What is Content Marketing

what is content marketing

Do you know what content marketing is and truly understand how to use it to your advantage?

Many people think of content marketing as writing and publishing content to the internet and social media sites. However, many content marketers don’t truly know how to use content marketing effectively and in a way that pleases Google, other search engines, and – most importantly – their audience.

So today, we are going to answer the question “What is content marketing?” We are going to explain in some detail exactly what content marketing is, the best ways to use content marketing, and why it’s vital to thoroughly understand your target audience.

You might be thinking that traditional marketing has been somewhat working for you for many years. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it…right?

Yep! We get it.

However, traditional marketing, while it works somewhat, you could be getting a much larger return on your investment than that. You would probably agree that traditional marketing is no longer reliable and most people find it extremely annoying and, therefore, ignore it, delete it, or throw it in the trash without looking at it.

So let’s dive right in.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing content online according to any given target audience want or need. This could include a variety of content marketing efforts such as blogging, infographics, webinars, podcasts, SEO, white papers, case studies, social media posts, and more.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, here is how content marketing can be further defined:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The keyword here is “valuable.” So before you begin to put your content marketing strategy together, you must determine via thorough research whether the topic you are proposing is something that particular target audience will find interesting. Will they be eager to consume it or will they want to avoid it?

What Is the Difference Between Traditional and Content Marketing?

Traditional marketing involves pitching your brand’s products and services in an attempt to get a potential customer to buy from you. Content marketing works differently. Successful content marketing involves providing the consumer with high-quality content—useful content that helps them solve their issues. In other words, content marketing is educational. It’s not used to directly sell your brand’s products and services.

The theory is that because your brand is providing the consumer with such valuable information, the result is consumer gratitude. This, in turn, results in more brand awareness, higher brand authority, and a customer who is now loyal to your brand. Additionally, consistent content marketing campaigns that are continually providing relevant content to potential customers will frequently be shared and will often go viral.

And what does that do?

It results in profitable customer action which translates into a higher return on investment.

The Different Types of Content

Many different types of content can be used for content marketing. Successful content marketing will use a variety of content. Here are some examples of the different content marketing options.


Blogging is short for “weblog,” which is the term that’s used to describe a website that produces consistent content which is then posted on the internet. A consistent blogger or bloggers can build on each blog post which could ultimately turn your brand into an industry influencer. Blogging is one of the most powerful content marketing tactics available today.

A great example of this is the Penny Hoarder blog. The Penny Hoarder blog started in 2010 as a way to document how normal people can save money on a variety of routine expenses. The founders of the blog started is a hobby to figure out how to save money and it started to attract attention from readers. By continuously providing their audience with ways to save money on many aspects of daily life, the Penny Hoarder quickly grew and built their brand on their blogs alone. Over the past 10 years, the Penny Hoarder has become one of the most recognizable and trusted blogs on personal finance. It has gained 7 million Facebook fans, 1 million email subscribers and 12-17 million monthly readers. With such a substantial audience, the business can monetize their blogs in innumerable ways.

Video Content

Video is another piece of content that can have a significant impact on your brand authority and brand awareness. Video content marketing is hot. Using video content is a great way to educate and engage your viewers which, in turn, helps influence their buying decision. Once created, video content can be uploaded to a YouTube channel or other video platforms.

“The sheer cost of video production has come down to a point where there are no barriers to entry. Buyers have devices that can play videos with them at all times… [and] are engaging in 100% more information year-over-year before they make a buying decision.” – Joe Pulizzi


Podcasts are a series of spoken digital audio content pieces a user can download or stream to their device for easy listening versus having to read text content.

Podcasts are incredible digital assets for businesses that aim to be thought leaders in their respective industries. With podcasts, businesses can garner their audience’s attention by providing valuable information in a succinct manner. Over time, as the podcast grows, it can help build a brand for the business and attract many leads for future business. A good example of this is Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast. Reid Hoffman was one of the co-founders of LinkedIn and PayPal and has tremendous experience with scaling businesses. Every few weeks, he does a podcast with some of the best CEOs and talks about how they have scaled their business. Over time, his podcast has become one of the premier business and finance podcasts. After building a great audience, Reid has built a great network for his current investment initiatives. Since the majority of his audience are startup founders and CEOs, he has access to a large amount of promising and talented startup founders that are looking to raise capital for their businesses. This is a great example of how businesses can build and monetize their podcast audience.


Infographics are a collection of images, charts, and other graphics with minimal text. Infographics are designed in a way that helps a human to visually comprehend detailed information quickly and easily.

One of the best examples of using infographics is a company called Visualize Value. Visualize Value started off as a Twitter page that helped illustrate and quantify simple thoughts and ideas. This included graphs and infographics that showed time, money and other variables as constraints. The design of all the infographics are very simple: black canvas, white typography and geometry. Since the Twitter page has started 6 months ago, it has gained over 65,000 followers and has started providing services for individual and enterprise clients. Below are some of their infographics:



An E-Book is a book that has been written in or converted into a digital format. E-Books can be used for a variety of content marketing purposes including building brand awareness and brand authority. Your marketing team can also offer an E-Book as a free giveaway designed to promote customer goodwill, provide useful content, etc. as part of their strategic marketing approach.

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds - Kindle edition by  Goggins, David. Self-Help Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

David Goggins, a first time best-selling author, utilized e-books to propel the book sales for his memoir. After making an appearance on the Joe Rogan Podcast, David Goggins was thrust into the spotlight for his heroic endeavors as a Navy Seal and a ultra-marathon runner. With his newfound audience, Goggins chose to write a book on mental toughness detailed what helped him overcome his childhood, army training and other difficult life events. After publishing his book, it became one of the bestselling books and David decided to leverage e-books as an avenue to generate more sales. E-books provided the ability to reach a new audience that uses tablets, kindles and more devices to read books. Additionally, E-books provide additional features like audiobooks and podcast-type annotations throughout the book.

Content Marketing Facts

Content marketing isn’t new. It has actually been used as a digital marketing tactic for many, many years. In fact, leading brands such as P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and John Deere all use valuable content as part of their marketing plans.

And, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 Content Management & Strategy Survey suggests that more and more businesses are adding content marketing to their marketing campaigns. The top reasons many businesses don’t have a strategic marketing approach to content marketing are because 63% lack processes, 57% state leadership didn’t make it a priority, and 52% stated it was because of a lack of financial investment in resources.

Did you know that…according to Statista, the worldwide digital population as of April 2020 is almost 4.57 billion people? That number is 59% of the global population!

Here are more content marketing facts.

Did you know that…according to Demand Metric, 90% of all organizations use a content marketing strategy as part of their inbound marketing campaigns?

Content Now and Going Forward

Content is the present and the future of marketing. This is because people will never stop needing information. Content marketing is meant to be educational and not just shoving big blocks of words that don’t contain any value at the reader. If it did, that would be considered spam. In other words, remarkable content is the factor that makes a content strategy and the subsequent content marketing so amazing in today’s business environment.

Marketing Is Impossible without Great Content

What does that mean? It means regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should always be included as part of the process—not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of digital marketing.

For example:

1. Social Media Marketing

A content marketing strategy always has to come before developing your social media strategy. Prior to deploying any social media marketing campaigns, you must have your content marketing strategy. You must be able to thoroughly cover all aspects of content like posts, captions, etc., to maximize the efficacy of your campaigns. Below are some examples:

Greggs utilized memes to boost their popularity and marketing efforts on Twitter. Prior to using any ads, they built a notable following by consistently tweeting funny and engaging tweets like the one above. With adequate following and engagement rates on tweets, their Twitter campaigns will be generate a greater ROI than a company that just pours significant capital into marketing campaigns.

2. SEO

SEO, also known as search engine optimization, is when the search engines favor websites that consistently publish high-quality content, which is content that contains valuable information.

For example when searching for a gym in New York City, Google generates several top results. The first 1-4 results are generally ads that businesses are running, so they will appear at the top. Following these are the top, organic SEO optimized websites:

The first organic result is a New York gym that has been publishing high quality content for their customers over a long period of time. They offer services for individuals, families and corporate clients, so they have ample content on their site. The second result is Insider.com, a media company that publishes a lot of content. Both of these sites produce high quality content that have the keywords that users search for on Google.

The same SEO principles are in effect when searching for businesses on Google Maps. Businesses that have an active online presence and publish high quality content will outrank their competitors.

When searching for a gym in San Francisco, the first result is an ad. After that, the top results are businesses that have multiple reviews and when you visit their site, they have high quality content. The first result Basecamp Fitness has workouts, news for customers, online classes and more on their site. This gives the more opportunities to ensure the right SEO keywords are in their content, so they can rank higher in search queries.

3. PR

Successful PR strategies attempt to resolve issues its audience members care about without forcing their brand’s products and services on them in the process. And this is done using content.

PR focuses on producing media for a business through utilizing different story angles and communication mediums. With PR, there’s no paid campaigns or similar paid marketing methods; most of the PR work is organic and shouldn’t impose content on readers.

Influencer marketing is an important aspect of some PR strategies. Although most businesses don’t have the budget for sports megastars to market their products and services, many businesses can afford local influencers that target their desired customer base. Generally, businesses sign an influencer to a contract for a defined period and they can gain exposure for their business. Over time, a business’ reputation will be positive and synonymous with the influencer they hire.
After Popeyes released their willdy successful chicken sandwich in 2019, Chik-Fil-A decided to launch a social media campaign showing why their chicken sandwich is better. Through a combination of exclusivity and social media hype, Popeyes positioned itself as a premium chicken sandwich provider in comparison to Chik-Fil-A. They continued to their PR strategy by trolling Chik-Fil-A’s tweets and got a ton of free press. The tweet above shows over 400,000 likes for a reply to Chik-Fil-A; this easily has multiple millions of engagements by Twitter users.

4. PPC

A great pay-per-click (PPC) campaign starts with good content. Without remarkable content, there wouldn’t a profitable PPC campaign. PPC campaigns are a great way to bring consistent and targeted leads to your business. Depending on the marketing medium you choose to use (Google, Amazon, etc.), PPC campaigns can generate some of the best returns on your marketing dollars. Below is an example of several PPC campaigns:

When searching for enterprise software vendors in Chicago, businesses leveraging PPC campaigns will be the first results in your search. PPC campaigns can often be recognized by the bold “Ad” marker before the link to a site. Content is vital to PPC campaigns because users will click based upon the title and text next to a PPC campaign. After the user clicks on a PPC campaign, they will often land on a landing page. A well-crafted landing page can help convert visitors from your PPC campaign to paying customers.
Many businesses that sell products on Amazon.com use PPC as their main marketing medium. When using PPC on Amazon’s platform, copywriting is crucial to attract and close customers on specific products. Any mistakes in copywriting can easily cost businesses thousands of dollars. The best selling products are always have the best copy and most optimized PPC campaigns.

5. Inbound Marketing

The entire inbound marketing concept is based on remarkable content. High-quality content is key when it comes to driving traffic and leads to your website. If the content is of poor quality, no one would bother following the embedded links in your content back to your website then clicking on your call to action.

Runner's World Magazine - Jan 2020 Subscriptions | Pocketmags
The magazine Runner’s World is a great example of inbound marketing and how it can be leveraged to drive sales. Runner’s World has been providing runners hailing from all socioeconomic backgrounds valuable information on virtually every aspect of running. In their magazine, they cover recent stories, practical tips, the future of running as a sport and more. As they continue to provide high value content, they have positioned themselves as experts in the field of running. This trust they have garnered from readers enables them to sell their own programs and affiliate marketing products relating to running. The audience they have generated from their content allows them to have effective marketing campaigns.
YouTube channels are underrated inbound marketing channels for businesses. Although it might not provide instant leads like PPC, YouTube is a great method to establish a brand and develop a core audience. Matt D’Avella is a filmmaker with a hit Netflix documentary on minimalism. Prior to launching his Netflix documentary, D’Avella was creating YouTube videos to highlight his competence as a filmmaker and attract an audience that was into minimalism. His YouTube channel provides as an inbound marketing tool to build an audience and get clients for his film making work and future projects.

6. Content Strategy

Having an exceptional content marketing strategy is the part of content marketing that makes the process effective and profitable now and going forward, possibly for many years to come.

Below is an example of a content strategy for a hypothetical Tomato food truck:

This is a very generic and brief example of how a business can get started with a content strategy. All content strategies have two basic components: content types and the target audience. If your business can clearly identify both of these content strategy components, it will be much easier to succeed on other aspects like keywords, KPIs, etc.

How to Be Effective in Content Marketing

The best way to be effective in content marketing is to have your marketing team use a strategic marketing approach. That means your marketing team must thoroughly research your target audience so they can identify that particular demographics’ wants and needs, as well as their likes and dislikes. Next, a powerful content marketing strategy should be developed based on those findings. Once you have your content marketing strategy developed, you will write (or have written) some remarkable content.

Keep in mind that content marketing requires a lot of work and patience. That means you will usually not see your desired results immediately. Content marketing takes time to build and grow into an asset that rewards you with hoards of traffic and an increased ROI.

One of the best ways to stay on the top of Google and the other search engines’ results pages is to answer questions. Answering questions also helps land your content in the Google Answer Box on each search results page. And that alone will skyrocket your traffic and generally result in more sales as well.

Did you know that…the most searched keyword in 2020 is Facebook? 

Including Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms as part of your content marketing strategy is a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty. Not to mention, possibly ranking your Facebook and web pages at the top of Google and the other search engines. That is, as long as you are posting your content consistently and that the content you are posting is valuable high-quality content.

Additionally, you must be able to maximize audience engagement to be effective in content marketing. Although high quality content is needed for content marketing, you need to optimize aspects like length of content, images and more to get the maximum ROI. A recent study found that audiences generally read only 20% of your page. You can be the greatest writer in the world, but if you’re audience is only reading a fraction of your content, you won’t have the chance to convert your readers to customers. You should ensure that your content is informative, yet succinct. Studies have shown that the optimal length of an article is approximately 7 minutes in reading time.

Why You Should Consider Content Marketing to Grow Your Business

As you know, content marketing is a great way to gain loyal brand followers, some whom will continue to buy from you over and over again for many years to come. But first, you will need to understand and master the buyer’s journey. Study and learn every customer touchpoint so you experience what the buyer experiences as well as any negatives he/she might encounter as they work their way through your sales funnel. The customer journey progresses as follows.

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Consideration
  • Buy

If you want your brand to be found by your target audience and potential customers, you have to provide solutions to your audience members’ problems. Your potential customers will, once they realize they need information and answers, browse the search engines looking for those answers, and researching possible solutions to their problems. When they find your business on the top of the search results page and realize you have provided them with the answer to their queries, they will immediately become a potential customer—quite possibly a customer for life.

But the process doesn’t stop there.

Your content has to be exceptional. It must be able to build an interested and engaged audience. If it does, you will be well on your way to gaining new subscribers, customers, and evangelists. Once you have an engaged brand following, your content marketing efforts will result in increased sales and you will have the added benefit of being able to gather valuable customer insights from them as well. At this point, your most ardent followers will also be your biggest brand advocates as they tell the world how wonderful your brand is. This is how any given piece of content can easily go viral—maybe even going viral many times for years to come.

How to Acquire New Customers

By building brand authority, it becomes easier to build an audience that trusts you and is eager to hear what you have to say. Your brand followers will look forward to receiving your valuable content and because of this will be more likely to purchase your products and services when they are ready to buy.

How to Build Increased Revenue with Your Existing Customers

The more loyal your customers are, the more potential you will have to increase your sales. This is because once your customers trust your brand, it makes it easier to cross-sell or upsell your other products and services. And in some cases, your brand can even monetize the content itself.

How to Reallocate or Reduce Your Marketing Costs

Many organizations use content marketing because it has become apparent they are getting better results with their content marketing efforts than they are getting with their traditional marketing efforts. In other words, content marketing is less expensive to produce and returns better results. Therefore, an organization will spend less money and receive a higher ROI when using a content marketing campaign. This leads them to allocate less money to their traditional marketing efforts. And this, in turn, saves money month over month and year over year. The end result is reduced marketing costs and a significant amount of overall savings!

How Do I Get Started with Successful Content Marketing?

Content marketing starts and ends with great content. We are talking about remarkable content—high-quality content people would be willing to pay for. The beauty of this is that if you provide your target audience with extremely valuable information and answers for free, the more brand authority, brand awareness, and brand loyalty you will have created. The higher the perceived value of your content, especially when you are providing the information for free, is a great way to build a loyal brand following, drive more traffic, and increase sales. And that’s not even factoring in your social media content and any possible viral effects that might come from that.

Take a minute now and think back about content that YOU’VE  had to pay for…now think about how you would have felt if you had received that content for free. Would that have turned you into a loyal brand follower?

Most definitely yes!

Here’s an example:

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie didn’t make a movie about Legos to sell movie tickets. It was a 100-minute toy commercial. Genius!

Successful content marketing can be started with no budget and this is achieved by blogging. Simply talk to your audience. Help them with their questions and provide them with information to solve their problems. The next thing you know you will have the beginnings of a following.  Then you just continue to build on that by expanding your reach. You can do that by growing your social media presence, joining and participating in industry forums, publishing infographics, eBooks, whitepapers, webinars, podcasts, case studies, and more. And with each piece of valuable content you put out, you include embedded links that, when clicked on, will take each person back to your website where they have the potential of becoming a lifelong, loyal brand follower and customer.

Yes, we know what you are thinking. You’re thinking you don’t have time for all that. Or perhaps you feel as if you aren’t a great writer or don’t know what to say.

That’s OK. No worries!

There are content marketing experts such as ContentRamp you can partner up with.

Partnering with an expert will save you time and money. Additionally, a content marketing expert will have the experience and knowledge needed to make your brand’s content profitable. They will also the knowledge and be up to date on all the latest trends and search engine algorithm changes. That means those trends and changes can be implemented immediately and used to your advantage. This is important because if content marketing is done wrong, you could risk being penalized by Google or another search engine. If that happens, your website’s ranking could drop significantly, which is usually hard to recover from, especially if you don’t know how to fix it properly.

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