Content Marketing for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know hero-image
Digital Marketing

Content Marketing for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

There’s a big difference between good content and great content. While good content can be beneficial to your brand, great content creates the types of positive experiences that have your customers coming back for more.

Then there’s the other of content to watch out for – bad content. If you don’t have a content strategy in place, you could be churning out a load of rubbish that doesn’t represent your brand values, or any of the things that your company stands for.

The thing is, bad content could actually be worse than having no content at all. That’s because content that doesn’t have merit or purpose can damage your reputation, ruin your SEO efforts, and even turn your audience away. So what’s the art to creating relevant, engaging and impactful content that drives digital transformation and makes your customers stick around?

Here’s everything you need to know about content marketing and how to turn it into a powerful tool for your business.

1. First thing’s first – what is content marketing?

Also known as inbound marketing, this type of content-focused marketing involves the creation and sharing of online material. Unlike ads, the online material is not designed to directly promote a brand, but to generate interest in its products or services.

In simple terms, content is used in marketing to attract, engage and retain an audience. Content is the engine behind digital marketing strategies, helping businesses connect with customers in a time of digital transformation.

This approach establishes a brand’s expertise, promoting awareness at the top of the funnel and keeping the business front of mind when customers are ready to convert further down the line.

There are different types of content that can be included in your digital content strategy too. These are:

  • Blog content : This is the most common form of content for businesses, and it is beneficial to businesses of all sizes.
  • Long form content : This can include long form guides, articles, downloadable PDFs and whitepapers, as well as any thought leadership pieces.
  • Social media content : Sharing thoughts, ideas, tips, solutions and trends on social media is one of the most important ways of engaging with today’s content-hungry yet time-poor audience. They want to quickly scroll without investing too much time or attention.
  • Infographic content : Displayed in an easy-to-digest visual format, infographics turn words into a shareable image. This is great for educational, data-heavy or complex topics.
  • Video content : More than 500 million hours of video content is watched every day – and over half (54%) of consumers want to see more video content from brands. This makes it an important tool for engaging with prospects at every stage of their journey.
  • Podcast content : Podcasting delivers convenience for customers looking to consume content on the go, and helps you connect with your audience over engaging topics. Like video, this is a mobile-friendly option for people on-the-go.
  • Paid ad content : When combined with inbound content, paid ads can help you get your content out to a broader audience.

2. The benefits of content marketing – and why you need it

Creating and sharing content to get your customers hooked on your brand, your products and services is one of the most sustainable tactics – and it’s one that provides long-term value. Unlike outbound marketing techniques, getting customers to come to you creates a higher level of trust and boosts your credibility.

Today’s marketing funnel is no longer linear. Instead, what we’re seeing is that the customer journey is more chaotic, with prospects dipping in and out of the funnel. What they’re doing is shopping around, gathering information, doing research, and enjoying different experiences online across different channels and platforms.

This is why connecting with customers at every touchpoint is key. Every type of content needs to be considered if you want to increase awareness, build trust and deliver an outstanding brand experience.

Here are some more reasons why content is king:

Education for customers : Does your product/service have technical specs that need to be explained? Is there a best way to use your product to maximise benefits? Are there hidden features that need to be shared? Content marketing allows you to go beyond the product page.

Grow your traffic : Adding more on-site content will keep your content fresh, meaning Google will crawl your site more frequently, helping it rank better in search results. This is why it’s also important to have an SEO strategy.

Boost conversions : Inbound marketing can bring your customers to you. They may not convert straight away, but great content can keep your brand front of mind for when they are ready to splurge.

Increase loyalty : Ads can bring you instant sales, but a solid strategy for content can help you retain customers by creating a sense of community. Remember, great content keeps people coming back for more!

Be the expert : Position your brand as a pioneer in your field and show your audience that you can help them solve their problems and pain points. Whether your business is B2B and B2C, you can be the thought leader or trendsetter.

3. 5 steps to creating a content marketing strategy

A digital content strategy helps you define your marketing goals and set priorities. With strategic thinking, you can better understand your audience and create content that is relevant to their needs and pain points. Ultimately, strategizing ensures that all of your marketing efforts are goal driven.

Your strategy is the process you go through to get to the planning phase (the content plan), and here are the steps to take to bring your strategy to life:

  1. Know your audience : Start by creating audience personas to establish who you’re talking to. Depending on the nature of your business, you could have just one or two, or you could end up with many more.
  2. Position your brand : A clearly defined brand and product positioning will help you deliver consistent messaging. In order to develop your story, it’s important to establish brand values and know why you stand out from competition.
  3. Have unique value : Create a content mission statement. This will help you have direction and purpose, differentiating your content from that of other brands. Develop methods to stand out from other content creators.
  4. Set content goals : Build a business case, get buy-in from the people you need, choose the right team, and set KPIs so you can measure your success.
  5. Decide on actions : Now you’re ready for the planning phase (see below for how to create your first content plan). But before you get started, be clear about what actions you want to take. For instance, do you want to focus on high-level content topics only? Do you have preferred channels for distribution based on your audience? All of this matters before you start to populate your content calendar.

4. How to build a content calendar

Planning your content is essential because it helps you stay organised, allocate resources effectively and track projects. It also provides you a roadmap for your content month-by-month, ensuring you cover the topics that work best based on season or other time-sensitive periods.

Here are the steps for building your content plan/calendar:

  1. Start with an audit : If you have any existing content, review that first. It may be the case that these need to be completely scrapped. Or it could be that old blog posts and articles can be repurposed and optimised for future use.
  2. Review assets : You may not have any content uploaded, but you could have existing assets that could be used to create new content. For instance, first-hand data or research are brilliant for creating research reports and gated content pieces. Slide decks could be repurposed into blogs or videos. While in-house experts (such as your product development team) could be the perfect brains to pick for creating a series of informative articles or even interviews.
  3. Consider time/resource : Knowing what resources you have will help you create a realistic plan that hits your content goals. If you don’t have the skills in-house, it could be time to bring in the help of a creative content agency.
  4. Schedule in content : Plan your content month to month, with a focus on seasonal topics, peak sales periods, events or newsworthy items. Regular editorial planning meetings are also helpful to make sure the content plan is on track.
  5. Provide briefs : If you’re working with a content team, make sure you enable easy collaboration with simple, straightforward but detailed briefs. Cover the content type, the purpose of the content, the main audience, goals, research, keywords, and anything else that needs to be specified.
  6. Track production progress : Progress should be tracked – this is particularly important if you are managing a team of content creators, or collaborating with multiple partners and agencies.
  7. Stay flexible : Constantly review your content calendar. Even though you’re populating with topics and ideas ahead of time, the aim isn’t to have something set in stone. Your calendar plan needs to be able to adapt if things change.

5. Don’t forget – your SEO strategy matters too

An SEO content strategy helps you define and implement key steps for improving search engine rankings. Did you know that 93% of all online experiences begin with an online search?

SEO brings passive traffic, which means a consistent stream of traffic to your website with little spend or effort. A well-optimised blog post or article can continue to generate traffic results, giving you an opportunity to reach a wider audience and increase brand awareness.

Some easy ways to optimise your content include:

  • Conducting keyword research – there are a number of paid and free tools you can use for keyword research. Consider things like search volume and keyword difficulty to understand the best phrases to target. You should also think about long-term phrases that can be used as they’re usually easier to rank for than broad terms.
  • Understanding search intent – going beyond just words, phrases and questions, search intent looks at why someone has searched in the first place. The key is to create content that matches the user’s intent, otherwise it will not provide the value needed to engage, even if it brings you initial traffic.
  • Structuring your content – keywords are most effective when you structure content to be search engine friendly. Optimise meta data, URLs and images, and be sure to include H1, H2 and H3 tags within your copy.
  • Writing naturally – the best way to make your SEO strategy a success is to balance SEO best practices with natural, topical writing. Create content for humans first, search engines second – the thing is, search engines are all for this. If you think of Google’s main goal, it is to provide the most relevant and helpful search results for its users – not to give brands a platform to promote their products. So keyword stuffing is an absolute no-no.

Don’t forget you can also optimise keywords for non-written content formats. For instance, video content can be optimised with descriptions, tags and timestamps.

6. Tips for creating and sharing content

If you want to impress your audience and get your content seen by the right people, here are some quick tips to help you out:

Look at your competitors

Sometimes targeting your competitors’ best-performing topics is a good way of reaching your target audience. This is because the success has already been proven, so you know there’s a thirst for this topic/subject. Just make sure you make your campaign is unique, and if you’re going to do something that someone else has already done, do it better than they did.

Use different content formats

While video is one of the fastest-growing types of content, particularly with millennial and Gen Z crowds, there’s still a place for written blogs and articles, both long and short. A good content marketing strategy should include a variety of content types.

Promote your content

Why bother creating interesting content if you’re not going to shout about it? Simply uploading content to your site isn’t enough. Share it on social. Share it one email. In fact, have a strategy in place for how you are going to promote and distribute the content you create.

Don’t overlook data

Getting direct feedback from customers about what they want to see from you content-wise is the best way to find out what’s working. But the next best thing is to look at data. Which blogs, articles, videos or posts are getting the most traffic? Which have the highest engagement? This should guide you in creating better content in the future.

Need help with your content marketing strategy?

If you don’t have the skills in-house for content development, turn to the experts instead. Identify Digital is a design, digital marketing and content agency with years of experience across every industry and sector. Our goal is to enable transformation for businesses in the Yorkshire region, and beyond.

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