Content Marketing: The Prerequisite of a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

content marketing south africa

Content marketing has been around since 1732, more than two centuries before the internet, search engines, and social media.

But the concept of creating branded content to promote your business didn’t take off until 1888 and 1895, when John & Johnson and John Deere launched magazines to educate their customers, without overtly selling products on every page.

In the century that followed, other (now) big brands followed suit and established themselves to become internationally recognised businesses. What these businesses had in common was that they created high quality content that added value irrespective of the channel they used.

Which brings us to content marketing’s role in a digital marketing strategy.

How Content Marketing Supports Digital Marketing 

To understand content marketing’s role in a digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to understand what the buyer’s journey is.

The buyer’s journey is the process that a buyer completes before making a purchasing decision. The buyer’s journey is split into four distinct steps:

  1. Awareness

The buyer has become aware, and is expressing symptoms, of a problem/need.

  1. Interest

The buyer has clearly defined the problem and has started doing research on possible solutions.

  1. Decision

The buyer has decided on their solution, strategy or approach and is doing research on the available options.

  1. Action

The buyer has decided on a service provider and is ready to buy.

Buyer journey and the role content plays in it

In the first two phases of the buyer’s journey, the buyer is doing research to establish what their problem is and how they can solve it. In the third and fourth steps of the buyer’s journey, the customer is ready to buy.

Content marketing helps underpin a comprehensive digital marketing strategy by creating touch points between brands and businesses at every step of the buyer’s journey. This builds brand trust and influences the buying decision.

Types of Content in Digital Marketing

Content is information that is expressed through a medium such as visual, audible, or written platforms. With this in mind, almost anything can qualify as content for digital marketing purposes, as long as it adds value to the audience.

Below is a list of the types of content that can be used in a digital marketing strategy that is supported by a content marketing strategy:

1. Blogs

Blogs are an invaluable tool for driving Organic traffic to your site, building a reputation as a thought-leader, and helping customers understand your products and services better.

If done with the help of an SEO specialist and an SEO copywriter, a blog can create the first touchpoint of the awareness and interest phases in the buyer’s journey. As an added benefit, blogs can be repurposed for your preferred social media platforms and newsletters to educate new and existing customers.

2. Infographics

Infographics are a great way for displaying extensive statistics and information at a glance. As a bonus, if your infographic adds enough value, it is an excellent tool for gaining organic social media engagement and building links to your site.

Why is this important? If you don’t have an unlimited social media budget, creating and publishing content that is shareable is a great way to boost your brand’s reputation and recognition.

Additionally, if you’ve published the infographic on your site, with an easy option to embed it, you’ll be creating a link building opportunity that doesn’t cost you more than the creation of the infographic.

In fact, this is something the Content Marketing Institute has done well with its history of content marketing infographic:

https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/07/history-content-marketing/

3. Videos

Video is a highly effective form of content, especially when used on social media to tell stories (not just to sell). According to Social Media Today, 72% of customers prefer learning about a product or a service via video. Additionally, video content has the highest post engagement rate at 13.9%.

Social media is not the only place to effectively leverage videos. Publishing how-to guides or product and service videos on YouTube, whilst optimising your videos for the search engine, is a great way to add another result (for your brand) on Google’s search results pages.

4. Podcasts

Podcasts are on the rise to complement the on-the-go lifestyle of consumers who are willing to consume content whilst commuting or completing chores. Brands are leveraging this to communicate to a captive audience who’s willing to learn more about products or services if it is adding value to their lives.

What do we mean by value? Instead of pushing your brand, share helpful hints related to your products and services. Let’s say your business helps other companies with changes in business legislation; you can create podcasts that explain these changes in layman’s terms.

5. Whitepapers or Case Studies

Unlike a blog post, a white paper or case study is a comprehensive guide on a specific topic. White papers are complex and are often presented with research-based data and conclusions about the topic.

Case studies focus on a particular topic or event and provide detailed information about the data, the causes, and the ways in which the findings can be replicated.

Whitepapers and case studies are great resources to use as lead magnets: value adding resources that you make available in exchange for a user’s contact information. Once they’ve completed the form to download your offer, you can add them to an automated marketing funnel that can potentially convert them to paying customers.

6. eBooks

Being an author isn’t a prerequisite to writing an e-Book. If you have a specialist willing to share their expertise, a copy editor can assist with creating a palatable final product that will boost customers’ perception of your brand.

As a bonus, once your specialist has become a published author, he or she will have an author card with a link back to your business. Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media is a great example of a specialist who has created eBooks to showcase his expertise on behalf of his business:

andy crestodia - how authorship helps content marketing

7. Checklists, Guides, and Cheat Sheets

Checklists and guides are easier to compile than whitepapers, eBooks, and case studies. Sharing a how-to guide, or a checklist that’ll help potential customers with a certain process, is a great way to add value without breaking the bank.  

It’s important to note that your guide, checklist, or cheat sheet should be professionally designed. Adding your brand onto a high-quality, information-rich document will convey the sense that the user (who likely just completed a form to get the document) received something of value.

Compare the content below. On the left, we have the original text document and, on the right, the designed version of the same content:

well designed content offers

Content Marketing Examples from South Africa

Many digital marketing experts in South Africa comment on how we’re 5 years behind international trends. This is mostly due to the cost of new technologies, and our slow adoption rate compared to first world countries.

There are however, two brands (so far) that have taken heed of the international trends and implemented content marketing to supplement their digital marketing strategies.

Cars.co.za

Cars.co.za is an online used vehicle listing site, but if you didn’t know this, their YouTube channel with 233 000 subscribers and 483 videos will remind you of the fact. You might not be shopping for a car when you’re watching the comedic car reviews, but you will remember the brand when you do.

Knorr & Robertson’s spices

Both Knorr and Robertson’s spices have increased their brand reach by making recipes available for their target audiences. Knorr targets busy moms who need to finish food prep quickly, and Robertson’s caters to foodies providing exotic dishes.

Both these brands have large YouTube followings and a website that caters to the user’s needs.  

Need help with content marketing?

Why not chat to Starbright’s digital marketing professionals? Our team of experts include copywriters, Social Media managers, and SEO specialists who can help you identify content marketing opportunities for your business and help you get your business noticed.