Content Marketing – The Prerequisite of a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

Content marketing has been in existence since 1732, predating the internet, search engines, and social media by over two centuries.

However, the notion of developing branded content for business promotion didn't gain significant traction until 1888 and 1895, when John & Johnson and John Deere introduced magazines aimed at educating their customers rather than overtly pushing products on every page.

In the subsequent century, other now-prominent brands emulated this approach, solidifying their status as internationally recognised businesses. What united these enterprises was their commitment to generating high-quality content that delivered value regardless of the chosen communication channel.

This brings us to the pivotal role of content marketing within a digital marketing strategy.

How Content Marketing Supports Digital Marketing

To understand the significance of content marketing within a digital marketing strategy, it’s imperative to grasp the intricacies of the buyer's journey. The buyer's journey represents the sequential process a consumer undergoes before arriving at a purchase decision. This journey can be divided into the following four phases. 

  1. Awareness: in this initial phase, the buyer becomes cognisant of a problem or need, expressing symptoms that prompt the recognition of an issue. This stage is characterised by a growing awareness of the challenge at hand.
  2. Interest: as the buyer progresses into the second phase, they precisely define the identified problem and embark on a research journey to explore potential solutions. This stage involves an in-depth investigation into various options, forming a clear understanding of the available choices.
  3. Decision: moving further along the buyer's journey, the decision phase is marked by the buyer settling on a specific solution, strategy, or approach. At this juncture, the focus shifts to scrutinising the available options in greater detail, ensuring a well-informed decision-making process.
  4. Action: the concluding phase signifies the buyer's commitment to a particular service provider or product, indicating their readiness to make a purchase. This is the culmination of the journey, where the buyer transitions from research and evaluation to a decisive action.

Throughout the initial two stages of the buyer's journey, the emphasis is on research and exploration to identify and understand the problem. In contrast, the latter two phases represent a shift towards a decision-making mindset, signalling the buyer's preparedness to engage in a transaction.

Content marketing assumes a pivotal role in fortifying a holistic digital marketing strategy by establishing strategic touchpoints between brands and consumers at every juncture of the buyer's journey. This strategic approach not only cultivates brand trust but also exerts a substantial influence on the ultimate purchasing decision.

Types of content in digital marketing

Content is the embodiment of information conveyed through various mediums, including visual, audible, or written platforms. Given this perspective, virtually anything can be deemed content for digital marketing, provided it contributes value to the audience.

Here is a compilation of content types suitable for inclusion in a digital marketing strategy supported by a content marketing approach:

1. Blogs

Blogs serve as a priceless asset for steering organic traffic towards your website, establishing a reputation as a thought leader, and enhancing customer comprehension of your products and services. Collaborating with an SEO specialist and an SEO copywriter can elevate a blog's impact, strategically positioning it as the initial touchpoint during the awareness and interest phases of the buyer's journey.

Moreover, the versatility of blogs extends beyond their initial publication, as they can be repurposed for optimal dissemination across preferred social media platforms and newsletters. This not only amplifies your outreach but also serves as an ongoing educational resource for both new and existing customers.

2. Infographics 

Infographics emerge as an effective means of presenting comprehensive statistics and information in a visually digestible format. Beyond their utility in conveying complex data at a glance, infographics offer a dual advantage: they can serve as a potent tool for eliciting organic social media engagement and establishing valuable links to your website.

The significance of this lies in its strategic alignment with budget constraints, particularly for those without an unlimited social media budget. Crafting and disseminating shareable content, such as impactful infographics, proves instrumental in elevating your brand's reputation and fostering wider recognition.

Furthermore, by hosting the infographic on your website and incorporating an easily accessible embed option, you unlock a valuable link-building opportunity at minimal additional cost beyond the initial creation of the infographic. This not only enhances your site's visibility but also contributes to the development of a robust link profile.

A noteworthy example highlighting the efficacy of this approach is the Content Marketing Institute's adept utilisation of infographics, particularly evident in their comprehensive history of content marketing infographic, which can be seen here.

3. Videos 

Video stands out as an exceptionally impactful content medium, particularly when employed on social media platforms for storytelling purposes, transcending mere sales pitches. According to insights from HubSpot, a substantial 87%of marketers say that video content directly boosts their sales. This statistic is bolstered even further by the astonishing 56% of lead/click throughs on video content.

However, the effectiveness of video extends beyond the realms of social media. A strategic approach involves publishing instructive how-to guides or videos showcasing your products and services on YouTube. The key lies in optimising these videos for search engines, thereby not only enhancing their visibility on YouTube but also contributing to the diversification of your brand's presence on Google's search results pages. 

This multifaceted utilisation of video content aligns with the evolving preferences of consumers and serves as a powerful avenue for brand exposure and engagement across various digital landscapes.

4. Podcasts 

Podcasts are experiencing a surge in popularity, capitalising on the increasingly on-the-go lifestyle of consumers who are eager to consume content during commutes or while tackling household chores. This trend presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage with a captivated audience, willing to delve into valuable content that enhances their lives.

When we talk about adding value, it goes beyond the conventional approach of overt brand promotion. Instead, brands can leverage podcasts to share insightful tips and information related to their products and services. For instance, if your business specialises in navigating changes in business legislation for other companies, consider creating podcasts that explains these changes in easily understandable language.

By adopting this value-driven approach, brands not only align themselves with the preferences of modern consumers but also position themselves as valuable sources of information. This not only fosters a deeper connection with the audience but also establishes credibility and authority within the industry. Podcasts, in this context, become a dynamic tool for not just promoting products or services but for providing genuine value to the audience's daily lives.

5. Whitepapers or Case Studies 

In contrast to a blog post, a white paper or case study serves as an exhaustive guide dedicated to a specific subject. White papers, characterised by their complexity, typically present comprehensive insights supported by research-based data and conclusive findings related to the specified topic.

On the other hand, case studies zoom in on a particular subject or event, providing intricate details about the data, underlying causes, and methods for replicating the findings.

Both white papers and case studies prove to be invaluable resources, especially when employed as lead magnets. These are resources that add substantial value and are made available in exchange for a user's contact information. Once users complete the form to download these offerings, they can seamlessly be integrated into an automated marketing funnel. This strategic funnelling allows for the systematic conversion of prospects into paying customers, leveraging the depth and specificity of white papers and case studies to nurture and guide potential leads through the customer journey.

6. eBooks 

Authorship need not be a prerequisite for crafting an eBook. With a willing specialist eager to share their expertise, the assistance of a copy editor can transform the content into a polished final product, enhancing customers' perception of your brand.

As an additional benefit, upon the specialist's transition to a published author, they will possess an author card featuring a link back to your business. This not only bolsters the specialist's credibility but also contributes to increased visibility and recognition for your brand.

Andy Crestodina, the co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media, serves as a notable example of a specialist who has developed eBooks to highlight his expertise in representation of his business:

7. Checklists, Guides, and Cheat Sheets

Compiling checklists and guides is a more straightforward task compared to creating whitepapers, eBooks, or case studies. Sharing a how-to guide or a checklist that aids potential customers in a specific process proves to be an effective means of delivering value without incurring significant costs.

It’s crucial to emphasise that your guide, checklist, or cheat sheet should undergo professional design. Incorporating your brand into a well-crafted, information-rich document communicates to the user, who likely provided their information to access the document, that they have received something of substantial value.

Content Marketing Examples from South Africa 

Numerous digital marketing professionals in South Africa remark on the country lagging five years behind international trends. This discrepancy is primarily attributed to the cost of new technologies and a comparatively slower adoption rate when compared to first-world countries.

Nevertheless, there are currently two brands that have recognised the importance of aligning with international trends and have integrated content marketing strategies to complement their overall digital marketing strategies. functions as an online platform for listing used vehicles. However, if you were unaware of this, a visit to their YouTube channel, boasting 373,000 subscribers and 862 videos, serves as a vivid reminder. Even if you're not currently in the market for a car, the entertaining car reviews on their channel leave a lasting impression, ensuring that the brand stays top of mind when you eventually embark on a car-shopping journey.

Knorr & Robertson’s spices

Knorr and Robertson's spices have expanded their brand outreach by providing recipes tailored to their respective target audiences. Knorr targets busy moms seeking quick food preparation solutions, while Robertson's caters to food enthusiasts with a penchant for exotic dishes.

These brands have cultivated substantial YouTube followings and developed websites specifically designed to meet the needs of their users.

Has this article convinced you of the value of content marketing? If so, then it’s time to speak to a digital marketing agency that knows exactly how to leverage content to your business’s needs.