Content marketing — definition, types, and how to do it
Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing available to businesses. But in 2023, businesses need to make sure that their content marketing efforts are competitive.
The challenge is that it can be difficult to know what 2023 has in store for the ever-changing landscape of content marketing. Marketing professionals and business owners need to evaluate their content marketing efforts to ensure they’re creating the right mix of content that resonates with leads.
Businesses can get more leverage from their content marketing efforts by understanding the benefits of content marketing, the most popular types of content marketing for the year, and actionable tips to do better content marketing this year. In this 2023 guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about content marketing so that you can evaluate your areas of success and identify opportunities for improvement.
This post will explain:
- What content marketing is
- Why content marketing is important
- Types of content marketing
- How content marketing works
- How to do content marketing
- How to empower your content marketing with the right tools
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategy and business process that uses valuable and relevant digital assets like text, images, and video to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. It’s a type of inbound marketing strategy that delivers value to a business’s audience through entertaining, educational, or informative content.
Content marketing comes in four basic forms — written, audio, video, and image. Most businesses use several forms of content to engage with their audiences across platforms like social media, websites, and ads.
This form of marketing puts the customer at the heart of a brand’s messaging. Rather than spamming customers with advertising-laden messaging, content marketing provides them with valuable content and engages them throughout the customer journey.
It goes beyond pushing a product to a potential customer, instead putting the relevant information out there and following the customer from the awareness phase to the decision phase. Content marketing includes presenting content like how-to guides or story-based ads that provide a real benefit to the consumer.
Why is content marketing important?
The world is transitioning to a point where customers are tired of being fed advertisements. Consumers are inundated with information to the point where it all becomes noise. Content marketing helps businesses overcome the noise by subtly promoting their offerings through helpful, high-quality content.
Content marketing is also beneficial because it can:
- Educate leads and prospects about your product and services. Content marketing allows businesses to promote themselves while offering tangible value to an interested audience, which can increase brand awareness and engagement. At the same time, businesses can subtly promote their products and services, educating more people about their offerings.
- Increase conversions. Content marketing works because it helps brands show that they care about and understand customer needs, which can translate into higher conversion rates.
- Build relationships with customers. Few people are ready to buy something when they first learn about your business. Content marketing makes it possible to build relationships and deepen trust with your audience, which can encourage them to eventually convert.
- Demonstrate how your product or service solves a pain point. With a solid content marketing plan, you can create content tailored to each customer’s pain points. Blog posts, demo videos, and customer testimonials make it easier for businesses to offer in-depth explanations of how their products or services help customers.
- Increase visibility. Content marketing connects your business with more potential customers while making your business more renowned in your industry. Businesses can get the word out about their brand by creating consistent, high-quality content that generates more traffic from search engines.
- Improve authority. Authority is the key to becoming an industry leader and increasing sales. Build trust by creating helpful, high-quality content that positions your business as a thought leader in your sector.
- Foster loyalty. Regularly sharing high-quality, compelling content makes it possible for businesses like yours to deepen relationships with customers. Over time, this can ultimately boost the loyalty these customers feel toward your brand.
Content marketing isn’t new, and it’s not slowing down. The pandemic increased content usage by 207%, and that trend will likely continue to increase in 2023. Indeed, 55% of marketers plan to post content more frequently, and 53% plan to boost the quality of their content in 2023. It all comes down to choosing the right mix of content marketing media that will turn more heads.
Types of content marketing
Most marketers use different types of content marketing to connect with their audience across different platforms. The type of content a company creates depends on its business strategy and the core audience it needs to connect with. Try adding these eight types of content marketing to your 2023 marketing mix.
Blogs are written resources that businesses use to promote their products, chat about industry trends, or highlight their expertise. Most businesses publish blogs for their own websites, but it’s also common to create guest blogs for other websites as a link-building opportunity. While blogs are primarily text-based, businesses will often create custom images and videos for their blogs to increase reader engagement.
Blog posts are one of the most popular forms of content marketing because they help businesses stand out to both human readers and search engines. Blogging is a beneficial addition to any content marketing strategy because it’s affordable to produce, search engine-friendly, and simpler to create than multimedia like video.
To get the most value out of blogging, businesses should focus on just one topic per blog article. It’s also a good idea to create a mix of short-form (500 to 1,000 words), medium-form (1,200 to 2,000 words), and long-form content (more than 2,000 words). However, remember that longer isn’t always better. If you take too long to get to the point, you’ll lose readers. Make sure your long-form content offers a lot of value. It’s also a good idea to use plenty of headers, bullets, and bolded text to keep readers engaged.
IKEA has a helpful blog about home design that not only features its products but also delivers value to shoppers looking for home decor ideas. The Home Depot takes a similar approach to its blog, which features creative DIY projects and craft ideas. For B2B, Slack’s “Several People are Typing” blog features productivity hacks, product announcements, and more to help its target audience create better businesses.
Video is the next big thing for content marketing. Whether it’s on your website or on a platform like TikTok or YouTube, video allows brands to communicate complex ideas and feelings with their audience in just a few seconds. Smartphones have made it more affordable to create branded videos quickly, all while increasing the quality of content through visuals, music, and voiceovers.
Many businesses use video to share product demos, distribute customer testimonials, tell their employees’ stories, or announce new features. Some businesses use video to create immersive experiences, like fun concerts or game shows, to deepen their relationships with viewers.
Although brands have historically been hesitant to produce their own video, every company should add video to its 2023 content marketing plan. Multimedia is gaining steam because it’s easier for consumers to digest and share with their friends. In fact, 91% of consumers want to see more video content from the brands they love, so this is a great way to deliver on your customers’ expectations.
It’s also possible to convert a 10-minute video into other forms of content, like blogs and social media posts. In this way, investing in video can significantly speed up your other content marketing efforts.
Fast-casual brand Chipotle went viral for its video “A Future Begins,” which promoted its support for farmers. Red Bull is also famous for the death-defying feats on its YouTube channel. Brands like Credo Beauty promote their products through video content — like tutorials and product demos — to boost consumer engagement.
Podcast content marketing allows businesses to reach out to niche audiences through the power of audio-first content. Businesses can create a podcast of their own or star as guests on other podcasts in their industry to connect with more potential customers. In a branded podcast, businesses primarily offer solutions to audience pain points, but they also frequently feature customer stories, industry trends, case studies, and other narratives that create an emotional connection with their listeners.
Many businesses overlook the power of podcasting because they aren’t sure how to use audio-only content. But podcasts are a growing platform for businesses to reach their customers. Plus, podcast listenership is on the rise. Smart speaker sales increased by 22% in the wake of the pandemic, which encouraged even more people to listen to podcasts.
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For B2B companies, the Shopify Masters podcast shares case studies and tips from businesses built on Shopify. On the B2C side, beloved grocery chain Trader Joe’s promotes products, shares recipes, and offers lifestyle advice in its branded podcast.
Social media marketing is an offshoot of content marketing that creates content and shares it via relevant social platforms. With social media marketing, brands post text, images, and video content on social media platforms. Most businesses choose a mix of social media that are most relevant to their audience’s interests, but popular platforms include Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube. B2B brands also see a lot of success on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Social media is a beneficial form of content marketing that helps businesses socialize and engage with customers wherever they are. Instead of trying to engage with shoppers via email or your website, you can share updates and fun content on social media to engage your target audience.
This makes it possible for your followers to share your content and hopefully help your business go viral with greater reach. Best of all, social media can become an organic or paid referral channel that funnels traffic to your website regularly.
Social media examples
With over 20 million followers, the GoPro Instagram account attracts attention by sharing jaw-dropping content filmed with its products. On the B2B side, the Mailchimp Facebook page offers inspirational content, customer stories, and customer support — complete with high-quality, custom images and videos.
Infographics are a type of content marketing that compiles interesting statistics and facts into a pleasing visual format. Infographics are a mainstay of B2B content marketing, but they’re useful in some B2C applications, especially for sharing instructions or product features. More often than not, businesses take existing content, like a blog, and transform its high-level points into an easily digestible infographic.
Infographics are helpful because they distill big concepts into engaging visuals that are easy to read and share. In an age where your audience craves skimmable content, infographics make it easier to consume your brand’s content in less time. Plus, businesses can crop the original infographic into smaller images, which are perfect for resharing on social media.
Tools like Adobe Express make it even easier to create quality infographics in less time.
New Zealand travel site Getaway gives aspiring travelers helpful tips on foreign getaways through stunning infographics. For B2B, Search Engine Land compiles infographics created by guest posters to give brands quick, actionable marketing tips.
Ebooks are a popular form of B2B content marketing. Some B2C brands use eBooks (or guides) to educate shoppers about product features or company-specific issues, like sustainability, but this strategy is most popular with B2B brands. Many companies create eBooks as lead magnets, which help businesses collect readers’ email addresses for lead nurturing.
An eBook is useful for generating leads, although businesses need to ensure these digital publications deliver real value. Create original research, compile industry insights, or offer exclusive information that readers can’t get anywhere else. Executed correctly, eBooks can help businesses generate more leads while increasing their brand authority.
Dropbox created an eBook titled Create Better Work Together, which not only promoted Dropbox’s solutions for businesses but also shared processes and tools for businesses to streamline their work. LinkedIn also created a LinkedIn Content Marketing Tactical Plan eBook to help businesses use LinkedIn’s tools for content creation.
While many content marketing strategies are organic, it’s also possible to promote your business with paid advertising content. Paid marketing content promotes your business to users on search engines, social media, and other websites through text copy, images, and video content. The key is to promote an enticing offer that encourages viewers to learn more, especially since paid advertising platforms charge businesses per impression and per click.
Paid advertising costs more than any other type of content marketing, but it’s beneficial because it can generate results more quickly than organic content. Plus, it can also put a business’s content in front of more potential shoppers who might not have learned about the business otherwise.
Paid advertising examples
B2C cookware company Our Place used paid video ads to promote its products while sharing a cooking demo with its viewers. Fishbowl also used paid video ads, plus an influencer partnership, to promote its app to burned-out professionals.
Other online content marketing avenues
Blogs, videos, podcasts, social media, infographics, eBooks, and paid ads are some of the most common types of content marketing, but they’re far from the only avenues your business can use to promote itself.
Online marketing is a type of content marketing that allows your business to promote itself on any digital platform. Try adding these online marketing options to your company’s strategy to get even more leverage:
- Email. Email marketing helps businesses share helpful tips with subscribers while promoting their products, sales, new features, and more.
- Live video. Going live on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok can encourage more people to tune in and engage with you.
- Quizzes and games. Interactive quizzes and games entertain your audience, are highly shareable, and keep your business top of mind.
- Courses and webinars. Create free educational resources to build trust with your audience. Use free educational content as a means of gathering their contact information for lead nurturing.
Ultimately, the goal of these online marketing avenues is to give your business multiple ways to connect with its audience.
Other online content marketing examples
Content brand BuzzFeed single-handedly popularized online quizzes, which it uses to both entertain its readers and promote affiliate products. Fitness brand 9Round sends monthly email newsletters to its members with instructional workout videos, nutrition tips, and healthy recipes.
How content marketing works
Once you’ve decided on the types of content marketing your business will create, it’s time to build a content marketing strategy. The purpose of content marketing is to deepen relationships and solve problems, so every content marketing strategy should address the three stages of content marketing.
The awareness stage is the first step of every customer journey. This is when customers become aware of an issue or a problem they have. At this stage, content marketing should focus on customer needs and pain points without overly promoting your solutions or products. The best types of content for the awareness stage include blogs answering common questions with an FAQ, informative how-to videos, or high-level eBooks.
In the consideration stage, your audience knows they have a problem and begins looking for solutions to their problem. Businesses should still deliver value with their content marketing at this stage, but they can now add a few well-placed promotions within the content. The best types of content for this stage include helpful infographics and how-to blogs.
In the decision stage, your audience decides whether they’re going to choose your solution or not. This is the stage when your content marketing should lean more heavily into sales-related content. Content like comparison lists, customer testimonials, product demo videos, and buyer guides do well at this stage. Businesses can also use retargeted paid ads to bring lost leads back into the fold.
How to do content marketing
Understanding the three stages of content marketing can help your business create relevant content for every potential buyer. However, you still need a solid plan to back up your content marketing efforts. Follow these eight tips to do effective content marketing in 2023.
1. Know who your customers are
Companies need to make sure they understand their audience and know how to engage with them. Customer segmentation allows companies to build detailed views of their customers with buyer personas. These personas not only help the company understand its customers but also identify the types of content that will best resonate with different customer segments. By activating and acting on these personas, a company can successfully communicate with its audience, build trust, and find new customers.
2. Figure out what information they’ll need
The next step is to determine what information is necessary to connect customers with your product, brand, or service. Identify your audience’s pain points so you better understand their priorities, challenges, and preferences. From there, your content marketing strategy should answer common questions and solve your audience’s problems. The better your content solves a problem, the more likely your audience is to engage with you.
3. Decide how to deliver that information
Once you know your customer and what they need, you’ll need to deliver content via the best medium for your target audience. For example, if your customer personas reveal that your ideal buyers spend a lot of time on Facebook, it means you should deliver content on that platform. By going where your audience spends their time online, you can ensure they see your content and engage with your brand.
53% of marketers plan to improve their quality of content in 2023.
55% of marketers plan to post content more frequently in 2023.
4. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for success
Content marketing is effective, but attribution isn’t always simple. Businesses should establish content marketing KPIs to help them understand how their content is performing. However, the KPIs you choose will depend on your goals. Some businesses track content engagement, like views and comments, while others look for conversions. The key is to set measurable, realistic KPIs for your business.
5. Create good content
This goes without saying, but businesses have to generate professional content that entertains and informs their audience. Follow these tips to create better content:
- Create clear, well-written content that doesn’t use jargon.
- Deliver value to your audience, whether in the form of actionable tips, discounts, or insider information.
- Create different pieces of content for customers at different stages of the funnel.
- Ensure your content works with the channel you’re using. You can reuse the same ideas in a blog for social media, but you might have to adjust it to communicate better with users on a different platform.
6. Set a schedule
Your business needs to release content on a consistent basis to attract both regular traffic and search engine crawlers. Creating a posting schedule can help you release content regularly, but be realistic. It’s easy to be overly ambitious, so start with one blog post or video a week. Remember that overnight success isn’t possible with content marketing, so it will take time for you to gather enough data to see if your posting schedule is effective or not.
7. Set a budget
While content marketing is one of the most affordable forms of marketing, it isn’t free. Businesses should always set a budget for their content marketing initiatives so they can measure return on investment (ROI). Create a budget for hiring freelancers, buying content tools, and running paid ads to control your spending.
8. Analyze and measure results
Make sure you regularly sit down with your marketing team to review how your content marketing efforts stack up against your target KPIs. Analyzing and measuring your performance can help you understand which pieces perform better, which can ultimately help you create stronger content. It also allows marketers to shift their budget toward more successful types of content and away from underperforming projects.
Empower your content marketing with the right tools
Content marketing is used to attract, engage, and retain customers by creating and distributing content in various forms. It’s one of the most effective and affordable marketing methods, but businesses need a solid strategy in place to get the most value out of their content marketing efforts.
When you’re ready to get started, evaluate your marketing team’s capacity for creating and managing content marketing campaigns. If you need more support, Adobe Experience Manager can help in the form of Adobe Experience Manager Content Management and Adobe Experience Manager Sites.
With Experience Manager Content Management, you can bring millions of personalized experiences to life. Experience Manager Sites is a marketer- and developer-friendly content management system (CMS) built to deliver personalized experiences to any audience on any channel — without having to compromise on speed or scale.
Watch the Adobe Content Management overview video to learn more.