Content Marketing: Cultivating an Audience
So many words, so many terms populate the modern world of digital marketing. What’s most important isn’t the jargon however, it’s understanding how things work. And that requires an understanding of content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
‘Content Marketing’ is a catch-all term that essentially means: the things you write, share, publish, or otherwise create contain within them ideas or concepts attractive to a given customer base. Further, that content should then be geared towards getting those customers involved with your brand and, ultimately, buying from you.
As a slightly humorous example, if you were in the business of, say, selling health food products, and you had a blog, you likely wouldn’t publish a list of the ‘10 Best Greasy Spoon Diners’. You wouldn’t be talking to the right people or about the right subject matter. However, if you published the ‘10 Best Ways to Make Tofu Tolerable’, you’d be more on track. Health food enthusiasts might be doing a Google search for ‘tofu recipes’, but probably not ‘greasy spoons’.
Now, that example may be a little on-the-nose, but you probably get the point. Content marketing strategy is largely about building your online identity, garnering trust with that identity, and then converting that trust into profitable action—usually, that means convincing customers to ultimately buy something.
Think of it as building, or adding to, an online community. By doing good stuff—stuff that speaks to people—that community develops an expectation of you and, if you’re doing your job correctly, an affinity.
How can Content Marketing lead to increased profits?
Content marketing is an effective way to foam the runway, lay the groundwork, soften a target up—(whatever euphemism you like)—for a CTA, or “call-to-action”. This is crucial. A call-to-action should almost invariably be included in any piece of content you generate. This is a push for the reader to do something proactive that builds another bond between the two of you.
For example: “Interested in Digital Marketing Strategy? Check out this free white paper!”—is a CTA. You’re asking them to get involved.
Often, the first thing we want them to do with us (really for us) is free or at least pretty cheap. Like a taste-test at a supermarket, we want folks to try our stuff. If they like the quality, we’re betting they’ll buy a box at some point in the near future. Maybe it’s a newsletter, or a white paper, or a free trial subscription—you name it. You chatted them up with your initial content and got them in the door, now they’re induced to shop for anything else that might interest them.
We buy from people we trust—people we believe know us, generally, and what we want, specifically. Content marketing can rapidly accelerate that process.
By tailoring content to appeal to specific groups, you’re gradually getting in their headspace. By reading your stuff, internalizing it, and sharing it with others, eventually they come to rely upon you for more information and, in the end, products or services that might help them.
You’re providing them with value, up front. The more they consume it, the more likely they are to increase involvement with your brand. That involvement, harnessed properly, then can lead to a greater ROI (return-on-investment) for your marketing dollar.
That’s content marketing.