What is Content Marketing? The Complete Guide for 2024

November 07.2019 


Before we’d written our first line of code, we’d already published our blog posts,” says Jon Miller of Marketo.


You know, Marketo, that thing that marketers use to start their day?


Before Marketo was even launched, Jon Miller had built an audience through his “OG Definitive Guides”, talking about everything from macro trends in marketing to lead generation and lead nurturing, making it the go-to guide for marketers everywhere. These definitive guides did such a remarkable job at finding and educating customers that by launch day, Jon had a list of 50 buyers for his Sales team to go after.


And folks, that's Content Marketing 101. You can close this tab now, you know what to do. 


(Podcast bros are currently frothing at this hot case study opportunity)

What is Content Marketing? 


Well, if that wasn’t enough and you’re looking for a textbook definition (kinda), then here goes:


Content marketing involves consistently (the operative word) creating and distributing valuable, engaging, and relevant content to attract your target audience and encourage them to take the desired action. This could be anything from subscribing to your blog or newsletter to signing up for a demo. 


We get that, but that’s a bit loaded. So, here’s an example.


Say you’re selling posture-correcting pillows and cushions, and your target audience is office goers; relevant and engaging content could include a quiz to check posture, a list of tools that can help with poor posture, and videos demonstrating stretches to alleviate pain from poor posture on channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.


If the audience reads or engages with the content and eventually checks you out, woohoo! You did it!


So, what exactly does content marketing involve? 


Primarily two things: 


  • Content creation:  Which begins with identifying content that resonates with your audience and creating it in formats that effectively communicates to your audience. 
  • Content Distribution:  With distribution, the goal is to ensure that the content created reaches the right audience through the most effective channels, maximizing visibility and engagement to encourage readers to consider you/your product as a solution to their needs.


content distribution


But we swear it’s not as complicated as it sounds once you start (and come to terms with the delayed yet immense gratification organic marketing entails). 
With this quick-ish guide, we’ll tell you how you can create and distribute content to get good visibility and better leads.  


Why is content marketing important?


The short answer is: because it works.


Imagine this: you search for information on Google and click on a link that makes you believe it’s relevant. You go in and get your information and find that it’s good. So, now you’re wondering, ‘Who are these people giving me the information that I was looking for?’ and discover their product or service. 

Now, you’ve built trust and loyalty in your audience while also increasing the visibility of your brand and product. 


IF you are able to consistently provide relevant and useful content (and we’ll tell you just how in a minute), in time, you will be able to


  • Attract High-Value Traffic: You will attract quality traffic with high-intent leads and, therefore, higher conversions. 
  • Increase Time on Page: Traffic that comes in organically tends to stay on the page longer because you've provided a solution or information that they were looking for. 
  • Enhance Brand Memory: Even if the users consuming your content are not your potential customers, if you provide them with helpful information, they will remember you when they want more information on the subject. 
  • Repurpose Content for Broader Reach: The best part of content marketing is that once you create a piece of content, you can find different ways to use the same content across marketing and sales channels. 


But, it’s very crucial that your primary intent with content marketing not be to sell your product or service but to give your target audience useful, engaging, and RELEVANT information that, in turn, convinces them that you know what you're doing and gets them interested in what more you have to offer. 


When done right, your audience naturally discovers your content and consumes it because they were looking for it and you provided it right where they were looking, making content marketing a good source of  inbound organic traffic. 


How content marketing works


Now, to the good part! Here’s how content marketing actually works (briefly):


Step 1: Like any other form of marketing, Content Marketing also begins with identifying and defining your audience. If you’ve not done this already or want to know how you could be doing it better, here's another one of our quick guides to help you.


Once you’ve identified your audience, you need to observe and understand their interests, preferences, and pain points.


You can gauge your audience by trying to answer questions like Are they on LinkedIn? Does their job involve constantly checking their emails? Do they spend a lot of time online? If yes, what are they reading/searching for? Do they prefer content with a lot of visual elements, or would they rather watch a short video or listen to podcasts while doing their cardio?


You get the drift. This will also help you understand what problems they might be looking to solve and what kind of information they are searching for.


Step 2 aka the tricky part: Now that you know who your audience is, where they are, and what kind of content they consume, let's look at how you can go about creating content that works for them and you. 


A neat trick you can use to guide you through this in your early stages is to use a content matrix. 


Content Matrix


In a content matrix, you categorize your customers based on their level of awareness of the problem and solution to create the appropriate content. Here, your intent is to help increase their awareness, thereby pushing them to the next stage. You can categorize your audience broadly under four levels: 


Unaware: This is when your audience does not know they have a problem your product can solve. 

Problem-aware: Here, the audience is aware of the problem but needs to be made aware that there is a solution.

Solution-aware: At this stage, the audience is aware of the problem and that a solution is available. They are also probably actively looking for said solution. 

Product-aware: Here, the audience is aware of the problem, solution, and product and is probably evaluating it along with your competitors.  


Here’s an example of a content matrix: 


Solution Aware Product Aware
case studies, alternate pages, ROI calculators, battle cards buying guides, product listicles, industry reports, calculators
Unaware Problem aware
symptom-focused articles, blog posts, quizzes, short videos webinars, checklists, guides


Once you’ve mapped your customers to their level of awareness, you can start creating content with a clearer intent.


Step 3: You ideally want to create content for every stage of customer awareness. Depending on your product, audience, and available resources, you can start with 2 to 3 types of content for each awareness stage. 


Unaware: At this stage, you want to educate your audience about the problem your product addresses. For instance, if your product is a Sales Content Management Software for your problem-unaware customers, you’ll create a piece that goes, ‘Do you store all your sales collateral on Google Drive? 5 reasons why you need a better organiszation system to close deals faster.’  


Simply put, content to educate the audience about the problem, such as symptom-focused articles, blog posts, quizzes, short videos, etc. Basically, snackable content that won’t take up too much of their time or effort OR is exceptionally interesting and engaging. 


Problem-aware:  Now that you’ve educated your audience about the problem they didn’t know they had (woohoo!), It's time to gradually (or quickly) nudge them to find a solution. 

Here, the content will be more problem-focused—for example, webinars, checklists, guides, etc.  

Solution-aware:  When your audience is aware of the problem and solution, they will naturally start looking for products that provide said solution. Now, your aim is to guide them towards your product. 

You can do this using content pieces like buying guides, product listicles, industry reports, calculators, etc. 

Product-aware:  You’re almost there. Your customer knows your product. At this point, they are either evaluating your product or are in conversation with your sales team, hashing out the details. At this stage, the role of content is to convince them that your product offers the better (if not the best!) solution to their problem/pain point. 

You do this using content pieces like case studies, alternate pages, ROI calculators, battle cards, etc. 


Step 4:  Now that you know what kind of content you need to produce, it's time to create a content calendar. 


A content calendar is simply a content plan that will help you organize, visualize, and track your content creation and distribution efforts. It will also help you align your content with key business goals at each stage of customer awareness, manage resources more efficiently, and analyze the effectiveness of your content strategy over time. 


A content calendar will ideally include 


  • What content is to be produced, when and by whom, 
  • When it will be published
  • Through which channels it will be shared.


You've got everything you need to start creating content and distributing content!


Your content (IF it’s relevant, well researched and valuable) will now:


  • Capture the target audience's attention and bring them into your brand's ecosystem (website, blog, social media page, resource centre).
  • And when they find content that you are addressing their questions or challenges effectively, they trust your brand's expertise and credibility. 
  • This trust will keep them coming back anytime they want more information in your niche, thereby building a rapport/relationship.
  • Now, when you encourage them to take action, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a resource, requesting a demo, or making a purchase, they are more likely to consider doing it.  


Sly huh?! :D 


If you have the resources and bandwidth, you can go nuts and do it all, but ideally, you should be picking 3 to 4 that work for your industry, niche, and target audience. How can you figure out what these are? 


Honestly, a lot of this will involve a bit of trial and error, and you just have to take your time and try different formats and channels to see what works. 


You can also see what your competitors or businesses in your industry are doing and then experiment, track performance, analyze and reassess till you find your content sweet spots. 


If you're wondering how you will stand out while doing the same thing your competitors are doing, we've got you covered there, too! 


Look for ways to make the good ol’ content types more interactive to increase engagement. You would've noticed that it's easier to spend 30 minutes scrolling through Netflix to find something to watch than spend 15 minutes on your laptop reading a blog or case study. This is because there's a lot of movement to keep you occupied and actions that you can take. 


Use interactive elements like videos, animations, and hot spots to make your content come alive and keep your audience engaged and impressed because you're doing something different! (see how we did not slide our product in?)


How to Measure the Impact of Your Content Marketing


Now comes the big kahuna! How do you find out if your content is working? We've got you covered there too! 


Just like the type of content you create differs at each stage of customer awareness, so do the KPIs.


At the unaware/problem-aware stage, where you are writing blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, and research reports that you'll be publishing online, your metrics will include: 


Traffic: This includes overall site traffic, as well as the traffic to specific pieces of content, indicating the content's reach and audience interest.
Engagement: Track how users interact with your content by seeing how much of your content has been read, average time spent on a page, where on the page they spent more time, etc. High engagement rates suggest that content is resonating well with the audience.
Lead Generation: This is the number of leads generated through your content. Measure it by tracking form submissions, downloads of gated content, or sign-ups. This KPI is crucial for evaluating the content's effectiveness in moving prospects through the sales funnel.
SEO Performance: Good SEO performance means the content is well-optimised for search engines and easily discoverable by the target audience. Keep track of metrics such as keyword rankings, organic search traffic, and backlinks. 


One way to not only easily track but also boost this metric is to leverage tools that allow you to create interactive content to make your content more engaging.


Some of these tools allow you to host your content within their platform and even capture data using forms or gating (asking visitors to give their name, email, etc., before viewing the rest of the content). 


These tools integrate with analytics tools like Google Analytics for the mainstream metrics like visits, engagement rates and session time but the tool itself also tracks metrics like percentage of content consumed, where did the visitors spend most of their time on the page, total time spent on a page, how many leads were captured, etc. 


This allows you to not only make your content look, feel, and read better but also help you track how your content is performing.


Now at solution/product aware stage, things get a little (sometimes very) tricky because a lot of this content is in the form of documents (word, docs, or PDF) or PPTs and they are shared over emails, chats, etc. You rarely know who is using your content, where, when, how, and how many times. Once sent, it's hard to track anything beyond clicks or downloads. 


Ironically, these are also the content that take more time and effort and usually play a very crucial role in the sales process. So, how do we measure the impact of these documents better? 


Get yourself a sales collateral management platform. What this does is, firstly, store and manage all your content effectively. But most importantly, you will be able to track 


  • Who (think SDRs or Account Execs) is sharing your content, 
  • How many times are they sharing your content, 
  • In what kind of conversations is your content being used 
  • At which stage of the sales cycle, etc. 




This will help you understand which pieces of content are being used more and by whom. You can then deep-dive to find out why and optimize your content creation around this.


You will also be able to find out 


  • How much of your content is being read by the receiver, aka the potential customer  
  • Where in the content are they spending most of their time
  • Did they further share your content with other stakeholders


This information helps you understand how effective the content is with the end user. Now, when they convert, you can attach your content and its effectiveness to the conversion, thereby measuring the ROI of each piece of your content.

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