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Content marketing has transformed how businesses communicate with consumers and build trust. To succeed in 2023, brands must recognize and react to these new realities.
Companies have used marketing techniques and media such as television, paid ads, and billboards for many years to reach their target audiences. However, new platforms and modifications in customer behavior are changing the rules and have forced businesses to leverage content in new, interactive ways and channels.
To remain competitive in the market and generate a high return on investment (ROI), organizations must focus on the needs and experiences of their audience. What types of content are available? Which is best for their audience? What content creation strategy will drive business results?
This guide aims to answer these questions more, so companies can create and develop a successful content marketing strategy.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing relevant content to a clearly defined audience to increase brand awareness, loyalty, and action.
But content marketing goes far beyond content creation. It involves strategy from understanding the audience to publishing and sharing. In other words, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach designed to drive profitable customer action.
How does content marketing differ from traditional marketing?
To understand how content marketing differs from other types of marketing, companies must first familiarize themselves with concepts such as inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
While outbound marketing tends to be more aggressive, proactively reaching out to consumers to stimulate their interest in a product, inbound marketing is more subtle. It focuses on developing and sharing content that attracts visitors to the company.
Once this is understood, traditional marketing goals will align with outbound marketing, while content marketing goals align with inbound marketing.
Why content marketing?
It is no secret that thanks to social networks and the internet, access to information is easier than ever.
While this reality has several advantages and areas of opportunity, it has also brought new and different challenges. Companies must work twice as hard to stand out and build credibility to drive potential and existing customers to act. Content marketing helps companies meet these new objectives and the needs of their audience.
But why should businesses invest in content marketing first?
Savings: In the past, few companies had the resources to run a traditional marketing campaign that would make them visible. Now, thanks to content marketing, any company, no matter how big or small, can reach thousands of potential customers worldwide without breaking the bank. This kind of marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, according to a study by DemandMetric.
Increase visibility: With valuable data and a solid marketing plan, the company can occupy good search engine visibility, thus increasing lead users in their industry.
Retain their audience: It is easier for businesses with good digital content to retain the audience and inspire them to return.
Create brand recognition: Valuable, consistent content helps companies gain customer recognition for their brand and products.
Build loyalty: When agencies provide reliable and valuable information to their customers, those clients will likely stay loyal to the brand.
Become an authority: Through content marketing tactics, companies can establish authority in their industries, making customers more likely to trust and purchase services from the brands they consider experts.
Types of content marketing
Depending on the business niche, brands can leverage different content formats, such as:
Users spend more than two and a half hours daily on social media platforms (EarthWeb), so it is easy to understand why this free digital content is one of the most popular formats. A company can easily create and share information through articles, stories, photos, graphics, etc. Depending on the company's audience, the most common platforms may include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube videos, and TikTok.
This format is best if the company seeks a broader reach and engagement. For example, if the primary goal is to improve customer engagement, the brand can instantly create a live and real-time conversation with its audience.
Email marketing is another method businesses can use to create a sense of community and encourage client loyalty. According to Adobe, workers between the ages of 25 and 34 spend 6.4 hours daily checking their email.
Email marketing can be a great strategy for sales nurturing and customer conversions as it is a more personal approach.
Web pages refer to all the content made on web pages whose primary purpose is to provide the reader with valuable content. This format is perfect for building brand recognition and becoming an authority. The best examples of web page content marketing are content hubs, where users can find guides, articles, reviews, and more.
SEO-friendly blog articles can have tremendous reach and help any business establish itself as an industry expert.
"77% of Internet users regularly read blog posts" (Impact), and "B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not." (DemandMetric)
Depending on the topic or purpose of the article, blog content can be supported with other visual content, such as infographics and videos, making it more efficient.
Blogging is a route for any industry interested in building trust and loyalty and generating awareness.
With video content marketing, brands can build awareness and recognition in seconds. Wyzoql research states that around 73% of consumers prefer to learn about a brand through video.
Video content can last seconds or hours, depending on the platform. According to the report made by the Content Marketing Institute, "virtual events/webinars/online courses were rated as the content type that produced the best content marketing results in the last 12 months." They also mention that Webinars were the best video format that produced the best results.
Podcasts have become very popular, thanks to platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher. A survey made by Infinite Dial states that 177 million Americans have listened to a podcast.
Podcasts are perfect for organizations aiming to create engagement and share their content ideas dynamically.
Infographics are a friendly and desirable approach that 91% of users prefer over text. Its visual format helps users break down complex concepts and make content more appealing.
Infographics are a great digital marketing tool because they are easy to interpret and shareable—perfect for reaching internet users.
Infographics are best for companies dealing with complex data that want to retain and reach new customers.
eBooks are another example of compelling content to help companies position themselves as experts in their industry.
Clients perceive ebooks as valuable and reliable sources of information to which they can have access. It can also help businesses target a particular niche and share case studies.
How to create a successful and valuable content marketing strategy
In content marketing, there is no exact recipe to follow. Even so, agencies can apply some techniques and practices to significantly improve their content reach and generate an effective content marketing strategy.
1. Set Goals
The first practice companies should have in their content marketing plan is setting goals and ensuring everyone on their team understands them.
Knowing where to go and what the target is will help brands successfully develop content production and content distribution.
When setting their goals, companies need to have in mind the following:
Objectives should be specific for the best results.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be assigned to track and measure performance.
Brands must establish a deadline.
Goals have to be realistic.
2. Know and understand the audience
It may seem the most obvious step, but many companies unwittingly continue to create content focused on the brand rather than their audience.
Brands can ask themselves several questions to identify whether their content is a good fit for their audience. Some of these questions are:
Who is the ideal customer?
What does the target audience think?
How do the target clients communicate?
What motivates them to choose a specific product or brand?
Do the clients prefer to receive information through video, blog, or infographic?
Identifying the audience is a valuable resource in any marketing, as it allows companies to focus their marketing efforts and spend on those most likely to buy from them.
3. Review and evaluate current content
Once the brand understands its audience, it can see if the current content is aligned and can focus on setting smart goals. In addition, they can position what is unique about their brand and leverage their media content accordingly.
Businesses can also evaluate if their digital content suits their buyer's journey.
4. Choosing the right type of content
Once they understand their customers, organizations can determine where their target audience hangs out and what content works best.
5. Pick the right distribution channels
At this stage, brands can decide how to distribute content online via email, website, or social media.
Not every customer is the same, so knowing the audience will help them find the correct channels to share and publish content.
6. Design the content funnel
Marketing funnels help illustrate the customer journey.
Once it is clear which formats and channels the business will use to share its content, it is recommended to match them with the funnel model, which is divided into stages:
Awareness stage: During the awareness stage, agencies can use content like blogs and social media posts to educate about the brand and generate visibility.
Consideration stage: Customers compare the alternatives, so blogs and videos help engage the public.
Decision stage: Infographics and a case study can help a potential client to decide whether to stay or move away.
Loyalty stage: Formats like email newsletters, webinars, and podcasts can help a company to retain its clients and create relationships.
Advocacy stage: To build empathy and strengthen loyalty, organizations can choose to interact with the audience via social media or videos.
7. Organize the workflow
Content calendars or management systems outline what content to create, when, and by whom.
While calendars help companies schedule tasks, a management system can assist them in organizing their content, creators, task projects, and more.
The elements that should not be missing in a calendar are:
The targeted audience.
Specify content formats for the campaign.
A list of channels where the content will be distributed.
8. Measures the online content marketing performance
Running an audit is the last practice when creating a content marketing strategy. Companies measure performance to identify and adjust flaws.
But what are the best strategies to measure performance?
What are the content marketing metrics?
Measuring content marketing's effectiveness is one way an organization can improve content marketing efforts. But how to quantify performance? What are the best content metrics or methods to measure success and find gaps?
This is undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to measure current content marketing efforts.
To simplify, more traffic implies that the company's content marketing game plan is working.
Companies can use tools like Google Analytics to track traffic.
Refers to the number of people who leave a site immediately after navigating a page. A high bounce rate can mean the site and its content have failed to retain users.
Content quality, load time, or poor user experience affect the bounce rate.
A business can calculate the bounce rate using Google Analytics.
Time on page
The more time customers spend on a website, the better.
Good and valuable content attracts customers to a website and inspires them to learn more about services and explore information.
If visitors spend, on average, a reasonable amount of time on a website, it means they enjoy and trust the content and, therefore, the brand.
Google Analytics is helpful for companies that want to know how much time a visitor spends on their site.
Social media shares
Another great way to measure performance is through social media shares.
Sharing content on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., generates brand awareness.
The more times the content is shared, the greater the reach, notoriety, and trustworthiness, as recommendations from real people are far more valuable than recommendations from brands.
As with social media, comments act as a recommendation and feedback tool.
Depending on the comment, the business can see if the content builds customer relationships or goes unnoticed.
Comments are great for understanding the needs of their customers and a place of opportunity that agencies can use to improve loyalty.
Backlinks can indicate to brands that their content is valuable and help improve their reach. For example, the data is trusted if an article receives a fair number of backlinks. Then Google will see it as trustworthy and start ranking it higher when people search for the topic.
To see how often the site has been backlinked, brands can go to Google Search Console > Search Traffic Links to the Site.
Customers subscribe via email when they trust or like the organization's content. In other words, the more email subscriptions, the more customers enjoy that content.
If the number of subscriptions increases, the organization can consider that its content marketing strategy is working.
On the other hand, when customers stop subscribing and start unsubscribing, something is wrong. To analyze why subscribers are unsubscribing, brands should note the quality of content, images, the number of emails sent, etc.
When website visitors return to a site, it is a clear sign that they like the content and trust the brand.
Studying how many users return allows brands to measure whether their content generates customer loyalty.
Rather than counting the number of sales a brand has made over time, it's about analyzing the registration of free trials, emails, and memberships, as it's a straightforward way to measure whether they are generating conversions.
Search Engine Optimization performs well when an article or any other content ranking has improved over the past few months.
The only thing to remember when measuring performance through this method is that ranking takes time, as it is an organic way to drive traffic.
If the article published three days ago is still not ranking first in Google, it does not necessarily mean there is an SEO issue.
Best practices when creating content
To rank top in the search engines, brands should consider the following:
Generate SEO-friendly content: The Google Panda algorithm ensures that only high-quality SEO-friendly content matches with queries.
Google states, "in recent months, we've been especially focused on helping people find high-quality sites in Google's search results. The "Panda" algorithm change has improved rankings for many high-quality websites, so most of you reading have nothing to be concerned about."
In other words, the better the content and the better it is integrated and paired with search engine optimization (SEO), the better the chances of being found by customers online.
Create high-quality content for the customer: A few things make the difference between content and high-quality content. High-quality content is written or produced to click with the audience; it uses reliable sources.
"Long articles/posts stood out as an area where those who are most successful reported better results than respondents overall (43% vs. 32%)." (B2B Content Marketing Report 2022).
Avoid keyword stuffing: Brands should focus on one or two long-tail keywords/phrases and never overuse them for better results.
Don't over-optimize: Although content should meet specific requirements made by an algorithm, brands should never compromise text to assemble machine standards.
Correct length: Yes, in content marketing, there is such a thing as the right length. Google's algorithm rewards high-quality long-form content (3000+ words) by ranking it higher in SERPs.
Successful content marketing examples campaigns
In 2021, Duolingo started a campaign through TikTok intending to attract Generation Z to use its language learning app.
The campaign initially encouraged people to share unique words in their language under #learnonTikTok. However, this approach did not have the impact they were looking for.
When Zaria Parvez, a member of Duolingo's marketing team, came up with the idea of using humor and the platform's official mascot, the campaign began to take off.
Now, the campaign consists of entertainment where the official mascot recreates or generates videos referencing memes or funny life events.
Under this new approach, Duolingo's videos on TikTok began to reach millions of views, and today they have more than 5.6 million followers.
With this content marketing campaign, Duolingo found a way to share its message almost organically and is now one of the most popular learning apps. In an interview with Techradar, Zaria mentions, "it was based on our human truth of what our team found, that language learning is hard, and we make it fun, which is what Duolingo is all about."
What's their secret?
Easy, they understood their audience (Gen Z) and created a campaign for them using the proper format (video), channel (TikTok), and data.
"We're very community-driven. We essentially give the people what they want." Parvez says. (The Drum)
With more than 36 million email subscribers, Robinhood Snacks (Initially Market Snacks) demonstrated how effective email newsletters could be in gaining popularity and shaping them as an authority in the industry.
Robinhood Snacks is a newsletter about finance, technology, crypto markets, NASDAQ stocks, and E.V.s growing exponentially since 2021.
Robinhood Snacks states subscribers receive "digestible financial news, served daily."
The popularity is such that today's Robinhood has over 42.6k followers on Instagram and more than 49.8k subscribers on Twitter.
What's their secret?
Robinhood Snacks knows its audience and its industry. And they learn how to curate and deliver their content in a way their audience likes.
What makes their newsletters successful?
Eye-catching subject lines.
The casual tone of voice.
Empathizes with the user through fun facts and identifying trends.
In 2022, Mcdonald's launched a campaign known as Menu-Hacks. This content marketing campaign allowed the public to create their menu and share it on social media.
The whole approach is another way of listening to the user and letting the user generate the content they are interested in.
Once the "best recipes" made by users were selected, Mcdonald's put them up for sale.
Jennifer Healan, vice president for U.S. marketing, brand content, and engagement at McDonald's USA, said:
"We're excited to celebrate them in a bigger way than ever by putting their delicious hacks - as seen in social media—on our menus."
In addition, McDonald's invited users to share their favorite creations through social media.
What's their secret?
Mcdonald's took it to another level, letting the customers create the desired product.
What to expect from content marketing in 2023?
For any company that wants to stand out, it is essential to anticipate the online marketing trends of 2023. Knowing what to expect will save companies countless resources and help them set the stage for any eventuality.
So, what are those trends that will shift content marketing this year?
Video and more video: According to Vidyard, by 2022, 93% of content marketers felt that video converts as well as or better than other forms of content—and 2023 will be no exception.
Personalized content: Like the video, customized content is here to stay. The audience is looking for brands and products that speak their language and understand their needs. Consumers are looking for experiences to which they can relate.
SEO: Search engines are becoming more intelligent and powerful, so organizations must readjust their content optimization to step up the game in 2023.
Focus on UI/UX: Investing and improving user experience can help companies stay ahead of the curve in 2023.
Marketing outsourcing: The need for content and marketing strategies for small and medium-sized businesses is directly related to the boom of companies that outsource different marketing services. These agencies generate suitable methodology and content to position their clients in the market.
Podcast: Podcasts won't go anywhere anytime soon. An annual report by Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers says that the podcast industry will generate around $2 billion this year and $4 billion in 2024.
A.I. and automation: Artificial Intelligence and automation will keep generating effective material. With these tools, organizations can produce interactive content like quizzes to engage customers.
People are looking for brands that can offer a product that understands them and can speak their language. Fortunately, businesses can reach users with strategic content marketing techniques by creating and distributing valuable content.
Brands can learn more about this topic through online articles, videos, or content marketing courses.
Creative service solutions, like Reel Unlimited—an all-in-one subscription platform—are best for businesses of all sizes looking to stand out in 2023.
As part of its services, Reel Unlimited provides landing page design, video, graphic design, UX/UI design, SEO-friendly blog posts, email copy, social media posts, website content, and more for a flat monthly fee.
A professional content marketing campaign with Reel Unlimited is as easy as a few clicks away.