With ad blockers and banner blindness everywhere, content marketing has become essential for businesses to cut through the noise.
By taking an audience-first approach focused on education over promotion, content marketing drives business growth by fueling brand affinity and trust.
This complete content marketing guide will explore:
- Content marketing definition
- The benefits content marketing delivers
- Real-world examples
- Key steps to build an effective strategy
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience to drive profitable customer action. The key aspects of content marketing include:
- Creating educational, entertaining, or helpful content for your target audience. This could include blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, ebooks, case studies, guides, etc.
- Distributing that content through owned platforms like your website, blog, and social media channels and earning placements on other sites and channels.
- Using content to build meaningful connections with your audience to build awareness, engagement, trust, and loyalty.
- Positioning your business as a helpful resource for your audience rather than constantly promoting your products or services. Providing value upfront to establish that credibility.
- Focusing on relevance and consistency over the volume of content produced. Quality and engagement is vital.
The ultimate content marketing goals are to drive leads and sales over time by establishing your business as a top resource that your audience keeps coming back to when they have a need that your products or services can fulfill. Quality content acts as an ongoing advertisement for your brand.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
There are several key reasons why content marketing has become important for marketing success today:
1. Increased Consumer Power
Today's consumers have more access to information and more power over buying decisions than ever. As a result, traditional interruptive marketing techniques like cold-calling, TV ads, sales emails, etc. are becoming less and less effective.
In fact, according to Custom Content Council, 69% of marketers say content marketing is superior to direct mail and PR.
In contrast, content marketing meets consumers where they are in their buying journey by providing educational and helpful information. This helps brands make emotional connections and establish trust with prospects over time.
2. Supports All Stages of the Buyer's Journey
High-quality content tailored to the various stages of the customer journey generates more leads and conversions over time.
Whether prospects are in the awareness, consideration, or decision stage, targeted content helps address their questions and concerns to progress them toward a purchase. Educating consumers builds authority and trust.
Content marketing drives higher conversion. Content consumption directly impacts sales conversion rates. Companies that excel at content marketing convert 6 times more leads into customers
3. Enhances SEO & Discoverability
Strategic content creation with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind increases visibility, improves your rankings in search engines like Google, and helps brands get discovered by more prospects online.
Optimized SEO content like blog posts, explainer videos, and visuals targeting relevant topics and keywords drive more qualified website traffic. This is the best type of traffic, and since it matches the user intent, it converts at a higher rate than a regular landing page.
Content marketing provides fuel for all other marketing channels to work better together. You can repurpose your best content and repost it on Reddit, use it for marketing on Pinterest, or convert it to a high-performing carousel on LinkedIn.
Hubspot found companies that blog have 97% more links to their website, which correlates with higher rankings.
4. Builds Loyal Brand Advocates
Consistently providing value to customers beyond the initial purchase breeds loyalty. Brands that focus solely on acquisition often have poor retention.
Examples of Top Brands Using Content Marketing
Many of the world's top brands have embraced content marketing to achieve incredible results, including:
Some elements of their content marketing strategy include:
- Red Bull TV - An online video platform functioning like a broadcast channel, showing extreme sports, culture/lifestyle content, documentaries and more
- The Red Bulletin - A monthly print magazine published in several countries with content related to Red Bull's brand themes
- Content Pool - A library of media assets like videos and images that external publishers can access and use for free in exchange for registering their email, generating leads
- Red Bull Media House - Repurposing content where third parties can license existing Red Bull content and generate revenue from it
The overall strategy aligns Red Bull with adrenaline-fueled sports/activities, engages niche target audiences, and leverages content to promote the brand in creative, non-intrusive ways. This authentic and consistent approach has helped make Red Bull one of the top examples of brands using content marketing effectively.
Spotify Wrapped has become a prime content marketing example for driving real business value by delighting customers, including:
- Over 90 million global users engaged each year
- 30%+ favorability boost toward the Spotify brand
- Company's biggest merch sales week ever in 2022
- 40,000+ artists submitted personalized fan messages for 2023
- Expanded to 170 markets and 35+ languages in 2023
As Louisa Ferguson, Global Head of Marketing Experiences at Spotify, explain in her blog post about Spotify Wrapped 2023:
It’s given us permission to really deliver special experiences for fans. Some of our coolest, craziest work comes from those collaborations. Critically, it’s a celebration for the fans as much as the artist.
Key elements driving performance:
- Personalized musical yearbooks for every user highlighting top artists, songs, genres, audio patterns, and more with colorful, shareable infographics
- Tailored playlists auto-populated with users' most-streamed songs as musical mementos
- New personalized data stories like top artists over time, Sound Town matching tastes to cities, streaming habits defining listening characters
- Artist fan messages within Wrapped experiences thanking top listeners
- First-ever merch discounts for top artist listeners to drive higher conversions
As Rob Fink, Associate Director of Spotify for Artists Brand Marketing explains in a blog post about Wrapped for Artists:
That’s why this year, for the first time ever, we enabled artists [in the U.S. and Canada] to set up Wrapped-specific merch discounts for their top listeners of the year. We want artists to be able to offer fans something special, and in turn, fans will know they’re receiving a discount for being a top listener.
The creative approach of leveraging data to celebrate musical connections has made Wrapped a beloved annual tradition. It strengthens emotional bonds beyond merely promoting products, showcasing how artfully personalized content marketing wins hearts, minds, and revenue.
StoryChief is a content marketing platform that not only provides tools for content creation, collaboration, optimization, planning, and scheduling but also uses content marketing itself to engage its audience and promote its services.
Here is our Content Marketing Strategy at StoryChief
- Educational Blog Posts: StoryChief publishes 20+ blog posts per month that provide valuable insights into content marketing. These posts cover a wide range of topics, from content marketing, SEO, content collaboration, social media, lead generation to highlighting our interviews with industry leaders.
- Teardowns: StoryChief also publishes "teardowns" of other companies' content marketing strategies a few times per year. These posts analyze the strategies of successful companies like Webflow, Pipedrive & ClickUp, providing readers with actionable insights they can apply to their own businesses.
- Video Content: StoryChief has published 130+ videos on their YouTube channel. Featuring Tutorials, Webinars, Success Stories, StoryChief SEO Academy, as well as advertisements that have reached more than 1 million views in total.
- Guides and Checklists: StoryChief provides e-books, guides and checklists on marketing, such as the guide on "how to create a content marketing strategy" or the "Content Writing Checklist".
Through these specific strategies, StoryChief effectively uses content marketing to engage its audience, demonstrate its expertise, and promote its services. This targeted approach helps to attract and retain customers, and serves as a powerful demonstration of the effectiveness of content marketing itself.
Content Marketing ROI
Beyond brand awareness and reach, content marketing delivers impressive hard ROI in terms of business impact:
- Lower Customer Acquisition Costs / CAC.
Curating helpful education content tailored to each stage of the buyer's journey shortens sales cycles and reduces acquisition costs.
Prospects self-nurture and develop intent to buy based on consumption of relevant blogs, guides, webinars etc. This means less heavy lifting for sales teams.
- Higher Conversion Rates / CRO.
Better education through owned media content reduces anxiety and friction during the decision process. This results in higher conversion rates at each milestone from sign-ups to sales.
- Increased Customer Lifetime Value / LTV.
Value-focused content helps strengthen consumer connections with brands over time. Beyond getting the initial sale, content marketing fosters loyalty and community.
The result is higher social proof, repeat purchase rates, longer retention, increased LTV, and more referrals and advocacy. Content marketing generates compounding growth.
- Fast Growth & Competitive Advantage.
Most companies only utilize one or two content types while competitors stick to traditional outbound marketing tactics. By embracing inbound marketing, brands can accelerate growth and gain an edge.
Owning a presence across blogs, social media, videos, and other formats makes brands more discoverable online. When unified by a documented content strategy, content marketing compounds awareness.
No wonder content marketing adopters see 7.8x higher year-over-year revenue growth compared to non-adopters (according to Aberdeen).
- Future-Proofs Marketing.
Content-centric marketing is here to stay. As consumers get harder to reach via traditional ads and outbound channels, great content and SEO allows brands to stand out.
While interruptive approaches continue losing effectiveness over time, focusing on building a helpful content engine, keeping your content fresh and community ensures long-term viability. Content marketing effectiveness will only grow.
Key Next Steps to Get Started
Ready to use the power of content marketing? Here are best next steps to kickstart success:
1. Document Your Content Marketing Goals
Like any marketing initiative, begin by defining your goals and targets. Do you aim to generate more leads? Shorten sales cycles? Boost brand awareness?
Quantify the outcomes you hope to achieve so you can accurately measure performance. Align to broader revenue targets and business objectives.
2. Analyze Your Ideal Buyer Personas
The foundation of every content strategy relies on having clearly defined buyer personas. Map out your target demographics, common challenges they face, questions they have, and information they consume.
These insights should guide both content creation and distribution to attract qualified prospects. Tailoring content to personas drives 10x more engagement.
3. Conduct a Content Audit & Gap Analysis
Before creating new content, audit your existing assets. Analyze their performance to identify content gaps as well as top and underperforming topics. You want to build on what already works.
A data-driven audit highlights content opportunities - both gaps to fill and areas to double down on. It also uncovers outdated assets to refresh or consolidate.
4. Build & Document a Content Strategy
With research and insights gathered, map out a 12-18 month content strategy detailing the owned media assets (blog posts, videos, etc) you will create. Include performance goals and targets.
A documented strategy with an integrated omnichannel content calendar provides clarity and focus for stakeholders. It ensures you methodically execute based on data not assumptions.
5. Develop Processes to Continually Optimize
Don't treat your content marketing launch as a one-time project. You need to continually study performance data to identify new opportunities.
Build in review cycles, regularly update your analytics dashboard, monitor conversions, nurture underperforming content etc. This optimization mindset is key to sustained content marketing success.
Is Content Marketing the Missing Ingredient in Your Strategy?
When executed based on a strategic, metrics-driven approach over the long-term, content marketing delivers tremendous business value. It drives revenue growth, lowers customer acquisition costs, boosts retention and loyalty, and future-proofs marketing success.
However, content marketing remains poorly understood and underutilized by many brands compared to traditional sales and advertising tactics. By embracing it early on, you gain a competitive advantage. You also build trust and affinity with consumers in a cluttered marketplace by providing real value.
Now is the time to shift towards a customer-first, content marketing mindset - before your competitors do. Want to learn more about content marketing?
- How to Create an Effective Blog Content Strategy in 7 Steps
- Learn content writing online for free
- Read our Content Marketing Guide for Beginners
To discuss how content marketing can transform your marketing performance, request a demo or start your free StoryChief trial (a content marketer’s secret weapon!). Our team would be happy to give you a walkthrough.
If you happen to know someone who could use StoryChief, refer your friends and we’ll give you a $50 bonus per lead + 15% revenue share!