How content marketing works

Content has always been an intrinsic element of marketing, but in recent years, the snappy marketing slogan ‘content is king’ has been flying around more than ever, reflecting current trends in online marketing. The term, ‘content marketing’ has become something of a buzzword among experts, appearing on the pages of every major marketing publication. While the term is now perhaps overused, good content and a sophisticated marketing strategy are as significant as ever. So, whether it’s for your company’s image, brand awareness, or a high ranking within the SERPs, content marketing should always be the focus of your marketing mix.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing differs from traditional marketing methods in its communication strategies. While offline marketing methods focus on the physical placement of advertising, modern tactics centre on the creation of good content (i.e. high-quality, relevant text and media), which is specifically tailored to the target audience and potential customers. Readers should always be exposed to useful content that’s

  • Informative
  • Advisory
  • Entertaining and/or
  • Emotionally charged

Content marketing regards not only text, but all content presented in media form. This includes images, videos, graphics, audio files, studies, and surveys. These campaigns are then used and distributed across a diverse range of online channels, from internal company blogs to social media platforms.

Content marketing goals

In the short term, content marketing campaigns are geared towards generating awareness for a business or its online platforms. Through publishing such market-driven content, businesses aim to gain website visitors and a wider outreach and stimulate more user engagement (‘social buzz’).

A cohesive content marketing strategy is a sustainable method of enabling business owners to achieve their business goals in the long term. Typical goals include raising brand awareness, building an active community, and gaining a strong reputation as experts in a given field. Another purpose of content marketing is generating leads through customer acquisition and retention. Good content is also an important ranking factor among major search engines; it can therefore contribute to improving your ranking in the search engine results pages. What exactly constitutes content marketing varies depending on your priorities, whether they are PR objectives, SEO factors, or expanding your online outreach. Format, text, and media therefore differ according to your objectives.

Content marketing vs. traditional marketing

There are clear differences between content marketing and traditional advertising techniques. With online, TV, and traditional billboard advertising, companies want to promote their products and services, actively bringing them to their audience. This kind of marketing generally offers less value to the user; the ads primarily work to portray the company in a positive light and actively encourage trade.

With content marketing, however, encouraging purchases is not the primary aim. Instead, companies create useful content in order to stimulate interactions and open up a line of communication with potential customers. Through good content, it’s possible to build trust and create a feeling of expertise. Of course, business owners ultimately want to achieve profits through generating purchases and registrations, but these occur at a later stage and are thus not the focus of content marketing.

Content marketing and the ‘buyer persona’

Advertisements – whether via online ads or traditional methods – usually target quite a diversified audience e.g. 'male, between 25 and 35, single, and football fan'. In content marketing, however, individual 'buyer personas', rather than groups, are defined. These personas are fictional personalities that represent the typical customer. The profiles are developed from data collected as well as hypotheses on demographics, behaviours, incentives, and objectives. This is how marketers define 'ideal clients'. By taking into consideration their interests and wishes, you can design a content marketing strategy and define 'good content'.

Content marketing: strategy and planning

Getting the right strategy is the foundation for success in any content marketing project. But diving straight in without having first set out some clearly defined goals will prove a waste of time and money, and the efforts will likely prove unsuccessful. A thoroughly executed conception and plan paves the way for a strong campaign. You should outline the following in your content marketing strategy:

  • Content marketing goals and buyer personas
  • Production/creation of content
  • Seeding and promotion of content
  • Monitoring and analysis

For more information and tips on the topic of content marketing strategies, check out our handy guide on finding the right method for your business.

Creating a content strategy for your marketing mix

As previously mentioned, the goals of your content marketing campaign really depend on the individual company’s priorities. Because good content is such a crucial element in nearly all marketing disciplines, it is decisive in the marketing strategy’s success or failure. The content strategy can therefore also be seen as an overall strategy for all marketing efforts. Most contact points fall into the following categories:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO): high-quality content is an important ranking factor. Google rewards good content that offers something to the user. And the user signals are mostly easy to interpret; long retention times and low bounce rates indicate a successful page that satisfies the user’s needs. Find out more in our guide on creating strong SEO content.
  • Social media marketing: Good content’s important on social media platforms too. Here, multimedia marketing content is particularly effective, with successful campaigns achieving thousands of shares with minimal active participation by the creator. If a video or image ‘goes viral’, publicity for businesses and brands is guaranteed.
  • E-mail marketing: with the average internet user receiving a flood of emails every day, it’s vital to offer something special in your newsletters or mails, in order to avoid being mistaken for spam. Content is therefore an essential part of e-mail marketing as well. Check out our guide for more top tips on creating great content for e-mail marketing.
  • Public relations: PR is another area that relies heavily on good content. One popular means of cultivating an image is ‘story telling’.

‘Content is King’?

But is it? In content marketing, everything revolves around the needs of potential consumers, so perhaps ‘the customer is king’ would be more fitting. But this development is necessary; users are constantly bombarded with aggressive advertising from all directions, causing many to develop ‘banner blindness’. The advertising material then gets ignored, which can be harmful to the company. In order to be noticed, marketing experts have now turned to creating informative and entertaining content to pique potential customers’ interests. Products and sales may have taken a back seat, but if you’ve managed to carve out a good reputation online with a good strategy and high-quality content, and developed a strong content marketing strategy, your readers and visitors will quickly become paying customers.