Content marketing is nothing new. Brands have been telling their stories to customers for hundreds of years; in fact, did you know that one of the first known examples of content marketing is Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, which he published annually starting in 1732 in order to promote his printing business? So, business owners have known for centuries that telling their brand’s story in a compelling way can boost growth; in fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers surveyed use content marketing in some form or other.
And it’s no wonder that content marketing is so popular: when used correctly, it can help you cut through the “noise” of traditional marketing, which most consumers are now able to completely disregard, and build brand awareness and gain loyal customers. But in order to get to this point, you need to know how to create content that is engaging and that calls potential customers to action! Marketing experts offer a variety of “C” words to keep in mind when creating your content; these “C”s can help focus you and keep your content marketing strategy on track, so which are the best ones for your brand?
Content Marketing by the Numbers
Content marketing is important: it engages your audience and answers their questions, and can deliver resounding success for your business. Take a look at these statistics, which were compiled from research done by Coshedule:
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing
- Content marketing converts 6 times more often than other marketing methods
- 61% of online consumers have made a purchase after reading recommendations on a blog
- Content marketing produces 3 times more leads per dollar spent than other marketing methods
- Businesses that publish 16 or more blog posts a month can see 3.5 times more traffic than those that publish 0-4 posts a month
Why the impressive numbers? Because content marketing packs an impressive punch! Its benefits include:
- It captures your audience’s attention and compels them to keep coming back for more
- It can help you gain traction on social media, and make the most of the followers you do have
- It helps you interact with your potential customers and build a relationship with them
- It can generate leads, especially if you place strong calls-to-action in your content
- It can improve conversions even more if it is original content; for example, using original images rather than stock photos can mean a 35% increase in conversions
- It will make your business more visible online and help you rank higher in search engines, thus boosting your SEO efforts
- It can make your audience see you as an expert in your field
- It will build brand awareness, and help you gain loyal brand fans
So how do you do content marketing right, get on the radar of your target audience, and reap all of the above benefits? Well, marketing experts agree that you need a well thought-out strategy, but many of them offer different buzzwords to guide you in the right direction; funnily enough, they all begin with the letter “C.” Let’s take a look at three of these strategies, and how they can get you to your goals.
The First Four “C”s
Old school marketing experts sometimes point to the four “P”s of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion, but newer schools of thought, which take into account our hyper-digital, social media-driven world, focus less on the product and more on the consumer themselves. Those who focus on the consumer-centric model suggest that you take these four “C”s into account when planning your content marketing strategy:
- Consumer – There is no one single content audience out there, and so no cookie-cutter content marketing strategy will work! You’ll need to tailor your content to your specific target audience, as well as constantly adapt it as trends, tastes, or your audience itself changes.
- Cost – You can use content marketing to get your customers interacting with your brand, which will help you shape how your customers perceive the value of your product/service. Once you do this, you can truly price it with the consumer in mind.
- Convenience – When it comes to your product or service, you know that your customers are always looking for convenience, and the same goes for content. You need to deliver content to them in a way that fits their lives; after all, most customers won’t go out of their way to find your content – you have to bring it to them!
- Communication – Targeting your content and making sure you’re choosing the right mode of communication, channel, and style, will open up the lines of communication with your audience, and will build a consumer confidence that will boost your sales.
The Second Four “C”s
Other marketing experts that work with content marketing strategy focus their four “C”s on the content itself, and suggest that you make sure everything your target audience is seeing is:
- Clear – Know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it! Don’t be afraid to make a detailed outline before you create your final product, and always remember to check your facts – there’s nothing that will make you lose your customers’ trust faster than shaky, inaccurate information.
- Compelling – Your audience needs content that is geared towards them, but you can’t stop there – you need to compel them to act once you’ve got their attention! Give them a benefit over your competition, and get them to call, click, or seek more information.
- Concise – Did you know that the average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to around 8 seconds today? In comparison, scientists believe that goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds! That means you don’t have a lot of time to hook your audience, so get to the point with punchy tweets, headlines, bullet points, and brief press releases; once you’ve got their attention, they’re more likely to want to find out more.
- Consistent – A consistent message across social media platforms reinforces your brand: the more your audience sees your message, the more ingrained it becomes. Not only that, but delivering a similar content message in multiple ways also supports SEO.
The Third Four “C”s
Finally, some marketing experts are adamant that content marketing should take into account the way that we have become used to consuming content, and zero in more on our fast-paced, diverse, and often youth-focused world with the following “C”s:
- Conversation – We know that you need to hook your audience quickly with effective headlines, but what are considered the best headlines to do that these days? Well, it turns out that headlines that are considered “conversational” in style tend to get the most clicks, so try interacting with your audience in this way. Some of the most effective headlines are:
- The Best of…
- Why X People Do X (i.e. “Why the Healthiest People Don’t Follow These Trends”)
- The Scientific Fact (i.e. “Sex Can Help You Live Longer, and We’ve Got the Studies to Back it Up”)
- The Listicle (i.e. “10 90s TV Shows You Completely Forgot About”)
- The Open-Ended Question (i.e. “So You Think You Know What Success Looks Like?”)
- The Promise (i.e. “You’re Guaranteed to Go Crazy Over These Skateboarding Dogs”)
- Community – In this world of digitized everything, people actually crave seeing or hearing from real people, even if they’re paid influencers. Getting an influencer on board with your brand and content can make all the difference in getting it seen.
- Change – While you do need to be careful in this area, supporting causes that are important to your target audience can help you to make a deeper connection with them.
- Culture – Know the pop culture references of your target audience, and sprinkle some light-hearted, humorous, eccentric, or nostalgic gifs, memes, videos, or stories into your content, if it’s appropriate to your brand.
Content marketing is all about optimizing your brand, and it takes more than just posting to social media now and then. You need a clear plan, and that plan should include checkpoints like the “C”s above, which can help you step back and really think about what you’re creating and posting. Using these checkpoints to find your target audience, your voice, your style, and your message can make all the difference in getting your brand recognized, and getting your business growing!