Placing content at the heart of marketing strategy

Apr 14, 2022

Hands on a laptop with infographic depicting content creation next to it

There’s a saying that is commonly used these days, both within & outside marketing circles: content is king.

And it is not far from the truth – effective content marketing can be transformative for companies and brands. So, it is no surprise many are now expanding their content marketing efforts in a bid to raise brand awareness, gain the attention of potential customers and, ultimately, turn a profit.

Key findings from Semrush’s State of Content Marketing Report 2022 demonstrate how content marketing is increasingly central to marketing efforts:

  • 97% of brands claimed that content tactics formed an important part of their overall marketing strategy in 2021.
  • Online searches for “content marketing” have increased by 22%.
  • 78% of brands that were successful with content in 2021 have a documented content strategy.
  • 46% increased their paid content promotional budget in 2021.
  • 55% of successful content marketing strategies focused on improving the quality of content.
  • 53% of companies that spent less than 5% of their marketing budget on content did not succeed with content marketing.

But, what exactly is content marketing? Is there a formula for producing great content? And how does content factor into a brand’s wider marketing strategy?

What is content marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, it is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the object of driving profitable customer action.

Where traditional marketing focuses on telling an audience that a brand does something well, content marketing focuses on showing them. However, rather than thinking about it in opposition to more traditional types of marketing, it should be understood as a complementary, hybrid aspect of a larger marketing strategy – one whose central tenet is the use of high-quality, engaging content.

The benefits of effective content marketing are widespread. When done well, it can significantly increase a number of tangible results:

  • Brand identity, personality, affinity and awareness
  • Expertise, trust and authority
  • Customer engagement
  • Customer reach and number of new customers
  • Social media and website traction and interaction
  • Lead conversions
  • Profit

Content sits at the heart of every single digital marketing strategy. And there are a whole host of content types to choose from, including blogs; videos and images; podcasts; apps; webinars; infographics; memes; user-generated content; case studies; white papers; paid ads; and more.

Content creation: how to design and deliver good content

With so many options and channels for creating and sharing content, it can be difficult to know where to start.

The first step is to clearly define the content marketing goals and decide on a unifying content marketing strategy. Is the aim to boost subscriber numbers or lead generation, to grow a social media following or drive traffic to a website, to increase app downloads, conversion rates or overall sales? Whatever the goal, it must be measurable; marketers must pinpoint the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to gauge success. Understanding the overarching goals will inform the types of content that are needed and, by turn, where and how they ought to be distributed.

Engaging, relevant content is not made in a vacuum. Who are the target audience and what do they want? For a piece of content to be as successful as possible it requires involvement, direction and feedback from customers and consumers. Consider their demographics and psychographics – the latter pertains to consumers’ interests, values, goals, desires and lifestyles – in order to create buyer personas. For example:it may be profitable to invest in website development, banner ads and graphics and also allocate a budget to appropriate social media platforms for a consumer persona that spends a lot of time online and utilises applications like Instagram. The aim is to meet your consumers where they are and then customise content formats and marketing approaches accordingly. For many, this will indeed be online. As such, it’s critical to ensure brand websites are fit-for-purpose. This means that content is engaging, templates and user journeys are clear and intuitive, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is embedded across the platform, the pages are regularly maintained, and so on. Whatever the medium, marketing experts should aim to produce and distribute new content as potential customers and existing customers alike value consistency, quality and relevance.

Other aspects to consider when creating content:

  • What data supports the decisions being made? Could research, analytics, user testing or customer feedback be used to inform future content plans?
  • Is there existing content that can be reused or repurposed? Consider running a content audit to identify what could be useful and how. Evergreen content, for example, is content that is always relevant, making it a valuable asset.
  • What are the pain points of producing, distributing and measuring the content? Are there any lessons to be learned from previous content marketing efforts?
  • When is content going to be marketed? Do editorial calendars and content marketing plans need to be implemented to structure creation and distribution?

Content marketing trends for 2022 and beyond

The world of content and content marketing will evolve, and there are plenty of opportunities for content marketers to capitalise on them. According to Forbes, there are several key areas content marketers should keep an eye on:

  • A/B website testing
  • Podcasts
  • Metaverse marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Empathy and value-driven content
  • Social media video platforms
  • Mutually beneficial partnerships
  • 3D imaging and augmented reality for e-commerce

Across all, instantaneous consumer demand, a keen focus on values and intent, and storytelling remain key to engagement.

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