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With a loud, resounding sigh, recall the last time you had an unwelcome pop-up ad distract or invade your online research. The in-your-face display couldn’t be exited from fast enough! Eager ploys at gaining prospects’ attention (against their will) are one of the top complaints customers list when asked what they dislike about a brand’s advertising efforts or website presence. As consumers, we don’t want to be sold; we want to be informed. The link between marketing and research known as content marketing is having big impacts on the digital landscape for brands, as it’s more important than ever for a business to learn how to incorporate this approach into its overall marketing strategy.The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

In short, content marketing makes your brand seem human. It meets people at the self-research stage of the Internet and provides value in the form of answers.

A content marketing strategy starts with defining a prospect audience and digging deep to understand their needs. An easy way to do this may be profiling your current customer database and surveying those individuals to figure out what type of content they enjoy receiving from your company. From there, compare your Google Analytics traffic to determine top pages or posts, popular topics or SEO keywords, and average time spent on page. Lastly, researching common search queries around topics related to your business is a great way to determine SEO framework and content naming.

Next is the content creation. Content marketing can take the form of videos, blogs, an online resource center, digital articles, social media posts, infographics, cheat sheets, and FAQs. The key difference to keep in mind with content marketing is that it never explicitly promotes a brand, sells a product, or makes an offer. Its intended purpose is to increase interest by answering a user’s search query or helping solve a problem.

By placing free, relevant content in front of prospects, the knowledge feels noninvasive: more like a helping hand, less like a clinched fist. Content marketing creates a dialogue between a business and a customer, forming conversations that ideally, lead to a larger community. When done consistently, content marketing can also help build credibility within a marketplace to increase perceived authority and trust.

One final thought — working diligently to create content that is useful and valuable to your audience, in turn, creates an educated buyer: one who will ultimately return the favor in the form of repeat business, loyalty, and referrals.

If you’re feeling inspired and want to brainstorm a content marketing strategy with our Walker360 team, send us an email at [email protected].