Content Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

Content Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

If you’re here, you’ve heard of content marketing or inbound marketing and are curious what it means, right? Want to see the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, curious about some examples of content marketing and looking for strategies you could apply yourself? If I anticipated correctly, you’re in the right place πŸ™‚ Grab a tea or coffee and join me to discover what content/inbound marketing is and how we can promote our business by providing value to people. Ready? Here we go!

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A definition for inbound/content marketing

Before we get into the details, I’d like to clarify the terms a bit. You’ll see, I’ll be using both content marketing and inbound marketing quite a bit. The reason is that both names basically refer to the same concept, the same marketing strategy: to get your promote your business providing value to people.

What is content marketing

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain an audience and ultimately lead to a sale.

Instead of trying to promote our products or services to our target audience, instead of trying to buy their attention, content marketing proposes to earn it.

What is inbound marketing

According to Hubspot, practicing inbound marketing means engaging customers with relevant and useful content, providing them with value at every stage of the buying process. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines and social media.

By creating content that answers a prospect’s questions, or helps them solve a problem, they will naturally become familiar with our brand and ultimately buy from us.

Don’t worry if certain words are still abstract, you’ll understand exactly what they mean by the end of this article. As you can see, inbound and content marketing definitions are similar.

Basically, the difference between them is that inbound marketing comes with a methodology that shows more clearly how a person gets from the stage of discovering you to buying from you. This concept/name is promoted by the folks at HubSpot, a company that has created a useful tool for this approach in marketing.

But essentially the two terms refer to the same thing and I’ll use them randomly, without necessarily referring to HubSpot’s methodology.

Next, we’ll see Why it’s time for your business to use an inbound marketing strategy And then we’ll understand what quality content means.

Inbound vs outbound marketing

Outbound marketing refers to traditional marketing methods where we try to interrupt customers to show them our advertisements or messages.

Outbound marketing activities include calls and emails sent “cold” (i.e. to people who have never heard of us before), paid advertisements on various websites and platforms. In short, pretty much anything that interrupts the potential customer from what they were doing to bring them to our site. Why is outbound marketing not the most effective approach to marketing?

Let’s be honest: we all hate ads. We change our schedules when the ones on TV come on, we use adblockers for the ones on the web, and we don’t even notice the printed ones. Literally! When we’re more on our phones than on the road, who’s going to notice street ads?

And the numbers back it up. Only 31% of marketers still find offline promotional channels effective. 86% of consumers avoid TV ads. What’s more, our brains have come to automatically avoid areas where ads are displayed on websites! So what can a business do today to attract customers and get them to buy?

Enter content marketing, or inbound marketing. Why turn them away when you can attract them to your business? If you want to promote your business in a way that differentiates you from the competition, build long-term relationships with your customers and increase your sales, all in an effective way, then content marketing is for you.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

Also read: Want a marketing plan? Here’s a better alternative (with template included)

What is the connection between SEO & Content Marketing

Often, especially in practice, SEO (search engine optimization) and content marketing are equated. Only, although closely related, the two are as different as can be.

SEO refers to the process by which our website climbs in search engine results. In addition to certain technical or specific aspects of SEO, content is one of the main components of search engine optimisationhence the confusion, probably.

Sites that have more content, that answer questions from the target audience (sound familiar?), are the ones that show up higher in search engine results. Except, the two can also be very different.

While content marketing can take different forms (video, audio, physical events), and involves other activities, such as moving the potential customer through all stages of the sales process, SEO is first and foremost about achieving top positions in search engines for specific keywords.

On the other hand, SEO is an important component of inbound marketing. If we want people to find our content, it needs to be well optimized from an SEO perspective. So the relationship between the two is one of interdependence, of support.

Content marketing has to take SEO into account in order for people to find content, and content is one of the basic pillars of search engine optimization.

You can read more about SEO here.

How does inbound marketing work, though? What does it mean to create valuable “content”?

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At unosoft, content marketing has always been one of our most effective customer engagement strategies. And since we’ve started focusing more on marketing courses, it’s the main strategy by which we attract potential customers.

So we’ve invested a lot in that approach.

But I noticed that once content marketing started to become more popular with us, people started using the concept without really understanding what it meant and how to do it correctly.

The main misunderstanding revolves precisely around “content”. Most “experts” recommend making valuable content. But what do they mean by that?

Then you go to their website and see that they have 500-word articles where they just rephrase some text written by other people, and at the end they ask you to buy something.

Well, I tell you from experience, it doesn’t really work like that.

Creating content that actually solves a problem is hard, it’s very hard.

At unosoft, we invest as much as 20 hours creating a blog post, not to mention other content. Studies, for example, take us even longer.

Basically, we invest half a week’s work in something we give away for free on the internet. If you’re thinking about investing in inbound marketing, you need to understand that this is exactly what you’re getting.

Of course, not all the time you have to invest so much. You need to spend enough time creating something useful. That’s because:

In content marketing, content sells.

The best analogy I’ve heard about the usefulness of content is “Jesus is awesome.”

Yeah, okay, we all know that, anything new you’re not telling us? Why is that great? What new way can you show us this?

Into the same trap of superficiality fall many who want to invest in content marketing. They quickly write an article that doesn’t help anyone or string together platitudes on a sheet, sorry, page, just because they’ve heard they have to write an article a day.

But to keep things fresh, let’s see what inbound marketing can look like in practice.

Examples of content marketing

Let’s now look at some clear examples of content marketing and what we can learn from them. Although content marketing is still not very well known in our country, we have local examples of companies that have used this approach in their marketing.

Content marketing example: 123ContactForm

123ContactForm is a Romanian company, started in Timisoara, which today has customers in over 180 countries. Their products revolve around contact forms.

Because they realized early on that they couldn’t compete with the marketing budgets of other competitors in the West, they decided to use an inbound marketing approach and to attract people to their product.

They started by creating blog posts to help people create effective contact forms. What questions to ask, what fields are recommended, etc.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

So people who had questions about how to create an effective contact form naturally ended up getting in touch with the product that could make their lives so much easier. In addition to direct traffic to the blog, and then the product page, the content also helped 123ContactForm attract links to that content, links that helped the entire site climb in search engine results.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

Content marketing example: Heimdal Security

A recently discovered example, the folks at Heimdal have made a very good impression on me in terms of marketing. Their product revolves around security (antivirus) and data protection, and the content created is also in this area. First of all, on the blog we find all sorts of tips on how to protect our devices from hackers.

The articles are quite in-depth, based on statistics, include advice from experts, not just five quick tips and that’s it.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by delivering value to people

Being here, conveniently, we’re encouraged to try the free version of their tool.

But this call to action isn’t annoying, it’s just there, if we’re ready. Plus, I chose them as an example because they show that inbound marketing isn’t just about writing blog content.

The folks at Heimdal also have a free cybersecurity course, and they also run a physical event, a conference that combines programming and security.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by delivering value to people

Content marketing example: GoPro

I wouldn’t want to leave the impression that inbound marketing can only be done through blogging or written content.

Actually, GoPro is one of the best examples of content marketing. They have a continuous playlist (a kind of online TV) on their website with videos created with their products. (Please don’t go in now to watch it, otherwise I’m afraid you’ll be trapped there for two or three hours and never finish this article).

Okay, here’s a video here, just don’t leave!

The GoPro folks shot two birds with one stone with this strategy. Once, because the videos themselves are gorgeous, it helps with positive brand association. Also, they are created by people who are passionate about adventure, so they have a good chance of being shared in the communities of other adventure enthusiasts (GoPro’s target audience).

What GoPro has achieved is every marketer’s or entrepreneur’s dream: to involve the community in creating content, the famous User Generated Content, the holy grail of content marketing and social media marketing.

They don’t just keep content on their website but are very active on all social networks where almost all content distributed is created by community members.

Inbound marketing example: HubSpot

I couldn’t write an article about inbound marketing without mentioning the folks at HubSpot, probably the main promoters of this approach to marketing.

If you’re interested in the field of online marketing, there’s every chance you’ve landed on the HubSpot website. They have articles and other resources (guides, checklists, cheat sheets) on just about every marketing-related topic.

Well, this content has propelled them among the most popular sites in the world. Of the approximately 9.5 million visits per month, an incredible 75% come via search engines!

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

Of course, the folks at HubSpot being masters of content marketing didn’t limit themselves to just blog posts.

In fact, within each article we find content upgrades, i.e. resources that are related to the article’s topic but offer something extra, for which we have to leave our email address if we want to download them.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

Important to mention, while we’re on this content marketing example, when you’re selling more expensive products, like HubSpot, which can run into the thousands per month, you also need a sales team.

Only, unlike the traditional approach, HubSpot’s sales team is more of an advisory role, mentoring potential customers.

Another good example of content marketing offered by the folks at HubSpot is the website grader, a free tool that analyzes your site from a marketing standpoint.

Content/Inbound Marketing: How to grow your business by providing value to people

Content marketing example: unosoft

With all due modesty, we join the much better-known content marketing examples above. At unosoft, beyond being a marketing strategy, content is the foundation on which we have built the company.

Even as early as 2015, when we started the agency, we started creating content, both for our blog and for other publications or platforms. Today, content marketing has helped us to have one of the (if not the) most visited marketing blogs in Romania.

In addition, some of our mini-projects, such as the Entrepreneurship Map of Romania (more details below) or the Timisoara Neighbourhood Logos have been picked up by more than 30 regional and national publications. Today, the content is the main source of attracting potential clients for the courses we organise.

Since spring 2017 we have stopped promoting ourselves “cold”, i.e. to an unknown target audience. We gave ourselves as an example to show that, beyond being just a theory, content marketing works.

By the way, if you subscribe to the newsletter you’ll get examples and case studies related to the results we’ve had in this regard πŸ™‚

Join the FREE unosoft Marketing Hackers community on Facebook where you can exchange ideas with other marketers and entrepreneurs.

Inbound/content marketing strategies

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Content marketing strategy #1: Create content for all stages of the sale

When it comes to content marketing, one crucial thing many companies overlook is that we need to create content for all the stages a potential customer goes through, from hearing about us to buying or even recommending us.

The growth pawns of a business

In other words, someone Googling “home decorating tips” is not ready to buy furniture.

But if we provide him with other content relevant to his initial search, educate him and answer his questions further, he will buy from us when he’s ready.

Create content for all stages of buying

Photo Credit:

And the moment you search for “minimalist style living room furniture”, you’ll either end up on our blog post or product page πŸ™‚

Content marketing strategy #2: Knock people out with 10x better content

The more competitive an industry is, the harder it is to differentiate. While some of us can get away with simpler promotional methods like creating a blog, sometimes we have to do more.

Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to see the report in Google Analytics look like a pyramid from time to time (I mean like this).

Promote your site with 10x better content - entrepreneurship map

But how can we increase website traffic 5-10 times in just a few days? How can we draw attention to our brand when everyone else is creating content or organising events?

The answer is simple (but not easy): create content 10 times better than what’s out there.

“Wohoo, wait a minute! But that’s also 10 times harder to do. I’m still higher up at 20 hours invested in an article.”

Don’t worry, it’s not always 10 times harder to do something 10 times better. It just takes a different approach and a little creativity.

For example, the print screen above is ours, for the unosoft website. That exponential increase in traffic is the result of a campaign like the one I’m talking about.

What we did at unosoft was to gather a lot of information about the state of entrepreneurship in Romania and put it all together in a different way, in the form of an interactive map. This is how the Interactive Map of Entrepreneurship in Romania was born.

It allows you to play around and see how many companies there are in each county, see which are the biggest employers, the most popular fields of activity and easily compare everything with neighbouring counties (do you know this information about your county?).

Interactive Map of Entrepreneurship in Romania

The advantage of such a method of promotion is that it gets attention, gets noticed, gets picked up by humans and passed on.

The first edition of the map has been picked up by more than 20 regional and national publications and the second, awaiting release at the time of writing, will probably have three times as good results.

Like I said, you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel to get 10 times better content. A few ways to accomplish this would be:

a) Gather interesting data about your industry (or your customers)

We humans love numbers. When we hear statistics that surprise us, we can’t resist passing them along. The good thing is that you don’t always have to do new research yourself, you can often find all the data you need on the internet for free. You just have to…

b) Present the information in a new way

We humans are also visual beings. One of the main reasons why the Entrepreneurship Map was as successful as it was was because the information was presented in a totally new way. It’s one thing to see that data in a list, it’s another to click on the county you’re interested in and the information pops up.

c) Get beyond the surface and into the details that matter

On WordPress alone ZILNIC publishes almost 2,000,000 articles. As you can imagine, most of them are candidates for the “Useless Article of the Year” award. I’m sure you too, before you got to this article ;), have come across many such examples.

But when you invest the time, when you write something far better than anything that’s been written, when you pay attention to detail, when you show people step by step how to do something, your content will get attention and will be passed on.

Also read: Content Writing – how to write articles that people will read and share

d) Your voice matters

The quality of your writing can often make all the difference. We can all say “Sell this, buy from me, I’m the best”. Meh…

But when you create a website that tailors its message to how stubborn the customer is, as this guy did, you can’t help but get noticed.Player video

Content marketing strategy #3: Create content for other platforms

Pretty much all of the content marketing strategies above relate to things we do on our own website.

But sometimes, especially in the beginning, a really good strategy is to create content, provide value to people, on other platforms as well.

We can answer questions on Facebook groups relevant to our field.

We can answer questions on different relevant forums.

We can leave and reply to comments on various blogs.

We can write guest post articles for industry blogs and websites.

We can create presentations to publish on Slideshare.

All of these ideas allow us to leverage the visibility, traffic, and trust that other brands or platforms have and answer people’s questions where they are most comfortable asking them. That way, we can draw them, easily, easily, to our brand.

But, remember, be useful! Superficial answers won’t do you any good.

Content marketing strategy #4: Try video content

Statistics show that in the future much of the time we spend online will be watching videos. The speed of the internet is increasing, the tools for creating this type of content are becoming more accessible, video engages more of our senses than written text or an image.

If you want to stay relevant in the future, you need to prepare and invest in this form of content.

Right now, the two video platforms that matter are YouTube and Facebook. YouTube is still king, but videos on Facebook, especially those that strike an emotional chord, can reach a lot of people in a very short time.

In my experience, even “normal” videos, meaning those that don’t necessarily have virality potential, reach four times as many people as image or link posts.

Today, if you have a smartphone, you can easily create quality videos that will do their thing on social. You don’t need to invest tens of thousands of euros to get started. Apps like VivaVideo or Videoshop let you create videos using just your mobile phone!

Facebook tends to work best with short videos of around a minute, whereas on YouTube you can create even longer content of 6-12 minutes, as long as it’s interesting.

Before concluding I have a question:

You have a business and you need “Out-of-the-box” strategies depending on the type of business (Ecommerce, B2C, B2B and Services), for increasing ROAS, and qualified leads or sales? Then

Instead of conclusions

I hope the above lines have helped you better understand what content marketing, or inbound marketing as you want to call it, is all about. I’ve tried not to get bogged down in definitions but to provide concrete examples and strategies so you can understand what content marketing is. Good luck with everything!

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