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Content Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Know to Create an Effective Content Strategy

One sentence could be the difference between someone staying on your site or social page or clicking the dreaded back button and forgetting you exist. 

It sounds dramatic, but with short attention spans and quick trigger fingers for the backspace key, creating topical, timely brand messaging can make a huge difference in impact. Below, we’ll cover the basics of what content marketing is, how you can get started with content strategy and what types of content are out there. Let’s get started! 

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach developed around the creation and promotion of online content, like blogs, infographics or video posts. Often, this content involves promoting thought leadership in the brand’s category. This attracts users to your site, exploring topics that are relevant to the product or service you’re selling. Thought leadership sells your brand and expertise without an aggressive sales approach.

Why is Content Marketing Important?

Without content marketing, you likely wouldn’t have as much business. Think about it: without email, social media or blog strategies to bolster your expertise and direct readers to your site, the odds of your customers organically locating your company would be much lower. 

Content also establishes credibility for your brand. It shows you’ve got the chops to write and design high-quality content that reflects what you’re producing or selling. 

Image of team working around a computer

How Do You Develop an Effective Content Strategy?

Developing your content strategy should be as simple as examining your business culture and goals and lining that up with why your audience should pay attention. From this, you can make practical choices on content types that match your brand and audience, establishing trust within your audience that can help at each part of the sales cycle. 

Know Your Brand and Goals

You’ve likely been researching what other brands are doing to get the lay of the land. You may love the sassy tone of a brand you follow, but that doesn’t mean yours needs to mimic it. If there’s something else you see another brand doing that you love, make a note of it. That sass may not suit your brand, but what tone works with your positioning? How are other brands driving their audiences through the sales funnel? Pay attention and bring your own marketing goals to the forefront when determining how to use that inspiration to make your company’s messaging stand out. 

Know Your Audience

After determining where your brand stands among its competition, knowing what messages your audience will respond to is your next step. Define your audience, dividing them into personas as needed and using any data you have. Writing for your audience is your first step in virtually any asset you create. Keeping them at the front of your mind with content creation allows you to make choices backed by data throughout the entire process, from writing a rough draft to posting your finished asset. 

Create Marketing Assets for Your Audience

Knowing your audience means knowing the assets your audience will love. With all your research and prior planning in place, you’re ready to get to the heart of content strategy: creating the assets. Whether this means social-friendly short-form infographics or long-form content like customer testimonials or blogs, follow the data you’ve got and refine from there. 

Distribute Those Assets Through the Right Channels

Keep in mind how your new content strategy will fit in with your team’s existing marketing channels. Often, content marketing is one piece in your integrated marketing strategy, adding more depth to those other channels. So, when distributing your new assets, make sure you’re using them well. Will a video post make the most impact as a direct upload on your site or as part of a social media post? Whether you use direct mail, email, social media or your own website, be strategic and timely. Post regularly and use a content calendar to track what you’re posting and when. 

Most content marketing assets can (and should!) be used in multiple channels. A multichannel approach may require a little tweaking to customize content between formats, but this ensures your messaging is consistent across platforms. Plus, you’ll be able to tell what types of content perform well on each channel. 

Team of TriMarkers around computer

Analyze That Data! 

Once your brand-new content assets are live, it’s tempting to dig into the data immediately. If you’re focusing on social media, go ahead and dive in on a post-by-post basis. However, depending on your marketing channel of choice, you may be surprised by the data you’ll see over time. Search-optimized long-form content can continue to perform well over time, creating continual engagement. While this isn’t as exciting as a huge spike of traffic on your post, it’s a great reason to have a multichannel content strategy in place. Your social stats will be faster, serving as a good contrast to the slow-growth performance organic content provides.  

Depending on what your metrics reveal, you may need to tweak your approach or update the content over time. Listen to your audience through that data—social engagement, website traffic sources, bounce rate and time on page are great metrics to monitor. These will tell you what you need to revisit to refine your content strategy. 

What Are Popular Content Marketing Assets?

Illustration of different content marketing assets with computer

Blogs

Blog strategies have been a huge part of content marketing since blogs became popular around 2000. Long-form content continues to pay off for many marketing teams thanks to the innovations of SEO teams. With paid and organic search, ranking well in search engines for particular terms or phrases means getting eyes—and precious click-throughs to the rest of your site—on your blog. 

Whitepapers

For more traditionally-minded companies, whitepapers can be worth their weight in gold. They’re useful for showing your product or service in detail, which makes them great tools for the later stages of the sales funnel for B2B companies. 

Ebooks

Ebooks are great for offering a deep dive into your company’s expertise and creating a genuine connection with your audience, letting your knowledge take center stage without a sales-heavy tone. Gating ebooks (or placing them behind a lead capture form) also makes them a powerful lead-generation tool. 

Videos

Videos are impactful throughout the sales funnel, serving as an awareness, nurture or lead conversion tool, depending on their use. You can use a quick video on paid social posts to introduce your brand to new eyes or make an in-depth video on a customer testimonial to convince a late-stage sales funnel customer to purchase. With the popularity of video on social media, especially among Gen Z and Millennials, it’s a great way to establish your brand voice. Videos are also incredibly versatile, working on their own across channels or in tandem with a social post or email. 

Infographics

The humble, versatile infographic is a marketing classic for a reason. Infographics work well in many marketing channels, and their easy-read, design-first formatting makes them particularly engaging. Visual marketing can help present complex concepts easily and in a sharable format that’s great for social media. 

Case Studies

Case studies give a clearer picture of what working with your company would look like, allowing you to show off your successes backed by data and a great client or customer experience. It’s a way of telling a story about your company with a happy ending for you and your client. Case studies help prospects understand your unique approach, seeing what you’ll provide and what they could achieve.

Content Marketing Wrap-Up Tips

  • Don’t invest where it doesn’t make sense. For example, you don’t need a TikTok social strategy if you’re mainly looking to attract stakeholders in the C-suite. Go where your audience takes you. 
  • Content strategy isn’t a one-person endeavor. Bring in your SEO team, designers, UX experts and more, depending on your topic. Make it simpler by consulting experts to help steer your decision-making. 
  • Decide on your voice and tone before posting and keep it consistent. This is doubly important if you have more than one writer or designer producing content. 
  • Your marketing channels aren’t silos independent of each other. Keep your messaging on target no matter where you’re posting. 

Content Marketing Strategies—Simplified.

What are your next steps? Depending on your content needs, expanding your knowledge on email, social media or video marketing are good places to start. Solidify where you’re ready to focus and launch your brand into content marketing greatness, one asset at a time.