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Using digital marketing to grow your business can be a web of  confusion if you’re new to it, or even if you’re used to focusing on one particular area. In this article, we’ll look at an overview of the main aspects of digital marketing, so that you can get a birdseye view and start to visualise how an integrated, strategic digital marketing program might help you and your business to flourish.

By Ellie Keft

August 14, 2021

What is content marketing?

So, what is content marketing?

As I briefly explained in the episode detailing digital marketing overall, ‘Content marketing’ is the creation and distribution of content like blogs, e-books, social media posts, videos, podcasts, and more, to draw in your ideal customer or audience.

So anyway, typically, when people talk about content marketing, they’re talking about ‘organic’ or unpaid distribution of content and it’s usually referring to online content rather than offline. Offline is still part of it, like magazines and so on, it’s just usually not a big part of it.

Content marketing can happen on multiple platforms, either standalone or as an integrated system. It’s usually most effective when it’s integrated and strategic, but more on that later.

Content can be produced and distributed on three categories of platform; your owned, paid and earned platforms.

So, some platforms you ‘own’ (in inverted commas), meaning you have full control over them, like your website; some you pay for like ads or sponsorship; and some you’ve “earned” through reputation, virality of content and messaging… things like publicity pieces, unsolicited reviews, word of mouth and sharing your content.

So it all technically fits under the umbrella of content marketing but most of the focus, for me at least, is usually on the organic forms of marketing on your owned or close to owned platforms.

To quickly explain what I mean there—social media is technically an ‘owned’ platform because you built your own audience, but given what happened with Facebook a few months ago, where they took down all news content, I think it’s safer to assume that social media is more of a ‘tenuously rented’ platform rather than an ‘owned’ one.

OK moving on… you still with me? I know it’s a lot! But getting this overview will be useful moving forward, and you’ll start to get the gist of it all over time.

    Most important things in a content program

    Alright, now we have all that out of the way, let’s chat about a few things that are essential to a great content marketing program.

    I like to call them the THREE ESSES but only because I couldn’t be bothered to think of anything more catchy haha!!

    So a good content marketing program is STRATEGIC, has great SYSTEMS in place, and requires some good, old fashioned STAMINA.

    Strategy

    Approaching content in your business STRATEGICALLY means asking great questions and making some big decisions; WHERE, WHY, WHO and HOW.

    That is, WHERE you want to end up (which is your OBJECTIVE), WHY you want to end up there (your PURPOSE or CAUSE), WHO you want to serve, and HOW you can get there including which platforms are the best for you and your biz, and what resources and skills you have available to you (TACTICS and METHODS).

    We chatted a little bit about brand strategy in the last ep, and it’s the same sort of stuff I’m talking about here. A brand strategy is a bit different to a content marketing strategy, but it’s all interwoven.

    A big part of creating an integrated content marketing strategy is mapping out what’s called the customer journey and understanding what’s called the life cycle stages.

    I’ll do a more in-depth episode on this, but the customer journey is just a map of the touchpoints your customer goes through from when they first interact with your brand, to when they exit. Touchpoints are any moment they come into contact with you or your brand.

    And the ‘customer lifecycle stages’ are just the phases a customer moves through on the customer journey. These include AWARENESS + ENGAGEMENTl CONSIDERATION + EDUCATION, EVALUATION + DECISION, PURCHASE + CX, RETENTION + UPGRADE, and ADVOCACY + INITIATION.

    A customer journey and the lifecycles they move through isn’t linear, it’s important to point out.

    People may move forward, then back, then skip a step, and there’s no set duration for how long each stage will or should take. Someone might find out about you and buy your product 2 minutes later. Or, they could follow you for years, researching your product and engaging with your content, before making a purchase.

    So that’s a little taste-tester for you on content marketing strategy.

    Systems

    Let’s move on to systems.

    Setting up SYSTEMS and processes to help you achieve your content goals is, I think, where most people fall short and is the reason why most people struggle or falter when trying to do content marketing.

    ‘Processes’ generally refers to the documented SOPs (or ‘standard operating procedures’) that you can put in place, and ‘systems’ is more about the actual activities you have going on in your business to help it run more smoothly.

    The idea with systems and processes is to eventually—whether you want to or not—be able to step away from the business and have it still function, even thrive.

    Even with you around, a business with systems and processes will be more consistent, more efficient, and more scalable (if that’s one of your goals).

    You can use systems and processes for content marketing for things like: content production, content distribution, lead generation, email list building, email marketing, social media scheduling, social media advertising and other retargeting systems.

    This could be something like a centralised project management software or spreadsheet or a content calendar with easy-to-follow components that anyone could open up, understand and take action on.

    It could also be that way in which you time block your diary for weekly content production. That is, setting aside a weekly block of time to move forward with content production.

    Or perhaps the documentation you have available for a VA (a virtual assistant) when they come on-board, with the intention being that they could step into your business and you’d be able to quickly and easily tell them what you need and how you’d like them to do it.

    When you’re thinking about different systems for your content marketing, it’s good to ask yourself these three things; what are the different components or stages of the tasks, who will do the task, and when or how often does the task need to be completed.

    One of the final levels of evolution is when you’re able to automate these systems, making it all less labour and emotionally intensive. Obviously you can’t automate all your content marketing, but there are a bunch of things you can automate that would help, like approvals processes, files and data transfer, email sequences, social media posts, and social media ads, and so on.

    Stamina

    And finally, being consistent with your plan, having the STAMINA to push through is a massive part of content marketing success.

    If you say you’re going to do X, Y and Z, you’re gonna need the determination to prioritise those tasks because you know how important it is.

    And, the stamina to stick at it regularly, consistently, over a period of time, trusting the process you, or someone like me, has laid out for you.

    Content marketing takes time, so it can help to connect back into your WHY, or perhaps your purpose or bigger cause.

    I mentioned it in the last episode on brand strategy, but if you do want to start defining your WHY, check out my FINDING YOUR WHY workbook. You can download it for FREE.

    Another couple of things that should help with sticking to your content marketing plan, just quickly…

    Firstly, understanding the benefits is super important, which is why the next episode will be covering why content marketing is important. When you really start to get a feel for how content marketing might change your business and your life, sticking to your intentions is much easier. Seeing other people who’ve seen great success doing this is really important too, in terms of visualising that success for yourself.

    And secondly, measuring and analysing your behavioural data will really help, especially if you’re a numbers person, because you’ll get some tangible statistics that you just won’t be able to argue with!

    A good content marketing program is STRATEGIC, has great SYSTEMS in place, and requires some good, old fashioned STAMINA.

    This article is based on an episode of my podcast, Unearth Your Herd… check it out!

    Why is content marketing important?

    So, why is it important? Why bother with content marketing?!

    #1 Creating Genuine Relationships + Community

    Let’s start with reason number 1, content marketing creates genuine relationships and a strong, connected community.

    For me, this is the biggest, and MOST important reason.

    And I’m not talking about just a bunch of customers that buy your stuff, but a fair dinkum community!

    And I guess this gets to the crux of it all really, because if all you really want to do is make money, then there might be quicker, dirtier ways to do that.

    Content marketing allows you to create genuine, reciprocal relationships with the people in your ecosystem, in your digisphere.

    By consistently creating and sharing content that really, truly helps people in some way, you’re building trust and building a community of people around you who will be loyal advocates for your brand.

    I’ll go into this in a later episode, but content generally has one of four purposes, to inspire, to educate, to entertain or to convert, all of which are an opportunity to provide value and genuinely change people’s lives, incrementally.

    And just creating content isn’t enough, it needs to be combined with robust audience and keyword research, as well as a solid strategy.

    So that’s point number one, creating genuine relationships and building a resilient community.

    #2 Building your Authority + Trust

    The second reason why content marketing is important, is that it will help to build the authority of your brand, and it’ll increase people’s trust in your brand. Some content can also be really useful in building your personal authority; anything that has you delivering content in your own voice.

    And when I say ‘authority’ I mean, people need to know that you’ve earned your stripes when it comes to your offering.

    And ‘authority’ is also a massive part of Google’s algorithm, when deciding to rank you in their search results or not.

    I’ll go into this in next week’s episode, which is all about SEO or ‘search engine optimisation’.

    Another thing that content is great for is to help people to get a sense for the passion that you have for the industry, and that you’re passionate about sharing, educating and connecting with customers, clients and peers.

    It shows that you give a shit, basically! And that you’re genuinely invested in connecting with people and making their lives better.

    And when you think about it, passion is actually a form of authority. For me at least, how passionate someone is about a particular topic definitely correlates with how much I enjoy their content! Obviously the content needs to have substance, it needs to be accurate. But the passion really sells me on it.

    Let me give you a few examples of content marketing to build authority; it could be a regular podcast that shares free resources, or could be in the form of a weekly YouTube tutorial or blog article, answering the questions of your client or customer base.

    Or, it could also be a quarterly industry report, survey or case study that peers and colleagues look forward to, that they can use to upskill and keep ‘on-the-pulse’ with current research and trends.

    So that’s number two; creating authority and trust.

    #3 Customer Lifecycle Value

    Ok onto point number three; content marketing allows you to serve your audience throughout their entire journey with you, and not JUST at the beginning.

    Serving someone at the beginning requires WAY more work than it does once they already know, like and trust you, and it’s also far more expensive to ‘acquire’ new customers than it is to ‘retain’ them.

    So, why is it important to continue to serve people once they become a customer?

    Because you’ve already done all the hard work by that stage!

    And because provided you continue to produce the content that your existing audience wants to consume, you’ll be able to dramatically reduce churn rates. Meaning, you’ll be able to keep people around for longer.

    So when we’re doing content marketing strategically, we map out the journey that a person goes on when they interact with you, looking closely at the lifecycle phases they move through (which I mentioned briefly in the last episode).

    And a little bit down the track, when we move on to some more advanced tactics, we’ll look at a spicy, slightly confusing metric known as the ‘Customer Lifecycle Value,’ or the ‘CLV.’

    I won’t go too far into it just now, but basically the Customer Lifetime Value is the amount of money a customer is expected to spend with you throughout their entire period of time interacting with your brand.

    And in the context of continuing to serve your people throughout their entire journey with you, this is a super important metric.

    And it’s important because it helps you to understand and comprehend the potential value of existing customers, and how beneficial it will be for you and your business to put in the effort to keep them around.

    Photo credit: Nastuh Abootalebi

    #4 Compounding Returns with Evergreen Content

    And that’s the idea that content marketing generates compounding returns, similar to compound interest, which I’m pretty sure most of us learnt about in high school, am I right?

    So this is a similar concept. The traffic that your website receives from high quality, well-researched content that ranks for relevant terms in Google, will continue to build over time as it grows in rankings and authority.

    That’s why successful content marketing programs take, on average, 2 years of consistent effort to really take off.

    So just quickly, in content marketing, there are two main types of content that we can produce; temporal and evergreen. Temporal is timely, newsy, relevant to the moment content. Evergreen is always useful, not tied to or reliant on a particular time.

    To build a content marketing program that makes the most of compounding traffic you need a combination of the two, but it’s the evergreen content that will really start to build over time.

    It’s a bit hard to explain in words, and really works much better looking at a graph, but a buzzy, clicky piece of content will do well initially, attracting attention for as long as the topic is still newsworthy, but it’ll drop off shortly afterwards.

    Evergreen content might take longer to build, but it will be searchable years after its published.

    #5 Lead Generation + List building

    Another reason content marketing is so important is its lead generation and email list building abilities.

    Finding new people that will interact with you, buy with you, book with you, etc. is MUCH easier when you are giving them something of value in exchange for their engagement.

    And having someone give you their email address is also much more successful when they are getting something they value in return.

    In the case of SEO, for example, someone has searched a particular thing in Google or their search engine, and your article has shown up, answering ALL of their questions. They’re happy, they’re grateful, and they’re more likely to either sign up for your email list, or perhaps more likely to engage with any other content you put in front of them in the future.

    I’ll talk much more about all of this in future episodes because it’s a really big topic and my voice is getting tired!

    #6 Boost Conversions

    So in many cases—and this is a little bit of a generalisation—organic content marketing converts at a higher rate than paid marketing and advertising.

    And as we discussed in the last episode, content marketing is more often than not, organic—that is, it’s not a paid tactic like paid ads.

    There are a bunch of theories in psychology and behavioural economics that talk about the idea that if we make our own decisions (or think that we have made our own decisions) and we’ve come to a conclusion ourselves, rather than had it thrust upon us, we’re more likely to take action.

    I’ll go into more detail on some of that later on, but how it applies to content marketing is that by gradually serving and educating, you’re giving someone the ability to make up their own mind. You’re also ensuring that you’re showing up wherever they are when they’re ready to make that decision. Does that make sense?

    #7 Increase Social Media Engagement

    So the last reason for today, about why content marketing is so important, is that sharing great content on your social media platforms drives engagement and connection both on those social media platforms and off them.

    So you’ll come to know this about me, but I’m a bit of a social media naysayer.

    Obviously I do use social media a lot, so I’m not saying don’t use it.

    But my big schtick is to just really make sure that social media is part of a system and there’s a strategy to get them OFF those platforms.

    Meaning, it’s not enough just to have ‘followers’. Firstly, they don’t convert as well as say, email subscribers.

    And secondly, Facebook (which includes Instagram), can do whatever they want whenever they want to. So you can’t rely on those followers always being there, and that you’ll always be able to communicate with them like you want to.

    BUT social media is a fantastic starting point, or what’s called ‘top of the funnel’ or ‘TOFU’- which I love because I’m a crazy hippie vegetarian.

    So basically, when you’re building an audience on Instagram, there also needs to be a strategy to get them onto your website, and onto your email list.

    THEN that’s effective content marketing.

    So to wrap that point up, content marketing on social media is important because it’s a fantastic entry point for new people entering your ecosystem, and sharing great content on those platforms will attract lots of new followers, which you can hopefully convert to leads and them customers, with some intelligent strategy.

    This article is based on an episode of my podcast, Unearth Your Herd… check it out!

    Ok guys, take a deep breath for me…

    I know there was a lot of information there.

    For some of you, you might be like ACTION… “I must go and do all the things right now!!”

    And others might be pulled over in their cars hyperventilating and considering selling your business.

    Please, if you’re the second one, you’re freaking out. Please remember this. Your biz has come as far as it’s come potentially without ANY of that shit I just discussed.

    By not doing this stuff, nothing will change. You’re not going to suddenly start drowning just because you’re more aware of what you could be doing to market your business.

    PLUS, remember this. There will ALWAYS be enough customers or audience members out there for you. You just need to find them. So don’t worry if you’re just getting your head around marketing. Moving slowly isn’t a bad thing.

    Alright. Let me know if you have any questions at all, come and say hi over to our Instagram, or head to the question form.

    Want to stay in touch?

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    We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land we predominantly work on, the Ngunnawal people. We recognise that ‘Australia’ was founded on the dispossession of First Nations people, that sovereignty was never ceded, and that this country always was and always will be, their land. Hiatus Studios pays our rent by making monthly donations to Healing Foundation, which supports Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities.

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