If you’re just setting off into the jungle of content marketing, or if you’ve been living there for a while and feel like you’re stuck in quicksand, you may be wishing you could find a beginner’s guide to content marketing to steer you away from bad habits and give you pointers for improved results. Well, wish no more! We’re in the mood to hand out just such a guide, complete with background info, key definitions and a breakdown of content marketing within specific industries.

Sit back, and enjoy!

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is promoting your business through the distribution of content such as social media posts, videos, blog posts, online reviews, and the like. It differs from traditional marketing in that this content may not make an obvious bid for the audience’s support. If you put out material that people find funny, impressive, interesting, or useful, their recognition of the value you’ve provided may naturally lead them to want to learn more about your company’s product or service.

Content marketing is kind of a Jedi mind trick — people are expecting you to tell them to buy your stuff, and then you don’t, but you give them something instead, and then they’re surprised and delighted. That’s the goal of a content marketing strategy, and you could be closer to reaching it than you realize. This content marketing guide will outline how to start content marketing and give you tips for course-correcting if your existing tactics have already gone awry, but in the end there will always be plenty of choices for you to make on the basis of your business’s unique needs and constraints.

The Benefits of Content Marketing

You may be feeling skeptical as to the value or practicality of content marketing. Your marketing budget is stretched thin as it is — why would you divert any of it from traditional ads to this newfangled way of reaching customers? Is this even something that will be around in five years, or two?

First of all, content marketing has a number of potential benefits, such as making your business relatable, driving SEO performance, forming connections between your company’s story and your customer’s lives, and reaching vast untapped markets through the virality of social media without the cost of traditional advertising.

Also, the harsh truth is that without content marketing in the modern marketplace, you’re likely to be outcompeted, if for no better reason than consumers have come to see this sort of content as a sign of competence or trustworthiness in companies they support. “An ice cream shop with no Twitter page,” they may think to themselves. “Yeah right, more like a black-market organ harvester trying to lure me into their shanty so they can make off with my beautiful kidneys.” This is not the impression you want to make. To some extent, we are all subject to the fashions of the moment, businesses probably more than individuals. Refusing to develop some content marketing proficiency could cost you more than the principle is worth.

The ROI on Content Marketing

Still not sold? Perhaps it would help if we told you there are ways to quantify the effectiveness of your content marketing using return on investment, or ROI, calculations. Content marketing doesn’t have to involve throwing resources into a void and wondering forever if they had an effect or should have been directed elsewhere. Instead, you can record changes in the metrics that are important to your business before and after your content goes out, find a number to represent the contribution of that content to those changes, and get a grip on your content marketing strategy.

If your business has a goal of increasing leads per month, take a look at how that figure moves in relation to your content campaigns. If you’re trying to win your website favor in the endless Game of Thrones-esque SEO dance, watch your site visits, bounce rate, CTR, and other performance indices. You don’t have to choose between shooting in the dark and not shooting at all. With a little forethought, you can have the best of both worlds: a content marketing approach that embraces all the opportunities of new marketing philosophies without sacrificing budget transparency.

Content Marketing by Industry

We have resources available for business owners in various industries who need a guide to content marketing within their chosen sector. Here are some of the articles we’ve written about content marketing:

Food PR: Strategies to Scale Food & Beverage Public Relations

Our top tips for food and beverage business owners looking to expand their communications capability, including tips on promoting businesses through personable, effective content marketing.

Financial PR Expert Guide: Public Relations Strategies for Finance Firms

Advice for those in the financial services game who need to infuse their communications with personality and warmth within a world of cold hard math and hard-to-distinguish competitors.

Expert Strategy to Execute Public Relations for Technology Companies

A rundown of content marketing principles for tech business owners, who may have a tough job of bringing their technical expertise to life in the language of their target audiences.

Top 10 Public Relations Tactics for Small Business Owners

Our communications tips, including those for content marketing, tailored for small business owners. Having a small business means you deal with problems and limits, and also advantages, that other businesses don’t. Your content marketing plan should reflect those unique factors, and we’ve got you covered there.

Drive Content Marketing Success With Us

Reading blog posts is a great start, but you know what’s better? Working one-on-one with experts in content marketing. Reach out for in-depth evaluations of your business’s communication strengths and help launching new campaigns.