What is content marketing? A complete guide

Foto van bijdrager Caeleigh MacNeilCaeleigh MacNeil
16 mei 2024
8 min. leestijd
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What is content marketing? A complete guide
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Summary

When brands produce great content, their audience keeps coming back for more. In this article, learn how to create a successful content marketing strategy that keeps your audience engaged.

Content marketing isn’t just nice to have—it’s a necessity. Ninety percent of marketers incorporate content into their strategy, and that number is growing. Research projects that the content marketing industry will be worth $600 billion in 2024, a significant uptick from previous years. 

Now is the time to invest in content marketing, and we’re here to help you get started. 

What is content marketing? 

Content marketing is the strategy of creating valuable assets—like articles, videos, and emails—to engage your customers. The goal of content marketing is to build trust and familiarity with your brand by making it a go-to source for information. The more people engage with your content, the more likely they are to trust your brand and buy your products. Content marketing is a type of inbound marketing, meaning it attracts customers by sharing information rather than relying on ads. 

For example, Spotify’s annual “Spotify Wrapped” campaign is an excellent content marketing campaign. By serving users a bite-sized interactive report of their personal listening trends, Spotify encourages customers to engage with the brand, talk about it with their friends, and share their results on social media. 

How Asana uses work management for content marketing

See how Asana's Head of Brand & Advertising coordinates work across teams to create impactful content.

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How Asana uses work management for content marketing

Why is content marketing important? 

When brands produce great content, customers—and potential buyers—keep coming back for more. This helps capture the attention of your target audience for longer, and it reinforces positive experiences with your brand. As a result your audience is more likely to think of and trust your brand when they’re looking to make a purchase. 

Content marketing is also a cost-effective strategy. In fact, Forbes reports that content marketing campaigns cost 62% less to launch and maintain compared to other types of campaigns. 

How content marketing works

Not everyone who reads your content is in the same place. Some people are customers, some are debating whether to invest in your product, and some have never even heard of your brand before. To get the most out of your marketing efforts, you should deliver custom content for each stage of the sales cycle: awareness, consideration, and decision-making. Depending on where customers are in the sales cycle, different types of marketing content can help move them to the next phase. 

Here’s how it works: 

Awareness

During this stage, customers know the problem they want to solve and are researching solutions. They may not be aware that your product exists yet. This is when you want to grab the customer's attention so they consider your product.

For example, search engine optimization (SEO) content can direct potential customers to your website who haven’t heard of your product before.

Consideration

This is when customers weigh your product against other available options. Your goal during this phase is to convince potential buyers that your product is the best option. 

For example, customer case studies and testimonials can help buyers see the benefits of your product in action, and move them closer to a decision. 

Decision

During this stage, customers decide whether to purchase your product. Your goal now is to convince them to commit. 

For example, content that promotes free trial options can help convince potential customers to commit and make a purchase. 

Types of content marketing

The word “content” can mean many things, including articles, podcasts, and everything in between. Each type of content marketing has its own unique benefits and use cases, which we dive into below: 

Social media content

We live in a social media world, and modern brands need to keep up. Social media content is tailor-made to generate engagement on different social media platforms and apps, like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tiktok, and more. By creating social media posts, you encourage customers (both potential and current) to interact with your brand, share with their friends, and consume helpful content. Over time, social media marketing builds brand awareness and trust among your target audience. 

Gratis sjabloon voor sociale media agenda

SEO content

SEO, or “search engine optimization” content is tailored to answer common questions your audience is searching for on Google. When a potential customer has a question, your goal is to serve them helpful content that answers that question—while also providing an entrypoint to your brand and generating organic traffic. 

For example, imagine your company sells exercise equipment. Through keyword research, your SEO team has determined that many people are searching for “best yoga mat” on Google. You create a blog outlining the pros and cons of different yoga mat options, and potential customers find this article through search. They get the information they need and they’re introduced to your brand—it’s a win-win. 

Emails

Email marketing is a tried-and-true content marketing strategy. Once you collect leads, emails help you continuously engage these prospective customers and build stronger relationships with your email list over time. 

For example, you could send an email series to leads who haven’t purchased your product yet, introducing them to the many benefits your company offers. This technique is often called a “nurture campaign” and is meant to provide helpful information that builds trust in your brand. 

Videos

Not everyone wants to read content. Videos are a great way to capture the attention of visual learners or people who want information that’s bite-sized and easy to consume. Video content can also be a beautiful, long-form way to engage your audience, like this short film from Patagonia. 

Once you create a video, you can easily repurpose it by slicing it into shorter segments for social media channels. 

Ebooks and whitepapers

Ebooks and whitepapers are long-form, written content pieces that provide helpful information about a specific topic. An ebook usually includes a visual design component, while a whitepaper is more in-depth and text-heavy. They’re often gated, meaning people have to submit their contact information to receive a copy—thus generating leads for your business. Ebooks and whitepapers are often used to capture potential customers in the “awareness” stage of the sales cycle. 

Case studies

Case studies are another type of long-form content. They typically focus on a current (often well-known) customer, and the benefits they’ve received from using your product. Since case studies are more benefit- and product-focused, they’re often used during the “consideration” phase of the sales cycle. 

User generated content

From TikTok trends to influencer #OOTD posts, user-generated content (UGC) is the new word-of-mouth. This type of online content is original and brand-specific, created by consumers rather than brands. Unboxing videos, makeup reviews, branded hashtags, and photo tags are all examples of how brands can take advantage of user-generated content. 

Because anyone can create user-generated content, adding this tactic to your digital marketing strategy can enhance your brand’s authenticity.

Podcasts

Podcasts give your audience a way to engage with your brand when they’re away from their computer—like when they’re driving in the car, going for a walk, or commuting to work. The goal of this long-form, audio-only medium is to provide helpful information your audience can use in their daily life, thus building trust in your brand. For example, the brand Sephora’s podcast “#LIPSTORIES” includes famous guests and chats about self-image and self-confidence. 

Infographics

Infographics are designed images that display information in a short-form and engaging way. They often show things like statistics, how-to’s, or other helpful content. Infographics are very versatile—you can use them across different platforms like blogs, social media, and web landing pages. 

Read: 13 marketing trends and strategies for 2024

How Asana uses work management for content marketing

See how Asana's Head of Brand & Advertising coordinates work across teams to create impactful content.

How Asana uses work management for content marketing

How to get started with content marketing

If you haven’t done it before, content marketing can feel intimidating. There are so many types of content and distribution platforms that it can be hard to know where to get started. But content marketing isn’t as complex as it seems. We’ve simplified the process into 8 key steps, so you and your team can get started quickly. 

1. Set goals

Every great content marketing plan starts with clear objectives and benchmarks. Goals give you specific targets to aim for, a clear timeline, and benchmarks to measure progress. Without clearly defined goals, it’s hard to tell if your content marketing plan is working. 

Here are a few different goal-setting frameworks you can use to set measurable objectives: 

  • SMART goals: This acronym helps you set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. For example, you could set the following SMART goal for your content marketing plan: “In Q2, generate 100K new site visitors per month from blog content.” 

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs): KPIs are quantitative metrics that help you track progress toward business objectives. For example, you could track page views and product signups to measure the success of your content marketing strategy. 

  • Objectives and key results (OKRs): This strategy pairs the objectives you want to achieve with the key results you’ll use to measure progress. It follows this format: “I will [objective] as measured by [key result].” For example, “The marketing team will increase brand awareness in Q2, as measured by the following key results: generating 100K new site visitors per month from blog content, and generating 1K purchases per month through blog content.” 

2. Identify your target audience

To produce great pieces of content, you have to know who you’re talking to. This helps you tailor your strategy to your audience’s interests and keep them engaged. It also ensures you’re not wasting time creating content for channels your audience doesn’t use. For example, the target audience for a B2B software company may be more likely to use LinkedIn than Facebook. 

To narrow down your target audience, ask yourself questions like: 

  • Who is experiencing the problem your product solves?

  • How do they consume content? 

  • What challenges are they facing that your content could help with? 

Build out detailed personas capturing the demographics, interests, habits, and pain points of your target audience. The better you understand them, the more engaging your content will be. 

3. Audit your existing content

Before creating new content, take stock of what you already have. A thorough content audit helps you identify gaps (where you need to create new content) as well as opportunities to refresh existing pieces. It’s a good way to ensure you’re not wasting your content marketing efforts by re-creating something from scratch.

4. Research your competitors

In content marketing, you’re constantly competing with other brands for your audience’s attention. Conduct research to see what your competitors are doing—like what topics they cover, the content types they use, their distribution channels, and more. This helps you create the best content, differentiate your brand, and fill in gaps they might be missing. 

5. Make a distribution plan

Creating great content is one thing, but you also need your audience to see it. That’s where distribution comes in. To create a distribution plan, choose which platforms you’ll use to get content out to your target audience. Your plan hinges on a few different factors: 

  1. How your audience prefers to consume content

  2. Which sale cycle stage you want to target

  3. The type of content you’re creating

For example, imagine you’re creating instructional how-to videos for customers in the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey. You’ve learned that your target audience uses YouTube, so you choose that as your distribution channel for this content series. By using SEO strategies in your video titles and descriptions, you’re able to capture new potential customers who may not have heard of your brand before. 

6. Create a content calendar

With content marketing, consistency is key. A content calendar helps you publish at a regular cadence by outlining what content you’ll create, when it will go live, and where it will live. It also helps you organize and see a big-picture view of your overall content plan, so you can ensure you’re publishing the right pieces at the right time. 

Start by mapping out all the topics, formats, channels, and timelines for content creation and distribution over the next 3-6 months. To make this process easier, choose one central hub to manage your content calendar—like a work management platform that lets you assign content, set due dates, and see timelines in one place. 

Centralizing all your work data in one platform has another added benefit: it opens the door for AI. For example, Asana’s AI features let teams create faster status updates, summarize key highlights, ask AI questions to identify blockers, and more. This frees up time for your team to focus on creating and publishing compelling content. 

7. Launch your content strategy

This is the fun part. Assemble your content team and start working through the pieces on your content calendar. Before you start, make sure you’ve ironed out your content production processes and given everyone a clear role. Your team should know exactly what steps they should take to publish content (writing, reviewing, staging, etc.) as well as who is responsible for content reviews and editing. 

8. Measure success

Content marketing is an iterative cycle, not a one-and-done effort. Continuously measure your content performance using metrics like traffic, engagement, leads, audience engagement, and conversions. This helps you gauge what’s resonating and what needs improvement, so you can refine and enhance your content strategy over time. 

Engage your audience with Asana

Content marketing works best when every team has full visibility into what you’re publishing, and when. See how Asana can help automate and streamline content production workflows, so your team can spend less time organizing and more time creating high-quality content. 

Create better content—faster

Streamline processes to engage your audience and hit your marketing goals.

Create better content—faster

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