2020 Content Marketing Guide

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Table of Contents

Content Marketing Guide
By Glenn Marsh

By Glenn Marsh

Marketing has traditionally involved vying for the attention of customers for a brief period to convey the messaging about a brand. This approach was used for years in varying degrees of success.

However, content marketing proves to be a more successful marketing approach in the modern era.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on providing free media-type content that customers desire while also marketing a particular product or service to them. It’s a way to engage customers in a manner where they want to hear your message instead of trying to avoid it. It is projected to be a $412.8 billion industry by 2021 and is growing at a rate of 16% annually. This is a field that’s becoming more important every year and should be taken into consideration by businesses looking to improve their reach, engagement and sales.

The importance of content marketing can’t be understated, as good quality content marketing strategy has the ability to:

  • Increase your audience retention rate.
  • Provide better traction on social media outlets.
  • Build a relationship with your target audience.
  • Generate leads.
  • Increase the likelihood of site visitors engaging in conversions.
  • Improve your SEO performance.
  • Build authority online.

Improving the quality of your content is vital in ensuring the success of your content marketing campaign. The performance of this content depends on how well you understand your target audience, as well as the kind of content they’d like to read and share.

You should aim to create content that resonates with your audience and increases reader engagement, which leads to conversions.

Benefits of Content Marketing Over Traditional Advertising

Content marketing offers many benefits to businesses over traditional advertising techniques. According to studies, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less than conventional marketing.

Some notable benefits of content marketing over traditional marketing include:

Content Marketing Provides Value to Consumers

Advertisements focus on gaining consumers’ attention using billboards, TV commercials, magazine ads, etc. However, these ads usually interrupt other activities that consumers are busy with, such as watching or reading. As a result, consumers have no incentive to pay attention to the advertisements that are presented to them.

With content marketing, consumers feel as though they’re obtaining valuable information related to their topic of interest whenever they view or engage with your content. It’s best to hold off on advertising your product or service as long as possible until you build credibility with your audience through your content.

Capturing and Retaining Consumer Attention

With traditional advertising, companies aim to grab the attention of consumers for a brief amount of time. They hope to achieve this using proper ad placement, careful wording, and a fair amount of creativity.

On the other hand, content marketers provide consumers with the kind of content they’re seeking. As a result, they don’t have to worry about targeting consumers for that brief window of time.

Consumers are viewing and engaging with your content because you’re covering a topic that is of interest to them, and they may continue doing so for an extended period due to that interest.

Content Marketing Creates Sharable Content

Consumers are more likely to share content related to a topic of their interest than they are to share an advertisement. Content marketers often use this to their advantage by backlinking their content to their website to improve its search engine ranking.

Improving your search engine ranking could increase the amount of traffic your company’s website receives. It also provides content marketers with an incentive to create fun and engaging content that people would want to share.

Types of Content Marketing

Content marketing involves the creation of content using formats such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Youtube videos

Let’s look at each of these formats and the ways they can benefit businesses looking to improve their reach and engagement with consumers.

Blog Posts

Blog posts comprise a large percentage of the content produced in the content marketing industry. They are the format of choice for content writers due to their immense popularity, and their ease of creation. Blogs utilize SEO to drive traffic to your website, and as a result, your website can gain far more traffic with the right keywords.

Websites that feature blogs are four-times more likely to show up in organic search results than sites that do not feature blogs. This provides credibility to the notion that blogs are a more effective marketing tool than regular ads.

Blog posts can cover a variety of content styles and are efficient at promoting content to customers in an easy to digest format. They’re an excellent way for companies to convey their core values to customers and foster a relationship that is likely to keep them familiar with your business.

Your company can showcase their passion for a particular topic that your product or service is related to via blogs. This passion can keep consumers interested in the issue at hand, and by connection – the product or service you offer.

Blogging can contribute to the company’s long term marketing strategy by creating thought leadership content. Thought leadership is a tactic used by content marketers to build credibility towards a particular business or business leader. Their focus is on becoming recognized as experts in a specific field and also becoming the go-to resource for customers wishing to learn about the said field.


Audio-based content has become quite popular over the years. It’s become another useful content marketing format that marketers are quickly learning to adapt to.

Podcasts are digital audio files or streaming audio content where the creators discuss pre-determined topics that may be of interest to customers. These podcasts are usually presented as part of on-going series that customers follow regularly, and any products or services mentioned in these podcasts are marketed towards listeners.

Around 32% of people in the US listen to podcasts every month. That percentage has grown from 26% in 2018.
Similar to blogs, podcasts are used to establish your business as a thought leader by touching on topics and trends that consumers find valuable and to build trust from the consumer’s point of view due to your expertise on the subject.

One unique benefit of content-marketing via podcasts is the ability to reach audiences that your business would otherwise have difficulty reaching through other content-marketing formats. There is more potential for leads and conversions to occur from new consumers through podcasting than there is from blogging.

White Papers

Within the realm of content marketing, white papers are defined as persuasive, in-depth reports on a given topic that discuss a problem, before providing a corresponding solution.

Whitepapers should not be confused with product pitches, though. Their focus is to inform and persuade consumers using factual evidence, rather than overtly advertising a product or service.

White papers are distinct from blogs and E-books due to their more technical and impersonal writing style. White papers also take far longer to create than blog posts or e-books due to the rigorous amount of research required, and the serious tone in which they are presented.

White papers generally go into far more detail on topics than blogs and e-books do, and can provide valuable information to consumers who may be seeking in-depth discussions on a particular topic. White papers are considered to be the content-marketing equivalent of an “academic paper” due to their substantial lengths, careful structuring, and high density of content.


Infographics utilize a combination of graphic design, content, and data. They focus on communicating complex information through visually compelling charts and graphics. Infographics are handy for converting dry information into a more visually appealing graphic that is easier to digest and share on social media. They allow marketers to make a more meaningful impact when connecting with their target audiences.

Similar to other content marketing formats, infographics are used to convey information and demonstrate your company’s expertise regarding a particular topic, which can promote it as a thought leader. The added benefit of infographics is that they can be readily shared on social media, and provide backlinks to your website. This backlinking can boost your company’s SEO ranking.

Youtube Videos

Everyone has used Youtube at some point. You’re probably familiar with the endless trove of content available at your fingertips on the popular video-sharing site. Youtube reaches more 18 to 49-year-olds than any broadcast or cable network on mobile.

However, despite its immense popularity with people of all ages, a lot of businesses aren’t aware of the content marketing potential that the site’s video format offers.
Youtube provides a platform for small businesses to share their videos, presentations, demonstrations, and client testimonials online. Consumers who see your videos can then share them on social media, and also engage with your business representatives via comments.

This platform is used to answer consumer questions, provide advice, or constructive criticism. The other benefit of adopting a content marketing presence on Youtube is the ease with which consumers can subscribe to and follow your content.

Consumers who subscribe to your content receive an alert every time you upload a new video, so you can count on long-term consumer engagement as long as you keep uploading quality videos.

You can also include links to your company website in the video descriptions or in the videos themselves as a way of backlinking to boost your company’s SEO ranking.

Free Resources for Tracking Your Content Performance

As mentioned earlier, small companies can benefit greatly from content marketing if they’re devoted to putting out the right kind of content. If your main goal is to improve your SEO, then there are plenty of free tools available to enhance your search engine ranking. Some widely used resources in the marketing industry include:

Google Analytics is a great tool to help you understand your customers and learn about the different ways you could increase traffic to your small business’s website.

It provides website owners with information about where potential customers are accessing their site, as well as clues about what they were seeking.

For example, it can tell you the percentage of visitors who accessed your site via mobile devices. You can then optimize your website’s content for mobile users to improve their browsing experience and increase the amount of time they spend viewing and engaging with your content.

Google Analytics also provides information related to the geographical location of site visitors. For example, if you notice that the vast majority of site visitors hail from a particular region, you can start putting out content that would be of interest to people from that region. This approach allows you to retain your existing customer base while creating the kind of content that has the potential to bring in new customers from that region.

You also have the option of creating segments within your customer base so that you can target the ones that are more likely to purchase your products or services.

You can sort visitors using factors such as age, gender, and the likelihood of engaging in a transaction during each visit.

You can then create content or products with this segment in mind, knowing that they have a higher chance of making a purchase. This approach also improves your probability of pulling in new customers who match the description of the segment you are targeting.

Google Analytics also lets you track which keywords in your content attract the most visitors. It can provide a breakdown of the search queries that are leading visitors to your website. You can then alter your content accordingly with the kind of keywords that allow your site to show up more frequently in search results.

It also features tools that can provide insight into why your bounce rate is so high. The goal of website owners is for consumers to view their content and engage in conversions such as signing up for a newsletter or completing a purchase. If you find your site is receiving a large number of visitors but has a low conversion rate, it could be indicative of a high bounce rate.

You can use Google Analytics to pinpoint how long visitors are on your site before leaving. A high bounce rate could be due to factors such as slow website loading times or lack of valuable content. However, the bounce rate alone doesn’t tell you much if you don’t know the underlying reason why someone left your website.

The Social Analytics tool on Google Analytics also provides information on where your content is being shared on different social media platforms. It also indicates which social media platforms have been most successful in directing customers to your site and engaging in conversions.

You can then try to optimize your content and marketing approach with those social media sites in mind. For example, if you find a large percentage of visitors are coming to your site via Facebook, you can create more content formatted as infographics as they are easier to share on Facebook.

Google business used to be part of its Google+ social media platform when it launched back in 2011.

Companies that feature profiles on Google My Business seem to receive preferential SEO treatment and rank higher in search results. So it looks like a no-brainer to create and maintain an accurate business profile on the site.

It also makes it easier for customers or site visitors to learn details about your business from the information you’ve provided on your business profile.

Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool (they also have a paid option) that provides backlink data, rank tracking, content ideas, site audit reports, and other features. It’s an SEO tool that specializes in generating new keyword ideas. It’s especially useful for coming up with long-tail versions of keywords that you’ve looked up along with data outlining the popularity of each one.

You can use Ubersuggest to find SEO optimized keywords to include in your content to improve its ranking in search results.

Buzzsumo is an online tool that allows you to look up which content is popular on a particular website, as well as which content around a specific topic is trending. It’s a great way to generate ideas for content as well as see what content your competitors are sharing.

Your business website can receive more traffic if you learn to emulate the content patterns of your larger competitors.

You can set up keyword alerts on Buzzsumo to learn who may be discussing a particular topic, and then join forums and groups where such issues are being discussed. You can also use Buzzsumo to identify which influencers are prominent around such matters.

You can then work to build a relationship with these influencers and ask them to contribute content to your site so that their followers boost visitor traffic to your website.

Buzzsumo offers many more features on their paid plans, but their free option still allows you to search for the most shared content, find influencers, and see what’s trending each day.

Yoast SEO is a plugin for WordPress that allows website owners who use WordPress to make their websites more search engine friendly. It’s a helpful plugin for business owners who may not be well-versed with SEO.

Once you have Yoast configured for your website, your ranking will depend primarily on the quality of your content and the keywords you choose. After selecting your keywords, you can start optimizing your website’s content and pages with those keywords in mind.

Yoast will then use content SEO analyses to suggest how you can optimize your website’s content to rank with those keywords.

Yoast also features a handy readability tool that analyzes your site’s content and provides feedback to make your content easier to read and understand. Websites that are easier to read also tend to rank higher in search results.

What Approach Is Right For My Business?

There’s no one size-fits-all-approach for every small business that wishes to improve its website’s traffic. The type of content you produce as well as where you post it can influence which service works best for you.

Regardless of the service you use, the general approach you should follow remains the same:

  • Researching which content is popular around specific topics, and learning which of your competitor’s content is receiving the most traffic.
  • Creating quality, readable content featuring SEO optimized keywords.
  • Uploading your content in a format (i.e., blogs, infographics) that is shareable on social media platforms you wish to target and includes backlinks to your website.
  • Reviewing your site’s performance and optimizing readability.
  • Getting influencers to contribute content on your site to boost traffic from their followers.
  • Reviewing feedback from analytics tools and revising your approach.

Content marketing is only going to become more critical for the success of small businesses in the modern era.

Creating quality content can seem like a trial and error process, and most of the leaders in the content marketing industry have spent ample time refining their content.

Small businesses should get a head start and begin creating quality content as soon as possible so that they can gain an edge over their competitors. If they find themselves struggling, they can even outsource their content marketing needs, let the experts do the work, and still reap the benefits.