Content marketing 101: first steps

MarketCategory
7 min read
Jasmine Williams

These days, you can’t open your laptop or pick up your phone without coming across some kind of advertisement. And as a result, most of us have gotten pretty good at tuning out all of these messages — especially the ones that are overly “sales-y.” Which leads me to content marketing.

Content marketing is about giving people what they actually want.

Most people don’t really care about your brand or what you sell — they want answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.

This, at its core, is what content marketing tries to do. It’s a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online content that does not explicitly promote your business. This could include:

  • Videos.
  • Infographics
  • Live streams.
  • Podcasts.
  • Blog articles.
  • Social media posts.

Instead, the purpose of this digital material is to stimulate interest in a company’s products or services by educating its target audience.

Bring new customers to you in 6 steps

Content marketing is a less obvious way of advertising your business — one that people actually welcome. Follow these six steps to start.

  1. Figure out your goals.

  2. Set your publishing frequency.

  3. Think about your audience.

  4. Choose a content type that you’re good at.

  5. Give your content time to pick up traction.

  6. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

Before we list the steps involved in content marketing, let’s touch on why it should matter to you.

Why content marketing matters

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, content marketing can seem like quite the departure from traditional advertising. After all, creating content for your brand or business that doesn’t promote your business sounds pretty counter-intuitive. Nevertheless, there are many reasons why it’s worth your time.

Content Marketing Two Hands Touching
Content marketing helps you connect with potential customers.
Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Reach your target customers

Most online purchases begin with a Google search, so having your business appear at the top of the results page can be a huge advantage. Fortunately, content marketing is one of the best ways to make this happen. If you know the kind of questions your target customers are asking, responding to those queries via blog posts, eBooks, videos and other content can boost your site’s search engine ranking.

Build an interested and engaged audience

Want to turn satisfied customers into brand advocates? Creating valuable content like newsletters and blog posts will compel your audience to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — whether it’s as a newsletter subscriber, customer, evangelist or combination of the three.

Once you have a sizable audience, you can gather insights through your content streams to help you better understand their wants and interests. This, in turn, can lead to more targeted posts … which leads to more sales and more satisfied customers.

Increase revenue while reducing marketing costs

Another benefit of producing content that people look forward to is the ability to increase sales by cross-selling or up-selling your products or services. In some cases, you might even be able to monetize the content itself.

Content marketing also tends to be cheaper than traditional advertising and even digital advertising, which is becoming increasingly competitive and expensive.

Your 6-step guide to content marketing

There are so many ways to dip your toes into the content marketing waters:

  • Podcasting.
  • Videos.
  • Live streaming.
  • Images.
  • How-to guides.
  • Checklists.

All of these various forms can be used to develop a killer content marketing strategy. The key is to pick a content type that’s the best fit for you.

Here’s how to start creating content that your audience will love.

1. Figure out your goals

Do you want to increase engagement on your website? By engagement, I mean the number of visitors who click on links, subscribe to your newsletter or otherwise interact with your website.

Maybe your goal is to become a credible, authoritative resource on topics that matter to potential customers. The type of content you create should directly relate to your goals.

2. Set your publishing frequency

Content Marketing Camera
Starting a podcast might be too much at first. Better to start small.

It’s easy to set ambitious goals in the beginning. But it’s important to be honest about how much time and energy you can devote to creating articles, videos or monthly newsletters.

Whether once a week or once a month, set a content schedule and stick to it.

For example, producing multimedia content can take a bit more planning than writing blog articles. And if you have a business, this work will be added to your regular duties.

3. Think about your audience

Ask yourself: would your target customer have the time and patience to read a long eBook, or would they prefer a short video? Or are they likely to be looking for information while standing in a store? The rule of thumb is always to opt for bite-size content, but certain topics (renovating a kitchen or bath, identifying your fashion persona, etc.) require a longer format.

Related: 3 easy small business videos you can make today to market your company

4. Choose a content type that you’re good at

This is important in that it directly impacts how successful your content marketing efforts will be. It’s good to learn new skills (hello, livestream) but if it requires a big block of time to get started, chances are good you might never find it. Better to play it safe and choose a content type that you can commit to doing consistently, and that you’ll enjoy creating.

5. Give your content time to pick up traction

With every new piece of content you create and share, you increase the overall value of your entire content network. Each piece boosts traffic to everything else, as your audience gets pulled in and starts crawling through your older work.

6. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity

Volume is valuable and consistency is key, but the most important factor is quality.

It takes roughly seven months for a blog post to hit its stride in terms of organic search.

Most experts say that you should be prepared to commit to six months to an entire year to see if your efforts will pay off. This is why it’s so important to pick something that you actually want to create.

Related: How to get on the search engines' list

In praise of email

Content Marketing Email
Email is one of the most inexpensive content marketing strategies around.

Once you start creating content, you’ll also want to think about how to use it to build an email subscription list. Why? Because while many different types of content can help you reach the right people, email is one of the few channels that allow you to communicate with them directly. It’s also one of the most cost-effective marketing tools at your disposal.

Start by adding a simple newsletter sign-up to your website.

You could also create a “freebie” — an enticing piece of free content like an eBook, an MP3 or a study that can be downloaded in exchange for the visitor’s email address.

How you use your list is up to you, but it should definitely align with your overall marketing objectives.

For example, if you’re using digital content marketing to drive traffic, then you can use your mailing list to support this goal by offering a special discount code or announcing a special event at your brick-and-mortar shop. If it’s about getting people to try your product, then offer them a free sample.

While there are a number of ways to approach content marketing, the No. 1 thing you should focus on is creating value for your audience. What do they care about? And, more importantly, how can you be the one to provide something that no one else is?

Editor’s note: GoDaddy Email Marketing is an all-in-one email marketing tool. From collecting email addresses to creating great-looking emails to automated delivery and analytics, it’s all here.

Join the smart marketers now

Nowadays, every brand is looking to stand out from the crowd. With high-quality content marketing, you can. When you commit to educating and helping your audience, you elevate your business from a simple commodity to a brand that people will embrace.

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