Content Marketing | 15 Min Read

Content Marketing: Meaning, Examples, Strategy, and Resources

Kyle Ranta

Kyle Ranta

January 29, 2021

Content Marketing: Meaning, Examples, Strategy, and Resources

Table of Contents

    You’ve probably heard the popular phrase (content marketing) before. The term has seen continued use within marketing culture since its start in the mid-90s.

    Using this concept is key for many companies and marketers for a valid reason, it works.

    This article is long because there’s a lot to cover. We realize this much information can be overwhelming. Feel free to check out the table of contents and skip to sections that interest you.

    Please bookmark this article so you can come back and reference it later. We even have several sections if you want a quick overview. You can also find actionable steps to get you going in the right direction faster.

    So, are you ready to take your content marketing research to the next level? Let’s uncover what content marketing is, who’s using it, why it’s important, and look at few real-world examples.

    What Is Content Marketing?

    Content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy that builds authentic relationships with an audience by consistently producing high-quality, engaging, and relevant content.

    By connecting the power of storytelling, reliability, personality, authenticity, and authority on a topic, product, or specific industry, you can steadily gain the confidence, trust, and respect of your audience.

    When you provide value to your audience and try your best to entertain them, solve their problems, or encourage them to make better decisions. Your audience will likely be grateful for your efforts, and who knows, they may even thank you by purchasing your products or services.

    Contrary to some other marketing methods, content marketing shows you care about your customers. Some alternative or traditional methods can feel cold, intrusive, irrelevant, or detached in comparison.

    Seth Godin, an influential author, designer, and marketer, has even said this bold statement,

    Content marketing is the only marketing left.

    Not sure I agree entirely, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

    Today, people want to feel connection more than ever, this much is undoubtedly true, and with all the noise of the internet, attention is our most valuable resource. It’s why content marketing and marketing, in general, is changing.

    I’ll give it to you straight. Content marketing isn’t easy. It’s hard. Some would even say it’s more of an art than a science, but the opportunities and benefits are worth the effort if done consistently and authentically.

    Why Use Content Marketing?

    Marketing has become increasingly competitive. That’s good for buyers but bad if you’re having trouble adapting or trying to achieve a better ROI.

    If you’re having trouble with your current methods, you should consider giving content marketing a try.

    Why? Content marketing delivers significant results for businesses that have effectively used it as their strategy. Maybe it can work for you too.

    Content marketing can be an effective method for growing audience engagement, developing your brand presence, and driving sales.

    It’s a long-term solution and growth method that can work for most businesses with the focus, resources, and creatives to make it happen.

    HubSpot wrote a pretty impressive article on the 7 Benefits of Consistent, High-Quality Content Marketing.

    Key Takeaways Icon

    Key Takeaways

    • You can increase audience retention
    • You gain better social media traction
    • You establish trust with your audience
    • You generate leads
    • You improve conversions
    • You enhance your SEO efforts
    • It helps you build authority

    That’s a pretty good list. Let me add to the list just a bit more.

    • You can cultivate customer loyalty and have better customer relationships and user journeys.
    • You can educate and help your audience with resources, guides, entertainment, and value.
    • You develop a better understanding of your ideal client or customer.
    • You can attract the ideal client or customer.
    • You can set yourself apart from your competitors.

    Content Marketing Statistics

    Not convinced that content marketing works?

    “The CMI’s digital content marketing stats show that 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement. Also, 72% say it has increased the number of leads.

    Tiger Fitness has one of our favorite content marketing ROI case studies. They got a 60% returning customer rate with video content marketing.

    That’s an excerpt from Optinmonster who wrote an article titled: 85 Fascinating Content Marketing Statistics To Make You A Marketing Genius.

    Key Takeaways Icon

    Key Takeaways

    • 95% of people only look at the first page of search results.
    • Half of the clicks on SERPs go to the top 3 results.
    • Blog post titles with 6-13 words get the most traffic.
    • 45% of global internet users aged 25-34 listen to podcasts.
    • Video is trusted by 40% of millennials.
    • 33% of all webinar signups occur on the day of the webinar.
    • 93% of marketers see interactive content as effective.
    • More searches now happen on mobile devices than desktops.
    • 53% of visitors leave your site if the content doesn't load in 3 seconds or less.
    • 79% of B2B buyers share white papers with colleagues.
    • Hubspot's top lead magnet ebook in 2017 was shared more than 12,000 times.
    • Among Facebook users, 75% visit the site at least once a day.
    • Facebook and YouTube are key channels to reach older online users. Snapchat and Instagram rule for the younger demographic.
    • Google says people use YouTube mainly for solutions, entertainment, and learning new things.

    That’s a lot of information to unpack. Using this information together with other research can help you determine a direction for your brand and we hope it does.

    What Are the Different Kinds of Content Marketing?

    There are many options for producing content, and finding a system that works best with your company and team can be tricky.

    Here at Pixl Labs, we understand it can be hard to take that first step. This is why we offer growth-oriented content marketing solutions custom to your business to get you moving forward faster.

    If you’re interested in learning more about our services, be sure to visit our services page. In the meantime, here’s more valuable information to help your business grow and thrive.

    HubSpot wrote a pretty extensive article on The 12 Types of Content Marketing in a Marketer’s Arsenal.

    Here are some of the primary content marketing types:

    • Blogs
    • Videos
    • Infographics
    • Case Studies
    • eBooks
    • User-generated content
    • Checklists
    • Memes
    • Testimonials/Reviews
    • Whitepapers
    • How-to Guides and Academies
    • Influencers and Paid Ad Content

    We hope you use one or more of these content types to help your business grow, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask us for help.

    Terms to Know

    Content: information made available by a website or other electronic medium.

    Marketing: the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

    Strategy: a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

    Subscriber: a person who receives a publication regularly.

    Content management system (CMS): A content management system is computer software used to manage the creation and modification of digital content. CMSs are typically used for enterprise content management and web content management.

    HubSpot: HubSpot is an American developer and marketer of software products for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service.

    The History of Content Marketing

    People often speak about content marketing like it’s a new phrase. It’s not. Yes, popularity has increased in recent years, but content marketing principles have been around for centuries.

    If you are interested in content marketing, it may benefit you to see where it began.

    Here’s an excellent documentary about the history of content marketing from contentmarketinginstitute.com. They do a great job explaining content marketing history, but it’s a 45-minute video.

    I’ve summarized the video’s main points below if you want some key takeaways:

    • Content marketing is as old as time.
    • Content marketing came before “traditional” advertisements.
    • Major media outlets used to control audience attention and had all the marketing power.
    • The advertiser and publisher would have to compete for attention through the same channels and interrupt viewers and listeners through expensive and intrusive ads.
    • Major media no longer holds this power, and brands are finding creative ways to become their own publishing companies and produce their own content for their own audience.

    Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication, and people have been selling their ideas and beliefs through stories since cave drawings.

    Marketing methods since the 1960s have centered mainly on persuasion. TV, radio, and print media placed advertisements throughout regularly scheduled entertainment and news programs because that’s where the audience tuned in.

    Your neighbor saw the same advertisements you did, and advertisements didn’t discriminate based on age, gender, sex, etc. Consequently, advertisements were often irrelevant to the primary audience.

    Mass market media was probably the best way to market in those days.

    That’s about as brief as I can get when discussing content marketing history. Now let’s look into more specific content marketing aspects and determine the pros and cons.

    The Pros and Cons of Content Marketing

    Cons:

    • It can be time-consuming.
    • It’s a long-term commitment, and you can spend months before seeing results.
    • There’s a learning curve. Taking risks, Failing forward, and readjusting is key.
    • Content marketing is hard work.
    • You need to be creative and have a diverse skillset. Or take a risk and allow others to be creative.
    • It’s difficult with a small team and expensive to outsource.
    • It could still require promotion and paid advertising to be competitive.

    Pros:

    • The basic principles are actually quite simple.
    • You build trust, authority, and confidence with your audience.
    • It can be cheaper than traditional marketing if your willing to invest your time.
    • You get a very clear picture of who your audience is and what they want from a brand like yours.
    • You could end up with a loyal following of almost cult-like patrons.
    • You create an asset that lasts.
    • Your audience could start marketing for you.

    The Power of Storytelling

    I’ll start here with a short, personal story to make a point.

    When I was around eight years old, my dad asked me to go out into the front yard and rake the leaves. I remember the excitement I felt to please my dad by completing this first-time outdoor chore. I wanted to make him proud and show him I could be responsible.

    My young self had the bright idea to make the tedious task a bit more fun. I thought I would rake the leaves into a pile underneath my favorite tree, A tree which I climbed often. It was kind of my go-to childhood climbing tree if you know what I mean.

    I raked a massive pile of leaves underneath the tree to start. Work is easy and could be made fun, I thought. Then I climbed the tree to the top of a branch, probably around 8 to 12 feet off the ground. I climbed out onto the branch, hanging on with my arms and feet, my body facing the sky, and I let go.

    I remember being very scared, but I trusted that the leaves would break my fall. I quickly fell through the air, crashed through the leaves, and hit the ground with an incredible impact.

    It knocked the breath out of me and was very painful. I don’t remember what happened next. I’m assuming I eventually finished my chore or went into the house and gave up. I can’t remember.

    I use this story as an allegory for life. Sometimes, when we try new things, we find ourselves in situations where we lack experience.

    We do our best with joy and creativity and try to make it meaningful and fun, and we trust what we know to be true. But life has unexpected and unpredictable circumstances, and sometimes when we “trust our leaf pile” to catch our fall we end up getting hurt instead.

    How you learn from your mistakes and how you adapt and become better is powerful. I learned a valuable lesson that day, and I’m proud that I wasn’t afraid to fall.

    For these reasons, you should buy our Amazing Rioba 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Battery Leaf Vacuum/Blower/Mulcher Outdoor All-Purpose machine! Only $129.99! For all your leaf processing needs!

    What I just did there at the end, with the advertisement, that’s NOT good content marketing. However, captivating your audience with purposeful and exciting stories is content marketing.

    Your audience most likely knows that you provide services or products. Storytelling is about subtlety and building a trusting relationship with them, not blatant or intrusive sales tactics.

    To clarify, the most simple form of content marketing is storytelling and not directly marketing to your audience. People can tell when you’re selling them, and most people have become numb to it.

    The Power of People

    Some brands have mastered content marketing and gained an almost cult-like following as a result.

    People are a valuable resource, and once you gain their loyalty, they will go out of their way to support your products, services and create opportunities for you. Some may even do the marketing for you.

    Word of mouth is still the most potent form of marketing, and when people know you care about them, they return the favor.

    The Power of Personality

    People are fun to watch and learn from, and many content marketing strategies, whether the people who are implementing it know it or not, utilize personality through their marketing.

    You can see this with brands like Progressive, and their famous spokesperson, Flo. Her wit, charm, and energy are great, and the company is always trying to entertain firstly and market to you secondly.

    I’m sure they pay their creatives well to come up with fun, entertaining, and exciting concepts because, let’s face it, car insurance is boring, and they need interesting content.

    You also see this a lot with popular youtube channels. They entertain or inform their audience and provide them consistent content and make marketing a rare and well thought out event.

    The power of personality can be a massive strategy for content marketing, but it’s not a necessity or requirement. The next concept is.

    The Power of Consistency

    So what does Flo and all the famous YouTubers have in common? Consistency. Being predictable builds trust. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how often you put out content as long as your audience knows you’re creating on a regular basis. They can rely on you to continue to meet their expectations and be present in their life.

    The Power of Creativity

    If you feel the market is saturated and don’t know how to make your business stand out, you’re not alone.

    Hiring creative people and giving them creative liberties could help you find ideas and marketing methods that you may have overlooked. Building a reliable team is no easy task, but if you’re looking to scale you should consider it.

    Actionable Steps

    Do extensive research. Yes, research a topic(keywords), user personas, competitors, resources, talent, etc.

    After you think your done researching, research some more, the more data you find and organize, the easier it will be to come across a combination of unique and perfect ideas for your audience.

    I know saying it is a lot easier than doing it, and sure, you need to get started sooner than later, but make sure you’re always thinking and improving the research you conduct.

    Consider hiring talented creatives who can help you create content, improve your system, and help with UX. Make sure you think about content that’s appropriate to your brand, goals, and style.

    Utilize online communities. There are all kinds of key information out there, and you could easily find content that people are actively talking about if you dig deep enough.

    Focus on high-quality content and not on deadlines. Posting every Tuesday doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to be consistent but if the content isn’t well thought out, high quality, or entertaining, you will run out of gas fast. People will get tired of seeing content that isn’t high quality.

    Reach out to people who make content that works well with your brand. These people wouldn’t be direct competitors, but they may still be in your general space.

    For example, If I was a personal trainer, I might reach out to a company that makes protein bars. Or maybe a company that talks about healthy living but doesn’t offer personal training services specifically.

    Develop consistent UX practices and adjust to what works and what doesn’t.

    Trying new big ideas keeps your content fresh and unique. You will find a steady content structure if you keep at it, find what works, rinse, and repeat.

    Be different. Look at what your competitors are doing and do something else.

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    Examples of Content Marketing Done Right

    There are numerous examples of content marketing done right. Here we’ve curated some of our favorites. Hopefully, you look into this area of study a little further and get ideas to engage your audience.

    Before we share our examples, we have another amazing list from Optinmonster with their article titled: 25 Clever Content Marketing Examples with Amazing Results.

    Here’s a quick way to jump to a section that sparks your interest:

    Here are some of our favorite examples that provide learning opportunities:

    Resources for Content Marketing

    Let’s Talk

    No matter what content marketing path you choose to take make sure it resonates with your brand and audience. Make sure you’re pushing to new limits and striving for greatness. Not all of us have the same budgets or resources. So being creative and collaborative is key. Also, finding a great team to help you along the way can make all the difference.

    Here at Pixl Labs, we create custom & intuitive websites that grow your business with an epic, responsive, and creative team, and we specialize in helping our clients make the most out of HubSpot’s CMS.

    If you need a website that works for you and not the other way around. Please contact us. We want to know more about your business.

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