You hear everyone talking about content marketing. What does it mean? What does it do? What can you achieve with it?
First, let’s talk about what content marketing means.
Because of its immense popularity, there’s are many definitions of content marketing you’ll find on the web.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It is often used by businesses in order to:
- Attract attention and generate leads
- Expand their customer base
- Generate or Increase online sales
- Increase brand awareness or credibility
- Engage an online community of users
I love Wikipedia’s definition.
Content Marketing Institute, a website focused on teaching content marketing has their own definition:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique 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.”
The power of content marketing lies not in its definition, but its process.
If you want to leverage content marketing, you have to fall in love with content creation, distribution, promotion, research, and engagement.
Content marketing is a subset of digital marketing.
But the concept of content marketing has been around since the 1880s.
John Deere pioneered content marketing when The Furrow magazine launched in 1885.
The magazine is a resource for farmers, and farmers are John Deere’s clients.
Content marketing has grown so much over the past years due to platforms like WordPress, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Brands now have more ways to communicate with consumers.
There’s no better way to communicate with consumers than content marketing.
Why content marketing?
Traditional marketing strategies are becoming less and less effective. Consumers don’t trust ads.
They’ve realized that there’s a better way to communicate with them, and content marketing is that way.
Leading brands are using content marketing to talk to consumers.
Cisco Systems, Inc., an American multinational technology conglomerate that sells networking hardware is using content marketing.
They run a series of blogs where they post content created by experts. On their blogs, they write about collaboration, cloud computing, web security, enterprise networks and many more. These are topics their ideal customers want to read.
Content marketing helped Cisco reduced its marketing costs by more than $100,000+.
MailChimp, an email automation, and marketing service is using content marketing to attract, convert and retain customers.
They have a learning resource hub where you’ll find guides and research.
Renown hospitality company Marriott International is taking content marketing by storm. The company has its own global creative and content marketing studio.
Former Marriott’s VP of Creative and Content Studio once said that the brand aims to be the world’s largest producer of travel-related content.
As people begin to drink less soda, brands like Coca-Cola face the challenge to retain customers and grow sales.
The brand is great at creating amazing content. They launched their own online magazine recently.
Coke knows that it has to continue to create the best and most interesting content to reach consumers.
Intuit’s QuickBooks is another brand using content marketing to connect with customers.
QuickBooks target customers are small to medium-sized businesses. They create content that answers their customers’ questions.
Enough of talking about how other businesses are using content marketing.
What can content marketing do for you?
Content marketing helps you get more traffic from search engines.
SEO and content marketing work hand in hand. You need content to rank in search engines.
Search engines love content. Web users visit search engines looking for answers to their questions and solution to their problems.
If your content answers their questions and provides solutions, search engines will direct its searchers to your website.
The more content you have, the more visitors you’ll receive from search engines. The higher the quality of your content, the higher your site will rank in search engines, and the more visitors you’ll receive.
For this to work, your content should also be relevant to your business.
For example, if you sell dog foods on your site, you shouldn’t be writing about computer security.
People who are only interested in computer security wouldn’t buy what you sell. It’s not the reason why they are on your site.
Content marketing will make people see your site as an authority.
When you visit sites like Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, you value the information you get from these sites.
The reason why is simple:
You’ve come across them many times on the web.
They rank high in search engines and people share content from these sites on social media.
When you’ve published a lot of content on your site, other websites will start to mention and link to you.
By doing that, their readers will start visiting your site. And when that happens, these sites will become referral sites.
It simply means that they are sending web traffic to your website.
Frequent content publishing makes your site popular on social media because people are sharing your content there
Social media popularity only leads to one thing:
More social media users will follow your brand.
That means people talking about your company on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
But also, I must stress that content marketing requires consistency.
It takes time to start seeing meaningful results from content marketing.
If you don’t see yourself doing content marketing in 2 or 3 years now, then it’s better you don’t invest in it.
Ready to start using content marketing?
There are 15 principles of epic content marketing I’ll be sharing with you in this article.
Why epic content marketing?
Epic content marketing never fails. If you want high ROI from your marketing efforts, epic content marketing is what you should be doing.
Before I proceed, I’ll like to tell you that content marketing without a tool that helps you collect emails is a waste of time.
You need a tool that encourages growth and help you collect visitors’ email addresses.
GrowthFunnel is that tool you need. Growth Funnel is an advanced popup tool, with high-converting popup templates to help you get started.
It’s free to start using GrowthFunnel. Sign up here.
Now that you know what is content marketing and learned about GrowthFunnel, it’s time to talk about the epic content marketing principles you need to know.
There are 15 principles of epic content marketing
Content marketing is the most talked-about marketing strategy in the past decade.
It offers a high ROI potential and it is connected with other digital marketing strategies like SEO, social media, email marketing, and even customer service.
It’s difficult to mention a marketing strategy that doesn’t rely on content.
Fifteen principles dictate success in content marketing.
Anyone who has achieved success in content marketing has used and followed more than one principles in this list.
These principles are so powerful that if you begin following them today, you’ll become a successful marketer within a short time.
So, what are the principles you should stick to when creating an epic content marketing campaign?
1. Publish a consistent basis
According to a study by HubSpot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.
The frequency of your publishing schedule is a critical component of success in content marketing.
The more frequent you update your site, the more opportunities you’ll have to rank in search engines.
Publishing frequently establishes you as a credible expert in your niche. The more consistent you are, the more credible you become.
When you’re always putting new content out there, it keeps your audience coming back to your site and social media profiles. It keeps them engaged with your brand.
A competitor is highly unlikely to take them away from you.
But when you publish once in a while, it means prospects will start consuming your competitors’ content.
“For our customer base, we found that an increased blog post publishing frequency correlated with more leads generated.” – HubSpot
If you’re just starting out, you may be wondering how consumers will find and consume your content because there’s already a lot of content on the web.
The truth is that there’s plenty of bad content on the web. The fastest way to get some attention for your content is to publish high-quality content.
So, I’m not just saying that you should publish content on a consistent basis. You should also publish great content web readers want to see.
And keep in mind that the reason why you’re creating content is to make sales.
To make sales, you need to first collect visitors’ email addresses.
You need GrowthFunnel, a powerful popup tool to collect emails on your site.
2. Create original content
One of the biggest challenges of content marketing is creating original content, something that has never been done before.
If the ideas in your content are generic, or the same things readers see on your competitors’ sites, then you’re not creating original content.
Fortunately, there are some ways to find original content ideas.
To find original ideas, you have to be willing to search. See yourself as an idea hunter.
Content ideas can come from anywhere.
Here are some of them:
- Asking your readers what they’ll like to read
- Interviewing someone in your niche
- Writing case studies
- Creating your own review of a product your audience buys
- Movies (Yes, movies)
- Top trends
- Personal stories
Your content doesn’t have to be 100% original. 100% originality is hard to achieve. But your content should be high-quality and contain information and stories most of your audience hasn’t seen before.
“Nothing is original, so strive for something fresh instead. After all, it’s how others respond to your ideas that counts most.” – John Hegarty, Co-Founder and Creative Leader at Bartle Bogle Hegarty
3. Deliver value in your content
Each content you publish should deliver value to consumers.
Any content that doesn’t provide value to its readers is worthless.
A worthless content reflects badly on your brand.
When a particular piece of content delivers value, it creates a positive effect on readers.
Anyone who reads or sees the content feel blessed, lucky, armed with the information they can use to make their lives better.
“I’ve been immersed in the digital marketing world for many years and if somebody asked me, “what is the number one tip shared about content/social media success” it would be this: Add value.” – Mark Schaefer
Perception is everything.
People will perceive your brand the same way they perceive its content.
If your content is useful, people perceive your brand as being interesting.
When you propose value through your content, people believe your product or service does the same.
But when you publish poor content, people won’t rate your brand that highly and it would be hard to believe the product or service isn’t inferior to the competition.
Many B2B marketers are struggling to deliver value in their content.
There’s room for you to deliver value and win new customers.
4. Promote your content to get visibility
Content creation without promotion is useless.
Every day, lots of new blog posts are created.
As I mentioned above, blog posts are not the only type of content will consume. There is also social media content.
Each time you pull up Facebook or Twitter, you see new content.
You need the same people who are reading social media updates and blog posts to see your content. It’s hard to achieve this without content promotion.
Don’t publish an article and expect people to see it. Take it to them.
“If you spend time writing a piece of content, and that content only gets 1,000 readers, chances are there are one million other people in the world who can benefit from what you wrote.
Why then, would you spend more time creating content when you already have something that your ideal customers can benefit from?” – Derek Halpern
Without content promotion, your audience won’t grow.
After publishing, send your content to your email list.
If you don’t have an email list, message your friends. Ask them to share your content.
5. Write in-depth content
Over the past few years, 2,000+ words blog posts have become normal.
It was different decades ago when web users only read blog posts between the range of 150 – 400 words.
Today, we are starting to see content with more than 5,000 words.
Why write in-depth content?
Consumers are becoming more comfortable buying things online.
For this reason, they need every information they can get before buying. They want to be sure that they are buying the right product or service.
Therefore, they need content. Content that helps them make informed decisions.
“Reputable marketers need to produce content that is well written, highly researched, data-backed, and visually engaging. To gain the attention of smart algorithms and smarter people, that content might need to be on the longer side, too.
That’s a lot to ask of in a short article.” – Neil Patel
By writing in-depth content, you’ll be able to provide the complete information a prospect need to buy.
It’s hard to convince anyone to buy a product or service worth $2,000 in 200 words. They want more.
Inside an in-depth content, you can answer all the questions they may have.
6. Establish your brand on multiple channels
The multi-channel marketing approach means using a variety of channels to communicate with your audience.
If your audience is scattered across multiple channels, you should be there interacting with them.
Are your customers in web forums?
Are they on Facebook?
Are they on Instagram?
Start taking beautiful photos that relate to your brand, and share and engage on Instagram.
Are they on LinkedIn?
Start engaging with real professionals on LinkedIn.
Follow your customers everywhere they go.
I know that for some businesses, their customers are not everywhere. Their customers may be on one or two channels.
If this is your business, it’s highly recommended that you dominate those channels.
Multichannel marketing will give your brand a big advantage over the competition.
“Over 90% of marketers struggle to seamlessly connect more than three channels throughout the buyer journey. — Gartner”
7. Use your content to become an authority
“What you probably don’t know is precisely which questions are burning in the minds of your potential audience. What problems deprive them of sleep or peace of mind?
Spend your first 30-45 days on a mission to uncover these questions. Do the research. Document the questions. Prioritize them. Then answer them.” – Barry Feldman
Content marketing is the most effective way to win the hearts of consumers and direct their attention to your brand.
All you need to do is publish content that shows you know what you’re talking about.
Publish a book if you can. No content you create is useless as long as it’s high-quality.
If you’re more of a people’s person, then start speaking on podcasts, webinars, and at events. These are all content.
With content marketing, you can become a respected expert in your niche in less than 90 days.
Yes, I mean 90 days of content publishing.
8. Know your target audience very well
You shouldn’t just start creating content and expect readers to buy your products.
First, you should know who your ideal customers are.
Then create content that appeals to them.
That is how content marketing works.
Knowing your ideal customers helps you create content that speaks to them.
“A useful customer profile — also known as a persona — is akin to a comprehensive how-to guide for reaching your ideal customers. It gives you a structured look at their goals in trying your product, the features and content that matter most to them, and the messaging that will appeal to them.” – Greg Ciotti
Create a profile of an ideal customer.
Inside the profile, add their age, gender, income level, and location.
You may need to create two or more customer profiles.
You can take this further by conducting surveys and interviews.
Learn as much as you can about your ideal customers.
The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to target them with your content.
9. Know the kind of content that works in your niche
There are different forms of content.
Just like you do, your ideal customers have preferences in the type of content they consume.
Some people like to watch videos and hate reading.
Some people like to listen to audios.
Some people like to read.
For example, I like to read and watch videos. I don’t really listen to podcasts.
I also choose what I read and watch.
For example, I don’t really watch videos on social channels.
I’m more comfortable with watching videos on YouTube than any other place. The reverse is true for some people I know.
I enjoy reading books, blogs, and thought-provoking social media updates.
Well, this is how I consume content.
It could be different for your ideal customers, which is why you should find out.
How do you know the kind of content your audience loves to consume?
What is their most common type of content?
If your competitors are publishing some types of content more than others, it’s because they are generating more leads and sales for them than others.
“Different types of content can help you connect with different customers in a number of ways. In many cases, a variety of content types is ideal for reaching and connecting with users at different points of the digital sales funnel.” – Ana Gotter
If this is video, it means their best ROI comes from video marketing.
What you see your competitors doing is what works in your niche.
Now, you should start doing the same thing, but do it even better than them.
Here are some popular types of content in most niches:
- Case studies
- Research and original data
10. Set clear goals for conversion
Content marketing without a conversion goal in mind is a waste of money and time.
“The single most important question a content marketer can ask themselves is this: why am I creating this content? Not to get too existential about it, but it’s important to recognize that the metrics you measure will depend entirely on the goals you have assigned to your content.” – Sophie Elizabeth Smith
Content marketing helps your business generate awareness for its product.
Your goal is not just to make people aware of what you’re selling. You want them to buy as well.
- Make people discover your brand
- Consider buying your product
- Convert into customers
- And continue to buy from you in the future
Make sure your content marketing campaign is doing on these four. Not just the first one.
11. Don’t push too hard for the sale
If it’s written everywhere on your site that you’re pushing hard for the sale, it makes prospects question the authenticity of your content.
They worry if your goal is to help them or make the sale.
The moment customers sense that you’re creating content to sell, they worry about the quality of the content.
“Stop trying to create content that sells and start trying to help others.” – Jay Baer
Prospects should consume your content without feeling pressured to buy.
Instead of seeing content marketing as a way to sell, see it as a medium to help.
Ironically, when you see content marketing as a way to help people, you sell more because people like your brand.
12. Share real data in your content
“The data-driven approach focuses on creating high-quality posts that solve the audience’s problems or issues they care about by offering proof and backing up every claim with scientific findings, data, and up-to-date research.
Why publish data-driven content? For one, because it confirms your authority.” – Pawel Grabowski
The best marketers aren’t afraid to share data because they know data means a lot to prospects as it is to them.
We’re living in an era of big data. Everyone cares about data.
They want to see proof that something truly works before they invest their money into it.
For example, writing “our customers saw an average ROI increase of 20% after using our service” is better than “we increase our customers ROI.”
The former shares real data.
Now, potential clients know that they can expect to see their ROI increase by 20% or more if they use their service.
Content without real data is unconvincing. It’s all talk.
13. Give life to old content
Some of your old articles are getting lots of traffic from search engines but are out-of-date.
You can make these old content perform even better in search engines if you can keep them up-to-date.
And some of your content may be ranking very close to the first page of Google for their keywords.
Regularly updating them will bring them to the first page.
“Historical optimization means optimizing your “old” blog content so it’s fresh, up-to-date, and has the ability to generate even more traffic and conversions than it already does. By “old,” I just mean posts that already exist on your blog — whether you wrote them last month or three years ago.” – Pamela Vaughan
According to HubSpot, old posts generate 92% of the leads, and 76% of views come from them.
Create posts you can update regularly.
Why should you do that?
Things change very fast in today’s world.
Events are happening that quickly make old content obsolete.
By regularly updating your content, you’ll be building cornerstone pages that will continue to generate links, social shares, and traffic for many years to come.
14. Develop your own unique voice
If you want to separate your brand as a content publisher, you have to develop a unique voice for it.
How to do that?
Create a style guide.
The style guide will tell everyone within your company the kind of tone you want for your content.
For example, MailChimp has a unique tone for its content.
Ask your employees to read your content aloud. Does it sound like the voice you’ve defined for your brand?
Know the grammar rules you want to implement in your writing and the ones you want to do without.
It’s very important you define the tone of your brand as it’ll help consumers relate to your content better.
15. Always create the best content
There’s already enough content on the web.
Your prospects don’t need more content.
Better content is what they need.
“We need a process to choose, to figure out how we can get to 10x content, not good, unique content, 10x content.” – Rand Fishkin
Before writing a piece of new content, you should ask yourself the below question:
“Can I create a better content?”
If you can’t create a better content, then don’t bother about creating any content.
If you want your brand to be respected and trusted, you have to start creating better content for consumers. That’s how you can effectively compete against established and powerful competitors.
Your content should be filled with ideas prospects haven’t seen before. Your content should make it easy to take action. Your content should have better visuals than the competitors. Your content should be interesting, engaging and fun.
That’s how to create a better content.
Content marketing is rapidly changing, but the basic principles that make it work are not.
If you want to succeed in content marketing, listed above are the principles you need.
These 15 content marketing principles we help you create epic content your competitors can’t beat.
But keep in mind that content marketing alone isn’t enough.
You need a tool to help you achieve your content marketing goal.
That is where GrowthFunnel comes in.
GrowthFunnel is the most advanced popup tool that will help you collect emails on your site. The tool will also help you build an unbreakable connection with your audience.
It’s free to start using GrowthFunnel.