Selling tactics have changed dramatically in the 21st century. You probably wouldn't ever buy something from a door-to-door salesman today (if you even answered the door in the first place).
But, if you saw a company’s blog on the top things you should buy your dad this Christmas—then you just might bite.
This is content marketing in action. Today, content marketing is instrumental for building trust, credibility, and brand authority. Content marketing is so effective that 90% of companies who use it plan to invest at least as much money into content this year as they did last year.
So, what’s the magic behind content marketing? And how can you become a successful content marketer?
What is content marketing?
Content marketing uses a variety of content to attract, engage, and convert buyers over time. A content strategy might involve blogs, podcasts, emails, social media posts, videos, and more—anything that interests and brings value to your company’s target audience.
The goal of content marketing is to naturally loop in buyers. For example, a brand may choose to publish articles intended to educate customers on a trend or problem plaguing their industry. While these articles may not outrightly pitch customers on a product or service, they serve to build trust and establish the brand as a go-to source of information. Over time, this content increases the company’s credibility, and warms audiences to their products.
What does a content marketer do?
A content marketer identifies the best way to approach content, create it, and analyze it. Some larger companies may have entire teams focused on content, while startups or small businesses may rely on one or two content marketers to lead the charge.
Here’s a closer look at the types of responsibilities you’ll take on as a content marketer.
It goes without saying that every piece of content should have a purpose. For instance, you might use an ebook to collect email addresses of prospective customers, or make a TikTok video to encourage customers to engage with your brand.
As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to take internal and external research to determine the best ways to set and reach specific goals. You should know how all of your content works together and helps to achieve larger business goals, like converting customers and improving brand reputation.
Your content strategy will include numerous pieces of content that need to go live at the right time. In your role, you’ll be creating a content calendar that keeps your team on track and helps you maintain a consistent flow of goal-driven content.
Beyond establishing the content calendar, you’ll likely help to manage production from start to finish. Whether that means managing freelancers or creating content yourself, you’ll need to make sure that everything is on schedule—or pivot things as needed.
As mentioned above, content creation may involve a mix of people: writers, graphic designers, and social media managers to name a few. Or, you might do the brunt of the work yourself. You work can include a variety of content types:
- Social media posts
- Images, such as infographics or product pics
- Case studies
- And more
No matter the medium, you’ll need to make sure that everything that gets published follows your brand’s style guidelines. You’ll also need to be cognizant of SEO best practices when producing blogs or web pages that are intended to rank on search engines like Google.
The only way to know if your content meets its goals is to analyze the results. Content marketers use KPIs and stats to see how well each piece of content performs. These metrics may include how much time visitors spend on the page, how many people actually see the content, and the number of leads that each piece generates.
You’ll likely be creating reports to document your progress towards your goals, and to inform your strategies moving forward.
5 ways to become a strong content marketer
Content marketing isn’t a walk in the park. You’ll need to hone in and sharpen a few skills to make sure that your content yields the results that you’re looking for. Here are a few tips for training to become a successful content marketer.
1. Get familiar with different marketing channels
The internet offers numerous ways to consume content. As technology advances, new channels are being developed and growing in popularity. Take TikTok’s meteoric rise, for example.
As a content marketer, it’s your job to understand how these channels work and how they appeal to your audience. More importantly, you have to discern which platforms and trends are right for your brand. After all, investing time and money into content that won’t connect with your audience is wasteful and unproductive.
When considering a channel for your content strategy, ask yourself questions like:
- Is my targeted demographic active and engaged on this platform?
- Is this the right channel for my brand? (E.g., an ice cream shop isn’t a great fit for LinkedIn and an investment fund likely won’t thrive on Snapchat.)
- Given my budget and capacity, is this platform more or less of a priority than others?
You also need to be realistic about your resources. A flashy video might represent your brand well, but it may drain your budget and limit your ability to create additional content. A low-budget podcast, by contrast, may allow for more content diversity—but its quality might drive people away. Keep the big picture in mind as you choose the right channels for your brand.
2. Understand marketing goals
If you want to give each piece of content a purpose, you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Make sure that you understand your company’s marketing goals, and have an idea for how each content effort ladders up to those goals before planning your content calendar. Is your goal to increase brand awareness, encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter, or generate sales?
Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can then focus on the channels, messaging, and format that will encourage your audience to engage.
3. Learn to love research and analysis
Research is part of every stage of content marketing. As a content marketer, you will continually sift through data to understand:
- Who your audience is
- What drives them
- How and where to reach them
- Which topics and types of content perform best
- How to do better
Whether you’re diving into a topic, tracking customer trends, or reviewing performance metrics, your data will help you craft the right content at the right time.
4. Become an SEO expert
Content marketers aim to expand their brands’ reach so they can connect with people who have an interest or need for their products. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a big part of achieving that reach and visibility. It not only informs your content calendar (e.g., you can find which topics to blog about through keyword research), but also helps you to increase your odds of getting seen on Google.
For pages intended to rank on search engines, pay attention to on-page SEO, which involves things like keywords, formatting, interlinking, and metadata. Familiarize yourself with technical and off-page SEO as well to get a more holistic view of how ranking algorithms work.
5. Work on your communication skills
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to demonstrate your brand’s value and credibility to people looking for its products and services. Needless to say that if you struggle to get that message across in your work, your efforts will go to waste.
At the same time, good communication doesn’t just mean being a good writer. Since content takes on many forms, your skills should include:
- Choosing or designing images that reflect your message
- Telling a cohesive, engaging story through your content
- Piecing together the right elements for video and audio content
- Editing and polishing content to meet your standards
- Knowing the best practices and consumer habits of each channel
The secret weapon for freelance content marketers
Shameless plug: when you’re managing all of a brand’s marketing content, you don’t have time for your own complicated business needs. Take the stress out of running your freelance business with Hectic.
Hectic’s tools for project management, invoicing, proposal tracking, and more can help you to keep everything (and everyone) in check. Plus, it’s completely free. Get started today!