Content Marketing: attract, engage, and retain your target

content marketing

Table of Contents

Content marketing has been the new trend for many years now. Web users evolve and are looking for news or topics that interest them the most, consumers are changing the way they buy and trigger a purchasing decision-making process, so brands are increasingly understanding the need to make investments in exchange for creating and conveying content on the web. Ads and traditional banners alone are no longer enough, you need quality content to attract users.

How can this be done? With Content Marketing!

What is Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is based on the creation and distribution of valuable content, with the aim of attracting a target audience to the website or social network, create a relationship, retain users and customers without necessarily having to promote a product.

Brands therefore become publishers of themselves and produce content with the aim of involving and attracting the interest of users, who will feel an integral part of a community and will identify with the brand’s values.

Therefore, content marketing, coupled with an inbound marketing strategy, allows brands to create engagements and attract potential customers through content, triggering an effective user retention process.

Brands, in fact, must be able to attract and engage users, without being invasive. The user must feel free to choose whether to enjoy a certain content, which does not necessarily need to have commercial connotations.

Content Marketing Strategy

A content marketing strategy, in fact, should not be driven by content but by what you intend to achieve through content. The content marketing strategy aims to develop a content plan to support and reinforce specific themes and messages through a wide variety of formats and specific distribution and promotion channels consistent with a company’s marketing goals.

Let’s see better what we mean by explaining the elements behind a good planning for the content marketing strategy:

  • Setting objectives
  • Allocate a budget
  • Verify consistency with the company’s business marketing plan, mission, vision and values
  • Target audience definition and customer journey description
  • Creating Storytelling
  • Choice of means to convey the content
  • KPIs and metric determination, and monitoring

Setting targets

The goal of content marketing is to create value with content and above all to reach the target users.

Creating and planning a content marketing strategy means producing original and quality content, trying to position yourself on search engines and trigger viral sharing on social networks to get a great return in terms of clicks and lead generation.

Content marketing, if well structured, and cared for with constancy and awareness, can give results that will be measurable in the long term, giving excellent returns on investment.

With this tool you can help to give vitality to brands that focus on the following key factors:

  • increased visibility
  • improve awareness of your brand
  • develop authority
  • create knowledge on certain issues and information, which indirectly lead to your services and products.

Allocate a budget

As with all the various items of expenditure, when you decide to invest in a content marketing activity, you need to define a budget.

The time horizon of a content marketing strategy must be at least 6 months. The strategy includes a phase of planning, monitoring and analysis of the deviations between objectives and target audiences.

The budget can really be contained if you decide to undertake an initial “Make” strategy. This means targeting content marketing to a dedicated in-house work team.

This working group usually carries out other activities in the company and consequently must be aware of what is planned. In the field of saving, it may be useful to identify possible synergies with partners or customers to carry out common content marketing initiatives: case studies, thematic guides, etc.

  • Dedicated work team
  • Creating a blog
  • Involvement of freelancers/influencers for the drafting of relevant articles
  • Possible purchase of services of article marketing, e-mail marketing, content discovery, display advertising, ecc.
  • Possible use of external professional figures for support in the preparation of videos, apps, landing, infographics, product info, whitepaper, webinar organization, etc.
  • IT costs
  • Purchase of web spaces on target websites or portals where you can publish articles and gain more visibility.

Definition of the content marketing plan

Before moving on to the drafting of the content marketing plan, it is necessary to ensure that it is perfectly integrated into the company’s broader marketing and communication strategy, to ensure its consistency, and to pay the utmost attention to the alignment of all content with the company’s mission, vision, and values.

To define a good content marketing plan, it is necessary to divide the contents into different areas:

  • Core-content – It’s original content – like guides, and books, white papers – and they’re generally complex contents that require a lot of effort in terms of productivity, research, and originality, so they’re subjected to limited planning
  • Derivation content – It is content strictly connected to core-content and constitute its declination. We refer, for example, to presentations, infographics, blog posts,
  • Micro-promotional content – It’s frequent, conversation-oriented content, they help expand the content plan on a massive scale through, for example, short blog posts, updates, and status on social media and newsletter.

Through such a structured content marketing plan you can, effectively, increase brand awareness, strengthen the positioning in your target market, structure a coherent and integrated communication through all channels and above all, guide the process of acquisition of leads and sales. It is also necessary to always monitor the value that is being obtained through the constant measurement of ROI.

Implementing such a developed content marketing plan requires a consistent effort in terms of planning and resource allocation (human and financial).

Target audience definition and customer journey description

The definition of the target audience and its customer journey is a fundamental point for the realization of an effective and efficient content marketing strategy.

Every step of the purchase cycle needs relevant content.

For example, for B2B, we think about the information and educational material, intended for prospects who are in the early steps of the process and on which a brand awareness action must be exercised, to the specific documentation (reports, statistics, case studies) intended for prospects looking for precise solutions for their business, up to materials focused on precise solutions targeted according to precise types of companies that will be conveyed to those prospects that are already significantly involved in the purchasing process. There is no single recipe for establishing the most effective content and means: each prospect will certainly have its own criterion for the use of information and content. However, it is essential to consider that a company can only generate demand for its products or services if it can intercept the needs of its prospects by offering solutions, information, references, inspiring new models, and business opportunities and providing relevant answers with respect to the individual phases of the purchasing process.

As we said earlier, content marketing, coupled with an inbound marketing strategy, allows brands to achieve the final user loyalty. But what is inbound marketing? Inbound Marketing is a methodology coded by Hubspot to attract potential customers and subsequently make them spontaneous promoters of our business. In the case of complex purchases such as in B2B, it helps to accompany the user on the path of purchase and promotion. At the heart of inbound marketing are content and tailor-made experiences with the user at the center, thanks to the use of marketing automation tools and in-depth analysis. It follows a logic of attraction, with the user finding the brand, thanks precisely to a valuable content, which responds to any problems that it may encounter.

Storytelling creation

Once you have defined the objectives you want to achieve with the content marketing strategy, allocated a budget, drawn up a plan and defined our audience, we move on to the focal point of the creation of storytelling.

Storytelling is the central element on which the entire content marketing plan is built, the element that makes the difference for the experience of potential customers and for obtaining a distinctive positioning on the market.

There is no unique narrative rule. The storytelling element is indispensable to build a bond of involvement with the target audience and identify the interpretation to elaborate a story capable of expressing the challenges, passions, identity of a company. Only with a compelling and engaging story you can get an effective content plan.

From the point of view of storytelling, you should not underestimate the so-called “behind-the-scenes-effect”, in fact anything that reveals an unprecedented and exclusive perspective of a brand can represent a formidable tool of success. The power of storytelling, combined with a multi-channel logic, can contribute to create a winning and effective strategy in terms of reputation, visibility, and recognition of a brand.

In addition, the creation and  implementation of effective content cannot do without two phases such as the phase of listening to conversations, especially in the places and forms that are most followed and animated by their target audience, and the monitoring phase.

Choice of means to convey content

“Content is king, distribution is the queen” – Jonah Peretti, CEO Buzzfeed.

With this quote we open the chapter on the choice of channels to convey the message.

The content of the plan must be conveyed through the right means, consistent with the objectives, and for this reason it is essential to identify the most effective means to spread content and involve the target market. It is not a question of identifying a single communication channel but of finding the solutions that best suit the expectations and needs of the public to be involved.

For the choice of channels for your content, to give the right visibility, it is certainly necessary to evaluate accessibility. Content must be available to the users for whom it was created. It is also essential to optimize the budget by trying to achieve the maximization of investment in the production of content. How? Through the creation of relevant content. Each marketer should ensure that the content produced has been welcomed by their target audience.

In order to make a good choice of the channels for content distribution, it may be advisable to rely on an effective content activation platform oriented to the maximization of ROI and able to convey the contents on the basis of the decision-making process of purchasing of the audience, declining them in a cross media logic without undermining their effectiveness, presenting them in a personalized way and supporting them with valid analysis and monitoring tools, in order to always evaluate their ability to involve. A content activation platform is able, in fact, to perfectly calibrate the distribution of content by encouraging interaction, engagement and conversion. It is important to identify the most effective content distribution platforms by choosing channels based on the browsing habits and interests of your consumer base, to create anchor points, all traceable, to monitor the interaction with the target audience and the effectiveness of the content itself.

Speaking of content marketing channels, Linkedin deserves some attention. Why do content marketing on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is the business social network that over time has gained an excellent and unique reputation and therefore it is a must to be enrolled and be proactively active for those who do business and networking. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to enhance your specialist technical skills, taking advantage of the possibility to post articles and news that may interest your potential audience. The next step is to forge relationships for possible business opportunities. LinkedIn is the most used social platform in the business world. But what are the possible content marketing strategies on LinkedIn? Are you a company or a professional who wants to increase their visibility, network and authority through the content and use of LinkedIn? Content marketing must be oriented towards multi-channel and differentiating logics. Doing content marketing strategies on LinkedIn means having the opportunity to get noticed by a huge business community. Viewing articles posted over time can really have great returns in terms of:

  • network increase
  • business opportunities
  • increase in traffic to your website.

KPI and metric determination, and their monitoring

Before getting into the heart of the various categories of evaluation metrics, it must be pointed out that there is no single metric to measure and monitor the contents but various distinct categories of evaluation indices, to be modelled appropriately to have a complete and performance-oriented view of a content marketing plan.

The four categories of evaluation metrics are:

  • Consumption and content metrics
  • Sharing metrics
  • Lead generation metrics
  • Sales metrics

The choice and modulation of these four categories, allows to develop an analytical approach to content marketing because content is a tool and not the final goal of the company’s marketing strategy, which is to grow the entire business. Monitoring these metrics allows you to understand if the actions introduced are correct or to identify the changes to be implemented to do better.

Metrics on the consumption and use of the contents

To understand this category let’s try to answer the following questions:

  • How many users have benefited from the published content?
  • Through which channels?
  • And how often and deeply?

These questions are the ones to which the category of content metrics tries to answer. How? Through Google Analytics or from the Insights of social networks. This metric is oriented to the measurement of brand awareness and the analysis of user traffic, new and returning visitors, various sources of traffic, number of pages visited and duration of the visit in the case of a website or blog or between the opening rates and the CTR in the case of content conveyed through an e-mail marketing plan or even between the number of followers and people reached in the case of a page of a social network.

Sharing metrics

You should ask yourself if users who have benefited from a given content have returned, whether they have released their data to be contacted, and most importantly, whether they have engaged or reported the content to other visitors. Sharing metrics is a clear indicator of appreciation and quality because users share from their profiles only content that is considered interesting, informative, and capable of creating added value.

While there are no valid tools to measure the sharing of an e-mail or newsletter, the sharing analysis tools for content published on a website or blog are many, just think about the social insights that can accurately report the number of shares of any content or, think about an integrated perspective, tools such as SharedCount that allows you to have a unitary and explicit picture of the shares of a content through many networks.

Lead generation metrics

However, after the use and sharing of content, it is important that you get a quality lead. How? With the third category of metrics, which are those oriented to the evaluation of lead generation.

For example, completing a form and downloading unlocked content is traceable through CRM or a URL tracking system, as are subscription volumes to a newsletter or blog. Finally, there is the conversion rate, which is the percentage of users who benefit from a given content and turn into leads. This metric is closely related to the lead conversion rate: for example, if you estimate that the average conversion rate for a site is 2%.

Sales metrics

The goal of a content marketing strategy is to grow a company’s business. Among the functional metrics for this type of analysis we find the volumes of online and offline sales, traceable, for example, through CRM and complex analysis programs such as marketing automation, Hubspot or Marketo, which allow you to assign a specific economic value to each content. Such a strategy presupposes an almost perfect tracking system of the entire communication flow that originates conversions and sales able to consider every single step of the lead acquisition process.

Content Marketing: focus on content creation

For content creation, it must first be said that among the new trends you can see that the content will be adapted around questions and long-tail keywords.

A creative and new way to think about your content marketing strategy is to collect keywords and find out what questions your audience asks Google. A good place to start is answer the public tool, a free tool. Answer the Public is a keyword tool that displays suggested search questions in an image called search cloud. Categories consist of who, what, when, where, why, how, etc. With Answer the Public you have a good starting point for the questions your audience is looking for. You can also find data on the monthly volume of related keywords, so you can choose the best ones to optimize for paid search as well. With these results, you can optimize content across your website, user guides, FAQs, and landing pages.  You can also use long-tailed key phrases to grow your organic traffic.

Another trend is long-term content creation.

We live in the information age, anyone looking for answers to a question can get endless results with just one click. How to attract people looking for answers to the solutions offered by our business?

Today it is necessary to invest in long-term content strategies in organic growth. Today, we need to create consistent and relevant content that is meant to educate and engage our audience. This content should both fuel the customer’s need and meet his information needs, pushing him towards an informed and safe decision, whatever the decision.

For a company that wants to attract new visitors to their chosen website or other channels, you need to create useful content about their industry that educates readers and wants them to continue learning.

Content marketing requires money and resources, a long-term content strategy will build audience over time and help maintain constant levels of traffic and clicks over months or years, creating value and establishing a solid, lasting, and relevant foundation. To keep readers interested and engaged for a long time, you need to offer them comprehensive and in-depth content that helps them solve problems. In practical terms this translates into long content, even in terms of the number of words per article. Long content also allows your business to build authority and establish a dominant position by showing off your knowledge on topics relevant to your industry. As search engines and readers progress, the demand for quality, and relevant content always increases. For this reason, a long-term content strategy is the best possible weapon. Long-term content marketing strategies allow you to absorb and adapt to changes in search engine results pages (SRPIs).

Long-term content strategies are not designed to get an immediate response fromthe actors, but rather seek to provide value and relevance instead of insistenceand immediacy. A long-term content strategy can be addressed, and this is unintuitive, dealing with writing about current events, news that trend in our industry or with a short-term content strategy. Trending news can be critical to our long-term strategy and can help us establish our website as an up-to-date and relevant source of industry information. Short-term content needs aggressive promotion to succeed, long-term content essentially promotes itself. The difference between long-term content and short-term content is simply reduced to priorities and intentionality. Ultimately, long-term goals are much more productive and involve higher ROI.

Another of the latest content marketing trends is content creation through tools that rely on Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is increasingly an integral part of content creation and effectiveness testing to get   them to the target audience. Through a series of online platforms, content is produced with the help of artificial intelligence, increasing the productivityand effectiveness of campaigns, breaking down the obstacle of time and cost for the creation of the content itself and achieving better quality and customization of the same on a largescale. The content in question has a video, audio, image, and text format. Generative algorithms can produce thousands of variants, test and evaluate them against specific target groups or individuals and optimize campaign content in a short time. The content generated allows brands to truly connect with people.

In the constant search for the value to be offered to users, brands strive to look for cutting-edge solutions to meet the changing needs of their customers. Generative content, in this sense, can be a real game-changer, as it gives you always different personal experiences. Thanks to the inputs that each user can provide and the algorithms that support it, unique and personalized digital content is created, which reacts in real time. The strength of customizing information and sharing methods based on the real interests of the customer should not come as a surprise. Content diversification per individual is an important block that has long been present in the best performing content marketing strategies. Today, it becomes more important, even given the extremely high amount of information available to the customer and how these allow him to make increasingly careful choices in purchases and to make sophisticated selections. Providing that extra value to the buyer, working on a dynamic and personalized content broadcast, made of content tailored to the needs and requests of the customer we are trying to attract, will help him to find us and consult what is relevant for his desires.

Investing in a good CMS (content management system) tool will allow you to operate a dynamic, flexible, never oppressive, and personalized content distribution, which must be as exact as possible, based on the real demand of the customer and in reference to his position within the sales funnel.

Conclusions on Content Marketing

To conclude, we want to leave you a few small suggestions, hoping that the article has been useful to you to carry on your business successfully.

To guide your content marketing strategy, remember to:

  • Think about long-lasting and high-quality content.
  • Ask yourself which special areas of experience or data you have internally to use for the benefit of your audience. Create something other than processing someone else’s work.
  • Create content on a topic that has already received a lot of coverage, ask yourself how you can make it even more interesting, or what questions you can answer that have not already been answered.
  • Invest in evergreen content production, make it a habit to update and deepen old content to improve their freshness and accuracy.
  • Offer utilities with your content to be implemented instantly. The best way to ensure quality is to renew and improve existing content that is already getting good results. Take winning content and make it better.
  • Get you to be found quickly, in fact, if people need your content and you make it easy to find it, they cannot help but get to you.

If you are interested in content marketing, please read more on: Content Marketing platforms: the best 10 tools for us  and Content Marketing, Storytelling and Copywriting

if you are interested in learning more about content marketing, please read also the interview with Stefano Saladino Content marketing community leading digital renaissance, the interview with Michele Saladino Content as focus of a young entrepreneur’s career and the interview with Stefano and Michele Saladino Content at center of a successful editorial project 

For more information read also the related white paper that you find on this page Digital Marketing for Startups