2B marketers say that email newsletters are most critical to their content marketing success. Do you know why? Because a whopping 73% of millennials prefer to be contacted via email. 

Once a user has given you their email address to contact them, you’re able to send them valuable information and promotional offers, with a high chance that they’ll convert. 

A strategic email marketing strategy can improve your lead generation and sales tremendously. 

Benefits of Content Marketing 

Increase Your Reach 

With the right market research, you can pin down where your customers “hang out” online and you can meet them there. Whether it be community forums or Facebook groups, being present online where your audience spends most of their time will allow you to answer questions they have and familiarise your audience with your brand. 

Increase Your Website Traffic 

Content is the gateway to your website. Publishing various useful content pieces that are relevant to your audience will have them returning to your website time and time again. Companies should take advantage of content such as blogs, downloadable eBooks, case studies, infographics and white papers to drive more website traffic. 

More high-quality content means that there are more ways that users can find your website and content.  

Doing keyword research is important to understand exactly what kind of queries your users have that you can answer. Creating a well-planned content calendar will allow you to map out your customer journey and ensure that you have the right content to meet your customer at each stage of the journey. 

Create Brand Awareness 

A good content strategy can do more than just rank a blog post in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). If content marketing is done the right way, your content will appear in the right places, whether it be in ads, blog posts or on social media. This means more eyes will be on the content and ultimately this increases your brand awareness. 

To ensure you capture the right audience, write about relevant topics that your potential customers are interested in so that they associate your brand with great, valuable content.  

Grow Your Following 

Use your content and social media channels to your advantage. Share visually appealing and appealing posts with images on your social media channels to increase your brand’s following. Use social media to add a voice and face to your brand. It’s the perfect medium for you to use to engage with your audience. 

A well-known brand that has truly used its social media to be more about the audience than the brand is Nike. With 255 million followers on Instagram and 9.3 million on Twitter, what is Nike doing that is making people respond so well? 

It’s actually quite simple – Nike’s social media is all about the people. 

Looking at their social media posts, you’ll notice they don’t focus on promoting their products, rather they focus on the people that use their products. Nike uses their social media to showcase athletes and real-life people who are its brand ambassadors. They mainly share these people’s stories trying to inspire, motivate, and lift others who can relate. 

Having a social media presence that focuses on the user instead of the brand, shows people that you really care about the impact your brand is making, and they are more likely to follow and support your business. 

Build Authority and Credibility  

One of the reasons why a lot of businesses might fail with their content marketing strategies, is because they do not adequately communicate their expertise with their audience. A brand needs to know exactly what its USPs (Unique selling points) are and what sets them apart from its competitors. Why should people choose you over any of the other companies? Once you have discovered your Why, you need to clearly communicate that message to your audience. 

Accelerate the Buying Process 

Most buyers won’t purchase from your business the first time they hear about it. This is normal buyer behaviour. Consumers go through what is known as a buyer’s journey which entails all the phases they will go through before making a purchase from your business. 

Your strategy should meet your customers where they are in the journey to reap the benefits of content marketing. You should cater the right content to people in the awareness, consideration and decision stages of the journey to maximise engagement with your brand and accelerate users through the buying process. 

The buyer’s journey for higher-value purchases like a car or a house takes much longer.To help speed up the process, follow the inbound marketing methodology to help guide them on the path to purchase. 

Generate Better Leads 

When done well, content marketing can help you generate better leads for your business. When your audience comes in contact with your content, they’re more likely to make a purchase from your brand in future, because they are more familiar with you.  

Make sure that all of your content has well placed CTA’s (calls-to-action) encouraging people to convert and make a sale or make an enquiry. It is all good and well to provide value to visitors on your website, but you have to remember that the ultimate goal is to convert them and turn them into a customer. If a user is delighted with the value they received when engaging with your content, they’re more likely to give you their email address or contact details, which you can use to sell or promote your products at a later stage. 

Save Money on Your Marketing Strategy 

Generally, the average company budgets around 7% to 10% of business revenue towards marketing efforts.  

Marketing is an umbrella term and there are many different types of marketing that forms part of an overall successful strategy. Traditional marketing such as newspaper, TV and billboard ads is significantly more expensive than digital marketing. Traditional marketing has its place in contributing to a business success but with higher costs, smaller reach and fewer means of tracking results and ROI (Return on Investment), it is harder to justify the costs compared to digital media. 

For companies with smaller budgets, digital marketing delivers the most bang for your buck. If your business has deeper pockets, creating a complementary combination of digital and traditional marketing brings out great results. 

Content marketing can cost up to 62% less than traditional marketing. It’s one of the most cost-effective methods to connect to your audience. And another great advantage is that content can always be repurposed and redistributed for less. So you can benefit from your initial investment multiple times. 

Content Marketing is Crucial for B2B Marketing Strategies 

Content marketing has become increasingly important for B2B buyers. B2B sales were moving increasingly online before the pandemic, and now we’ve seen a significant acceleration over the past two years.  

B2B buyers are spending more time doing independent research instead of engaging with sales representatives. Users want to find out all the information they can on their own time and if you’re not providing the information B2B buyers are looking for in a digital format, you’re handing potential sales to competitors that are doing just that. 

In making purchase decisions, B2B buyers want to make use of self-service tools that allow them to find the information they want without having to first deal with the sales team. Business leaders don’t want to waste valuable time on unsolicited sales pitches or pushy salespeople. B2B buyers use caller ID and spam filters to ignore cold calls and emails. People are overwhelmed with outreach and adverts on a daily basis, it is not surprising that users are taking the time to find out more for themselves, before wanting to engage. 

As B2B customers work their way through the buyer’s journey, B2B content helps nurture them at each stage to drive them forward. 

B2B content marketing should be useful and focus more on the content than the marketing. The most valuable B2B content will educate users, provide answers to the question they have, or solve their challenges. Once again, providing users with value before asking for something in return. 

The 3 specific goals that successful  B2B marketers should have in mind when creating content: 

  • Always prioritise informational needs above sales – First ask how your business can provide your potential users with valuable information that will help you increase your brand awareness and authority 
  • Differentiate your content and brand from competitors – Make the “why” of your business clear. Convey the message about what makes you different from your competitors and why users should support you instead. 
  • Create content for users at each stage of the buyer’s journey – Meet your users where they are. If a user is only starting out in the research phase, they won’t react to sales messaging. Make sure that your content strategy caters for users at every stage so that you don’t lose any potential customers because they didn’t find the information they needed. 

 

KPIs for B2B Marketing 

Content marketing is not fluffy. To be successful, you don’t simply create tons of content pieces and publish it hoping that someone will come across it and convert to become a lifelong consumer. 

There are concrete KPIs (Key performance indicator) that you can use to make sure that your B2B marketing is yielding results for your business. Implementing marketing strategies is not worth it if you’re not keeping track of the results. How else will you know whether your efforts are leading to sales? 

There are different KPIs to help you measure different processes and aspects of your goal. The most common types of KPIs are: 

  • Website traffic – measuring how many people visit your website is important because in digital your website is your home base. If your campaign is not getting people to visit your website, then you’re losing out on potential sales. A great way to track user traffic is by using Google Analytics. This helps you measure traffic sources and engagement metrics so you can see how people are responding to your campaigns. 
  • Conversions – at the end of the day, traffic to your site doesn’t mean much if people aren’t eventually moving down the sales funnel and converting. Measuring the number of conversions per activity can help you sort the potential leads from people who are only browsing.To measure conversions, make sure you set up goals or events in Google analytics to be tracked, so you can measure how many people fill in a form or download a resource. 
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) – MQLs are leads that have taken an action that shows that they have an interest in your product or service. This action might have been filling in a form or downloading a whitepaper from your site. Generally, they are further up the sales funnel and not quite ready to convert. They’ll need to have another touchpoint with your brand before they’re ready to be converted. 
  • Cost per lead – leads are the ultimate goal for most businesses. One important aspect to measure is how much it costs to generate each lead. By tracking this KPI across different marketing channels, you can see how effective each channel is at delivering potential customers to you. 
  • Revenue contributed –  When it comes down to measuring profit, it doesn’t really matter how many leads visit your website, or how many actions they take to indicate their interest if they don’t end up buying your product. Somebody in the decision making chair is going to want to know the ROI for your marketing efforts and budget. Here it is important to build attribution  models that can measure the ROI of individual marketing campaigns accurately. 

B2B Buyer’s Journey 

Content marketing allows B2B companies to show they care about the same things as their customers.  

As mentioned before, it’s important to meet users where they are in each stage of the funnel and be armed with valuable content that solves their problem. 

1.Awareness Stage (People realise that there is a problem and they actively start searching for a solution) 

 Useful Content/Content Format: eBooks/Blogs/Whitepapers 

2.Consideration Stage (Potential customers have narrowed down their options and are now comparing various products. This is where you should clear up any doubt your user might have. 

Useful content: Webinars/case studies/ demo videos 

3.Conversion (This is where the final decision takes place and a purchase is made) 

Useful content: Case studies/Live demos/Customer reviews 

4.Build Loyalty (Once a purchase is made, it is important to build a post-purchase relationship. Build and nurture a relationship with your customer by requesting customer feedback, showing your interest in improving your goods or service) 

Useful content: Surveys/ follow ups/product how-tos  

B2C Content Marketing 

Business to customer content marketing uses methods to promote products and services directly to consumers through useful and engaging content. 

Potential customers are seeking solutions to known problems, so it is important that you’re able to position your business as the one that has the solution to the problem. The B2C buyer’s journey is generally shorter than the B2B buyer’s journey because there isn’t as much red tape involved as with someone making buying decisions for a company. It’s the individual user who makes the final decision, usually based on both rational and emotional thinking. 

Know what your audience wants 

To be a successful B2C content marketer, you need to figure out what your audience wants. Finding them might be easy, but working out what keeps them awake and why they visit certain sites is the challenge.  

Let me make it a bit easier: all consumers are looking for solutions to their problems. Figure out what those problems are and you can target your content marketing. 

The Key Elements of B2C Content Marketing 

The ultimate goal of B2C content marketing is to capture leads and to nurture and convert prospects to loyal and repeat customers. To do that, you must include the four Ps of marketing: 

  • Product – You have to have a product that you can promote to your target audience and ensure that it solves a need or desire of your consumer. Defining the product is also key to its distribution. B2C marketers need to understand the life cycle of a product and need to have a plan for dealing with products at every stage of the life cycle. 
  • Place – This is the consideration of where the product should be available, in brick-and-mortar stores and online, and how it will be displayed. The term placement also refers to advertising the product in the right channel to get the attention of your target audience. 
  • Price – Price is the amount that consumers will be willing to pay for a product. Marketers must link the price to the product’s real and perceived value, while also considering supply costs, seasonal discounts, competitors’ prices, and retail markup. 
  • Promotion – The goal of promotion is to communicate to consumers that they need this product and that it is priced appropriately. Promotion entails advertising, public relations, and the overall marketing strategy for introducing a product to your target audience. 

B2C Buyer’s Journey 

The B2C buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider, and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service from your business. It is based on the same principle of the B2B journey we looked at previously, but in essence the journey is much shorter. 

Steps in the B2C Buyer’s Journey 

  1. Awareness Stage – In this stage the user realises that there is a problem or need. Once they become aware, they start doing research to find solutions to the problem. Here they may be looking at informational resources to help understand what their problem is. 
  2. Consideration Stage – By now, the user has given a name to their problem and they are researching all the possible solutions to solving it. In this stage they are not ready to purchase yet but they are deciding on the best solution. Here, your goal would be to make your product or service standout against the competitors. 
  3. Decision Stage – Every business wants to make it to the decision stage. Once a user makes it to this stage, they have decided on their solution, strategy,method and approach. They will now compare products and make a final decision on which business to purchase from. 

Differences between B2C and B2B Content Marketing 

In both cases of content marketing for B2B and B2C, you are creating content for real users with real challenges they need to overcome, but the following are noteworthy differences that will inform your marketing decisions. 

B2B Buyers 

B2C Buyers 

They make buying decisions for individuals or for households and families 

They make buying decisions for large companies or corporations that provide products of services to other companies or consumers 

One buyer makes the buying decision 

Many different stakeholders are involved in making the buying decision 

Average purchase size is usually small 

Average purchase can amount to thousands or even millions of pounds  

Content distribution 

Once you’ve created your content marketing strategy, your distribution plan is the next important aspect to decide on.  

It’s no use creating amazing content and then distributing it to the incorrect channels.Your distribution determines the success of your content.   

Content distribution is the process of sharing, publishing, and promoting the content that you’ve created. It’s how you provide your content to your audience members for their consumption through various channels and media formats. 

You should be distributing your content where your audience is and that’s why market research is crucial.  

Content Distribution Channels 

These channels can be used to distribute your content based on your audience and resources. 

Owned Content Distribution 

Owned channels are the content properties your business owns and controls. You can control when and how content is published on your owned channels and these include your website and blog, social media profiles and email newsletter. 

Earned Content Distribution 

These are when third parties promote or share your content to their own channels. These third parties could include customers, journalists, bloggers, and anyone who shares your content at no cost to you. These could include social shares and mentions, guest articles  or product reviews.  

Paid Content Distribution 

Paid channels refer to when your company pays to distribute your content on certain channels. This primarily includes pay-per-click (PPC), paid social advertisements, and paid influencer content. 

Sponsored Content 

Sponsored content is promotional media, paid for by an advertiser, that’s created and shared by another person, brand, influencer, or publisher. Sponsored content is most effective when it includes a person or brand that already targets your audience and buyer personas and, therefore, already aligns well with your brand.  

 Content marketing shouldn’t just sit with the marketing department 

 Your  content marketing strategy shouldn’t just be informed by the marketing department. Yes, your marketing department can conduct research that provides invaluable insights, but your sales department also has some treasure to share. 

Historically, there is a lot of animosity between the sales and marketing teams. It’s time to break down the barriers and not only make teams realise why it is important for them to work together but also put plans in place for the relationship between sales and marketing to be fostered. 

Both sales and marketing think that they know everything there is to know about the customer when in reality, both of them only have half of the whole picture. 

Marketing understands the customer from a theoretical or data-based perspective but it is very rare they come face to face with the customer. They know what kind of content the customer interacts with and responds to but the sales team comes face to face with the customer. They have the opportunity to build a relationship with individual customers and fill in the blanks about the user persona that marketing can’t. And this provides both teams with better insights to create a comprehensive user persona, so that they can better empathize with their user.  

When creating a content strategy, the marketing team will base all of their decisions on research using tools like Ahrefs, or Google trends and studying user behaviour metrics to make informed guesses about what users want. 

The sales team are asked questions directly by customers and potential leads all day. These are the questions that should form the backbone of your content strategy. Imagine being able to provide your customers with such a valuable and useful content experience when they come into contact with your brand, that they don’t need to send you any further questions before making a purchase. You would lessen your lead time, save on resources and drive your bottom line faster! 

The sales team can also help the marketing team understand any seasonal trends that they should prepare for so that the content is ready at the right time and the customer is met with the right message. 

In conclusion 

There is no denying the value and importance of content marketing. Your brand and business basically won’t exist without the use of content.  

Whether you run a B2B or a B2C business, a content strategy is the tool that allows you to directly engage with your audience, and you should be in charge of that narrative. 

Content marketing has been around for 100s of years, so why do you think you can be successful without it? If you’ve just realised the potential success you’ve missed out on as a result of not having a solid content strategy, get in touch with the team at Media Matters, we can help you create a strategy that will take your business to the next level. 

The Author

Candice Brandt

Candice is a digital marketing specialised with a special love for content and sharing her digital marketing knowledge. Based in South Africa, she has experience of working in digital marketing agencies as well as working in-house. She is a lover of all things digital and can often be found reading up on new trends in the industry and testing new platforms to bring our clients more leads!
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