Content marketing is everywhere.

If you’ve ever gone to Google looking for an answer to a question, the top results you encountered were most likely pieces of content marketing designed to expose you to a new brand.

According to research from HubSpot, 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. Why are so many marketing teams going through the process of researching and writing content? Simple: it works.

The best time to start doing content marketing was 10 years ago. The second best time is right now. If you need help getting started, we’re here to help.

In this guide, we’ll show you what is content marketing, what is not content marketing, and why it matters. By the end, you should have the information you need to convince your organization to start creating content today.

What is Content Marketing

Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that pertains to the consistent production, distribution, and promotion of engaging, educational, and actionable content.

If done right, content marketing can foster brand awareness, increase brand affinity, drive leads, and create new customers.

Content marketing can take many forms. Most people think of a blog post on a company website, but content marketing can also take the following forms:

Most importantly, content marketing is consistent. Like a news organization, your brand should be pushing out content at a regular cadence. The more content you push out, the more readers you get, and the more leads you can generate.

On any given day, brands are producing millions of pieces of content in all sorts of different formats. It’s become the primary way most brands speak to their customers—and the way customers learn about brands.

Each year, organizations are dedicating more and more of their marketing budgets to content creation. And an increasing number of marketing professionals are expected to know how to perform content creation in order to do their job effectively.

But content marketing is a bit of a high wire act. To understand what we mean, let’s explain what content marketing isn’t.

What Isn’t Content Marketing

Content marketing isn’t transactional. The goal of your content shouldn’t be to sell someone on your product—at least not right away. 

That’s not to say ads and product pages aren’t helpful. They have their place. But content marketing aims to elicit a different response.

Generally speaking, content marketing is considered a “top-of-funnel” and “middle-of-funnel” marketing strategy. That means it’s designed to make prospects aware of your solution, create some goodwill towards your brand, and qualify a lead by making them more informed.

This way, once they get to the bottom of the funnel (i.e. ads and product pages), they’ll understand the value of a solution like yours. Plus, they’ll already consider your brand trustworthy because you served them with valuable information. If done effectively, your content marketing should make the prospect feel like they already have a relationship with your brand before even becoming a customer.

So what does that journey through the content marketing funnel look like? It varies from brand to brand and strategy to strategy, but here’s one example:

  • A prospect Google’s “remote collaboration software.”
  • They find a blog post your brand has written on the topic.
  • They read the article and find it helpful. 
  • They click-through to another blog post and also find it helpful.
  • At the end of the post, a lead magnet encourages them to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • They receive a series of emails with valuable content assets (an online course, an ebook, etc.)
  • They find your brand helpful, so they decide to set up a product demo of your remote collaboration software.
  • They sign up for a subscription.

As you can see, throughout the process the prospect was never directly “sold” on your product. Instead, they came to their own conclusion about your company based on the content you provided them.

That’s the power of content marketing—priming prospects for the sale without having to sell them directly.

Why Do Content Marketing

As you can already tell, content marketing can grow brand awareness, build trust, and drive high value actions. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s the cold hard data on what content marketing can do for businesses:

  • Content marketing is 13x more likely to generate a positive ROI than other marketing tactics (HubSpot).
  • 55% of marketers say content marketing is their top inbound marketing strategy (HubSpot).
  • Content marketing generates 3x as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less (CMI).
  • Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without blogs (Impact). 
  • 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement (CMI).

How to Get Started With Content Marketing

If you’ve seen enough to convince you to get started with content marketing, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Set goals: Do you want to grow brand awareness? Generate more leads? Determine what your goals are, then identify the metrics you need to drive to reach those goals.
  2. Perform a content audit: If you already have some content, analyze it using content intelligence software to determine what works about it, and what doesn’t work about it.
  3. Identify your audience: What types of customers are you interested in reaching, and what type of content appeals to them? 
  4. Choose your content channels: Based on your previous content performance and what you know about your customers, what content channels do you think would be most effective? Some common content channels used by most brands include blogs and email newsletters.
  5. Determine your budget: Based on your goals and your strategy, how much money do you need to invest? Keep in mind things like labor, software, and promotion.
  6. Create your content: When creating your content, we recommend utilizing keyword research to identify topics your audience might be interested in.
  7. Measure your results: Determine if your content is hitting the metrics you need it to in order to drive results. If not, iterate until you find an approach that works.

Knotch Can Help Measure Content Marketing Results

Knotch is the easy-to-use content intelligence platform that helps brands plan, measure, and optimize their content. Our holistic approach to content measurement allows you to see the quantitative and qualitative results of your content marketing efforts in real-time. Using our software, brands get a birds-eye view of their content performance, as well as granular insights into each individual piece of content.

To learn more, visit our website.