Content Marketing: Everything You Need To Know!

Content marketing is the instrument with which companies can stand out and distinguish themselves – through added value for the target group at the touchpoints. 

1. What is content marketing?

Definition:
Content Marketing (in German: “Marketing using content”) is a communication strategy . The user is offered a valuable experience through added value in terms of content .

  • Create added value in the form of e-books, articles or an infographic ; depending on topic, channel and content
  • Added value should reflect on the company / brand as an opinion leader
  • Potential customers should get a positive picture of the organization behind the content through the reception
  • Aims:
    • Influence purchase decision
    • Search engine optimization of websites
    • customer service
    • Generation of leads
    • Brand building

Joe Pulizzi , founder of the US Content Marketing Institute, summed up the secret of content marketing’s success:Actually talk to your customers. Use the language that they use. Talk about the things they talk about. Never feed salad to a lion.

2. Why content marketing?

The goals of the communication strategy in marketing are diverse and complement each other at the same time. In addition to the focus on inbound, content marketing serves to build brands. A current study by the Content Marketing Forum shows that content-driven communication is  on the advance in corporate communication : Over 700 managers from 8 countries were asked about their perspective on value-added communication in marketing. It is clear from the results that:

  • Content marketing is no longer just a trend, but as a process an integral part of the sales economy .
  • On average, around half of all organizations surveyed rely on content. In the DACH countries the figure is 55%.
  • In the European countries between 80% (Norway) and 95% (Belgium) of the companies intend to replace traditional advertising measures with concrete value-added strategies.

The advisory or entertaining contributions that the target group takes up in their customer journey primarily serve to improve the brand image from the respondents’ point of view . The added value in terms of content is seen as a corporate communication tool to build reach and thought leadership.

Goal: Brand awareness instead of price war

Using content in marketing seems logical – no communication without content. But marketers rarely think about which communication enables a relevant reach and could bring the target group closer to a company in the long term. The choice of providers has never been greater than it is today.

In order to make their offer unmistakable and not only differentiate themselves through price, companies have to create real added value . The editorial process in marketing must be coherently aligned with the user intent. Only then can communication be fascinating and have a positive effect on branding and support the search engine optimization of the website.

Goal: More customer loyalty

Valuable information creates more loyalty with existing and potential customers. A Harvard Business School study shows that 5% loyal customers are enough to increase a company’s sales by 25 to 95%.

  • When users continuously visit a page, a lasting bond with this advertising offer is created.
  • The effect is further enhanced by multichannel utilization of the editorial formats.
  • Content-driven corporate communication gives an organization a face, strengthens the image and convinces the target group with know-how.

Added to this are the advantages in terms of new customer acquisition and customer loyalty: the sustainable use of information links the company’s brand long-term in the recipient’s memory. Content marketing is therefore a fundamental component of inbound marketing and the sales process.

3. Advantages and disadvantages of content marketing

The development and intensification of digitization leads to an ever denser range of information. The variety of digital formats and media that we are confronted with every day is enormous. As a result, users’ attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. He is forced to select the content in order to master the mass of information. Advertising disappears first from the user’s perception, since the interest in promoting a specific product is only present in a certain part of the customer journey.

So how do you then reach the target group as a company? With high-quality content that offers the recipient added value.

Advantages of content marketing:

  • Content marketing can be used in every phase of the customer journey
  • Content marketing is geared towards the added value of the user
  • Content marketing has the potential to generate a large free reach via viral effects, for example

Disadvantages of content marketing:

  • Content marketing can be very complex due to the use and coordination of various components and involves a certain amount of effort
  • Content marketing is not suitable for direct sales

4. What are the goals of content marketing?

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action – Joe Pulizzi

Pulizzi, founder of the American Content Marketing Institute, gets to the point and describes the character of content marketing very aptly. Content marketing focuses on attracting, advertising and retaining a clearly defined target group with the aim of promoting profitable customer interaction. 

The following three overarching goals in content marketing can be derived from this:

  • Brand building and brand positioning
  • Lead generation and customer acquisition
  • Customer loyalty

Subordinate goals of content marketing are divided into tactical medium-term and strategic long-term. Content marketing campaigns are tactical, whereas a content marketing strategy is long-term. The long-term goals should always have priority and the achievement of these should serve as a guide for the tactical goals. 

Tactically medium-term goals:

  • Ranking increase
  • Organic social engagement
  • Backlink generation

Strategic long-term goals:

  • Building a brand with which the target group can identify through shared values 
  • Development of thought leadership that not only contributes to the perception of the brand but also complements the benefits of the product or service
  • Independence from paid media by setting up earned media access (independent development of reach and thus increased sales)

5. How does content marketing relate to other disciplines?

The sub-disciplines of marketing are divided into three areas, shown here in the three circles: Search, Communication and Social. 

The graphic uses the positioning and the different shades of the topic areas to visualize how closely the respective topic and content marketing (core of the graphic) are intertwined. 

At the core, and thus showing a very close-knit relationship, are:

  • Seeding
  • Content
  • Lead generation

Here there is a direct cooperation and interdependence of the disciplines. The link of the chain is the content to be created. Depending on the area of ​​responsibility, it is developed, distributed or used as bait to generate potential leads. All of this should primarily happen organically.

The related topics are, depending on their proximity, strongly or less strongly connected to content marketing. Native advertising, social ads and Google ads are positioned on the very outside. This positioning was deliberately chosen because these three approaches should only be used as a supplement . These approaches are paid media, which in turn contradicts the organic momentum as the core of content marketing. 

Tip:
In order to develop a uniform strategy, the aim should always be to promote cooperation between the individual disciplines. This is how you manage to be present in different channels and formats.

5.1 What does seeding have to do with content marketing?

In B2B – as well as B2B – content-driven communication also includes the proactive dissemination of relevant content through seeding . With the formats, a relevant reach is generated through the seeding process and a specific target group is to be addressed, enthusiastic and motivated to act.

In addition, content seeding is used for search engine optimization: Through publications on external websites relevant to the target group, traffic, traffic quality and user signals such as length of stay or click rate are improved; Organic links through these online media also enhance your own website. In the long term, this enables sustainable customer relationships through marketing.

The communication strategy can use different publication channels such as print, online, lectures, mobile or social media. When approaching, different stages of the customer journey are targeted. For example, a company can offer an immediate problem solution that convinces the customer and indirectly increases brand awareness and long-term brand development.

The topic of content marketing has so far been taken over by SEOs. The approach actually aims at holistic marketing – with aspects from social media, PR, storytelling, branding and search engine optimization. Well- known SEO measures are often referred to as content marketing in order to give outdated methods an innovative coating.

  • Articles that are specially optimized for Google algorithms, such as Latent Semantically Optimized Texts or WDF-IDF content, can work, but are only manipulative optimization tricks.
  • Seeding primarily through bought or rented links on relevant portals is not in the sense of content-driven communication.
  • The user must appreciate the company’s content and find it interesting, useful and worth sharing – the added value must be clear to him.

Examples of content seeding work

  • E-books :
    Companies can create topic-relevant e-books, which are distributed and linked on websites  as  linkbaits using  seeding . This enables the company to distinguish itself, generate valuable traffic and achieve sustainable off-page search engine optimization .
  • Video content :
    The moving image is particularly suitable for addressing emotions , as the format thrives on storytelling . Anyone who observes the dramaturgical mechanisms in video creation enables viral potential . This will particularly  unfold through video seeding .
  • Blog and online magazine : Producing
    blog content , distributing it as guest posts or publishing it in your own blog or online magazine is a tried and tested method of getting the content of the interested target group. The regular publication of keyword-optimized articles with high added value for the target group is a central process with leverage in on-page SEO.
  • Infographic :
    The visual format is particularly suitable for impressively illustrating complex facts and relationships or for preparing data sets with a high information content in a clear manner. If the added value is high enough and not promotional, infographics can be effectively distributed through seeding; because visual content works well on all channels and always brings positive user signals such as a better click rate or a longer length of stay. Here is an example of an infographic that has a high added value for users and is popular with local media.

5.2 How are SEO and Content Marketing related?

Content marketing and SEO are closely intertwined. The reason is, among other things, that generating organic traffic has recently proven to be more and more difficult in, for example, social media. At the beginning of 2018, Facebook announced that it would change the news feed and algorithm. The focus should now be on content created and shared by friends and family. Organic content will therefore have a hard time showing up in the feed. SEO is a suitable solution for this problem in order to keep up with content marketing. Because everything goes first: content has to be seen in order to achieve reach and traffic. 

A coordinated SEO and content marketing strategy increases the chance of generating further rankings using relevant search terms and of appearing with a wide reach. Consequently, a successful online marketing strategy must increasingly rely on a holistic approach of SEO, usability and content marketing: i.e. on user-relevant content, smooth usability and increasingly on technically optimized basic requirements from an SEO point of view. 

Newsletter marketing is a complementary approach to create a customer base and build on it to generate traffic and reach. If user needs, content and call-to-action are skillfully combined in the newsletter, systematically useful interactions such as clicking on the website can be triggered for the subscriber.

6. Preparatory work for content marketing: create a persona

A good, content-related approach picks up the user with their specific concerns in such a way that a strong impression is created. On the one hand, the content must be optimized and published in such a way that it generates a large reach; On the other hand, those users must be specifically addressed for whom the added value is relevant.Tip:
However, user targeting that is limited to cohorts (groups of people who have jointly experienced a certain, long-term formative event, e.g. millennials) or segments (users who have similar needs) of target groups is often too granular.

Therefore software solutions for target group analysis were developed – such as the Google algorithm (see patent US 8473500 B2 ). This makes it clear that the search engine is aligning its service more and more to the individual attributes of the user, like a persona.

However, demographic characteristics alone are not enough either. After all, a persona is made up of several levels. The emotional level represents the core and the foundation for all other levels.

Emotions and self-image have the greatest influence on the circumstances, actions and ultimately the purchasing decisions of the potential customer. Here, a company can strategically position itself through corporate communication with its own formats and systematically build brands – even companies with inconspicuous and uncreative products can become love brands in their segment through the right communication.

Tip: Online marketers give their users a face through person-based target group analysis. They want to make their target group tangible and design the content close to their intentions and needs. Personas have names, traits, and a personality . The more precisely the characters are worked out, the greater the understanding of customer demands and requirements.

Content strategists develop entire stories for these personas in order to understand which topics they are looking for and which intentionality is hidden behind them. A better understanding of the target group simplifies the process of communication on all levels immensely and ensures a range that minimizes scatter effects and instead arrives at the relevant point. The more corporate communication aligns with the needs and intentions of the target group, the closer the bond between user and brand as well as between stakeholders and company.

The suxeedo Persona-Board is an exemplary sheet to collect the central thoughts on a target persona and to get an overview of the relevant characteristics of the users and to provide indicators for brand building:https://suxeedo.de/media/Suxeedo-Persona-Board.pdf?widget=true&headers=false

7. What is the best strategy for content marketing?

What use is the best post if it is not found by the users or is considered relevant? For the optimal content- related communication strategy, it is important to find the places where the future customers romp . Then the message has to be transported to these places via the right communication channels. Content marketing can be viewed as a strategic process like a funnel, which on the one hand benefits the brand and ultimately inbound.

7.1 The funnel in content marketing: higher conversion rate through added value

How do customers get into the sales funnel? How can content be used for inbound marketing? Like hardly any other marketing method, the need-oriented approach offers a wide variety of points of contact.

  • Increase in online brand awareness
    High-quality content and more reach at touchpoints that are important for the target group sharpens the brand profile and brand structure of a company. The users gain more trust in the brand and the services as well as in the products. Substantial, informative and advisory communication signals competence.
  • Acquisition of new customer
    contacts (leads) Informative and entertaining topics guarantee optimal SEO results, new contacts and increasing traffic. In addition, articles in inbound marketing can be downloaded against the provision of contact details and thus direct leads for sales can be won.
  • Increase customer conversion
    Website operators with a commercial interest know that it is not enough to get a lot of traffic to the site through a good ranking. The reader must receive further information benefits that meet his needs. If the customer sees himself supplied with content, then he believes the company’s offer more. This increases the conversion rate.
  • Improved customer loyalty and customer satisfaction
    Newsletter campaigns to increase customer loyalty are often advertised in such a way that they are less and less noticed. Instead, informative, useful formats allow customers to be permanently bound to the brand.
  • Increased customer upsell
    Through the targeted placement of topics, systematic lead nurturing should take place. As a result, existing customers are enthusiastic about new services and products – provided that the topics are presented in an editorially convincing manner. Whitepapers, for example, win back the customer’s attention and create additional needs.
  • More engagement and interaction
    When customers like to interact and tell that they are a customer, they automatically generate new prospects. Because they act as ambassadors for the brand and develop further potential customers through their personal reach.
    Ultimately, however, it should be noted that the posts are well researched, relevant, and useful. As Google’s Avinash Kashik said, ” Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” If this is perceived as the primary goal, it will also achieve the sales goals. The other way around: the strategy does not work with a pure sales intention.

7.2 The editorial plan as the basis for content marketing

The responsible editors have to think about how they can meet the needs of the target group with which topics and added value. This process must be systematically coordinated with the help of an editorial plan so that the communication strategy is internally consistent and credible in the long term .

In the next step, the appropriate formats are developed in order to present the topic  appropriately depending on the channel – because every distribution channel works differently.

When content, format and channel are coordinated, multiplication effects for the reach are possible.

  • How long and subject-specific should a blog article be in order to satisfy users’ information needs?
  • Which tonality is popular with potential customers?
  • Objective and advice-oriented, short and entertaining or even provocative and sarcastic?

Ideally, the publication should be usable for different channels . A YouTube video can, for example, also be integrated into a blog and posted on Facebook. The formats should also ensure SEO-relevant backlinks on external platforms.

Above all, however, the following applies: modern customer communication must not offer space for flat advertising promises.

Good content should:

  • to chat
  • Communicate customer benefits
  • Generate feelings
  • Give food for thought
  • inform
  • convince of a concern

7.3 Customer engagement as a benchmark

Publications are successful when they generate a high level of engagement with the target group . Whether likes, shares or comments: If the users actively deal with the posts and the length of stay is longer, the visibility and reach in the community as well as brand awareness increases. The results are, on the one hand, higher traffic per se, on the other hand, higher traffic quality. This in turn harbors a higher conversion potential .

In the case of a self-contained approach, the content, format and channel must match the media usage of the target group.

Visual content like a video or an infographic works particularly well on social media. Whitepapers, on the other hand, can be specifically placed in corporate blogs and magazines as a lead generation tool. In order to increase the multiplication effects of contributions, cooperation in marketing between companies and influencers is recommended. These have their own reach and credibility, which is beneficial for brand development – because influencers represent a relevant voice for the target group at their touchpoints and reflect this on the brand.

7.4 Cooperation with multipliers in content marketing

Anyone who wants to achieve strong dissemination and reach as a company with their publications via blogger relations , portals or social media channels must be more oriented towards the needs of their target group. Even more important than the mindset of the end user is the “thinking” of those who are supposed to distribute the articles. Potential multipliers should therefore be included in the planning at an early stage. Bloggers, editors and trendsetters in social media don’t write because they have to, but because they want to.

The following topics are relevant to social influencers:

  • Professional authority counts more than flat advertising messages
  • useful, concrete added value
  • there is a clear relevance to topicality
  • the information is relevant for the target group of multipliers
  • the presentation signals quality

What lets cooperation partners quickly lose sight of the fact that it is promotional content:

  • the brand is visibly more important than relevant information
  • the contribution consists only of flat product placement
  • the format is not attractive enough
  • the information is too subject-specific and thus restrictive or too general and therefore meaningless

8. How can success in content marketing be measured and which KPIs are important?

The optimization of strategy and process begins with the monitoring of the relevant KPIs. A distinction is made between three levels.

  1. Sales-relevant factors: Here the economic performance of content is evaluated.
  2. Traffic-relevant factors: The traffic forms the basis for the ROI, because it determines the lead generation
  3. User-relevant factors: The reception and interaction of the user with the content provide information about the relevance and quality of the content. The better the content, the longer the length of stay, the more traffic, the more leads.

A comprehensive content performance analysis finally enables a continuous optimization of the strategy at the relevant process adjustment screws. The ROI of the content marketing processes can be determined through the link with inbound and sales.

If goals, methods and indicators for evaluating performance are known, a strategic, systematic approach to communication is possible. This creates sustainable visibility and conversion effects that benefit the economic goals.

9. Who is primarily responsible for content marketing?

In order to utilize the company’s resources as efficiently and sustainably as possible, the determination of responsibilities is an important component in order to derive budgeting and concrete objectives from this at the same time. Content marketing can be viewed as an elementary part of a holistic digital strategy . The participating actors come from different areas of the company such as communication and online marketing and complement each other in their expertise.

Ultimately, content marketing pays into the brand, but also promotes the acquisition of leads and ultimately sales. The organic gain in reach, which is the focus of content marketing, is also closely related to inbound marketing. The customer should find the company themselves through qualitative added value, such as e-books or white papers in which the company positions itself as a solution provider. The desired establishment of customer contact is thus contrary to classic outbound marketing, in which the customer is actively approached and he is primarily convinced by the company through advertising messages. 

The organic way created here in the sense of inbound marketing is much more sustainable and is perceived much more positively by the customer due to the added value designed for it. Do you have more questions about inbound marketing? As an inbound marketing agency from Berlin, we would be happy to advise you!

Basically, the higher the content marketing is hierarchically located, the better. There is thus the possibility of strategically integrating content marketing across departments. Individual campaign elements are taken over by the respective area such as social media, PR or SEO etc. and implemented in their work. The holistic approach can lead to a significant improvement in the performance of content marketing.

10. How does content marketing work? More tips and tricks!

The following articles provide a few practical tips and tricks for the communication strategy to make your own campaigns and the editorial process sustainable, effective and economical:

  • With the psychographic analysis of your own persona : A detailed advisory text for creating the buyer persona.
  • Using an editorial plan: How organizations can coordinate content and editorial processes.
  • Storytelling Marketing : How brands can become emotionally tangible for the target group with the help of storytelling.
  • Practical content tips and tricks to enhance texts for the recipient and to increase the length of stay.
  • Social seeding : which video content promises the greatest viral multiplication effects.
  • Strategies and best practices for the company blog: Which concepts work with the target group and improve inbound.

10. Content Marketing Conferences

There is at least one conference for each marketing sub-area; but which conference is the best when it comes to building contacts and know-how in the field of content marketing. Whether CMF, SMX or CMCX: If you don’t know what you want, you can quickly lose your bearings in the abbreviations. In the following we have only summarized a few highlights from the industry – further online marketing conferences are listed separately .

  • The CMCX (Content Marketing Conference and Expo) is considered by many to be the most important congress for all content marketing decision-makers in Europe. Stars, influencers and thought leaders gather here to talk about best parctices, cutting edge case studies and trends. Suxeedo was also represented at the conference with its own lectures. The CMCX is also ideal for connecting.
  • The Contentixx is part of Campixx Week – a conference for the online marketing industry. Here the participants can not only listen to presentations of above-average quality in a relatively small setting, but also make very good contacts. The event is particularly suitable for networking, as the atmosphere is very familiar.
  • The Content World is a real tip for international exchange; the congress brings together luminaries and speakers from the global marketing industry and conveys a holistic picture of everything from brand building to lead generation. The Content World Conference combines tech with creative topics.

11. Conclusion: This is why content marketing is so important

Whether via infographics, video or e-book: content marketing is THE central communication strategy of modern corporate communication. From brand building to search engine optimization , all marketing goals are combined in content marketing – the marketing measures complement each other and aim at synergy effects.

The target group no longer wants to be bothered by a brand message through advertising; rather the user wants to be picked up in terms of content. The content that does this must be close to the user intent , the needs of the customer and conform to the media behavior of the target group in order to increase the length of stay, more clicks and more conversionsto generate.

This requires a holistic view of all channels and levers in marketing as well as flexible adaptation of content and formats depending on the medium. Another important finding: companies no longer have a communication monopoly. 

Instead, companies have to enter into a dialogue with the user and develop a democratic understanding of target group communication. Because if you want to generate viral campaigns , promote interaction and trigger conversions, you have to involve the user and meet him at eye level in content marketing.

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