What Is Content Marketing: Definition, Guide, Strategy + Examples

Content marketing is not a completely new invention and also exists in the offline area. But above all the Internet, with its many possibilities and necessities to attract attention, has promoted the development of this marketing tool. Find out, among other things, what its characteristics and goals are, what forms there are and how to create a strategy for them.

Content marketing: the 4 most important questions at a glance

What is content marketing all about? Before you read on and delve deeper into the topic, the following four questions give you an overview of the most important facts:

  • What is content marketing?
    By regularly creating and distributing high-quality content with added value for users, companies draw attention to themselves.
  • What are the goals of content marketing?
    Companies want to win and retain customers, present their expertise and increase the awareness of their brand.
  • What are the main types of content?
    The most popular types of content are advice or blog articles, videos, infographics, and online tools.
  • What is the difference to advertising?
    In advertising, the focus is on the presentation of the product or the brand, in content marketing the benefit of the respective content for the interested parties has priority.

There are good reasons why content marketing has become an important tool in inbound marketing. Learn more about its advantages and the differences to classic advertising in the next section.

Why is content marketing worthwhile?

Good content marketing is time-consuming. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile, because it complements traditional marketing methods and addresses potential customers in a different way. It is suitable for both B2C and B2B areas.

Content Marketing vs. advertising

In contrast to advertising, content marketing is not primarily about the presentation of one’s own products or services. Rather, high-quality information should help to solve the information needs and problems of customers and interested parties.

The content provided free of charge can have different formats and appeal to different senses. It’s either about providing useful information to the prospect or entertaining them.

The content also relates to the company’s offers. However, these are not the focus. Because the most important requirement of the content is its benefit for the customer.

Content Marketing – The Benefits

Content marketing is a part of a company’s overall marketing strategy. It should not replace traditional advertising, but complement it. Because it offers the following advantages:

  • Useful content is not identified as advertising by interested parties and is therefore perceived more consciously.
  • Content marketing already speaks to people before they even develop the need for a particular product, but also when there is already an interest in buying.
  • Interested parties perceive the benefits gained from the content as positive and transfer this image to the brand.
  • High-quality content is also a prerequisite for search engine optimization of your own website and social media marketing.

These advantages apply to both private consumers and business customers. In both areas, however, the focus is somewhat different.

Content marketing in the B2C and B2B area

When looking for the machines, materials or other B2B products and services they need, buyers get very detailed information. This is why content marketing is also worthwhile in the B2B area .

For potential business customers, however, in contrast to B2C marketing, the focus is less on the entertaining aspect and more on information related to the product or the industry. Typical formats are therefore white papers, webinars and case studies.

What are the goals of content marketing?

Content marketing has a short-term, but also a long-term effect. Get to know the main goals and find out what exactly is involved in acquiring new customers.

The main goals

As with all other forms of marketing, content marketing focuses on very specific goals . These are mainly the following four aspects:

  • Increase in brand awareness :
    The presence of the target group in everyday life, both online and offline, is a prerequisite for the perception and growth of the brand. Content marketing works particularly well in combination with SEO and social media marketing.
  • Positioning as an expert :
    By publishing high-quality content, a company publicly presents its expertise. That creates trust.
  • Acquisition of new customers :
    If you are looking for specific content, sooner or later you will also be interested in corresponding products. Content marketing can specifically control this effect.
  • Customer loyalty :
    If a company publishes useful content on a regular basis, it will be positively remembered by its customers. 

Building the brand, trust and loyalty is more of a long-term affair. The acquisition of new customers described in more detail in the next section should, however, also work in the short term.

Concrete goals in the area of customer acquisition

The acquisition of new customers through content marketing is an inbound marketing approach, since potential customers should find the company on their own initiative and are not addressed directly. The focus can be on the following specific goals:

  • Sales :
    If you are interested in a certain topic and perhaps already intend to buy, you will usually find information online. If the user finds good content from a company in this way and can then click through to the associated online shop, the probability of a purchase is high.
  • Lead generation :
    This works in a similar way to selling through content marketing. The only thing here is the collection of contact details, by registering for the newsletter. Lead generation is the focus, especially for products and services that require explanation.
  • Cookie marking for remarketing :
    Many websites set cookies for their visitors so that they can see appropriate advertising elsewhere. If a user visits a page with content that is of interest to him, he will later see advertisements for the company that published the content on other pages.

Content marketing can be designed in very different ways. Find out more about the possible channels and formats below.

Content types & channels

On the one hand, there is content in a wide variety of forms, on the other hand, it can also be distributed in different ways. Which variants are suitable in detail depends on the one hand on the target group, but also on the specific purpose that content marketing is supposed to fulfill.

Content Marketing Channels

You certainly associate content marketing with content that is published online. But there are also offline channels. These include print publications such as customer magazines or information material. Even events such as lectures or seminars can be included, as content is conveyed there.

However, content marketing in the online space has a much greater importance. There are also several ways of publishing this:

  • Content on the company website, in the category information center, lexicon, customer reports
  • Blog with regularly published helpful or entertaining articles
  • Guest articles on other sites
  • Social media
  • Newsletter

In the next section you will learn what different forms of informative or entertaining content can have.

Entertaining content requires storytelling. Read the following article to understand why.

Storytelling in Content Marketing – This Is How Companies Captivate the Readers of Your Website

Types of content in the online area

Content can have different characteristics. Therefore it is often beneficial to combine several types of content. The choice is huge, as the following examples show:

  • Advice articles :
    Advice articles are mostly published as blog articles. In addition to quality, regularity and keyword optimization are also important here. Because these are important SEO factors.
  • Stories : In contrast to guides, these are mainly entertaining in character, but are published in a similar way. People love stories, which is why good storytelling is often very successful.
  • Whitepaper :
    Whitepapers are more extensive summaries of information about specific products or solutions, especially in the technical and IT areas. They are mostly offered for download.
  • Videos :
    Videos appeal to multiple senses and are very popular with many users. Explanatory but also entertaining videos are suitable for content marketing. Tutorials are a great example of this.
  • Podcasts :
    Podcasts are good for listening to while listening during sports or on the way to work. They are therefore popular and can contain thematic information or interviews.
  • Infographics :
    With infographics, many facts can be presented very clearly. They are often part of specialist articles.
  • Case studies :
    These show how a company’s product helped solve a problem. The content form is also common in the B2B area.
  • E-books :
    Downloading a free e-book is a good way to generate leads. The topic should fit the company, but still be of general interest.
  • Online tools :
    Whether as a comparison calculator or product configurator, useful tools help customers make their decisions.
  • Webinars : In addition to conveying information, webinars offer the opportunity to exchange ideas. They are also common in the B2B sector.
  • User Generated Content :
    This is content that is created by users as testimonials or photos. This content is considered particularly authentic.
  • Games :
    Small games are popular with users. They motivate to actively deal with the brand.

The selection of suitable content forms also depends on the respective goals and is part of the strategy for content marketing.

There are many tools for content marketing. The following article explains them in detail:

Content Marketing Tools 2021: What Are Some Content Marketing Tools

Content Marketing Strategy: Step by Step to Success

Successful content marketing cannot be done on the side; it requires a good strategy. This includes the following steps:

  1. Goal definition :
    What do you mainly want to achieve with content marketing? Is the focus on direct sales promotion or is it more about long-term goals such as branding or customer loyalty?
  2. Target group definition :
    Define properties of your target group, age, interests and purchasing power. Your entire further procedure must be based on the needs of the target group.
  3. Choosing the type of content :
    Think about which types of content will best reach your target group. Who sells fabrics and sewing materials, can publish simple patterns, instructions and video tutorials.
  4. Topic finding :
    Topics your content covers must be useful for your target audience. 
  5. Keyword research :
    Keyword research not only provides you with suggestions for topics. It is especially important for search engine optimization so that your content can be found.
  6. Content planning :
    Your content marketing needs a coherent overall concept. Especially for long-term goals, regularity is also important. Therefore, plan your content and publications in advance.
  7. Content creation :
    Would you like to do this yourself or would you prefer to commission it? Also plan the costs for it.
  8. Publishing :
    You may need to set up channels first; a special category on your website or a social media profile. Then you can publish the content regularly.
  9. Content seeding :
    Spread your content on as many channels as possible. If you have published an advisory article on your website, share it on your social networks and include the link in the newsletter.
  10. Monitoring :
    Check the success of your content marketing with the help of suitable key figures such as sales, leads or page views. Change your measures if you do not see sufficient success.

The most important thing in content marketing is the quality of the content. The following section explains what is important for this.

You might be interested in the following article:

33 Formats for Content Marketing

7 tips for quality content

High quality content is the most important success factor for content marketing. You can only achieve the desired effects if you can inspire your users. Pay attention to the following requirements:

  • Create unique content :
    do not copy anything from other sites. Even when you deal with the same topic, you may incorporate other aspects or look at it from different angles.
  • Offer high added value :
    The content must be useful for your customers. Either it provides information or it entertains.
  • Focus on customer benefits :
    The presentation of your offers should take a back seat. It is primarily about what the customer is looking for, the solution to a particular problem.
  • Keep an eye on the target group :
    Orientate yourself on which content forms, which style and which address your target group prefers. Seniors should be addressed differently than young adults.
  • Combine different forms of content :
    Above all, enhance text contributions with images, infographics and videos. This offers variety, appeals to several senses and increases intelligibility.
  • Note suitability for mobile devices :
    More and more Internet users access content with smartphones or tablets. Make sure that this works without any problems and, for example, an infographic can still be easily recognized on a smartphone.
  • Implement corporate communication : Your corporate communication should convey a uniform image, especially in terms of address and style. Avoid addressing your readers with “you” in blog posts but with “you” in videos.

In addition to these tips, SEO aspects are also important. Because your users should be able to find the content via Google or other search engines.

Content Marketing & SEO

Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are mutually dependent. On the one hand, a good position on the search results pages is crucial for your content to be found. On the other hand, regularly published and above all high-quality content are important factors for a good ranking.

SEO involves a number of measures. One of the most important ones, which plays a role especially for content creation, is keyword research. This enables you to analyze the search terms with which interested parties are searching for your offers and to what extent the competition is already using them.

For a good ranking, it has proven useful to optimize a page for a promising keyword or keyword combination. You can analyze which one you choose best for this with tools such as the Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest. This enables you to see how high the search volume of individual search terms is and to what extent the keywords are already being used. This results in the chances of success for a good position on the search results page.

Even more complex is a WDF * IDF analysis, which also takes into account the context of the keywords and suggests additional terms that should appear in the text. There are tools for this too on wdfidf-tool.com. They can also help you find content ideas.

Content seeding: Disseminate and share high quality content

You have already achieved a lot with high-quality content and a good ranking. Nevertheless, you should also actively share your content. Because not every user finds the articles on your website via Google. Social media and newsletters have proven their worth in particular for sharing.

With a higher reach, the likelihood that you will receive backlinks, i.e. that other pages link to your posts, also increases. This is not only an important SEO factor, it also strengthens your brand in the long term.

When creating content, consider working with influencers in suitable situations. You will normally incur costs for this, but you benefit from the high reach of these multipliers.

Examples of successful content marketing

Content marketing can take many different forms. Practical examples show how companies use these possibilities successfully. Learn about the strategies of a B2B and B2C company below.

Covestro – content marketing in the B2B area

Covestro is a manufacturer of high-tech plastics and materials. The products accordingly require explanation. The company provides extensive specialist knowledge in the Solution Center on its website. Everything is clearly structured so that interested parties can quickly find their way around. Many case studies and examples explain the application of the products.

In addition, the company operates a YouTube channel with videos about the company, its products and events, often in several languages. New content is published there relatively often.

Hornbach – focus on problem solving

Hornbach specializes in instructions for content marketing. This means that the focus here is clearly on the customer and their concerns. In addition, the DIY store company also provides inspiration.

On the website, users will find detailed instructions including many photos, videos and product selection tips under the menu item “Projects”. The offers are mentioned and associated with the problem solving, but are not in the foreground.

Is it worth hiring an agency for companies?

Content marketing is often a complex and extensive task. On the one hand you have to develop the content marketing strategy and organize the process, on the other hand you also have to regularly create high-quality content that fits the overall concept.

For professional content marketing you either need suitable staff in the company or you commission external service providers. You can also only outsource individual tasks, the content creation or the conception. For example, professional video production is often very complex and requires appropriate equipment.

There are also agencies that offer services for the entire content marketing process. These are the advantages and disadvantages of this solution:

Commissioning an agency with content marketing
Cooperation between different experts (consultants, producers, copywriters, designers, etc.)higher costs (but possibly also cheaper if you do without the relevant
personnel position)
Experience in content marketingEffort for communication and coordination with the service provider
optional outsourcing of the entire process or just individual tasksLess product know-how than internal staff
lower staffing requirements in the company 

What is particularly worthwhile for you depends on your human and financial resources. When making your decision, consider not only the costs, but also the time required.

Conclusion: attention through focus on benefits

With content marketing you can sustainably strengthen your brand, retain customers, but also win new customers. It is a good addition to classic advertising that will help you get attention in other ways.

With all the content you create for it, focus on the benefit for the customer. Don’t forget about search engine optimization and seeding for a high reach of your content.

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