How does content marketing work?

In short, produce and distribute your content (text and multimedia) online or offline as bait for your target group. Because your target group will read your content, you establish a relationship and increase the awareness of the target group in relation to your product or service.

Today, the content is mainly distributed via blogs, social media channels, content hubs and email. In addition, content is of course also distributed via the traditional channels, such as television, newspapers, magazines, and so on.

In general, content marketing refers to the online distribution channels. Below you will find an overview of the most important channels per type, owned, earned and paid.

Owned channels are the channels that you own. Within these channels you have full control over who receives your message.

Earned channels are channels that you own the reach of, but the platform owns the target audience. They determine (often with algorithms) who sees which message.

Examples of these platforms are Google, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. You have ‘earned’ the reach by establishing a relationship with your followers through that platform.

Paid channels are channels where you buy reach. Your message will only be shown as long as you pay for promoting your content or showing your ad.

The History of Content Marketing
There is an interesting video on Youtube that takes you through the history of content marketing in a few minutes. It is interesting to see how content marketing was done before the internet was widely used.

Formulate a content marketing strategy
What usually goes wrong with companies that use content marketing ineffectively is the lack of a good, clear strategy.

As I described at the beginning of this article, a content marketing strategy aims to increase the awareness of the target audience all the way to the point of purchase.

In the second part of this article I zoom in on how to formulate a clear content strategy that contributes to the commercial result of your website or webshop.

Raising awareness and the 5 levels of awareness
In the customer journey I usually work with 5 levels of awareness, which you can find in the image below:

Level of consciousness
You can read about how you can increase the awareness of your target group through content marketing in my recent article: How to increase the awareness of your target group

The content funnel canvas
The content funnel canvas is a canvas that I developed after countless brainstorming sessions about the content strategy of the customers I help to shape their funnel.

Below is an image of the canvas. After the image, I explain how you can use the canvas to establish a content marketing plan.
The funnel content canvas helps you to produce campaign-based content, in which there is a clear and constructive structure for the target group. You guide the target group towards the purchase with the help of content.

The left column shows the awareness level for which the content was created, the right column describes the purpose of the content in this phase. So in the right column could be something like;

In the middle column is an optin in the center . That is a way for the target group to leave their data. Often in exchange for a piece of content or the use of a tool. Think of a checklist, a white paper or a self-test.

Suppose you are a psychologist specialized in treating people with burnout. The first option could then be a self-test, in which the prospect can determine whether there is a possible burnout on the basis of a questionnaire.

Around that optin you then produce different types of content that refer to the optin, in the above example the test.

An example:

If we take the case of the burnout for a moment, you could use the following structure to raise awareness one level.

The yellow content pieces above are preferably sent by email to the prospect or customer. The big advantage of email marketing is that you can determine the order of consumption.

You can send this content in the correct order and automatically with a tool such as ActiveCampaign . This phenomenon of automated email sending is also called marketing automation .

Types of content in the funnel
Every piece of content you produce does something with your funnel… whether you like it or not. For example, the cute videos of kittens arouse sympathy from your followers. This does not immediately generate turnover, but sympathy comes in handy later in the funnel. After all, people only buy from people or companies that grant them ‘the sale’.

Below you will find the content marketing matrix of Smartinsights.com that gives a good picture of different types of content and their function/effect in the funnel.

It is always good to produce and distribute a mix of the different types of content. I myself use a deeper layer of content types, namely the following:

Content that arouses sympathy

Sympathy-generating content is content that evokes sympathetic feelings in the target group. This can be done by behaving sympathetically (e.g. openly supporting charities, sharing nice content about your company, etc.), but also by associating yourself with sympathetic content, brands, companies or others. But it can be fun, funny videos, helpful content, and so on.

Content that builds authority is content that builds your authority in a particular field. These can be testimonials, case studies, expert recommendations, awards, publications, reports and, for example, media appearances.

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