How does content marketing work?
The main purpose of any type of marketing is to attract new customers; content marketing is no different. How it works will depend on how you approach it and the type of content you create.
Build brand awareness
A great example of how content can be used to build brand or product awareness is one of my previous clients, Dinghy. They provide insurance products that have been specifically designed for freelancers and their PAYG approach to insurance is unique.
They needed a way to get their message out to the freelance world and to raise awareness in the freelance community about what they were doing. Rather than create lots of insurance adverts or post lots of content about insurance products, I went down the route of creating content that would be of real benefit to freelancers.
Together with the Dinghy team, I looked at the problems freelancers commonly face or the questions they ask when starting out. I then created articles which covered these issues in depth, as well as some more light-hearted articles.
Here some examples of the articles we created:
Unless a freelancer is specifically looking for insurance products, they are unlikely to engage with adverts about insurance or read blog posts about insurance. But they are more likely to engage with relevant, useful articles that provide practical advice or help them overcome a challenge.
Through these articles, Dinghy are showing that they understand the world of freelancing and genuinely want to support freelancers. They are building trust and credibility with their potential clients.
Once someone has read the article, they may well go on to buy from Dinghy or browse their website. They might decide to follow them on social media so they can access more great content. They might bookmark an article, or share it if they found it useful. Whatever they do, it benefits Dinghy; every new reader means one more person who knows about their great products.
Drive traffic to your website
Creating content that links back to your website is a fantastic way of increasing the number of visitors to your site. In the example above, all the content is on the client’s website. They can then share links on any social media platform they choose, other people can share those links on social media, and other company websites can link back to the content (just as I have above).
The more their content is shared, the more people it will reach, and the more clicks they are likely to get. This will increase their website traffic, and some of those visitors will then go on to become customers.
Another great way to use content as a marketing tool is as a ‘lead magnet’. I don’t particularly like the phrase, but I do like the concept.
You create useful content which people can access for free if they sign-up. This can be a PDF, an e-book, a training course, email content, a video, a podcast, a webinar or any other type of relevant content.
It doesn’t matter what type of content your lead magnet is, as long as it is of value to your target audience and delivers on what you promise. If people sign-up to receive something and it isn’t what they expected, they are going to feel cheated.
Once people have signed-up and accessed the content, you have started a relationship with them. The free content shows them that you are credible; it gives them an insight into what kind of company you are. You can then ask them to subscribe to ongoing communications, or you can provide information about your paid services.
Of course, not everyone will become a customer. Many people will sign-up for the free content and never buy from you. That’s ok. Even though they never become a customer, you are still giving them a great experience of your company.
Improve SEO (search engine optimisation)
Getting found in search engines isn’t always easy, and there are lots of things that will impact your results. However, content marketing can greatly improve your search engine rankings for several reasons, including the following:
- Blog content or articles will naturally contain keywords which Google and other search engines will pick up on.
- Search engines work on the basis that if lots of people are linking to your content, it must be relevant. People are more likely to share links to quality content than just a link to a website.
- Search engines pay attention to the number of website visitors, but they also look at how long people stay on your site once they are there. If your content is good, it will attract lots of visitors, and keep them on your site for longer.
Although content, particularly written content, is good for SEO, I always advocate creating content for people first and search engines second. If you are writing content purely designed to satisfy search engines, it is unlikely to be as good as it would be if you created it with your target audience in mind. Nobody wants to read a blog post stuffed full of keyword phrases that don’t seem to fit. What’s more, if you try and manipulate the search results too much, this can have a detrimental effect on your rankings.
Focus on creating quality content. If it’s valuable, interesting and relevant, then you’ll convert more readers into customers.
Set yourself apart from competitors
Who is going to get noticed more online – the company with a fancy website or the company that is consistently sharing great content on their blog, on YouTube or across various social media channels?
The answer will almost always be the second one. A website is all well and good, but unless you are marketing it, you won’t get any visitors. You might go down the route of paid advertising or posting out lots of links on social media rather than creating valuable content, but that will only get you so far.
Let’s say we are looking for a recruitment company and we visit two similar company websites. They both offer what we need at a similar price, and they both have great reviews. However, one of the companies has a blog full of advice about how to create a good job advert, how to structure interviews, how to choose the right candidate, and so on. The other doesn’t have a blog.
Are you more likely to choose the company that is showing you that they have lots of relevant knowledge and experience? Are you more likely to choose the company that is already giving you lots of tips and advice before you even become a paying client? Probably.
In fact, research shows that not only do websites with a blog attract up to 55% more visitors, they also generate 67% more leads than those without.
Other benefits of content marketing
Hopefully, the above points have given you an insight into how content marketing can help your business generate more leads and increase sales. Content marketing is also brilliant for:
- Showcasing your expertise
- Improving your employer branding
- Increasing your social media following
- Keeping in touch with existing customers
- Building brand loyalty
- Becoming an authority in your industry
- Attracting the right audience
With so many benefits to content marketing, I’d say it’s definitely worth the effort, but there are still some things to consider.