Over and over again, we see companies develop content for the sake of developing content. Little thought is given to how it fits in their current strategy, who the content is targeting, or what action the content should encourage. It is almost as if the act of creating content is supposed to be enough to open the revenue floodgates. When it doesn’t, or when a company doesn’t see direct results, they get discouraged and abandon the idea before it even has a chance to play its strategic role.
In this blog post, we will define content and the four components necessary to create quality content.
What is Content Marketing?
Before we talk about the role content plays in your marketing strategy, we must first agree on a definition, which is not an easy thing to do. If you Google “content marketing,” your search will return 44.8 million results. According to Google Ads Keyword Planner, there are up to 100,000 average searches for “content marketing” every month.
While there are many different definitions, the Content Marketing Institute does (in my opinion) the best job, defining content marketing as “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.”
I love (yes, love) this definition because it ties content creation to customer action, which is one of the primary reasons that companies add it to their marketing strategy. More importantly, it captures the four components necessary for content to drive profitable customer action.
- Content Must Be Relevant
The relevance of your content exists on two levels: your audience and your business. To be successful, you must create content that your audience will find valuable and that they want to read. Which leads me to the second point — your content must be relevant to your business. Yes, The Funniest Autocorrect Fails Of The Decade will entertain your audience, but exactly what association will it leave with your brand? Instead, focus on informative, engaging and helpful or entertaining content that is unique to you and positions your product or service in a way that is consistent with your brand. By creating relevant content, you will build a strong brand identity, drive better analytics (which improves your ability to make data-driven decisions) and ultimately, increase your number of qualified contacts.
- Content Must Be Valuable
Content that is valuable is content that is so significant, your audience is willing to pay for it. I’m not talking about a physical exchange of money, but rather payment in the form of their time, and in some cases, their contact information. By creating content that offers obvious benefit, and that they can’t find anywhere else, you create a valuable experience. A valuable experience will cut through the clutter, allowing your message to rise above the 362 messages we are bombarded with on average every day to become one of the 12 that actually made an impression. Truly valuable content positions your company as an industry-leader, and not just another company selling a product or service.
- Content Must Be Targeted
To create valuable and targeted content, you must create content with a specific audience segment in mind. Targeting your content to one persona in a specific stage of the customer journey provides your audience with the information they want. The content resonates with them because you are meeting their needs. If that wasn’t enough of a reason, creating content targeted to a specific audience drives the profitable customer interactions we mentioned above.
- Content Must Be Consistent
Content marketing isn’t about selling — it is about building a relationship, and it takes time to build a relationship. It’s like Lincoln Chafee said, “Trust is built with consistency.” Consistency in content and frequency establishes authority and credibility, builds awareness for your brand and can improve SEO.
Many companies offer content writing services at what appear to be reasonable prices, but buyer beware. The old saying, “you get what you pay for” rings true for content marketing. Creating relevant content that your targeted audience will find valuable time and time again requires a commitment in both time and money. In our next blog post, we will identify how to get the most out of your investment, and how to maximize ROI once content has been created.