“Content is king.”
How many times have we heard this as marketers and digital marketers? Our bets are on a whole lot.
There is a reason why this saying is so overused in marketing circles. Content really is king, but content marketing is the throne that the king sits on and the crown on the king’s head.
While pushing out content is a great way to increase brand awareness, alert the search engines about us, and generate engagement, strategizing can take that engagement to new heights by actually converting those visitors into paying customers.
This is why it’s so important to strategize and amplify your content marketing strategies for 2023, and here is your quick guide to get you started.
“But you’re a design company! What do you know about content marketing?”
Believe it or not, the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy hinges heavily on the design that you’re using to present your content. In the years that we’ve been around, we’ve learned quite a lot about the ebb and flow of trends, how consumers respond to different types of content like blog posts and case studies, and what works best for certain audiences.
Yes, we are a design service, but we’re marketers first.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is literally the strategic use of content that is hyper-targeted toward a specific audience. Successful content marketing is engaging, useful, and resonates with consumers beyond simple words and flashy campaigns.
A strategic approach is what makes it instantly shareable. The information is useful and educational while also introducing people to the idea of your product or service.
This type of marketing is the opposite of an email marketing blast or the Phantom of the Opera ads at bus stops all over New York City. It isn’t meant to say “I EXIST!”
Content marketing is meant to say “I’m your best friend on this topic. I am engaging. I am shareable. Come to me when you need more information on this topic. While this all sounds wonderful, you're likely wracking your brain, wondering where to start.
The first step is identifying your business goals, then creating content that resonates with that. But before you can launch your next content marketing campaign, here are some key marketing tips that will help you
Say it with me: Consumer personas are not a target audience.
Consumer personas are the continually evolving keystone to all of your marketing efforts. They are detailed, fleshed out, profiles of who your target consumer is. Throw the high-level demographics out the window in a paper plane (for now); we want the details.
For example, let’s say that you are a marketer at a women-owned luxury retail brand. Here is your sample consumer persona:
Name: Lily Mae
Occupation: Young, urban professional who owns her own business. Self-starter.
Values: Politically moderate, not religious, cares about the environment and women’s independence.
Hobbies: Avid runner, volunteers at the local shelter, learning about building a business from scratch.
Brands she’s likely to buy from: Ethical and sustainable brands, brands that donate to charity, luxury consignment websites like TheRealReal.
Content she would like from you: Building an eco-conscious luxury brand, sustainable business practices, founder stories, DIY content like fixing buttons, and a podcast about the founding of your brand.
How to create a great consumer persona.
There are a lot of great tools out there for hyper-targeting your consumer personas. Some of them cost a lot of money, and others are completely free. Which one you use likely depends on your budget. For example, if you have a physical store, a data gathering tool like location intelligence may be a great option for you.
If you don’t have a physical store, you could run data on your website visitors and build on the foundation of their demographics like location and browsing habits. The great thing about these tools is that they allow you to build a consumer persona based on actual data, making your strategizing efforts virtually effortless.
You’ll be surprised that the people who you want to target aren’t necessarily the people that you are attracting. The right analytics tools can take the guesswork out of your company’s bulls-eye.
Blended audiences, blended channels.
Once your consumer personas are fleshed out in detail, this is where the different channels come into play. The reason why updating personas for your 2023 content marketing strategy is so important is because audiences are no longer segmented the way that they used to be.
We’re seeing older generations making TikTok videos, GenZ engaging on Facebook pages, and nearly everyone listens to podcasts and watches YouTube videos. The old days of TikTok ads targeting only young audiences are long gone.
Publishing content in 2023 needs to reflect that. You don’t need to be everywhere, but where you are, needs to speak to your specific audience with content that they will find interesting, engaging, and shareable.
Nobody likes a self-promotional ad blast, especially on social media. Why not embrace content types that resonate instead of yell?
What makes content great?
The answer to this is subjective depending on who is answering the question. One thing to keep in mind when fleshing out your content strategy is that engagement is for everyone. No matter who your target consumer persona is, they want to feel something.
Your content should be informational, engaging, and entertaining. Your end goal is to make it useful enough to be shareable. For example, if you’re a cybersecurity company that sells ad-fraud software, you’re likely selling to marketers. They don’t care about the back-end of your product or what your code does, they don’t need another stuffy webinar with your CIO delivered to their inbox.
Instead, target their pain points. How does ad-fraud hurt marketers? Now take that pain point and turn it into a piece of content that makes them laugh. Inject humor into your content marketing strategy, which your competitors are not doing. Instead of another stuffy webinar, try launching a marketing podcast and leave the heavy tech out of it.
Great content incites emotion. Remember that.
Content marketing examples to inspire you
Spotify’s Upside Down Playlists: Unless you live on a remote island off of Antarctica, you’ve likely heard of Stranger Things. This show took the world by storm back in 2016, evident by the sheer amount of Eleven costumes that Halloween– and sold-out Eggos in grocery stores across America.
After the new season's release, Spotify played a genius move on their competitors when they launched their curated Upside Down playlists for users. Music plays a starring role in the latest season. We don’t want to spoil it for you, so you’ll have to watch the show to find out why.
Lego’s YouTube channel: Lego is one of those timeless brands that isn’t going under any time soon. One reason for this is their genius content marketing.
Their insanely popular (11.5 MILLION subscribers!) YouTube channel is engaging for both adults and children, mixing how-to videos with product launches and releases, and Lego influencer round-ups. They truly understand their consumers and create shareable content that gets clicks because of this.
Sephora’s #LIPSTORIES podcast: Sephora partnered with Girlboss Radio, a popular podcast, in honor of their 40-color line of lipsticks. Together, they launched a series of over six podcast episodes that highlight six inspiring female founders, entertainers, and entrepreneurs.
The podcast is a glimpse into their journeys, told in their own words. It’s at once a celebration of women and a clever marketing tool to introduce their line to a highly targeted audience.
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Not another marketing blast.
Looking at the examples above, what do they all have in common?
They are hyper-targeted to their target audience and provide value beyond just what the brand does. Sephora isn’t going on the podcast to sell their 40-shade lipsticks. Lego isn’t talking about how its product competes with its competitors. Spotify isn’t yelling at people to upgrade their subscriptions.
All of these efforts are promoting the brand without outright saying “BUY NOW”. They provide value and make consumers want to engage with the brand so that they’ll buy later.
Great content marketing in 2023 boils down to three things:
Make it fun.
Make it useful.
Always provide value.
Design and marketing: the Ethel to your Lucy.
Great design is the visual representation of your brand.
It’s that simple. A beautifully designed newsletter will make your audience look for a critical few seconds longer than if your newsletter was just words on a cookie-cutter template. You might be writing everything right, but you have about one second to hook your reader’s attention. That’s where the design comes into play.
The design that you use in your various content marketing efforts is one thing that should always be top of mind. As we said, trends are continually evolving, and sometimes those changes can be really hard to predict. With the right creative team and impeccable creative direction, your content marketing efforts will never miss the mark.