If you’ve spent any amount of time on digital marketing websites recently, you’ve probably seen the buzz phrase “content marketing” being thrown around as often as other industry favorites “social media marketing” and “search engine optimization.”
But what is this newest web marketing technique, and why the heck is everyone so convinced that it’s the best news to come out of the digital world since the advent of Facebook and Twitter?
In fact, it’s only the name “content marketing” which has come to prominence recently. The practice – and its closely related sister, “inbound marketing” – have been sales and marketing staples for decades.
Essentially, content marketing involves the distribution of free, high value content in the hopes of building brand recognition, increasing website traffic and boosting overall sales. Content marketing can take a number of different forms, including:
- Offering a free ebook, guide, report or course to website visitors who subscribe to your email marketing list.
- Distributing branded whitepapers that provide valuable market research and insight for free.
- Producing viral-style Youtube videos that entertain or educate viewers while also building brand awareness (good examples include Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” and Vat 19’s “World’s Largest Gummy Bear” campaigns).
Regardless of the type of content used in these campaigns, content marketing stands in strict opposition to traditional “outbound marketing,” in which businesses must carry out structured outreach activities (including cold calling and pay-per-click advertising) in order to reach new customers. Companies that make content marketing a priority are often able to cut expenses and necessary time significantly, given that one content marketing piece can be used over and over again to attract new clients.
If you’re interested in getting started with this innovative, “new” marketing method, take a look at the list below. From training guides that will give you the step-by-step actions needed to launch a content marketing campaign to the specific tools used in these processes, you’ll find all of the resources needed to start improving your website results today!
Online Content Marketing Guides
First of all, if you aren’t already familiar with the process of content marketing, you’ll want to take a look at any of the following guides to get a feel for how this marketing strategy is executed. Keep in mind that, although the general goals of content marketing remain consistent across the guides listed below, the specific processes recommended to bring about these objectives vary by publisher. Review them all and select the methods that seem best suited to your business needs and available resources.
- KISSMetrics – “The Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing”
- Blue Glass – “The Content Marketers Guide to Web Content”
- TopRank Online Marketing Blog – “TopRank’s Guide to Content Marketing & Optimization” [opt-in required]
- QuickSprout – “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Content Marketing”
- Vocus – “The Vocus Online Content Marketing Expert Guide”
Great Web Articles about Content Marketing
While the guides listed above represent a good starting point for educating yourself on the benefits of content marketing, the following articles will give you the advanced tips and tricks needed to take your campaigns to the next level. Take a look at them when you’re first learning about content marketing, or when you hit a lull in your ongoing efforts.
- ClickZ – “9 Steps to Building a Content Marketing Strategy”
- Search Engine Watch – “10 Ways to Get Your Content Marketing Strategy in Motion”
- Search Engine Watch – “How to Bring Your Content Marketing Strategies to Life”
- Marketing Land – “Creating a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Website”
- TopRank Online Marketing Blog – “Evaluate & Energize Your Social Content Marketing Strategy”
- Copyblogger – “The 10-Step Content Marketing Checklist”
- Social Media Today – “Content Strategy Tips from Content Marketing Expert Nate Riggs”
- Radian6 – “Agencies: How to Create a Content Marketing Plan for Clients”
- Copyblogger – “49 Creative Ways You Can Profit from Content Marketing”
- Search Engine Watch – “Why Content Marketing is a Great SEO Strategy, Not a Short-Term Tactic”
- SEOMoz – “Whiteboard Friday – Creating Great Online Content”
Books on Content Marketing
If you prefer to do your reading offline, check out any of the following print books. All of these titles come highly reviewed and will help start you off on the right foot with your content marketing campaigns.
- Content Marketing for Dummies – Susan Gunelius
- Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand – Robert Rose
- Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web and Mobile – Jon Wuebben
- Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media – Rebecca Lieb
- Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing – Lee Odden
- Accelerate! Move Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing – Arnie Kuenn
- Get Content Get Customers: Turn Prospects into Buyers with Content Marketing – Joe Pulizzi
- Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business – Ann Handley
Content Idea Generators
So now you’re ready to start your first content marketing campaign – but what types of content should you build? The resources listed below are all designed to help you determine which topics interest your target market most. From keyword research tools that help you to identify particular queries being entered into the search engines (which represent a great jumping off point for content creation) to survey programs that allow you to poll your existing audience on their biggest questions, these resources will ensure that any content you produce has a hungry, excited market waiting for it!
Content Creation Resources
If you’re lucky, you’ll have all the resources needed to produce your content marketing campaign pieces in-house (whether that includes talented writers, graphic designers, video production specialists or other creative types). If not, take a look at any of the following websites for the assistance needed to produce content marketing materials:
Places to Distribute Content Pieces
Once your campaign pieces have been created, don’t just let them sit – languishing – on a buried sub-page of your website. Instead, get them out there in order to jumpstart the viral sharing process! Besides posting your content pieces to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, consider posting them to any of the following sites (where appropriate):
Content Marketing Campaign Case Studies
Finally, if you’re still not convinced about the potential of content marketing – or if you need a little extra inspiration to get started – take a look at the following case studies. Seeing the success that other businesses have had with this powerful marketing method should provide all the motivation you need to bring these benefits to your own organization.
- Mashable – “How 3 Companies Took Content Marketing to the Next Level”
- Content Marketing Institute – “Content Marketing Case Studies: 5 Companies that ‘Get It’”
- Marketing Sherpa – “Overall Content Marketing Strategy Leads to 2,000% Lift in Blog Traffic, 40% Boost in Revenue”
- Startup Remarkable – “5 Killer Content Marketing Case Studies (And What You Can Learn from Them)”
- WordStream – “Content Inspiration: 5 Great Marketing Case Studies from Around the Web”
Are you using content marketing to promote your website or business? If so, share your “can’t live without them” resources in the comments section below!
Image: Jeremy Brooks