Content marketing is no longer a peripheral practice that helps set your brand apart from competition. It’s now at the core of most digital marketing campaigns.
Content marketing involves creating, publishing, and distribute content over multiple channels your audience uses. It increases brand awareness, reach, sales, customer interactions, and loyalty. Content can include videos, podcasts, blogs, social media posts, infographics, and images.
Investing in content marketing can provide significant advantages for your business. Let’s explore some of those advantages, as well as some book recommendations from leading content marketing experts.
Why you should improve your content marketing
Content marketing helps your brand’s reputation.
You can help your brand establish a positive reputation by building trust with your prospective and existing customers. Educational and engaging content will convince customers you are a leader in your industry.
Delivering content consistently serves to reinforce that viewpoint. Giving customers the content they crave will differentiate you from your competitors.
Content marketing can be applied to every level of your funnel
Whether prospective customers are looking at your business as a possible solution to their problems, comparing you to your competitors, or leaning toward conversion, good content is critical at every point in your sales funnel.
Appropriate content at each of these levels is the nudge that will move prospects through your sales funnel all the way to the point of conversion. Clicking on an email can lead them to an educational landing page on your website, which encourages signing up for a product demo. That may impress them so much they pull the trigger on a one-year subscription.
Content marketing is a low-cost, effective way to bring in leads
Marketing is usually divided into two categories: traditional and digital. The COVID-19 pandemic has made an already device-crazy population even more reliant on the internet.
More eyes are focused on screens than before the pandemic and the need for updated content has never been greater. The good news for digital marketers is the cost of generating content is 62 percent less than traditional marketing while generating three times as many leads.
Content marketing does not need the time investment of traditional marketing to be effective. 75 percent of marketers were able to increase their traffic by investing only 6 hours per week in their social media content. Improving your content marketing yields a good return on investment.
Content marketing helps SEO
Content is critical for search engine optimization. Without relevant, updated content, search engines will be less inclined to index and rank your site. The more content you have, the more pages a search engine can index and display in search engine results.
Similarly, the more content on your site, the longer visitors will hang out. This increases the amount of time they spend viewing various pages, which impacts search engine placement.
Also, more content gives you more opportunities to improve your rank for keywords that users are searching for.
The 10 best books for improving your content marketing
1. The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization (2015) by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie C. Stricchiola
Three search engine optimization experts share expertise that will help you devise and carry out a broad and extensive SEO strategy. This book is helpful for those new to SEO as it covers many of the fundamentals.
People who are experienced in SEO can use the book as a reference for specific tasks. Understanding the role of social media, tracking results and measuring the effectiveness of your SEO program, learning what changes to make and not to make to your website, and building teams to manage SEO are just a few of the subjects covered.
2. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (2014) by Ann Handley
Author, speaker, and C-suite marketing executive, Ann Handley, gives guidance and insight into the process of content creation based on her years of experience in the industry. Like any good writer, she covers grammar, structure, and process.
She also covers the art of storytelling, a skill crucial for creating effective content. She shows how storytelling can create a relationship with your customers, reflect the values of your brand, and build a voice that differentiates you from your competitors.
3. How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck (2011) by Steve Stockman
Not all marketing copy goes in front of the customer. Sometimes, the most effective form of communication is to take what’s on the page and convert it into action.
Writer, director, and producer of film and television, Steve Stockman, shows you how to think like a director by focusing on story first and foremost. Story is what determines which equipment you will need to bring the story to life.
Stockman then covers techniques applicable to a variety of projects from promotional videos to instructional videos to music videos. Stockman also covers the fundamentals of framing, lighting, sound, and editing to ensure a polished finished product.
4. Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time (2013) by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith
“Born to Blog” contains field-tested techniques to help you build a successful, professional business blog. Schaefer and Smith show the reader how to attract an audience, promote a blog, and write compelling content that becomes a catalyst for new business.
5. Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen (2017) by Donald Miller
Created by marketing expert Donald Miller, the StoryBrand Framework helps marketers use storytelling to clarify a brand’s message.
Miller takes brand messaging and breaks it down to seven component parts. These engage the consumer much the same way the elements of a movie engage the person watching it.
The book shows you how to identify customer needs, define their problems, position your brand as the customer’s guide, give customers a plan to solve their problem, create a call to action, avoid pitfalls, and give the customer a vision of success.
6. Content Design (2017) by Sarah Richards
At only 224 pages, “Content Design” may not look like much, but that is exactly what makes it effective. Sarah Richards applies her theory of content design to her own book. This shows that good things do indeed come in small packages.
Richards developed her content design approach while working for the UK’s Government Digital Service office. She defines it as thinking smarter to ensure your content will stand out from the crowd. She shows you how to use editing, collaboration, and constructive criticism to ensure your content is what your intended audience wants.
7. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (2012) by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
Ann Handley makes a second appearance on this list with “Content Rules,” co-written with C.C. Chapman. Both online marketing professionals, Handley and Chapman show you how to give your online presence an authentic voice to better engage with customers.
In an online environment where everybody can have a voice, they show you how to write for many mediums so you can best communicate your brand’s message. They correlate their advice with case studies, giving the reader real-world examples of great content that gets results.
8. Stop Boring Me! How to Create Kick-Ass Marketing Content, Products, and Ideas Through the Power of Improv (2016) by Kathy Klotz-Guest
Corporate trainer and stand-up comedian Kathy Klotz-Guest wants you to harness the power of improvisation. She has a track record of using improv to create fresh ideas for stories, blog posts, presentations, and social media.
The first half of the book focuses on how to use improvisation techniques to craft better stories and abandon the practice of falling back to the same old ideas and habits. The second half is about turning those stories into creative marketing ideas, new content, and campaigns.
One of the many improv principles Klotz-Guest discusses is the “Yes, and…” principle. It’s used by improv comics to drive a story forward, generate ideas without judgment, and give a brainstorming session momentum. It’s the exact opposite of “Yes, but…” which can bring a brainstorming session to an immediate halt.
9. The Art of the Click: How to Harness the Power of Direct-Response Copywriting and Make More Sales (2018) by Glenn Fisher
In “The Art of the Click,” Glenn Fisher teaches the ins and outs of direct response copywriting, or generating copy that inspires action. And he starts where all writing starts… an idea.
In this quick but entertaining read, Fisher goes through how to identify good ideas. He then builds on it, by going through techniques that use written words to hack a reader’s brain: from greetings to narrative to testimonials and more. Fisher’s goal is to get the readers of your copy to behave how you want them to behave.
10. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers (1999) by Seth Godin
Last, but not least, we finish with a book from the well-known marketing guru Seth Godin. The former vice president of direct marketing at Yahoo! and the man who blogs every day argues that traditional marketing designed to grab your attention is dying.
Godin’s assertion is that marketing to those who volunteer for it is the preferred method. He refers to this as “permission marketing.” Companies like Bell Atlantic and American Express, both of which have implemented this strategy, have proven him right.
Godin explains how to build lasting relationships by marketing only to those who show interest and incentivizing those who accept advertising voluntarily. This creates relationships where trust is established immediately and brand association is positive right out of the gate.
Always improve your work and reap the benefits
Whether you’re looking to create a call to action, establish long term customers, or just get a story off your chest, content marketing will get the job done. Know how to optimize your content and you’ll have a crucial marketing tool to support your brand in today’s fast changing online world.
Thanks for reading! Do you want to create thought leadership articles like the one above? If you struggle to translate your ideas into content that will help build credibility and influence others, sign up to get John’s latest online course “Writing From Your Voice” here.