August
20, 2020

8 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

On the Internet, content is anything that expresses thoughts, information or experiences in written, visual or acoustic form.

This article is content. The 95 million photos uploaded to Instagram today are content. The videos uploaded to YouTube in the last 60 seconds are all content.

The Internet is built with content and has always been. It also means that everyone has content and everyone is creating it all the time.

That creates some confusion when it comes to content versus content marketing. A lot of content is supposed to market a brand. However, this does not mean that the brand is engaged in content marketing.

Here's why.

What does content marketing really look like?

Content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing that focuses on creating and delivering valuable content in order to attract, retain and convert a well-defined audience.

In other words, content is used strategically to provide solutions to problems that either your company or your readers are having. There are plenty of good examples:

  • The fitness brand that creates a community and encourages its subscribers to share knowledge.
  • The home decor retailer who distributes a monthly magazine on minimalism and good household practices.
  • The SaaS platform that uses gamification to encourage users to discover and learn about its features.
  • The travel company that uses an exciting interactive website to promote the experiences they offer.
  • The nutritional supplement website that publishes a vegan recipe blog.

Do you see any difference? All of these efforts position you as an authority in your industry, demonstrate your expertise in your topic in the long term, and encourage trust in your audience by putting their needs and interests first.

How To Tell If You're Getting It Right

You are content marketing (and not just content creation or digital marketing) when your content:

  • Put your audience first. Be customer centric, not company centric. They deliver helpful, valuable content and let customers decide when they trust you enough to buy from you.
  • Links back to a business goal or a solution to a problem. You have determined how your content will work together to achieve your business goals.
  • Rarely, if anything, are you promoting your brand directly. CTAs are great, but they aren't trying to get your readers to agree with your solutions.
  • Attracts readers to your lawn. You build authority by providing readers with a goal to return to over and over again.
  • Published consistently and continuously. You instill trust by proving over time that you are an expert on the matter rather than making one-off publications.
  • Uses metrics to measure and optimize. The data can help you determine what is working well and where you need to improve.

Related: How Are You Improving Email Marketing? Start by improving your list.

To master content marketing, you need to master these 11 content types.

High-performing content is central to your content marketing, but the way you create it can affect or affect your strategy. It is not enough to just create eBooks, blogs, and catchy social media that provide helpful information. They are still biased towards your brand.

People are even starting to understand that now.

However, with all of the content you're still creating, it can be easy to lose focus. Here's an overview of how the eleven main types of content are used in content marketing:

  1. Blogs. Make sure they are optimized for SEO as they are one of the best ways to improve your page ranks. Add a CTA and consider opening comments for further engagement.
  2. Case studies. Illustrate your expertise by taking your readers on a journey to discover solutions to their vulnerabilities.
  3. eBooks. They're great as lead magnets, especially when you're creating a magnetizing title and providing information that people can't find anywhere else.
  4. Emails. Write a straightforward, powerful, and concise copy that contains information that can change the lives of your readers. You are a direct line to your audience and, if done well, can build lasting relationships.
  5. Headlines. Powerful, compelling headlines (that don't sound spammy!) Let your readers know exactly what they're getting. They're also a great way to convey your brand through language.
  6. Meta titles and descriptions. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers and let them know you have the answers they are looking for right now.
  7. Product description. Use keywords to optimize and describe products by benefits rather than features.
  8. Social media posts. Create an experience that puts them at the center and encourages engagement. This will help your audience connect emotionally with your brand and can help you find their weaknesses.
  9. Video scripts. Tell your brand story in an engaging way. You can also put the script text on the page to make your content more accessible and improve search engine optimization.
  10. Internet content. Post important or helpful information, add a clear CTA, and use high quality images to create a meaningful message.
  11. White papers. Do in-depth research into relevant topics and give your target audience ideas that they can apply to their own problems or daily life.

Related Topics: What You Need to Know About the LinkedIn Stories Feature

Content marketing works: an example

I hope I've shown the importance of content creation to content marketing by now. Just because you are creating content doesn't mean you are content marketing.

I want to take things home with an example.

Let's say we're building a sportswear brand and looking for ways to get more customers to our ecommerce website. We decided to reach out to content marketing for help. It could look like this:

1. You want to increase your brand's exposure on Google and social media, but you don't want to keep bothering your readers with ads. How else can you get your brand in front of your readers?

You decide the best way forward is to start a blog full of topics that will interest your readers. Some things that come to mind are clean eating, home exercise, and personal empowerment. Of course, you can talk about clothes too, but your models can all wear your brand so no more direct advertising is required.

2. You start your blog, set up your social media and let your followers know.

Engagement metrics show that readers are most excited about exercising at home. As you go through their comments, you will notice that things like staying focused, finding the right place, and sticking to a schedule are the main pain points they have.

3. You create an online guide to training at home.

They use a combination of challenging eBooks available as lead magnets and exercise video tutorials hosted on your website. To demonstrate how popular your guides are, create a way for users to track their progress and encourage one another.

4. To keep engagement, start an email newsletter with the latest challenges, shoutouts for people who have achieved their goals, and the occasional promo here or there.

Meanwhile, you'll keep growing your online community and adding more content to your blog that addresses questions or vulnerabilities. They even start a hashtag that your followers can use to highlight their fitness efforts so they can get the word out about you.

5. At some point you will find that you can enrich your readers' experience with case studies and white papers.

You begin to include “white papers” on health and fitness that are relevant to your target audience. You will also begin by creating case studies of “success stories” from your community.

6. As soon as fitness centers notice what you are doing, they will receive offers for sponsored classes and requests to sell your brand in their stores.

Your content marketing now extends the reach of your brand to the offline world. You will continue all of the above efforts as the results fuel further content production.

Can you spot all eleven content types above? Look closely. You are here.

(Bonus: Do you know which brand I just described? Spoiler: This is Athleta's content marketing strategy. For more information, please visit https://events.athleta.com/.)

Now you know the difference between content and content marketing in 2020.

The main difference between content and content marketing? Content marketing is much more than just content creation. In fact, the emphasis is not on content creation, but on creating an experience that will make your readers' lives better. Putting your readers first, addressing weaknesses, and consistently producing content of exceptional quality will build your brand while maintaining authority and trust. This is content marketing.

Hopefully I've left you an idea or two about your content marketing strategy. Now go ahead and turn that audience into passionate fans.

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