What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on the creation of in-depth content for a user who is researching a particular product or service. Instead of pitching your audience advertisements and promos, provide them with information they might actually find useful (which conveniently ladder back to your brand). That’s the basis of content marketing, and it’s why you’ve been seeing more infographics, fun social media posts, and compelling articles produced by all kinds of companies—everyone from NerdWallet to Microsoft uses content marketing techniques to drive sales, save on traditional advertising costs, and build brand loyalty.

How Content Marketing Works

  1. Solving an audience’s pain point

    Content marketers begin by asking two questions: 1. What audience I’m trying to reach? 2. What are their needs? These questions drive the process. Without knowing these answers, your content won’t cater to the right people with the right problems, and your work will go unnoticed.

  2. Build your content around specific deliverables

    It’s crucial to pick the right vehicle for delivering your content. Coming up with a format is easy—you’ve got infographics, e-books, and even memes—picking the right medium is hard. Your format becomes the framework for your content, so weigh the strategic assets and drawbacks of each option.

  3. Optimize continuously

    Start gauging performance as soon as you’ve activated your content in order to maximize reach. Let’s say you published an FAQ to address common concerns of your audience, but engagement rates aren’t as high as you hoped. It’s okay to repurpose the content in a different format—an illustrated product guide would have answered your audience’s questions more effectively.

Content Marketing Best Practices

  1. Produce content with your audience—not company stakeholders—in mind

    In the eyes of a company executive, a white paper might seem like it would hit your business objectives—making your audience aware of new product features, for example—but your audience isn’t likely to even click on it, much less read the report.

  2. Scope out the content your audience shares

    To produce something you know will resonate with your audience, think about what kind of content they’re already consuming. Research their preferences—what do they share on social media? What kind of movies do they watch? Then frame content that matches their habits.

  3. Keep it simple, surprising, and significant

    Memorize this metric. What delights your audience? What inspires them? Informs them? Content marketers often think about what would be useful for their audiences, and while they should definitely keep that top of mind, they should expand to other values as well—the more you can offer you audience, the more likely they are to engage with your content.