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Content Marketing

How Content Marketing Complements All of Marketing

Part II Of This 10-Part Blog Series on Enterprise IT Content Marketing Fundamentals

In the previous article we discussed: Content marketing in 2022 and into the future.

In This Article:

  • What Is ‘Permission-based’ Marketing?
  • The Content Funnel for Product Marketing
  • The Difference Between ‘Above-the-Line’ and ‘Below-the-Line’ Advertising

Modern marketing practices have evolved from being brand-centric to customer-centric, because, frankly, people aren’t interested unless you have something special to offer. There’s too much else on their plate already.

Reiterating what we discussed earlier, this “need for value” created content marketing—and it plays a big part in a larger inbound methodology.

When you consistently deliver value through your content (or any other asset, such as a free tool or demo) to a clearly defined target audience, you’ll eventually build a loyal following.

People will come to you for advice, turn into leads, show their interest, and, eventually, convert into paying customers.

That being said, content marketing isn’t a standalone practice, but rather a piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly into the modern marketing picture.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into how content marketing can complement your overall efforts (and how to get the most out of it).

Permission-Based Marketing Trumps Interruptive Marketing

In a perfect world, your prospects welcome your efforts with open arms, actively engage with your content, and even go as far as taking the particular action that you wanted them to.

Unfortunately, things don’t always work that way in the real world!

However, while building a loyal following that actually cares about your marketing efforts can be challenging, it is certainly possible.

By continuously pushing out educational, entertaining, and engaging assets, your readers will get hooked to your content and sign up to receive updates for new stuff—bringing that idea of a “perfect world” closer to reality.

All the efforts that you make to establish this system and deliver content falls under the umbrella of “permission-based” marketing.

Note to Reader – Definition

As the name suggests, “permission-based” marketing involves sending personalized marketing messages (whether purely informational, promotional, or a combination of both) to people who have explicitly agreed to receive said messages. The most popular channels for reaching consenting prospects are email and newsletters (both print and digital). This is inbound marketing at its best!

In permission-based marketing, your target audience essentially gives you the green light to keep them in the loop by becoming leads. Having people sign up for your content is a privilege that not every brand has. And it almost goes without saying that it has major perks, as you can see in Figure 6.

Intuitively, you can imagine how, compared to the interruptive tactics of traditional marketing (which rely heavily on ads that your target audience doesn’t necessarily want to see), permission-based marketing is highly effective.

You don’t have to take our word for it—according to one source, with personalized emails, you can experience a 14% increase in click-through rate and a jaw-dropping 10% rise in conversions over generic ones. Here’s another angle: 81% of consumers have exited a webpage due to a pop-up ad, which is a classic example of interruptive marketing.

That’s all fine and dandy, but, how does permission marketing work (and what does it have to do with content marketing)?

Here’s a quick, two-step breakdown:

  • Establish a process: Start by creating a system or a framework for a lead generation process (i.e. through which people can consent to receiving future updates and promotional messages). Usually, this is done through smart CTA/short form placements on your landing pages that are linked to an email/newsletter subscription platform.
  • Offer an incentive: Setting up a framework is easy. The hardest part is gaining consent from your target audience and getting them to convert into leads. To get people to sign up, you need to offer them an incentive to sign up—a gated piece of content, special discounts, a demo, or anything that’s so good that they have no option but to give up their contact information and hit that subscribe button.

When folks start consenting to receive content from you, it may be tempting to bombard them with your messages. DON’T DO IT.

That’s the marketing equivalent of having a good first date and then straight up spamming them with text messages all night. 

The casual follow-up is where content marketing comes into the picture.

With a strong content framework in place (one built on in-depth research, content planned and crafted around user intent, engaging and entertaining content delivered through different formats, SEO best-practices, and organic distribution/promotion tactics), you can send bits of highly impactful and personal content—increasing engagement and their chances of conversions in the process. And you won’t be creepy. Bonus!

While this might seem challenging at first, it gets easier over time—especially if you have an in-depth resource like a Gorilla Guide from which you can extract these tidbits of content (hint, hint)! We’ll talk more about repurposing content later.

Using Content Marketing for Product Marketing

Product marketing is a special subset of marketing and we need to approach it a bit differently. Excellent content can help significantly. The typical goals for any product marketing strategy include:

  • Understanding user preferences, objections, and pain points
  • Aligning the wants and needs of a target audience with a product’s offering(s)
  • Identifying gaps in the market
  • Increasing awareness about any new offering
  • Increasing revenue tied to a specific product
  • Reviving declining products by introducing a new feature

Traditionally, the go-to approach for marketing a product is by creating a solution that addresses a real problem, going all in on highlighting the features, and what makes it stand out from the competing players. That’s pretty straightforward.

However, as we’ve made abundantly clear, those tactics aren’t enough, especially if you’re pitching to a buying group where each stakeholder has a different set of concerns and motivations. Your ideal prospects need to know exactly what your product can do for them, how it can solve their problems, and interestingly, what the social implications or choosing your product might be.

If only there was an existing approach that ideal for doing just for that…a strategic way to educate and inform your prospects…

Oh, wait. There is!

Content marketing, if done right, can help you achieve (or get closer to achieving) your product marketing goals, regardless of where you stand in the product lifecycle. Though product marketing and content marketing are separate things, they go together like peas and carrots, as you can see in Figure 7.

 

By incorporating content marketing into your product marketing strategy, you can:

  • Create a demand for your product: If you’re launching a cutting-edge product that addresses a unique problem (something that your prospects aren’t aware of), you’ll need to create demand for it. By producing content that discusses their existing and invisible pain points through articles, blog posts, infographics, and other content assets, you can make your prospects “problem-aware,” forcing them to look for a solution.
  • Position yourself as the perfect solution: By creating content around the pain points you’re attempting to solve, over time, you’ll establish authority over your niche. After having done that, when your prospects think about solving a particular problem, who do you think they’ll turn to? That’s right—you!
    Spark conversations and gather insights: By engaging with your paying customers, you can gather critical data that can help you improve your product and keep it relevant.

All in all, content marketing efforts can make your product shine while strategically guiding your prospects through their buyer’s journeys.

The Relationship Between Media Buying and Content Marketing

B2B brands are ditching traditional paid marketing tactics/media buying in favor of a more permissive content marketing approach. In an effort to make them seem less interruptive, the concept of native ads (promotional/sponsored messages that are designed to fit right into the platform they appear on) emerged.

Well-executed native ads blend of content marketing and paid advertising and can be highly effective. This modern approach to distributing content is likely to be more effective than generic PPC. According to CMI, content marketing can help generate more than 3X14 the leads that paid search ads can.

Defining ATL and BTL

“Above-the-Line” (ATL) is an advertising term that refers to the type of advertisements that target a broad audience with no discrimination. TV, radio, and billboard ads are classic examples of ATL advertisement.

On the flip side, “Below-the-Line” (BTL) advertisement is more targeted, and therefore, reaches a comparatively smaller audience. The ads you see on social networks and search engines are the best examples of contemporary BTL advertisements.

Native ads perfectly illustrate the fact that paid marketing is not inherently bad, and demonstrate that high-octane content marketing need not be organic!

While considering the traditional definition of inbound marketing, using ads to deliver your messages might raise a few eyebrows. However, as long as you respect the underlying goal of helping your target audience, you’re good. In fact, when done right, you can convert your paid media into temporary, yet high-value content assets that can quickly hit those KPIs like it’s no one’s business.

Here are some quick tips to help you do that:

  • Craft messages that address core issues or gaps that you’re capitalizing on. Avoid blatant promotions or empty messages that don’t deliver any concrete value. You can do that with both online/BTL and traditional ATL ads.
  • Get as specific as possible when targeting your prospects. Use the targeting tools provided by most online advertising platforms to reach the right people with appropriate messages. Additionally, incorporate a “tracking pixel”—a special code that goes on your website, collects fresh user data, provides insights on how they behave, shows you what content they engage with, and creates “sub-audiences” based on that information. Every advertising platform has its own pixel (such as the “Facebook Pixel” and the “LinkedIn Insight Tag”). For instance, there will be some people who make it to your sales page, but leave without proceeding/filling a contact form. A tracking pixel (let’s say, LinkedIn’s Insight Tag) can help you “retarget” those prospects with relevant ads and special messages later on.

You can go one step further and do A/B testing to see which of your messages resonate well with your audiences. Again, your chances of success go back to your ability to craft impactful content in the first place.

Whether it’s in supporting product launches are as an extension of paid advertising, you can see how content marketing is a permanent fixture in the big picture marketing playbook for most organizations. In our next article we will discuss: Using outreach for content marketing.