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A Complete Guide to Online Content and Content Marketing

A desk "flatlay" with a hand pointing to the words "content marketing".If you’re here, you’ve probably seen the vast swathes of blog posts, videos, podcasts, email mailouts and other such online content proliferating the business/marketing sphere. You may well be wondering something along the lines of:

”What’s that all about, then?”

Alternatively, you might have a new website in the works and you may be wondering how to (and indeed why you should) incorporate blogs and other shareable content into your marketing mix.

In either case – you need fret no longer. Our complete guide will explain all!

What is Online Content?

Content – in terms of content marketing – is media created by an organisation for the purposes of piquing their audience’s interest and increasing brand awareness. Though we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the more common types shortly, some examples of online content include blog posts, videos, and podcasts.

Though this content is created for marketing purposes (ultimately to increase sales) the material itself is rarely “salesy”. The topics discussed are usually intended to be genuinely helpful to the organisation’s audience. This goes against the grain of typical, pushy, conversion-led marketing, but providing useful valuable information about in-demand subjects paints you as a helpful, trustworthy authority within your field.

Some people use the term “online content” when referring to the static copy on your website (such as your home page and about page). This is open for debate, but in my opinion that is “copy”, whereas shareable items like blog posts and infographics are solid “content” territory. It’s the latter that we’ll be talking about today.

What is Content Marketing?

Very simply, content marketing is the practice of creating content (such as blogs, videos, and podcasts) to build online brand awareness, stimulate SEO, and to position your organisation as an experienced and knowledgeable provider.

What different types of online content are there?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular online content formats out there.

Blogs/Articles

Blog posts are periodical, written articles with an editorial feel, usually published at regular intervals. They’re generally presented in a dedicated “blog” section of an organisation’s website and are often written with a more personable tone of voice to your more polished, sales-driven text.

Example of a blog post: this very article!

Infographics

We’re naturally drawn to visuals, so presenting data in an engaging graphical format is likely to attract attention. Infographics are images that convey some kind of information. This often relates to data and statistics, but they can take the form of “how to’s”, explanations, opinion pieces, and more.

Example of an infographic: The State of Content Marketing 2019 from Hubspot

Video

Due to our preference for visual media, video is also a really engaging and attractive medium. Thanks to free video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo (and the increasingly high resolution cameras available on modern smartphones) it’s never been easier to create professional videos on a budget.

Example of video: Diagnosing Why a Site’s Set of Pages May Be Ranking Poorly – Whiteboard Friday from Moz

Live Streaming

High quality mobile cameras and affordable mobile internet means that we can now stream video live over the web with ease. Through social platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Periscope, people can broadcast live to their social followers answering questions on the fly and responding to input in real time.

Example of a live stream: These Facebook Live Examples

Podcasts

Podcasts are pre-recorded, episodic audio files, presented much like talk radio. Podcasts can take a number of formats, including scripted dialogue, interviews, or off-the-cuff conversation between individuals.

Example of a podcast: The 7 ‘Bad’ Habits of Incredibly Successful People from Copyblogger FM

Slide Presentations

In terms of engaging, shareable online content, slide presentations may not immediately spring to mind. However thanks to sharing platforms like SlideShare, slide decks can be shared with your audience easily.

Example of Slide Presentation: How to Kick Butt with Your Email Outreach from Rand Fishkin

Email Marketing

Where better to intercept your audience than in their own inbox? Provided you have a fully GDPR-friendly mailing list of course. You can impart your wisdom within text-only format, through an image or infographic embedded in the email, or simply by linking off to a blog post or video elsewhere.

”Lead Magnet” Services & Downloadables

You’ve probably come across lead magnets before: a company offers a free downloadable guide, tool, or report, but you can only access it in return for subscribing to their mailing list. Though lead magnets are a great way of building your mailing list, they’re also an excellent format in their own right.

Example of a Lead Magnet: Our FREE Social Media Guide for Business

Why is content marketing important?

Creating content on a regular basis might seem like a lot of effort but we assure you it’s totally worth it when done right.

Online content created around valuable, in-demand topics is great for SEO because it helps your site be found in search. When you answer commonly asked questions about your field through content, that content (and therefore your company) has a chance of appearing in search results for those queries.

If your business maintains social media accounts, you’ll likely know of the importance of keeping your social presence up to date. A bank of useful branded content provides you with ample ammunition to share on social, time and time again.

By sharing your wisdom with the world through industry-relevant online content, you provide solid evidence that you know what you’re talking about. You prove that you’re a reliable supplier and that you have valuable knowledge and experience in your field. Additionally, sharing your wisdom can spark a feeling of reciprocity – you’ve provided something helpful for your reader, so they may feel more obliged to do something for you in return.

And finally, we’re all becoming increasingly cynical towards marketing – mentally tuning out ad breaks, ignoring sponsored search results, and so on. Therefore helping your audience organically find answers to in-demand questions has a higher chance of resounding with people – potentially priming them to buy.

What should my online content be about?

Choosing the right topics to discuss in your content can be tricky. You need to think carefully about who you’d like to attract and consider the kinds of information they may be looking for. Keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Answer the Public are a great place to start brainstorming topic ideas.

Also consider things from your own experience. Is there anything you wished more customers knew before working with you? Do any of your direct competitors create content? If so, what topics do they discuss and what formats do they use? Obviously you don’t want to copy their approach, but it may help you to know what’s already out there.

All in all, your content needs to resonate with the kind of customer you’re trying to attract, in a way that’s relevant to what you offer, and presented in a format that’s most appropriate for them.

Scratching your head about all of this #contentmarketing malarkey? Ponder no longer... Click To Tweet

We sincerely hope this guide has been useful. If you need any help in putting a blog-enabled, content rich website together, why not check out our complete web design and development services?

Alternatively if you’re just after some pointers to improve an existing website, check out our FREE website checker for an online report that looks at everything from your site’s online content, to website speed, to link strategy, to SEO optimisation, and more!