To be clear, I didn’t coin this phrase, but I certainly agree wholeheartedly that content may be king, but marketing is queen. And, I’ve written about this before … the notion that content marketing, at its core, IS marketing.
Content marketing is king
Content marketing is the way companies have always communicated the benefits provided by their products and enticed consumers to buy them. Nothing new, except that the internet ushered in a way for consumers to talk back, turning the one-way push of advertising and PR into a two-way dialogue where consumers share their feelings about brands with the brands and each other. Influencers, with large numbers of engaged followers, became trendsetters with an outsized impact on the purchase decisions of followers through their content, especially once traditional media outlets shared it.
Content marketing efforts
In addition to traditional ways to share a company’s content, the internet provides a plethora of options for content marketing including:
- company blogs
- guest posts on blogs belonging to other companies
- review sites like Yelp
- email messages
- social media sites
- SMS (short message services) like Messanger
- Outlets like Medium and Reddit where users share information about their interests
- Wikipedia and other open-source information-sharing sites
- Sites like Slideshare and List.ly
- I probably forgot a few and new ways to share content pop up every day.
And the amount of content submitted to these sites is going through the roof, as you can see below.
Why creating content matters
Need to see some benefits of optimizing your content marketing efforts? Here you go:
- Content marketing generates 3X more leads and costs 64% less than traditional advertising [source]
- 57% of marketers say that content marketing generated new customers [source]
- 72% of marketers say content creation was their top-performing SEO strategy
- 60% of consumers say that a blog post provides value in the early stages of the buying process
- Brands that publish blog posts 16 or more times per month generate 3.5 times more traffic to their websites [source] and acquire new customers.
Creating content is hard
Creating fresh content on a consistent basis is the name of the game when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization). Yet, creating content is hard, time-consuming, and expensive. That’s why most companies plan to increase their budgets for content creation in the coming year.
A content calendar helps keep you on track to meet your content goals while reducing the stress inherent in facing a blank screen with the need to post something new on a daily basis. Use the link above to download my content marketing calendar template that should help with this challenge.
The average time spent creating content is a little over 4 hours. Of course, the amount of effort depends on the modality, with images, multimedia, and video requiring the most time. Reusing old content, such as this post, which was published nearly 10 years ago and forms the basis for shortening the time to create a new post, by updating it or sharing it across more platforms can also reduce the time needed to create content. That’s great because you need a bunch of content every day, as you can see in the graphic below.
Here are some other challenges to consider:
- 65% of marketers say that creating content that ranks well and meets their business needs is challenging [source].
- According to SEMRush, over 40% of marketers don’t have a clear content marketing strategy.
- 47% of marketers say that a tight budget makes content creation challenging
Why marketing is queen
As we discussed above, content marketing is king and you need lots of valuable content to share on a consistent basis. But don’t forget that the content of those missives is important if you want to gain new customers, increase customer spending, and bring back prior customers to improve your bottom line. That’s why marketing is queen. The notion that marketing is queen reflects the importance of WHAT you say in all that content.
As you can imagine from the earlier image, that shows how much content is created every minute, every hour, and every day. there’s a lot of competition for your content. Your little piece will go unnoticed unless you incorporate marketing into your content strategy. I mean, there’s a reason they call it content marketing.
Now, many firms hire journalists to implement their content marketing. And, journalists have many fine qualities and qualifications for writing content — they know how to research, how to write, how to interview, and they’re relatively cheap compared with hiring a marketing professional.
What journalists lack, however, is a marketing background to aid with determining WHAT to write about, how to incorporate subtle influence and build calls to action (CTA), an understanding of the consumer decision-making process and how attitudes, beliefs, norms, social interactions, and other aspects of consumer behavior impact consumers. They don’t know how to include customer support in their content marketing efforts or build word of mouth. They don’t understand other critical aspects of marketing. Don’t forget, content marketing ISN’T journalism, you’re creating content with the idea of stimulating some action — sharing, signing up, buying — that supports your market performance. You’re not creating content just to get read like you would a news article.
Unfortunately, many marketing folks lack the skills necessary to effectively manage DIGITAL marketing tasks — they aren’t trained in SEO (keyword strategy), creating social media engagement, digital analytics, online consumer behavior, graphic design, rudimentary web design, and other skills essential for optimizing your content marketing. That’s why more schools and online training platforms developed courses that blend the skills necessary for content marketing.
Because content marketing, in fact, ALL digital marketing, increasingly requires cross-functional skills, there isn’t a single functional area with the skill set required for effective content marketing implementation. In researching the skills necessary for effective content marketing, I was hard-pressed to find top-ranked websites that included marketing in their skill set, as few recognize that marketing is queen when it comes to content marketing. Instead, they list analytics, organization, management, and a host of other skills. That pervasive notion that marketing has nothing to contribute to marketing (in any venue) reflects the fact that few folks know enough about marketing to know what they don’t know. And, the fact that digital marketers, often without a marketing degree or training, waste time rediscovering key elements that they would already know if they had marketing training, like personas.
How to bring marketing into your content marketing
Marketing is queen because its entire focus is on driving consumers through the conversion process using an understanding of consumer behavior derived from psychology and economic principles like pricing and demand, with a base of applied research directly related to selling products.
Marketing is all about crafting products that consumers want, pricing them to provide value, and then communicating the benefits to a target market in a way that drives them from awareness to conversion and beyond to loyalty. Let’s talk about ways marketing is queen in your content marketing.
Understanding how consumers behave, the steps they traverse in their product journeys, how they think and feel, how they behave in groups and are influenced by group members, what they recall, and how they learn — all these aspects of consumer behavior help determine your content marketing strategies.
A big part of consumer behavior is understanding that all consumers aren’t the same. They want different things, they prioritize different aspects of their lives, they have different lifestyles, and they face different problems. Segmenting consumers into meaningful groups is important if you want to reach your prospective customers in a way that encourages them to make a purchase. Only certain segments are part of your company’s target market (those consumers who offer the best bet for buying your product).
For instance, a target market for a baby food company is composed of those who feed babies on a routine basis like parents of young children, daycare centers, and foster care agencies. Sure, other folks might buy your baby food, but focusing on this target market delivers the highest return for your efforts. Within this target market, however, you have different groups. Hence, you can gain a sustainable competitive advantage by closely aligning your product and content around one of these groups, for instance, parents willing to pay more for organic products. Using images and text that resonates with this group is why marketing is queen — it offers a reason to choose a product that fits your preferences — that’s positioning.
And, the related concept of segmentation and targeting, then positioning your brand to attract your target market is only one aspect of marketing that helps your content resonate with prospective buyers. Above, you see the marketing mix of elements you can use to help attract your target market. Thus, understanding how to price your brand so it represents value to your target market is also important.
Knowing the principles of consumer behavior is only the start, however. You need to understand how consumers respond to groups of consumers underpins notions of influencer marketing that drive product preferences. Topics such as product categories also contribute to your ability to market to your target. For instance, the decision when buying a convenience product is very different than that involved in buying a shopping product.
While consumer behavior isn’t linear and predictions may not be entirely accurate, understanding consumer behavior suggests the most likely actions for driving market performance.
Content marketing isn’t just putting something up and hoping it has an impact. Monitoring the performance of each piece of content in terms of intermediate results, such as view, sharing, etc., and market performance goals, such as lead generation, sales, subscription, etc is important as a metric to monitor your success and as a tool for optimizing performance by identifying those pieces that perform above average.
Content marketers need to understand metrics, be able to access and interpret reports from Google Analytics, etc, conduct A/B testing, and basically decide what’s working and what isn’t. Again, without understanding the marketing aspects involved in product purchase, you only pay attention to terminal performance goals, such as sales without understanding the journey consumers make before they buy something.
A critical aspect of business intelligence, as it applies to content marketing, is knowing WHAT to measure. Instead of focusing on vanity metrics, like Fans and followers, metrics that impact the success of your content marketing strategy are necessary, we call these KPIs or key performance indicators. That means evaluating both the success of your content — # readers, # shares — and its ability to drive market performance — drive visitors down the funnel toward achieving marketing goals.
In addition, listening to consumers is important not only to reach out to dissatisfied customers but as a way of understanding consumers on a deeper level so you can meet their needs.
While social media marketing ISN’T advertising (although the decline in organic social media is accelerating), you still have market-oriented goals — or should have. Every piece of content produced should work toward building your brand and influencing prospective buyers to consider your brand. Your content marketing goals should include being a thought leader in your product area, the place where users turn to learn what’s going on in your industry. Or, you should be the source of interesting, helpful, fun information and stories.
Cialdini recently updated his seminal book on influence and uses the principles very effectively to subtly motivate markets toward action, including the Obama campaign. Knowing how to use these tools effectively is critical for effective content marketing.
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.