What Is Content Marketing? How Can It Help Your Business?

In This Article

    What is content marketing?

    Content marketing is the merger between advertising, entertainment and education — and what that looks like is really up to you. Most commonly, content marketing is a blog article. But what is most important (when trying to define the category) is that it adds value to the reader while furthering your business agenda.

    For example, you are reading content marketing right now. This article is designed to help you understand and deploy content marketing (adding value) and demonstrate our marketing expertise (furthering a business goal). It’s also a vehicle to capture contact information. Check out one of our free eBooks to get more detail on building an inbound marketing strategy:

    With that definition in place, let’s look at the various ways that content marketing can help your business grow.

    Grab organic traffic

    A central goal of content marketing is to generate organic traffic by ranking for search terms that your ideal customers will use to research your product or service. This could be a direct search about specific (and branded) capabilities. But you can also use content marketing to target and influence potential customers who don’t yet know that your product or service is right for them — or even exists.

    Fundamentally, content marketing taps into how potential customers use the internet to learn about pain points, solutions, trends and more. By answering those questions with content, you have a chance at ranking for those related terms. This will bring new people to your website, introducing your brand (and narrative) to new potential customers.

    Strategies to help:

    There are quite a few things you can do to improve your efforts to generate organic traffic to your sites, including the following:

    • Target specific keywords: If you want organic traffic, paying attention to search volumes recorded in tools like (SEMrush and Ahrefs) can really help you understand where you are likely to get traffic from, and the difficulty of ranking for that term.

    SEMrush content marketing keywords (1)

    Example of keyword search volume in SEMrush

    • Check for “intent”: Keyword data is great, but you should always double-check the SERP (search engine results page). Put the term into Google and just see what comes up — it can tell you a lot about what people making that Google search are looking for. If it’s a lot of product pages or product comparisons — that shows a “transactional intent”. People aren’t going to want to read a “how-to” blog, they want to read about products. By matching the general theme of the results pages (and doing a better job than the existing material) you will maximise your chance of ranking.
    • Pick your battles: Remember that ranking high for relevant search terms with lower search volume is still immensely helpful. It also might be a lot easier. This comes back to your keyword research. Competing for a high difficulty term will require backlinks and a high overall domain authority.
    • Write for the SERP: One thing to remember about organically-target content is that your ideal target market (the persona you’re really writing the content for) isn’t the only person making that Google Search. To rank, you need everyone making that Google search to find value in your content. To rank organically, you need to write for a border audience — although keep your target persona in mind as well!
    • Be patient: Even the best content marketing effort takes time to seed with Google and start to appear in search results. Don’t get impatient — review your rankings regularly. But, it might take a few months before you see the results you want.

    Ebook SAAS marketing guide CTA

    Capture contact information

    If your content is good, it provides a great avenue to start collecting information about your audiences. You can do this in two primary ways:

    1. Encourage blog subscriptions: Simply ask people to subscribe to your blog. This also works for YouTube videos (video content is an important tool for driving traffic, subscriptions, and more), social media, etc.
    2. Gated Content: This includes eBooks, courses, webinars, and other high-value content people may be willing to provide their contact details to receive.

    IPV Gated content

    IPV Gated Content

    Capturing contact information isn’t about making a sale today. It’s about getting people introduced into your sales funnel so you can hopefully convert them into paying customers in the future. Nurturing these leads is something else that content marketing can help you with — see the next point for more details.

    Strategies to help:

    A lot of your success with content marketing comes down to creating valuable content. Nowhere is this more true that when it comes to capturing contact details. Valuable content will automatically incentivise visitors to subscribe for more. And content that is perceived as valuable and placed behind a “gate”, will tantalise readers to provide the necessary information to access that material.

    With that said, there are a number of tactics that will help you get the most out the valuable content you create.

    • Create blog posts, guest posts, social media posts, and articles in support of your “gates”. For example, in addition to writing an eBook (a gate), you should also write blog posts and other types of posts related to the same topic that target broad keywords and long-tail (highly specific) keywords. This will pull in relevant organic traffic which you can then entice with your eBook.
    • Place CTAs (calls to action) in those blogs — and supporting social media. You need to make sure to advertise your gates. You can do that with in-text links within a blog, with social media posts, with graphic or text CTAs in your blog, and other forms of advertising.
    • Write blog posts that follow up on the original posts and the eBook itself. Which brings up to the third point.

    Lastly, think about your personas — who you are trying to connect with. This is a very important step for all aspects of content creation. But when it comes down to convincing a person to trade contact details for content, it’s critical to make sure that you are providing messaging and information that will resonate with that audience.

    Nurture leads

    Content marketing is all about influencing consumer behaviour. The start of that journey is getting yourself on the SERP of relevant search queries that you believe your ideal target market audience will make. However, not all content needs to be about organic ranking.

    After you capture someone’s contact information, you want to be able to follow up with them without creating a high-pressure sales environment. Content is a great way to do that while continuing to drive home critical sales narratives. You should write content tailor-made to be deployed within email marketing campaigns — continuing to add value, but also making persuasive arguments that move a lead through a sales cycle.

    ⚠️ FREE GUIDE: How to Write An eBook That Delivers Qualified Leads

    Strategies to help:

    When writing content for lead nurturing it’s important to be deliberate in your actions. Although it’s fine (and probably a good idea) to publish this content on your blog, there are a few things which separate this kind of content from organically targeted material.

    • Keywords don’t matter: Your goal here is to deliver this content to specific audiences whose contact details you already have. There is no need to restrain yourself with keywords. Write about what is relevant to you and your audience.
    • Use more jargon: Because you are targeting specific audiences, you can make far more educated assumptions about prior knowledge. In fact, using insider language will improve your relatability and demonstrate expertise. Delivering more advanced details (not getting bogged down in the basics) will increase the value you are adding to the interaction.
    • Be more open about who you are: There is an ongoing debate within content marketing about how much you should focus on your product and brand vs pretending to be an entirely natural source. When it comes to material used to nurture leads, the reader already knows who you are. Talking more openly about yourself in this context can not only improve relatability, it makes it possible to be more specific and more detailed in the advice you provide.

    Upsell and improve customer loyalty

    Your need to create relevant and consistent content doesn’t end with a sale. Use content to help your customers use your products or services better, to get more out of the customer experience, and to understand other products and services you have to offer.

    Use your content to create a more effective customer service strategy, to highlight features, and to cross-sell or upsell other goods and services. Increasing customer retention by 5% can deliver a 25%-95% increase in profits — content marketing can be an important part of delivering that outcome.

    Strategies to Help

    Again, success in using content marketing for upselling and improved customer retention is all about intent. You need to write content specifically for this purpose, and hone in on the narratives and information that will help you deliver that outcome. For examples, consider the following:

    • How-to content to onboard customers: by creating content that makes the onboarding process easy, you can establish a good relationship and highlight lesser-known features of your product or service.
    • Create FAQs and resource pages that are easy to access: every customer has questions, make these easy to answer using content.

    Syncbnb faq page

    Snycbnb FAQs page

    • Start a newsletter: regular contact is the key to remaining “front-of-mind”, and content is a great way to do this – particularly if you can add value with it. Keep your audience in mind and create valuable resources to them, even if there is no intrinsic tie-in to your product or service.
    • Write content about new features as they are introduced: as you improve your capabilities, let people know about them. You can send these out in regular email updates and newsletter.
    • Write content about the benefits of upsell features: again, by highlighting valuable aspects of your product, you can introduce people to those capabilities without creating sales pressure. Particularly if you frame these pieces of content in helpful ways (e.g. “How to use X better, or “Lesser known features of X), you can significantly improve feature adoption.

    Create added value over time

    Great content continues to add value over time. It’s one of the many benefits of writing quality content. But you must also continue to provide relevant and consistent content in order to maximise your content marketing efforts. Google, especially, prefers to see regular updates with new content on your site.

    But, fundamentally, the content you create doesn’t disappear. It continues to build authority with Google, influences consumer behaviour, and helps your brand. All of the content you create continues to add value in the following ways:

    • Pulling in organic traffic
    • Generating leads
    • Delivering resources to existing customers
    • Influencing customer buying patterns

    Strategies to help:

    Creating content that lasts starts with creating good content. But, there are a few tricks that will help you make your great content go further. These include:

    • Revisit pieces that do well and provide an update that includes new relevant information, new visuals, and more details.
    • Repurpose content into email campaigns, automated email responses, podcasts, video content, etc.
    • Make resources easy to find on your website — especially items that are targeting existing customers.

    How to get started with content marketing?

    Now that you know all this, it’s time for you to get started. A really methodical approach would begin with exhaustive keyword research, persona creation, goal setting, and metric calibration. However, like with most things in life, getting too hung up on preparation can prevent you from taking the most important step — actually getting started.

    If you are serious about content marketing, just start writing about the things you know. At its heart, content marketing is about sharing your expertise. Once you have some things live, you can start to gather data about what actually resonates with your audience.

    Of course, scaling up this operation and really honing it’s effectiveness will take a lot more effort and specialist knowledge. Fundamentally, you will either need to build a team dedicated to content planning and production, or partner with outside marketing experts. If you want advice with either we can help. Get in touch and book a free growth assessment today.