With the Digital Age in full swing, conventional marketing tactics have fallen by the wayside. Consumers have gotten tired of seeing sales pitches everywhere they turn. So, instead of using outbound marketing techniques that can be perceived as disruptive and annoying, many leading brands have switched to content marketing.

What is Content Marketing?

When you think of advertising, the first things that enter your mind are probably billboards, flyers, television commercials, radio ads and other traditional methods similar to those.

Content marketing is the use of blogs, books and magazines to boost the online presence of a brand. Instead of shoving an ad in the face of your target audience, you simply provide them with a useful resource that gives them information and subtly promotes your company.

One of the earliest examples of content marketing comes from Jell-O. In 1904, the company offered a free recipe book to their customers. It worked like a charm and resulted in over $1 million in sales.

In today’s world, you can easily adapt this method to work well with digital marketing. Sticking with the Jell-O example, the brand now offers a blog that is full of new recipes. It is free to anyone, which means that it doesn’t require a purchase. Using delicious dessert recipes and enticing photos, the company is indirectly promoting their product through their blog. When a visitor finds a recipe they want to try, they are more likely to buy the required Jell-O pudding product.

That is content marketing at its best.

Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is somewhat similar to content marketing in that they are both non-invasive methods of advertisement. With inbound marketing, brands let the consumers come to them versus the other way around.

No spam emails, no loud radio ads and nothing that feels abrupt or disruptive. However, inbound marketing is a touch more obvious than content marketing.

For example, on the recipe blog, visitors may come across a targeted ad in the form of a pop-up or banner. This is not an unsolicited ad because the potential customer sought out this website. Therefore, they are more open and accepting of advertisements as long as the pop-ups and banners aren’t too intrusive.

Another difference between these two digital marketing techniques is that content marketing focuses more on writing content that will be shared across many different social media platforms while inbound marketing focuses on building a website with content that inspires the visitors to buy a product, fill out a form or subscribe to an email list.

You could look at it this way – content marketing helps to build a relationship between the brand and the consumer while inbound marketing is meant to encourage the consumer to take action.

Benefits of Content Marketing

As we touched on briefly with the Jell-O example, content marketing can drive your sales exponentially.

Everyone loves to feel like they are getting something of value for free. By offering curated content that is created for your target audience, you are providing consumers with a valuable resource. Websites that have useful blogs are great at attracting new leads and keeping old leads hooked.

If the content you offer is valuable enough to your audience, they will most likely subscribe to your email list to be notified every time you post something new. They will also be more inclined to share your blog posts on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which will put your content in front of new eyes.

Essentially, it allows you to build and nurture an online community of loyal fans who will keep coming back for more of your inspiring content.

Crafting the Right Strategy

By now, you’re probably thinking about how you can create a sustainable content strategy. After all, there are only so many blog ideas out there, right?

Here’s where things get fun. There are endless ideas for blogs at your disposal and an overabundance of resources you can use to help – from scheduling posts in advance to coming up with attractive titles – with content creation.

First, if writing is not your strong point, you can outsource this task to a remote freelance writer. These creative professionals are brimming with ideas and can help take the job of writing off your hands. However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t spearhead the content strategy.

Work with your marketing team to come up with a content strategy that works. Decide how often you need to post new content and which platforms are best for your product or service. You don’t want to overload your audience with too many posts. If you post too frequently, your audience either won’t see every post or they will become annoyed by your brand and potentially unsubscribe or unfollow.

Analytics and Reporting

Once your content strategy is in place and moving, track the progress of each post you make. This will allow you to gather data about your target audience, which will help you adapt your content marketing tactics.

With analytics and reporting, you will learn what type of content your audience likes to see by observing which posts were the most successful and which ones were not.

Wrapping Up Content Marketing

Begin working on a content strategy for your brand. To learn more about marketing automation and content marketing, visit the SharpSpring website today.

Katrina McAfee
Over the past 10 years, Katrina has created and implemented marketing plans for industries ranging from health care, transportation, animal welfare and rescue, hospice communities, and much more. At SharpSpring, Katrina’s main focus is coordinating lead generation marketing activities to boost sales for the company.